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2015/04/05 02:02

Respected friends, greetings!



Lets continue with the Second Passage of Qunshu Zhiyao 360.



As all things accomplished in a hurry will perish rapidly; all things accomplished timely will end perfectly.  The flower that opens in the morning will wither and fall in the evening.  The slow-growing greeneries of the cypress and pines will not fade in cold winter.  Therefore, the genteel despise to act in haste[A1] .



This passage is selected from Qunshu Zhiyao vol. 26, “The Book of Wei, the Biography of Chang[A2]  Wang.”  In the “Biography of Chang Wang,” (died 259 AD), it is recorded that “Chang Wang, with the courtesy name[1] of Wen-Shu, was from the County of Tai-Yuan, the Province of Jin-Yang.”  Why do the biographies of the ancients always begin with their birthplace?  It is because when heroes and those who contributed greatly to their country, they also contributed to their birthplace.  People from their hometown will honor them and their birthplace is also honored by their accomplishments.  As a tradition, biographers will first identify the birthplace of this accomplished person.  Chang Wang was granted the title of marquis[2] and was at one time appointed as the Inspector of Yan Province (by the first emperor of Wei).  An inspector is today’s equivalent of a governor. 



To express his expectations, governor Wang chose words representing modesty and sincerity to name his sons and nephews.  One of his older brother’s sons was named Mo Wang, with a courtesy name of Chu-Jin, meaning “repose in quietude.”  The other one was given the first name Chen, with a courtesy name of Chu-Doa, meaning “repose in Dao,” the ultimate principle of the universe.  One of his sons was given the first name Hun, meaning “merge in Oneness,” with a courtesy name of Xuan-Chong, meaning “infuse in profundity.”  Another son was given the first name Shen, meaning deep, with a courtesy name of Dao-Chong, infuse in Dao. 



He also cautioned them:  In the Dao of being a child, the most important things are to take care of your body, be ethical, and maintain moral conducts to honor your parents and illustrate their virtues.  Everyone knows these three good things.  Nonetheless, there are still people ruined and families wrecked.  What is the cause of their ruination that even leads to their deaths?  It is because they were led astray from the beginning.  Piety, respect, benevolence, and righteousness are the important characteristics of a person and the bases for good standings in society.  When there is filial piety and respect, there will be harmony and stability within the family and the clan. When there is benevolence and righteousness, there will be respect from people in your hometown.  In other words, when people have cultivated deep their inner virtues, their good reputation will naturally spread wide and far in society.



 He further advised:  “We must resolutely cultivate and elevate our virtues.  Do not chase after trifles and neglect the fundamentals.  What are the pursuits of trifles?  If we pursue eloquence, rich and fame, we will fall into the trap of superfluous vanity or end up in cliques.  Why would the pursuits of trifles end in cliques?  To scheme for personal gains and without the foundation of ethics, we would form cliques and plot together for self-interests. Vanity leads to hypocrisy and cliques result in the ruination and misfortune of everyone involved.  Painful lessons of vanity and cliques are obvious and many, but people still repeat the same mistakes.  The phenomena of ‘chasing after trifles and neglecting the fundamentals’ are even worse (in today’s society).  It is all because people were dazzled by temporary fame and blinded by their greed for instant profits.”



“It can be said that everyone loves to be rich and famous.  In the Analects, Confucius also said: “Riches and honors are what men desire[3].”  Who does not like to be the gentry and wealthy?   People in general aspire to be such.  However, the noble and gracious will not accept rich, fame, and social status even when they can.  They despise rich and fame acquired through devious means.  The things worthy of anxiety in life for such people are whether they know when to retreat and not just advance; when to be content and not just indulge in desires.   Without such worries, there will be humiliations, anxieties caused by difficulties, and self-reproach caused by irreversible mistakes.  The adage ‘discontent makes people lose everything they own’ tells us that long-lasting fortunes are fortunes one is content with.”



Governor Wang concluded by saying: “Those who examine carefully the successes and failures of past events and see clearly the fortune and misfortune of the future will understand that those who chase after rich and fame insatiably cannot enjoy long-lasting riches or maintain the continued prosperity of their family and clan.  My wish for you is that you will all conduct yourselves in society according to the teachings of Confucianists and the precepts[A3]  of Taoists.  Therefore, I picked words meaning deep, profundity, quietude, and the Dao of modesty and non-attachment in your names.  I hope that whenever you see your names, you will think of their meanings and do not dare to overstep yourselves or violate the teachings of the saints.  In ancient times, there were inscriptions on plates and containers and commandments carved on stands and staffs for the purpose of reminding people not to transgress.  Whenever they raise or lower their heads, they will see such reminders.  Since my caveats are in your names, how could you not be cautious at all times?”  After the above instructions, he wrote the excerpted Third Passage: As all things accomplished in a hurry will perish rapidly; all things accomplished timely will end perfectly.  The flower that opens in the morning will wither and fall in the evening.  The slow-growing greeneries of the cypress and pines will not fade in cold winter.  Therefore, the genteel despise to act in haste.



