Once, Emperor Qianlong visited the South of China. He saw many ships come and go in the Grand Canal in a hubbub. In the midst of the great commotion, the Emperor sighed, “So many ships go back and forth, what on earth are they doing?”

Minister Shen He respectfully answered, “Your Majesty, in my humble opinion, there are only two ships sailing on the river.”

“Which two?”

“One for fame, and another for fortune.”

Many people live for fame and fortune but end up being tied down by them. We suffer because we cannot let go of them. Once we possess money, we cannot let money go; once we fall in love, we cannot let affection go; and once we’ve built a career, we cannot let our career go.

Fame and fortune produce stress, like a yoke upon our soul. They are the source of our limitation and vexation, so we should learn to let them go. What happened yesterday is gone, and what happens in the future is yet to come. We should seize today to seek liberation from everything on earth. If we become attached to a bottomless desire for materialistic enjoyment, we will drown ourselves in sorrow and never be liberated.

Fame and fortune produce stress, like a yoke upon our soul, and are the source of human limitation, so we should learn how to let them go.

Inspirational Short Stories: The Southern Expedition of Emperor Qianlong