Mr Zhu's Words to His Children (朱子治家格言), penned
by Ming scholar Zhu
Bolu 朱柏卢 (1617 - 1688), of Kunshan (昆山) native, near Suzhou
(苏州), in Jiangsu Province, is one of the most printed classics,
used to serve as children's primers in Chinese private and
public schools. After decades of absence, the sound of children
reciting this piece of classics is heard again. The following
are part of its English translation and the original text
Rise at dawn, thoroughly sweep the courtyards and the rooms.
Rest when dusk sets in, carefully lock the gates and close
When eating, reflect on how hard it is for farmers to grow
crops. When dressing, ponder how difficult it is for tailors
to produce garments.
It is wise to repair your house before it rains. It is foolish
to dig a well after you are really thirsty.
Do not live your life lavishly. Do not entertain
your guests extravagantly.
Although our ancestors are
remote, we shall not neglect memorial
services. Even though our offspring may not be bright,
we still must teach
Do not covet
wealth beyond your entitlements. Do not drink alcohols
beyond your capacities.
Do not take advantage of those vendors who
work hard to earn small profit. Do not ignore our poor relatives
and distressed neighbours if you can help.
family is mean, it cannot prevail long. When a household
is unscrupulous, destruction cannot be kept at a distance.
To fawn the rich and powerful is the most revolting. To
bully the weak and poor is the most sickening.
In family relations, do not initiate lawsuits,
for which can only bring losses to all parties. In social
situations, avoid excessive talks, as that may easily land
you in troubles.
Over-confidence will result many regrets; self-indulgence
will bring no success.
To associate with trouble-makers, you will be implicated
sooner or later. To learn form experienced, you could be
saved from peril and danger.
When you hear tales, how do you know it is not groundless
slanders? Thus do not act hastily. When you quarrel with
others, are you absolutely sure you are not at fault? Please
review the event calmly.
Do not remember good things you did for others. Do not forget
good things others did in your interests.
In all situations, do not go over the top. Having obtained
the objectives, do not push any further.
Do not be jealous when others celebrate happiness. Do not
be rejoice when others suffer misfortunes.
A kind deed executed in hoping people will all notice possesses
no real kindness. A wicked act exerted while wishing others
will not see is a true wickedness.
To have a lustful heart after women will bring retributions
on your own wife and daughters. To take secret revenge against
men will cause disasters to your own sons and grandsons.
If a family is harmonious, even the food is scarce, the
household can still be full of laughter. If tax is paid
early, even the purse becomes light, your heart will be filled
with the feeling of accomplishment.
When studying the classics, aiming at learning from the
sages, not obtaining fame and degrees. When working in government,
aspiring to serve the country, not benefiting your own family
Be content with what you have and accept what comes through,
observe the change in time and follow the way of the universe,
if you can achieve these, you shall be a
man that is truly happy and wise.
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