Here, the genteel are those high in virtues and talents.  This passage conveys the general principle that things developed too fast will have a quick demise; and things progressed slowly and steadily will result in perfection.  When we observe nature, we discover flowers that open in the morning often fold or drop off in the evening; but the thriving cypress and pine trees will not wither or scatter away in the bitter cold of winter.  Therefore, the virtuous and talented gentleperson should find it a taboo to seek fast results.  From this passage we have to raise this question:  why cypress and pines do not wither even in cold winters?  Cypress and pines have deep roots[A4]  (that prevent their leaves from shedding).  A persons growth can be analogized to the growth of all things in nature and edified by them.

這個「夫」是「凡、所有」的意思。「疾」,疾亡的疾,就是快速的、疾速的。「就」就是成功、完成的意思。「朝華」,這個「華」也寫作花草的「花」。指早晨開的花朵。「隆寒」就是指嚴寒[A5] 。「大雅君子」就是才德高尚的人。這句話翻譯過來的意思就是說,大凡事物發展過快則衰亡也快,緩慢穩定地發展則容易有圓滿的成果。我們觀察自然界看到,早晨開花的草到了傍晚就凋落了;而茂盛的松柏,即使在非常寒冷的冬天也不會枯萎。所以,德高才大的君子忌諱速成。我們從這裡就要問這樣一個問題,為什麼松柏到了非常寒冷的冬天也不會枯萎?那就是因為松柏它有根,所以一個人的成長也要從自然界的萬事萬物中能夠有所體悟,能夠獲得啟示。


In the Book of Rites, the chapter on the “Great Learning” stated: “Virtue is the root; wealth is the result.[4]”  Wealth here does not simply mean riches; it also includes a person’s image, reputation, and social status, which are like the foliages, flowers, and fruits of a tree.  What is the root?  The root is in a person’s deeply-entrenched virtuous conducts.  In the Book of Changes[A6] , the second hexagram, symbolized by earth, connotes the image of a superior person whose “immense virtue can carry all.[5]  The deeper accumulation of a person’s virtue, the higher the reputation, the more the riches, and the nobler the social status s/he can carry without personal ruination.  If we observe nature further, we will discover that the height the foliage can extend is the depth the roots must reach[A7] .  Deep roots mean lush foliages.


The phenomena of “chasing after trifles and neglecting the fundamentals” mentioned by governor Wang are more severe in today’s society.  The result of such phenomena is just like what Confucius had said: “Desire to have things done quickly prevents their being done thoroughly. Looking at small advantages prevents great affairs from being accomplished[6].”  The more the speed we demand, the more the obstacles there are blocking us from our goals.  If we only see the marginal profits in front of our eyes, we will obstruct great enterprise from happening.  People nowadays have no pursuits other than rich, fame, and social status.  However, the Great Learning told us that “ill-gotten wealth will take its departure in the same improper way.”  Those seeking overnight riches will commit extortions, fraud, embezzlements, and racketeering.  They will take bribes, abuse their power for self-interests, or other shenanigans.  Eventually, they will invoke personal ruinations.  Hence, the ancients cautioned us that wealth acquired though devious means will depart by the same.



The ancients took pains to teach the future generations how to avoid losing their wealth and summarized five categories that cause financial ruin.  The first is the government.  For example, if we obtain wealth through bribery, embezzlement, or exchange power for money, we will be put in jail once such corruption is discovered and our wealth will be confiscated.  All our chicanery is like putting water in a bamboo-weaved basket full of holes.  Once in jail, it will be too late for our regrets.  The second is flood.  The third is fire.  Ill-gotten wealth will be destroyed by fire and washed away by flood.  The fourth is robbery.  The ancients said that “thieves have their Dao as well.”  How do thieves demonstrate their Dao?  The one that comes immediately to mind is Robin Hood who robbed the rich to help the poor.  If this type of thieves sees someone with ill-gotten wealth and fail to donate to charity to help the poor; but instead throw their money away in debauchery, they will steal, extort, and blackmail such malevolent rich people.  The last category is sometimes inevitable and not preventable.  They are our unworthy, profligate, wastrel descendants. What we nowadays call the NEET group or boomerang children that live off their parents.  They will squander away our illegal money too.



