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MASTER ZHU’S MAXIMS FOR THE HOME (EXCERPT)

by Zhu Bolu (1627 - 1698, Ming Dynasty)
English translation: Zhi Yue

With each meal of porridge and rice,
Consider the difficulty of its origins;
With every half of silk, every half of thread,
Always remember the scarcity of resources.
Be prepared for rainy days,
Wait not for thirst to dig a well;
Be frugal in personal comforts,
When a guest, do not prolong one’s stay.
Keep a simple diet of food and drink;
Garden vegetables are better than gourmet dishes.
Be simple in grooming habits;
Teach children with righteous means.
Seek not unanticipated wealth;
Drink not beyond one’s capacity.
Take no advantage of a vendor selling from his shoulders,
Be warm and kind to relatives and neighbors in poverty,
Avoid disputes at home,
For disputes will end with misfortune;
Avoid excessive speech in public,
The more your speech, the more your errors.
Use not your power to exploit orphans and widows;
Slaughter no livestock and fowl to satisfy your tastebuds.
Listen with a light ear,
One shall be patient and cautious in hearing
Slander and complaints by wicked minds.
When involved in a dispute,
How do you know that it is not your fault?
In all fairness, ponder over this.
Think not about one’s acts of kindness;
Forget not the kindness one has received.
Give everything some breathing room;
Once content, crave not for more.
When others celebrate,
give not to the mind of jealousy;
When others suffer,
give not to the mind of delight.
Good deeds done on display are not truly good;
Bad deeds concealed are the greatest evil.
Uphold your role, be content with life,
Follow the times, and comply with Heaven.

── from Zhu Bolu Zhijia Geyan (Zhu Bolu’s Maxims for Managing the Home)