Karmic Retribution is Always Fair
Karmic Retribution is Always Fair
During the reign of Emperor Shunzhi (1644-1661 A.D.) during China's Qing Dynasty (1644-1911 A.D.), there was a wealthy family with surname Gong in Shunyi County. At middle age, Mr. Gong had a son, whom he named Gong Qingyou. That same year one of the servants for the family also had a son, who was given the name Li Fu. At the servant's request, the Gongs permitted both children to study together with a teacher. One night, when both boys were 14 years old, Li Fu had a dream in which he saw the Heavenly Gate open and two divine beings descend from it. One of them pointed to Gong Qingyou and asked, "What will happen to him?" The other replied, "He is a man of very good fortune. When he reaches 17 he will pass the entrance exam for a government-official training school and at age 19 will graduate and become a county official. He will advance rapidly in his career and enjoy a comfortable life." The first divine gestured toward Li Fu and asked, "What about him?" The second divine being answered, "He is a man with no luck and will have neither money nor power all his life." With those words, the two divine beings flew up and disappeared behind the closed Heavenly Gate. Li Fu awoke puzzled, and told his dream to his parents and friends.
After that Li Fu watched Gong Qingyou's life journey closely and found that indeed, Gong passed the entrance exam at age 17 as predicted by the divine being. Li no longer went to school and started to do farm work. Gong Qingyou was a mean and cruel man who would stop at nothing to achieve his selfish aims. But after he went to the government-official training school, everything went well for him, and later, after he graduated, he really became an official and got promoted to a high level. He took bribes in defiance of the law and treated people heartlessly.
Li Fu thought that Gong Qingyou was contemptible and would be punished, but to his surprise Gong lived well into his seventies and had money and power, as well as a big family. He even knew when he was going to die. Many people cited Gong's life as an example and questioned the validity of the cause-and-effect principle. Li Fu was one of those people, and, upset, he wanted to go to the netherworld to see the truth of it. So on the day that Gong Qingyou died, Li Fu died too, and went to the underworld.
Li Fu saw that Gong Qingyou was treated well even in the netherworld, so he became even more upset and aired his grievances to the King of the netherworld. The King ordered the official of judgment to check the record book that listed all of Gong Qingyou's deeds in his lives. The King said, "Gong Qingyou did a lot of good things in his previous lives, and the bad things he did in his last life have offset many of the virtues he amassed earlier. Nonetheless, he still has some left and he will live well in his next life, too, but not as well as he did in his last. As for the bad things he did, it is not time yet for him to pay them back." The King also told Li Fu that he had not accumulated any virtues by doing good deeds in his previous lives, so he should have suffered more in his last life. But since he kept doing good things in his last life, he had enough clothes and food, which was already lenient for him. And he would have a better life in his next reincarnation.
The King arranged for Li Fu and Gong Qingyou to be reincarnated together. Gong Qingyou was born into a wealthy family and Li Fu into a well-to-do family. When he grew up, Gong Qingyou became a county governor. As he in his previous life, he oppressed people and took bribes in defiance of the law. He used torture to force innocent people to admit guilt. Once at his order, the eyes of the accused were removed, and in another case the defendant's legs were cut off. Gong Qingyou died of a sudden illness at age 70.
Li Fu, on the other hand, continued to accumulate virtues by doing good things and even started cultivating himself. When Gong Qingyou died, Li Fu's primordial soul was able to exit his body and wander into the netherworld to find out what was happening. He saw that Gong Qingyou was put on trial and that all his good fortunes recorded in the book had been used up. There were no more fortunes that could be used to offset the sins he had committed when he was an official, such as destroying a person's eyes and cutting off another's legs, so he would have to pay them back in his next life. He was penalized by having to reincarnate into a poor family, to be born blind and disabled and have to beg on the streets all his miserable life.
Seeing how the cause-and-effect principle materialized in Gong Qingyou's three lives, Li Fu worked even harder to cultivate himself, hoping he could soon get out of the cycle of birth and reincarnation.
One may conclude that a person's good fortune is hard to come by and that it is a result of hard work. The heavenly principles are absolutely fair. How can anyone be allowed not to pay back the sins he or she commits? As the old saying goes, "Good people will come to a good end, bad people will come to a bad end. It is only a matter of time." It is indeed a true statement!