Wu Chien-Chiu of Shan-Yu had wonderful muscular strength, and nobody in his town could beat him at boxing or fencing. He became so overbearing that any person who dared affront him was sure to pay a penalty for it. He borrowed the property of others without ever returning it, and he compelled people to
do things for him under threats of severe punishment.
One summer evening he went up to the tower to cool off in the breeze. When the people who had gathered there saw the ruffian come they ran away, except one old man who seemed quite indifferent to his presence.
"Why do you alone dare defy my power?" cried Wu, intending to intimidate the old gentleman, but the latter replied:
"How profound your ignorance is! Your mother's womb sheltered you for ten long months, and your mother's arms took tender care of you for three more years. Your parents wanted you to grow and mature into a good, serviceable citizen of the Empire. When you would achieve something for the State, your family name would become known and glorified. You have undoubtedly some unusual talents. Why, then, degrade yourself thus and become the useless fellow you are now? The State loses in you a serviceable citizen, and the spirits of your parents feet disgusted with you, This is greatly to be deplored."
Wu felt so much ashamed that he had a chill of cold perspiration, and he said: "The people have marked me as a desperate character, and I have acted accordingly; but by
your words I realize my predicament; pray tell me how to retrieve my good name."
The old gentleman replied: "You know the story of the butcher who became a saintly Buddhist at the instant when he repented and dropped the knife. Follow his example. If you repent and start on a righteous march onward, you will certainly become a just man and command the respect of others."
Wu was serious in his reform and having joined the army was finally promoted to the rank of general.