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EVENING TALK AROUND THE FIRE STOVE (EXCERPT)

by Wang Yongbin (1792 - 1869, Qing Dynasty)
English translation: Miao Guang

Ten tenth of impatience, a serious illness for men;
One tenth of compromise, a remedy for life’s issues.

Reproach only oneself instead of others;
this is the way out of resentment.

Trust only oneself instead of others;
this would be the cause of failure.

When matters become difficult to deal with,
just one step backwards will make it easier;

When success is right within reach,
just one moment of laxation will throw it away.

It is necessary to conceal true talent
just as unpolished gold and jade
slowly reveal their splendors.

It is important to persist in one’s learning,
just as flowing water and floating clouds
unknowingly progress day by day.

To have an impetuous temperament
that cannot stand even the smallest problems
is a great taboo of being human;

To have a forbearing character
that is willing to be at disadvantages
is the best way to deal with the world.

One word suffices to cause a major catastrophe;

This is why those in the past remained tight-lipped
out of the fear that it could cause them to fall.

Once action suffices to destroy the rest of one’s life;

This is why those in the past guarded themselves
as if protecting an impeccable piece of jade
from any possible flaws.

── from Weilu Yehua (Evening Talk around the Fire Stove)