Many people have not learned the traditional culture and do not understand this truism.  They only think about how to get rich quick and make money through any illicit means in order to send their children to study abroad.  What happened to their illicit gain?  When I was studying in England in 1999, I suddenly had an epiphany and realized that:  (1) the tuition in foreign countries are more expensive, approximately ten times more, than that of China; and (2) those children did not use the tuition money to go to school; instead, they squander their parents’ ill-gotten wealth in casinos, the gambling halls.  They would lose tens of thousands of dollars in one bet on the gaming table.  Such children felt no pain in squandering away their parents’ dirty money like water.  When I saw them, I realized the truth that “ill-gotten wealth will take its departure in the same improper way.”



General Zeng Guofan (1811-1872) of Chin dynasty[7], was famous for never sending a penny home from his army.  He would never use any government funds for private use.  Many leading cadres’ first reaction was disbelief when they read this about General Zeng.  Public distrust is one of the maladies of today’s society.  People will be full of disbelief upon hearing other’s good deeds but totally believe in what they heard of other’s bad deeds.  What causes this phenomenon?  The root cause is the trust crisis--people do not trust in themselves.  They do not believe that they can do such selfless, altruistic things or keep themselves honest and clean.  Therefore, when they hear that others can give selflessly without taking, or not taking a penny home from the government, their first reaction is “how could it be possible?”  We have not read the biography of General Zeng or read the family letters written by him.  We know nothing of him, but our first reaction is disbelief.  This is all caused by our gauging the mindset of a superior person from our own narrow-mindedness.



We must inquire further why General Zeng can do this.  We should also probe further why the ancients, such as Fan Zhong-yan (989-1052)[8], the famous vice chancellor of Song dynasty, could write the profound verse: "Be the first to worry the woes of people across the land; be the last to enjoy the blessings across the land?”   During the almost colonized Chin dynasty, Viceroy Lin Ze-xu (1785-1850)[9] said: “I will die if my death can benefit my country, how can I seek personal fortune and evade such death believing it a misfortune?”  The greatest and most accomplished strategist during the era of the Three Kingdoms, Marquis of Wu, chancellor-regent, Zhuge Liang (181–234 AD)[10] who had been compared to Sun Tsu also said:  I would “bend over backwards to help (your majesty); work till my last breath has stopped.”  One of the five great scholars of Chin dynasty, Gu Yan-Wu (1613-1682)[11] said: “The rise and fall of the state rest on everyone’s shoulder.”  Why can the ancients write verses, poems, and prose that are patriotic but also embrace the world?  In contrast, today’s intellectuals are full of grievances.  If we read the compositions of the number one students from national university examinations or the compositions with full scores, we will find that they are full of complaints.  They blame others for their fate, hold grudges against society, and cannot find anything right in the world; as if the whole world had done them wrong.  What causes the difference between the ancient scholars and today’s students?  The reason is actually quite simple.  It is because we studied different books and accepted different educations since our formative years.



The ancients studied the Four Books and the Five Scriptures since childhood.  The core value of the Four Books and the Five Scriptures is personal cultivation, family order, state governance, and world peace.  The four stages of personal cultivation are: extinction of avarice, awareness of the phenomena, sincerity in thoughts, and rectification of the mind[12].  Please note that the first step in personal cultivation begins with the extinction of avarice.  When we are faced with the temptations of luxury lifestyle, sexual desires, rich, and fame, our tranquil mind should be unperturbed and our moral compass never vacillated.  This is the true basis of personal cultivation; thereafter, we can govern the state and maintain world peace without implications.  We have seen many university students, filled with righteous anger when seeing government corruption, protested in rallies/demonstrations to fight corruption.  However, after they graduated, assigned to government post, and became leading cadres in a few years, faced with stacks of money and vested interests, they changed their tune to “I am against anyone who is against corruption.”  Why do they change their work ethics so quickly? The answer is simply.  They did not learn the scriptures of the saints and sages, lacked the basics of personal cultivation, and have failed to foster their awe-inspiring righteousness and integrity.



If we chase after flowery, insubstantial knowledge, we only learned lots of know-hows, but they have nothing to do with our personal cultivation or the upkeep of family harmony.  Thus, in the Analects, Confucius said: In ancient times, men learned with a view to their own improvement. Nowadays, men learn with a view to the approbation of others[13]. Confucius had already seen such phenomena in his time and lamented that only the ancient scholars learn for the purpose of elevating their virtues and enlightenment.  He called such type of study as learning for the self.



There is a saying: “If not for the self, men will be annihilated by heaven and earth.”  How should we interpret this?  The correct meaning should be that if we as humans do not elevate our virtues, we will be annihilated by heaven and earth.  However, most people nowadays, according to their modern views, misinterpret it as men should be selfish in order to survival; if they do not pursue their personal interests, they will be “annihilated by heaven and earth.”  This is totally wrong and deviates from the Dao.

