By Epoch Times Staff
Li Mian (717-788 AD) was an official and general of the Tang Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reign of Emperor Dezong. He was a descendent of Tang’s founding emperor, Emperor Gaozu.
Li was poor during his early years, but he did not try to seek ill-gotten wealth. He instead spent his time studying texts, from which he acquired an honest and trustworthy character.
One day, Li met a rich scholar who was going to the capital to complete his studies and take the Imperial Exam. The two became very good friends. But the scholar became seriously ill one day, and Li took care of him and treated him just like his own sibling.
The scholar eventually succumbed to his illness. Before his death, he begged Li to keep the balance of his gold that remained after paying for his funeral arrangements. Li had no choice but to accept the gift, in order for the scholar pass on in peace.
Ultimately, however, Li did not keep a single dime. He secretly hid the gold under the scholar’s coffin, and returned the scholar’s silver to the scholar’s family.
During his appointment as JieDuShi in Lingnan, Li didn’t use his power to usurp the fortunes or property of the foreign merchants. He always politely declined any gifts from merchants, and , on his retirement, he even threw all the rhino horns and ivory his family had received into the river.
During his two decades of service as an official, Li distributed his salary to his relatives and subordinates, leaving little for himself. As a result, he was found to have no savings when he passed away. Li was honoured greatly and given the posthumous title of Zhen Jian, 贞简, one who “Defends Justice and Exemplifies Modesty and Humility”.