“Be bold and venture to be wise”
is one of my favorite quotes from the Roman poet Horace. The path to enlightenment is not for the timid but for the bold of heart, mind, and spirit. That's why the Upanishads sages compared the path to the razor's edge. Picture yourself as Champollion deciphering the Rosetta Stone, Edmund Hillary climbing Mt. Everest, Columbus discovering the New World, the Wright Brothers lifting off at Kitty Hawk, Buddha meditating under the Bo Tree until he attained enlightenment, and Prometheus bringing fire from the gods to illuminate mankind. Here is a story about a wise man from Korea who ventured to be bold and got what he desired. May this story inspire you to intrepid action, and may your quest for enlightenment be fruitful. — PYC

The Story of Huh Saeng

In a lowly thatched cottage in the Namsan Valley there lived a poor couple, Mr. & Mrs. Huh Saeng. The husband confined himself for seven years and only read books in his cold room... One day his wife, all in tears, said to him: “Look here, my good man! What is the use of all your book reading? I have spent my youth in washing and sewing for other people and yet I have no spare jacket or skirt to wear and I have had no food to eat during the past three days. I am hungry and cold. I can stand it no more!”

Hearing these words, the middle-aged scholar closed his book, rose to his feet, and without saying another word, he went outdoors... Arriving in the heart of the city, he stopped a passing gentleman. “Hello, my friend! Who is the richest man in town?” “Poor countryman! Don't you know Byôn-ssi, the millionaire? His glittering tile-roofed house pierced by twelve gates is just over there.”

Huh Saeng bent his steps to the rich man's house. Having entered the big gate, he flung the guest-room door open and addressed the host: “I need 10,000 yang for capital for my commercial business and I want you to lend me the money.”

“Alright, sir. Where shall I send the money”

“To the Ansông Market in care of a commission merchant.”

Very well, sir. I will draw on Kim, who does the biggest commission business in the Ansông Market. You'll get the money there.”

“Good-bye, sir.”

When Huh Saeng was gone, all the other guests in the room asked Byôn-ssi why he gave so much money to a beggarlike stranger whose family name was unknown to him. But the rich man replied with a triumphant face: “Even though he was in ragged clothes, he spoke clearly to the point without betraying shame or inferiority, unlike common people who want to borrow money for a bad debt. Such a man as he, is either mad or self-confident in doing business. But judging from his dauntless eyes and booming voice, he is an uncommon man with a superhuman brain, worthy of my trust. I know money and I know men. Money often makes a man small, but a man like him makes big money. I am only glad to have helped a big man do big business.”

— Ha Tae-hung, Behind the Scenes of Royal Palaces in Korea,
Yonsei University Press, 1983

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