現在有一句話說「人不為己,天誅地滅[A8] 」,這句話應該怎麼理解?正確的理解應該是,人不提高修養自己的德行,那就會怎麼樣?就會天誅地滅。但是現在很多人按著現代的意思,把這句話給解錯了。認為人就是要為自私自利來生存,如果不追求自私自利的話,就會「天誅地滅」,這個是不符合道的。


Nowadays, men learn with a view to the approbation of others is still applicable to todays intellectuals.  They study for the purpose of quoting famous quotes at gatherings of friends and alumni.  They will confound people with the sayings of Confucius and the Book of Poems; attract peoples eyes with Confucius said this and the Poem said that. They show off their knowledge to surpass others; put on a façade to boost their egos.  This is the study for others approbation.



All these are telling us that we should study for the purpose of being saints and sages.  The studying of the scriptures is like holding a mirror to reflect clearly all our flaws, bad habits, and afflictions.  If we do not study them, we will never know what is wrong with us; and we will never understand the ancients and us are at different levels.  After studying them, we will discover the wide gap between the ancients and us.  The more we study, the more humble we become and our arrogance will evaporate.  This is the correct way of studying.



It also tells us that the purpose of personal cultivation is self-actualization, to benefit ourselves and others, to enlighten ourselves and other.  General Zeng could “never take home a penny from the army” because he was a scholar and understood the Dao.  The ancients said: “Repose in Dao, the mind is tranquil.”  Such people will not hurry hither and thither for personal gain through illegal means, through irrational maneuvers for profits not belonging to them.  Therefore, they can never take a penny from the public for personal use.



Again, let’s observe the natural phenomena.  The ancient Chinese have discovered that all things have a seasonal progression like the natural phenomena--a cycle of the sprouting in spring, the growing in summer, the harvesting in fall, and the storing in winter.  If our career is at the stage of “sprouting in spring,” we should not expect the harvest that should happen in fall.  We all know the famous “Pulling Sprouts to Help Them Grow” story in Mencius.  If you gripe about the slow growth of the rice seedlings, and tried to help them grow by pulling them higher, they will wither and die quickly.  This is doing just the opposite of what you wish for.



Zhang Ju-zheng (1525-1582), the Grand Secretary of the late Ming dynasty, credited with bringing the dynasty to its apogee,[14] was a child protégé.  At the age of seven he was already famous in his hometown, Jin-Zhou, for his thorough knowledge of the Six Scriptures.  At the age of thirteen, he attended the Juren examination (equivalent to obtaining a graduate school degree).  The government examiner was highly appreciative of his essays and wanted to let him pass the exam.  However, Gu Lin, the circuiting viceroy of Hu-Guon provinces (in south China), although giving his stamp of approval of the essays, foresaw Zhang ’s potential as a future chancellor and if Zhang passed the exam at age 13, he might become arrogant.  Viceroy Gu felt that Zhang should learn from failures so that he would be more vigorous and resilient in his future endeavors.  As a result, Zhang Ju-zheng did not pass the exam but he progressed steadily in his career as a government official.   He became a famous statesman and contributed greatly to the reform of the bureaucracy of Ming dynasty.  Eventually, he learned of what Gu lin had done and was very grateful.  He believed that without Gu Lin, he would not have had such great accomplishments.

我們看在歷史上的張居正,他在少年的時候就非常聰明,七歲的時候就能夠通達六經大意[A9] ,在荊州府都很出名了。十三歲的時候他就去參加舉人考試,文章寫得非常好,考官看了之後大為欣賞,就準備要錄取他。但是當時的湖廣巡撫顧璘看到了張居正的文章,雖然覺得他的文章寫得很好,但是他認為張居正他有宰相之才,如果三歲就能夠中舉人,恐怕他以後會驕傲自滿,所以應該給他一些挫折,以便他以後更加奮發有為。於是他就讓考官不要錄取張居正為舉人,雖然他的文章寫得不錯,確實寫得很好。後來張居正他在官場上走得很平穩,成為明代的一代賢臣,對明朝的貢獻很大。後來他知道這件事之後,對顧璘一直心存感激,他認為如果沒有顧璘,也許他後來不會有如此大的成就。


The ancients were often found saying that “it is a great misfortune to be successful when young.”  Why is it considered a great misfortune to have early success in life?   A highly intelligent child who have accepted the education of the saints and sages and can write beautifully will be praised everywhere s/he goes.  However, along with the frequency of accolades, s/he will gradually become arrogant.  Confucius had said it well:  “Though a man has talents as admirable as those of the Duke of Zhou, yet if he be proud and niggardly, those other qualities are not worth mentioning.”  Thus, early success will easily boost a youngster’s pride and arrogance.  (What are the repercussions of arrogance?)



