The Filial Piety of Emperor Wen of Han

Zheng Jian, Contributor, Dora Li, Contributing Translator

Emperor Wen, who was also known as Liu Heng, was the fourth son of the first Han Emperor. He was very bright when he was a child and showed filial piety to his Queen Mother Bo. Every morning, the first thing he did was to greet his mother, and he did the same thing before she went to bed.

After Emperor Wen ascended the throne, Queen Mother Bo became very sick and Emperor Wen accompanied her all the time, even if it meant that he could not sleep well. Sometimes he did not take his clothes off in the evening just in case she called for him. Every time after the herbal medicine was cooked, he would taste it first to make sure that it was not too bitter or too hot before letting his mother drink it.

Queen Mother Bo saw all of this, and her heart was deeply moved. She said to him, “My sickness will not go away anytime soon. We have many servants in the royal palace who can take care of me; you do not need to burden yourself.”

Upon hearing this, Emperor Wen kneeled in front of his mother and said, “If I do not personally take care of you while you are alive in this life, when will there be a chance for me to repay you for the grace of your parenting?”

Three years later, Queen Mother Bo gradually recovered. Everyone said that it was because of Emperor Wen’s wholehearted care. After that, people both inside and outside the royal court respected Emperor Wen even more. Everyone took him as an exemplar. During that time in history, everyone regarded filial piety toward parents as the most honored virtue.

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My grandparents visited the sick, showed their granddaughters Love instead of using lots of words, offered a listening ear with a kind word of wisdom & a hot meal; yet both died alone in many ways. This story makes me wonder who will be there for that man who cared for his mother when he is
old. For it seems in my life, living here in America, people only care for people when they are paid cash money.

This story also makes me forget about my many fears of going to check on my mother whose health has been compromised.

Thank you for sharing this story and the comments that followed. For I, too, am distant from my mother, siblings & family (ex-husband & adult children). Each seem to have unresolved hurts that I unknowingly may have caused.

Blessings & Peace be with You

Dorthea May 07, 2022

I really loved your story this year, its very touching and it warms up my heart as well and I have gentle soul in the inside and warm on the outside. Also I’m very closed to my mother.
Thank you very much and God Bless You
Kind Regards
Everley Reeves

Everley Reeves April 30, 2022

This illustration is an example of what empathy and love can do and the power of compassion is always strong in those that are aware of it. There is nothing more important than life and once understood you can really reach out with the truth that has always been inside of you because the more that you reach in the more you will reach out. Compassion, truth and tolerance will never need reprimand.

David Sutton April 30, 2022

What a beautiful story in a seemingly very difficult time in our physical world. It is delightful to lift our spirits with this inspiring story. Thank you!

Paulien Visser April 30, 2022

I love that story. What a great man he was.

Barbara Ward April 30, 2022

It’s beautiful when child or children care for their parents life that.

Christine Roberts April 30, 2022

My mother has been living with us for 8 years and will be 100 August 19 and I and my wife of 51 years will take care of her until God calls her to heaven. I truly love all that your company stand for and I ask The God of heaven to bless you and your mission .

Neal Grasteit April 28, 2022

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