The Chinese strongly believe that having a burial
ground with good feng shui would bring good fortune and
prosperity to the family for generations to come.
There was once a wealthy man who had a wife and
two daughters. He was looking for a piece of burial ground
with good feng shui for himself. He found a piece of land
by a mountain and had arranged to buy it. To make sure that
there were no bad spirits around, he spent a night camping
on his piece of land. He was woken up in the middle of the
night by an angry voice saying:
“How dare you to even think about buying this piece
of land? This spot is already reserved for the great honourable
Mor and his family and no one else.”
The wealthy man realised he had trespassed onto
someone’s land; he apologised to the spirit and gave up the
A few months had gone by, the man often thought
of the name Mor which was an unusual family name. There
were not many people around who had such a name. One day,
he was walking past a temple and spotted a young man,
leaning against a big pillar in front of the temple shrine, who
was busy reading a book. Out of curiosity, the old man
approached the young scholar and engaged in a conversation.
When the family name was asked, the young man said
“My family name is rather unusual. It is Mor. There
are not many people around who use this name, I am afraid.”
Upon hearing the name, the elder suddenly remember
the previous incident at the burial ground. The wealthy man
found out that although the young man was poor, he had
In ancient China, all young scholars, including Mr. Mor,
had an ultimate goal of passing one of the most difficult
exams so that they could join the mandarin class and take
part in serving their country. The wealthy man knew that this
young man would fulfil his goal one day in the future. The old
man then thought of his eldest daughter who was at the right
age to be married. He then asked the young man if he was
married. The young scholar was rather puzzled by the question,
however, he politely answered:
“No, I am not married yet. To get married, one needs
money and I don’t have any dowry to offer to any girl just yet.
My parents are very poor but they have done their best for me
to have an education because I always love to learn. I am so
grateful and that’s why I want to concentrate on passing the
exam first. I think once I become a mandarin; it won’t be too
difficult to find a good wife.”
The old man nodded his head with agreement and said:
“Why don’t you marry my daughter? You don’t need
any dowry; I don’t want anything from you.”
The young intellectual was rather shocked by the
bizarre suggestion suddenly sprung on him by a total stranger.
He looked at the older man right in the eyes and said:
“How could I? You are rich and I am very poor. How
can I marry your daughter?”
The older man shook his head and waved his hand
back and forth and said:
“I told you not to worry about money. I just want you
to be my son-in-law and look after my daughter for me. That’s
all I want from you. Now, what do you say?”
The young man thought that it must be his very lucky
day. Once he saw how determined the old man was, he knew
that he had nothing to lose. This news would make his parents
very happy too. He agreed to the wealthy man’s request.
The father quickly came home to tell his wife that
he had found a very promising young man who would have
a very bright future and that he had agreed to marry their
daughter. They told the eldest daughter who was totally
shocked and disgusted by the news.
“No way will I marry a poor man who enjoys reading
a few books. How can I face my friends once they know that
my future husband has no money at all? No father, I am sorry.
I cannot marry him.”
The parents did their best to persuade their daughter
to change her mind, but to no avail. She refused point blank.
The other daughter overheard all the arguments and felt
very sorry for her father that his integrity would be in tatters.
She offered to marry the poor man instead. Although the
father thought about marrying his elder daughter off, he did
not actually tell the man which daughter he would proposed.
So it really didn’t matter if the younger daughter was the bride.
Soon the rich and the poor family were related by
marriage. The elder sister later married a rich man in town.
Whenever there was any family gathering, there was always
prejudice against the poor family especially among the fleet
of servants who served the two daughters.
Finally, the young scholar had to travel to the main
city so that he could take part in the most competitive
exam in China. He had to set off for a long journey which
involved spending a night in a small inn in one little town.
Every Chinese household has a house-spirit shrine,
placed on the floor in the front room. On the night before
the young scholar arrived, the inn owner dreamt that his
house spirit came to tell him about a guest who was about
to arrive on the next day.
“You will have a guest today whose family name is
Mor. He will pass the exam and become a mandarin. He is
a good man and will be very powerful in the future. I am
only a house spirit. His future status will be morally higher
than me. So I have to give him respect by standing up every
time he passes my house. To save my trouble of standing up
and down every time he walks past me, I want you to cover
my house up with a piece of red material. If I don’t see him,
I don’t have to stand up.”
The next day, the young scholar arrived at the inn
some time late afternoon. Once the owner of the inn knew
that he was Mr. Mor, he quickly covered the house spirit up
with the red material as he had been told. The promising
young man was intrigued and couldn’t help asking for the
reason. The owner of the inn felt rather awkward but couldn’t
help leaking the secret. He leaned forward to the young man,
“Well, I’m not supposed to tell you. But never mind, I
don’t think it will hurt, now that you have asked me. Last night,
my house spirit came into my dream and told me that you
would be coming today. He also said that you are a good man
and you will pass your exam and become a mandarin. The
house spirit had respect for you so, he asked me to cover his
house up so that he doesn’t have to stand up every time you
walk past him.”
The young scholar went into his room with many
thoughts coming through his mind. Now that he knew he
would pass the exam. He couldn’t help imagining his bright
future in being a mandarin and having respect from people.
Having known that even a house spirit had respect for him
caused a sudden change in his mind. His humble thoughts
were quickly replaced by arrogance and the good feeling of
having power in his hands.
“Once I become a mandarin, it won’t be long before
I become the governor of my town. People will have to take
orders from me. Then, I want to see the faces of my sisterin-
law and all his servants who always look down upon me
and my family. Now, they will look up to me for a change.
Hm…thinking about the wife, I know she is a good wife but
she is not pretty enough to be a governor’s wife, is she? I
will certainly look for some beautiful concubines.”
The young scholar lay on his bed with one arm resting
on his forehead, grinned to himself and kept on dreaming of
what he could do once he became the powerful governor.
The young man hardly slept that night because he was too
excited dreaming and planning his future.
The next morning, as he was checking out from the
inn, he noticed that the red material had gone and the house
spirit was not covered. He asked the owner of the inn the
“Well, my house spirit came to me again last night
and told me not to bother to cover him up anymore because
your mind has changed, and so will your future too. He no longer
has respect for you. He said you would fail your exam and
had no future.”
The young scholar was shocked and realised his
wrong-doing. Although it was only the wrong thinking, it
gave the impact right away and would cost the whole of his
future. He quickly went down on his knees in front of the
house spirit and confessed his sin.
“Please do forgive me, house spirit. I have already
learnt my lesson. From now on, I will not think out of line
again. I will strictly follow the moral precepts as I have done
in the past even if I become a mandarin. I will treat everyone
well, especially my wife who has been very good to me. Please
do forgive me and bless me to pass my exam.”
The young man felt very ashamed of himself. He
thanked the house spirit who gave him the lesson and the
warning. He carried on with his journey with a humble mind
and did his best in the exam thinking that he would fail
anyway. But with the change of his heart, he finally passed
the exam, became a mandarin and kept his moral obligation.
Due to his honesty and integrity, he had become very famous
indeed. Everyone knew him as the great honourable Mor.
The elder sister’s fortune had also changed too because
of her ill mind. Her rich husband had become a drunkard
and a gambler and destroyed all the fortune his father and
father-in-law had built for him. He then developed an incurable
illness and died at the age of 40. The younger sister felt sorry
for her sister and offered her help but she had too much pride
to accept any help from the people whom she used to look
down upon. Whilst the younger sister became the mandarin’s
wife and had the respect of the people, the elder sister retreated
into a monastery and become a nun for the rest of