In the Book of Documents, counsel to the Great Yu said:  “Arrogance invokes loss, humility receives benefits, and this is the Dao of the Heaven.”  People full of pride and arrogance will invoke loss.  What kind of loss?  Because they feel they are better than others, they will no longer study hard and can no longer advance in life.  Humility benefits people by making them modest and covets knowledge.  Modest people will be courteous, and in turn make the teachers and elders happy to teach and guide them.   They will progress quickly and have a smooth life wherever they go.  In the Analects, Confucius’ student Zi-Xia also said:  “Let the superior man never fail reverentially to order his own conduct, and let him be respectful to others and observant of propriety; then all within the four seas will be his brothers[15].”  All will be one’s brothers is the result.  What is the cause of this brotherhood?  It is in “reverentially ordering one’s conduct and respectful to others and observant of propriety.”  Such people will conduct themselves respectfully in society, without transgressions, and treat everyone graciously.  They can perceive other’s needs and not self-centered.  Consequently, wherever they go, they will bond with others as brothers and sisters.  If we have learned such wonderful teachings early in life, we would have avoided many pitfalls in life.



Take myself for example; when I was in college, I always received scholarship of the first class.  Receiving scholarship of the first class at the People’s University means that I must have straight As at the end of the semester.  If there is a B in one class, I would only get scholarship of the second class.  Since I always had such excellent grades but without the education of the saints and sages, I became supercilious.  I was full of myself and walked with my nose in the air (looking at the blue sky) on campus.  I considered everyone beneath my notice and no one can compare to me.   Now, when I visit the Ivy League universities and saw the same attitude from students there, I felt a sense of urgency and that such wonderful instructions from the saints and sages should indeed be transmitted to them as early as possible.  Although I had excellent grades, I was never elected as the “Student of Three Goodness” due to my lack of humility and graciousness.   What was I thinking when I lost?  At that time I have not yet learned “seek the cause in ourselves when our actions do not return desired results.”  I did not understand that I should introspect myself when I have failed or things did not go as I wish.  My rationale was that they were jealous of me because of my excellent grades.  I would say to myself:  “I don’t care. No matter what you guys do, my grades are better than you.”   



I had such an attitude till 2005 or 2006.  Around 2005 or 2006, I had an opportunity to visit Tongchi, in the county of Lujiang, the Province of Anhui.  Tongchi was a model town of harmony.  It held seminars on traditional Chinese culture.  I listened to the lecture given by Teacher Cai and when he mentioned Let the superior man never fail reverentially to order his own conduct, and let him be respectful to others and observant of propriety - then all within the four seas will be his brothers,” I had an epiphany.  I suddenly realized why I had so many frustrations in the past and why my life was not a smooth sailing.  Consequently, I wish to transmit such teachings to more youngsters so that they will not repeat my mistakes and avoid the pitfalls in life.



In high school we have all learned the prose called “Lamenting Zhong-Yong,” written by Wang An-She (1021-1086), famous for his controversial social-economic reform of Song dynasty[16].   This prose is edifying.  It tells the story of a poor man named Fong Zhong-Yong living in the county of Golden Creek.  His family had been farmers for generations.  Although he had never been taught how to use the writing tools, such as papers, Chinese brush, ink bar, ink stand, etc., one day at the age of five, he suddenly cried for such things.  His father was very surprised and borrowed some from their neighbors.  Unbelievably, Zhong-Yong wrote a four-line poem immediately, which expressed his wish to support his parents and to unify the clan.  (We should also praise the well intention of the content poem.)  The poem was circulated to all the scholars in the county and every one was very positive about his talent.  From then on, he showed his quick wit in writing poems on any subject given to him and all his poems were praiseworthy both in context and lyrics.  People in the county were amazed by his talent and started to invite his father, a peasant, as guests.  Some people would even pay to have Zhong-Yong’s poems.  Seeing the possibility of making money, his father would take Zhong-Yong with him to visit people around the county and would not allow him to continue with his studies.



When Fong Zhong-Yong was a teenager, around the age of 12 or 13, Wang An-shi returned to his hometown and saw him at his maternal uncle’s house.  Wang asked him to write a poem and found it no longer matched his fame.  Another seven years passed, Wang returned home from Yang-zhou and visited his maternal uncle again.  He asked about Zhong-Yong and his uncle said: “All his talents vanished.  He is now ordinary.”



Zhong-yong was a child protégé who could write beautiful poems and prose at the age of five; but due to his father’s desires for instant profits, he lost the opportunity to continue with his studies and to accumulate knowledge.  Consequently, by the time he was twenty, he was as ordinary as any average person.  Wang An-shi concluded:  “Zhong-yong’s talent was God-given, much higher than people of ordinary talent.  But eventually his genius was obscured due to his failure to obtain the nurturing of education.  If people who are talented by nature but without the nurturing of education would become ordinary, what would happen to those who are ordinary by nature and unwillingly to accept the nurturing of education?  I am afraid that they probably cannot even be ordinary.”



