Author: CHUNG Yoon Ngan
Date: 01-02-12 19:53
近水樓臺 (Jin4 Shui3 Lou2 Tai2)
A waterfront pavilion gets the moonlight first
Fan Zhongyan (范仲淹 989AD to 1052AD) was born during the Song Dynasty (宋
朝 960AD to 1279AD) in Wu county (吳縣) of Jiangsu province (江蘇省). When
he was young he vowed to serve the country when he grew up. His temperament
was gentle and he was warm and affable to people. He was kind and liked
to help his friends. People respected him.
Fan Zhongyan graduated as a Jin Shi (進士 a successful candidate in the
highest imperial examinations), after he passed the highest imperial examination
in 1015AD, in the 8th year reign of Emperor Zhen Zong Zhao Heng (真宗皇帝
趙恆998AD to 1023AD). In around 1029AD he was appointed by the new Emperor
Ren Zong Zhao Zhen (仁宗皇帝 趙禎 1023AD to 1065AD) as the official in charge
of the Salt Department in Xixi (西溪). Zhao Yuanhao (趙元昊), the leader
of the Qing tribe (羌族) in Xixia (西夏 present day 寧夏省), rebelled against
the Song Government. In 1040AD Fan Zhongyan was sent for an inspection tour
to the province of Shaanxi (陜西省) and held peaceful conferences with Zhao
Yuanhao. He stayed in Xixia for a few years.
Fan Zhongyan was an author, a scholar and a statesman. His motto was:
先天下之憂而憂,---Xian tian xia4 zhi you er2 you,
後天下之樂而樂.---Hou4 tian xia4 zhi le4 er2 le4.
If the people worry I will be the one first to be worry,
When the people are happy I will be the last one to be happy.
Which means that he was concerned about his country and the people.
Years later, Fan Zhongyan was appointed the governor of Hangzhou (杭州)
in Zhejiang province (浙江省). He was a kind official and he loved to help
his fellow officials. He recommended many junior officials from Hangzhou
to the Emperor for promotions and they were very grateful to him.
There was an official by the name of Su Lin (蘇麟) who served in a county
which was far away from Hangzhou. This county was under the jurisdiction
of Hangzhou where Fan Zhongyan was the governor. Knowing that Fan Zhongyan
did not pay attention to a remote official like him, Su Lin wrote a poem
and sent it to Fan Zhongyan. There were two lines in the poem stated:
近水樓臺先得月,---Jin4 shui3 lou2 tai2 xian de2 yue4,
向陽花木易逢春.---Xiang4 yang2 hua mu4 yi4 feng2 chun.
A waterfront pavilion gets the moonlight first;
Those flowers and trees facing the sun get the sunlight earlier.
(meaning the advantage of being in a favoured position)
After reading the poem Fan Zhongyan smiled and knew that Su Lin was complaining
about himself serving in a remote area and that Fan Zhongyan did not pay
much attention to him. Months later, Fan Zhongyan recommended to the Court
advising for a transfer of duty for Su Lin. Eventually, Su Lin was promoted
to a higher position and he was grateful to Fan Zhongyan.
The moral of this story is that it has the advantage of being in a favoured
Posted to Overseas Chinese Forum at asiawind.com
By CHUNG Yoon-Ngan (鄭永元)