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ADMONISHMENT BY FOREFATHERS
by Yu Lingbo (1927 - 2005)
English translation: Miao Guang and William Chong

There are gods three feet above you,
Avoid reckless behavior,
for not even a hair can be concealed;
Be ever cautious and vigilant in Heaven’s face,
Fairness is essential when it comes to
your conscience and the course of nature.
You know best the genuineness of your actions,
Who is there to tell you
the cause of your fortunes and adversities?
Good or bad retributions are only eventual,
The only difference is
the early or lateness of their arrival.
Intention and honesty are the fundamental roots,
A single moment of pretence shall
result in a hundred doubts;
Ultimately deceitful words will consume your fortune,
Clearly it is impossible to cheat Heaven’s will.
When you conspire and plot against others,
Heaven’s eyes are clear and naturally never blind;
To have regrets only when calamity befalls you,
And come to realize your
unwholesome thoughts from the day before.
Life is like an ever-changing game of chess,
Why be so ignorant and suffer from these disputes?
We cannot foresee tomorrow’s matters from today,
The impartial Lord Yama
is not one to practice favoritism.
Such a clear blue sky can never be deceived,
Your thoughts would be detected before they even arise;
You are advised to keep a clear conscience,
For who has ever escaped judgment in all of history?
Hesitate not even a moment to quickly turn around,
Time speeds by like lightning
and like a white galloping steed;
Turn your eyes to what hides behind the blue clouds,
How much longer can your reckless behaviors persist?
A boat heads west, and the other east,
Be it upwind or downwind, circumstances will naturally differ;
Here’s a message to those onboard the upwind boat,
Tomorrow there is no guarantee
that it’ll be an easterly wind.
── from Xing Shi Shi Ci Xuan (Collected Admonishments)