This story tells us that we should treasure our talents by nature, but also study hard in order to be a success.  Especially in view of the fact that talents are secondary to a person’s success and the bases for success are virtuous conducts.  The reason the foliage of cypress and pines will not wither in the chilliness of winter is because they have deep roots.



For us cultivators, the Master constantly stressed that we should let two types of roots grow deep.  The first is the root of virtuous conducts based on Di Zi Gui, Treastise on the Response of Rewards and Retributions, the Sutra of the Ten Meritorious Deeds, and the Precepts and Etiquettes for the Novices.  If we can spend several years to actualize the teachings of these four scriptures, our virtues will be as steady/unmovable as a table with four legs.  The other root is the classics.  We shall begin the study of the classics with Shuōwén Jiězì (the Analytical and Etymological Dictionary, finished in the 2nd century, Han dynasty[17]).  Then, we will have the ability to penetrate into the classics, to have a profound understanding of the Four Books and the Five Scriptures, even the doctrines of the Thirteen Scriptures and Siku Guanshu (the Imperial Library in the Four Divisions of Traditional Studies).  Otherwise, we will interpret words in their modern context instead of its classic meanings and miss the delight of their deep enriching noumenon.



This is why the Master often mentioned “cultivate from one school of knowledge, immerse in them for a long time.”  “Immerse in them for a long time” is a command that we should withstand the loneliness of solitary study, to sit in one chair for ten cold winters.  Without ten-years of cultivation, our knowledge and virtues will not be deeply rooted.  Our cultivation will be like the morning flowers without deep roots that will wither and scatter in the wind.  If the roots are entrenched deeply, even tsunamis cannot destroy them.



If we aspire to elevate our virtues, we must overcome our immeasurable afflictions and bad habits, which cannot be accomplished in one day and one night.  It would take a long time to eradicate them.  Take myself for example; I was assigned to work at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee after graduating in 1997.  The first class I taught was to calibrate the mindset of the leading cadres.  I would often talk about anger management and how to control the key to one’s happiness.  Every time I give this class, I will remind myself to do the same.  Nonetheless as of now, from 1998 to 2014, more than a decade, almost two decades had passed and I still cannot control my affliction of quick temper.  Neither can I control the key to my happiness.  I would still be upset when things do not go as I wish; I would still be vexed when things are not to my satisfaction.  These are all signs of not controlling the key to one’s happiness.  I still have not reached the state of being unperturbed when fanned by the passions of gain, loss; defamation, accolade; praise, ridicule; sorrow, joy.[18]



It takes at least ten to twenty years to eradicate one bad habit, not to mention that, as stated in Liao-Fan’s Four Lessons, our accumulated bad habits and “mistakes are as numerous as the spines[A10]  in a porcupine.”  For example, would we be happy when others compliment us? Would we be vexed when we did not get the respect we feel we deserve? Would we be jealous when seeing other’s accomplishments?  Would we think “how come that person is not me” when we hear someone’s fame all of a sudden?  In the Treatise on the Responses of Rewards and Retributions, it instructed that we should “regard other’s gain as we have gained such; regard other’s loss as we have lost such.”  However, seeing other’s gain, can we feel the same joy as if we had such gain?  Seeing other’s loss, can we feel the same sadness as if we are experiencing such lost?



We harbor jealousy when seeing other’s success.  For example, when we hear our boss praises our colleagues, can we be happy for them and rejoice in their accomplishments? Just the opposite, we will think:  “I was better than they.  Why the boss did not see what I have done?  Why praise them?”  We felt wronged and jealousy arises in our heart.  When the boss criticize our colleagues, do we feel sad for them?  No, we will think:  “They made a mistake and what a joy the boss discovered them.”  We will secretly celebrate their predicaments and delight in their mishap.  All these reactions are against our innate compassion.  Our compassionate heart is empathetic.   An empathetic heart feels the same emotions others experience.  When others are sad, we can completely identify with their feelings.  When others are happy, we can rejoice in their success.  This is called an empathetic heart.



If we do not study the canons of the saints and sages, we will never see our problems.  Even when we have found our problems, we cannot eradicate them in a day or two.  Therefore, we should not hurry for success, temper our impetuosity, and do not wish for fame at an early age.




