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CHEN MEIGONG’S ADVICE FOR THE WORLD (EXCERPT)

by Chen Jiru (1558 - 1639, Ming Dynasty)
English translation: Miao Guang

To revere gods and spirits but not one’s parents;
Where is the respect?

Brothers, sisters, siblings all grow from the same root;
What is the point of dispute?

Your descendants each have their own luck;
What is the need to worry?

The gods above you are watching;
Who is there to deceive?

Since the past, writings have never been with proof;
What is there to boast about?

Fortune and fame are as short lived as blossoms;
What is there to be proud of?

The fortune of others are of fate;
What is there to be jealous of?

A past lack of cultivation means present suffering;
What is there to complain about?

It is hard to always be the one to laugh;
What is there to suffer for?

Every advantage gained is another lost;
What is there to be greedy for?

One can be too smart for one’s own good;
What is need to be cunning?

Dishonesty wears away an entire life’s fortune;
What is there to lie for?

Time will do you justice;
What is the point of arguing?

Raising a family with diligence and thrift
surpasses begging others for help;
Where is the room for luxury?

An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind;
What is the need to arouse enmity?

Dens are found in people’s hearts, not mountains;
What is there to scheme for?

Insult attracts calamity, and forgiveness blessing;
What is the point of power?

Once impermanence strikes, everything is over;
What are you so busy for?

── from Chen Jiru Xingshu Che (Book of Chen Jiru’s Semi-Cursive Script)