This Passage is very helpful in our cultivations and studies.  With respect to the governance of our nation, such as our development in economy and technology, it is also enlightening.  Many would complain that the bondage of traditional culture caused our economic and technological developments to lag far behind Western countries.  Indeed, China in the last few centuries was relatively behind the Western countries in the development of economy and technology.  What causes this slow development?  The reason is very simple.  It is because the ancient Chinese had this totality concept. They observed the principles of the development of the universe and discovered the “Dao of Yin and Yang;” or as explained in “The Great Treatise I” to the Book of Changes:  “The successive movement of the inactive and active operations constitutes what is called the Dao (course of things) [19].”   Everything will fall when it reaches its zenith and everything will rise when it reaches its nadir.  This is the ultimate principle of the universe or Dao.  Therefore, when the development of economy and technology reached its zenith, it will cause the hazardous devastation to the biosphere and ecological crisis appears.  During the era of the Three Kingdoms (220-280 AD), Zhuge Liang as mentioned above, chancellor of one of the three kingdoms, invented the conveyance belt pulled by wooden ox and flowing horse.  However, he destroyed his inventions and did not leave them for the use of future generations.  Why would he do this?  It is because he knew that the faster the development of science and technology, the faster the destruction of humanity.  Ever since the invention of atomic bombs, we have lived in the imminent threat of human annihilation.  If one political leader were to lose his sanity and deploy such weapons, the end result is Armageddon--the total annihilation of mankind.



A priori, the ancients supported the development of economy and technology with the philosophy of moderation, the Dao of the Middle Way.  The ancients expressed the “Dao of the active and inactive” with the pictograph of Yin and Yang, which is half in black and half in white, representing the sun and its shadows with a dividing line.  If one half oversteps the line, the balance between the Yin and Yang is lost.  What happens when the balance is lost?  Changes occur.  This is called the extremes of Yin creates the Yang; the extremes of Yang creates the Yin.   Or what we often say: extremities will result in reversions; things will decline once it reached its zenith; or things will increase once it reached its nadir.  The ancient Chinese, having realized this principle, would not over-develop economy and technology so that mankind can have sustainable development and avoid premature annihilation.



We are now duplicating the Western philosophy of development and the foreseeable future is the severe depletion and devastation of the natural resources and the appearance of ecological crisis.  There is a story that gives a good illustration of this situation.  A horde of sheep jumped off a cliff and committed mass suicide.  People were puzzled as the sheep seemed normal and content before the incident.  After investigation, they found that none of them wanted to commit suicide.  They were just munching on grass but some of them in the back of herd, wishing to have fresher grass and not leftovers, started to run to the front.  Those behind wishing to compete and not shown as weak also started to run.  Thus, they chased after each other and started to run so fast that they could not stop themselves when they reached the cliff.  The end result was the syndrome of the sheep committing mass suicide.



This story is edifying and leads us to ask what the purpose of our economic development is?  Many would say that it is to satisfy our needs for the continued elevation of the material standards of living[A11] .  Then we have to ask, as human beings, what are our basic needs for survival? The answer is fresh air and clean water.  Ironically, the end-results of economic development and technological development are polluted air and contaminated water.  Therefore, we have to ask again: “Is the purpose of our economic development so that we can no longer breathe fresh air and drink clean water?”  As rational people, we should not simulate the irrational sheep to end in mass suicide due to competition devoid of scruples.  Dr. Arnold Toynbee opined in his book, 未來屬於中國 The Future Belongs to China(???) that the gradual and slow development of China was more beneficial as it can avoid the numerous problems caused by the over-development of the West.  Thus, the gradual and slow development of China is not a weakness; just the opposite, it is our strength as it can avoid the premature annihilation of mankind.



What we can learn from this Passage when it is applied to running a business?  According to one set of statistics, the average life expectancy of the multi-national corporations--Fortune 500 companies--is between 40 and 50 years[20].  The average life expectancy of big corporations in China is between 7 and 8 years and even shorter for small businesses, about 2.9 years.  There is a popular saying in the business world to ridicule this phenomenon:  “There will be icons in each generation to lead for two or three years.” (The original poem was that the icon could lead for a century.)  Why can’t today’s businesses last long?  The answer is simply that businesspeople have not followed the teachings of the saints and sages.



The Great Learning instructed us that there is an order in things to be done:   “Rulers possessing virtue will gain the people.  Possessing the people will give them the territory.  Possessing the territory will give them its wealth. Possessing the wealth, they will have resources for expenditure.  Virtue is the root; wealth is the result.[21]”  “Possessing virtue will gain the people” means that when we take pains to cultivate our virtue, we will strike a cord with other virtuous people and can work together towards a common goal.  “Possessing the people will give them the territory” expressed the necessity of securing land, a prerequisite of businesses in agricultural societies.  Possessing the people satisfies a business’ requirement for human resources to open the business market, to maintain public relations, etc.  In other words, with virtuous people and property a business has acquired all the necessary resources.  “Possessing the territory will give them its wealth” means that once the business has all the necessary resources, with a concerted effort impregnable as a stronghold, the business will find opportunities to develop its markets and creating profits will be a natural result.   “Possessing the wealth, they will have resources for expenditure” means that once wealth has been created, it is crucial where the money is spent.  It should be used in the “daily increase in virtues and decrease in transgressions” and not wasted on extravagance.  It should also be used on rewarding the employees.  Without the sweat of the front-line workers, a business cannot have continued growth.  They worked very hard and the employer should take care of them not just financially, but also to help them advance with better education, elevate their virtues, and have a happy family life.  In addition, businesses should also pay back their customers.  Customers should have the best services and the best products at minimum costs.  The business should also pay back the society as it has taken from the society.  Such a socially responsible enterprise will naturally earn a good reputation and invoke many assistance and favorable conditions.  People will want to help it grow and make it a success.  Since its development can benefit so many people, it can have sustainable development.  For example, Tongrentang (TRT) in Beijing was founded in 1669 and had been designated to provide medicines for the royal pharmacy of the imperial palace of the Chin Dynasty and has world-wide branches today[22].   What is the secret formula that makes TRT into a company that lasted for more than three centuries?  Its secret formula is traditional culture[A12] .



We have observed many problems in today’s businesses.  After comparing their business philosophy with the canons of the saints and sages, we realized where their problems lie.  Those problematic businesses all wished for quick profits and fast results that left them with severe repercussions.  For example, the fast-food industry created many junk foods that are harmful to human health.  The Western pharmaceutical industry would aim for quick reliefs that result in side effects.  In contrast, Chinese medicine, curing illnesses from their root causes, will not relieve the symptoms quickly but will not harm the human body.  All of the above demonstrated the wisdom of the ancient Chinese.



From this Second Passage, we have learned that setting up the correct pace will aid greatly in our cultivation, personal growth, the development of businesses, and the governance of nations.  We will end the explanation of the Passage here.

所以我們學了這句話,無論是對於我們個人的修學,個人的成長,還是對於企業團隊的發展,還是對於治理國家,制定正確無誤的措施都有非常大的幫助[A13] 。這一句話我們就講到這裡。


Now the time is up.  We will continue with the Third Passage next time and end todays lesson.  I welcome everyones criticisms and corrections due to my insufficiencies.  Thank you all.



[1] A courtesy name(, zi ), also known as style name, is a name bestowed upon a person at adulthood in addition to one’s given name. According to the Book of Rites, after a man reaches adulthood, it is disrespectful for others of the same generation to address him by his given name. Thus, the given name was reserved for oneself and one's elders, such as parents, teachers, and the emperor, while the  would be used by adults of the same generation to refer to one another on formal occasions or in writing; hence the term "courtesy name". See,


[3] Translation by James Legge.  See,


[4] Adapted from translation by James Legge.  See,


[6] Translation by James Legge.  See,


[13] Translation by James Legge, see,


[15] Translation by James Legge.  See,


[17] Although not the first comprehensiveChinese character dictionary (the Erya predates it),  it was still the first to analyze the structure of the characters and to give the rationale behind them (sometimes also the etymology of the words represented by them), as well as the first to use the principle of organization by sections with shared components, called radicals (bùshǒu 部首, lit. "section headers"). See


[19] With reference to translation by James Legge.  See,


[20] See Business week, “THE LIVING COMPANY: Habits for survival in a turbulent business environment.”  See,


[21] Adapted from translation by James Legge.  See,


 [A1]惡速成the noble and gracious despise things done in haste? Despise hurried actions? Depise fast results?  The genteel find it an affliction to….

 [A2]Should we put first name first the western way? Or follow the new style according to Chinese tradition?


 [A4]Deep roots are really not the known cause to the general public.

·         Leaf drop protects deciduous plants from dehydration during the winter months. Water supplies underground may freeze in the winter and become unavailable to roots. At the same time, however, sunny winter days cause plants to lose water through their leaves. Eventually, the plant dehydrates and, lacking water for basic life functions, dies.


·         Pine trees possess adaptations that help them conserve water without shedding all of their leaves at once. Needles contain fewer pores through which they lose water, and a thick, waxy coating prevents further loss. The large number of evergreen needles lets them capture a lot of sunlight with relatively little risk of water loss.

Read more :

 [A5]I omitted these few sentences as their meanings become obvious in the English translation


The ancient said: “Immense virtue can support all.”


彖傳: 坤厚載物,德合无疆




I think we can let our Western friends know more about where these wonderful wisdom come from instead of just the “ancients say…  so please pardon my adding the source. 


The above is my translation according to the lecture.

 [A7]the height the foliage can reach is the depth the roots must penetrate.






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