If a person thinks it unnecessary to protect his accomplishments when he encounters a minor disaster, he will inevitably incur misfortune and ruin his family. Do not think of people who cherish their blessings as being stingy, for many of them look lightly upon their wealth and use it for charity. A man who is swift yet patient in dealing with matters will become great in the course of time. One who is decisive in any circumstance yet modest about his skill will soon develop outstanding talents. One who is able to teach yet begrudges to do so will achieve nothing himself, and will have children who achieve nothing either. One may entrust one's life and family to a person who tactfully remonstrates with people in private.
Contentment and self-conceit are not the same; a proud individual encounters calamity whereas a modest one gains blessing. A talented person and a showoff are certainly different; one incurs failure because of his absurdity while another enjoys success due to his honesty. An excessively greedy person who seeks fame and profit will not be as good as others. A deeply compassionate person will be rescued from any difficulty. It may be predicted that a person who does not distinguish between gratitude and resentment will not enjoy a long life. How can one who haggles over a few cents be expected to handle a large amount of money? A determined person can easily achieve his goals. But how can one guarantee that he will suffer no misfortunes whatsoever? Although it's hard for a frail person to accomplish anything, he can still enjoy small blessings.
One who feels sorrow during times of happiness will have a toilsome life; a person who laughs when he gets angry will be treacherous and evil throughout his life. A person who boasts about his good deeds has no hope of obtaining official rank. One who likes to find fault with others will harm his own life by doing so. People cannot work well with someone who always blames on others. Conversely, one who gives credit to others for his good deeds while blaming himself for others' mistakes will be able to rescue those in difficulty and distress. One who manages his home with utmost filial piety will have many descendants who become officials of the country. By the same token, one who empathizes with the woes and joys of other people will be celebrated and remembered by his descendants.
One who is caring and considerate with other people will have promising descendants. However, a self-indulgent person who fights and argues with people will meet a violent and terrible end. A person who can suddenly betray others has small blessings. Therefore, what is the point of arguing with him? A long-time friend and a tolerant person are worthy of respect and can be good models. One who enjoys disputes has a shallow foundation and a limited future. Conversely, one who constantly reflects within himself will have abundant savings and a successful business.
A person who is very impetuous during his youth will not easily live longer than Yan Zi [a disciple of Confucius who died at age 33]. Similarly, how can one who is rash and muddled in the prime of his life not experience periods of confusion? One who casually becomes happy or angry will accomplish nothing; a person who scorns and scolds others without checking the accuracy of his information will eventually lose his close friends. Although a person who aids those in distress and peril may experience poverty from time to time, he will be blessed by Heaven. One who helps those in trouble may risk being imprisoned, but he will be widely renowned for his good deeds.
A person dies of famine not because he lived too extravagantly, but as a result of not cherishing his blessings. One dies of plague not because of his fate, but rather due to his disrespect toward Heaven and Earth. If one is able to endure being teased by others, his son will make sudden progress. A person who always defers to others will be at ease throughout his life. If one's manners are proper and correct, he will enjoy either nobility, wealth, or longevity. There are very inexpressive people who yet become famous and carry out great, meritorious deeds.
A man who is restless even when everything is fine will have no lasting achievements. One who is peaceful and unperturbed during hard times will become as stable and firm as Mount Tai. One who accumulates merit and is extremely kind is sure to obtain rewards during his lifetime. A person who practices giving extensively and seeks little from others will have prosperous descendants generation after generation. Human beings make mistakes, but the principles of Heaven never err.
Why does one encounter war and fighting? One is either an obstinate and self-opinionated nobleman or an opportunistic villain. Why does one commit suicide by jumping into a river? One is either a man who lacks ability yet recklessly attempts dangerous feats or a short-tempered woman who is oppressed by others. Why does one die young? It's due to the fact that one speaks harshly, has mean thoughts, and does mean things. Why does a person suffer terrible calamities and a horrible death? It's because he does everything in an insidious fashion.
Why does one die of sudden illness? It's because he indulges in excessive sensual pleasure, which in turn drains his vital energy. Why does a person die from poisonous sores? It's due to indigestion caused by an overly rich diet. How is it that one has no descendants after he grows old? It's because he has an eccentric and unsociable personality. Why does a middle-aged person lose his son? It's because he has a deceitful character. Why does one encounter fire and bandits often? It's because one heavily exploited the property of civilians. Why is a person constantly filing lawsuits? It's because he does a poor job of personnel management.
How can we tell if someone has good judgement and is fit to be a prime minister? He always wants to help others. How can we know if someone deserves to be made a general or a high official? He has an outstanding character and aspirations. How can we know if someone will enjoy great wealth? He possesses great dignity. How can we know if a person will have majestic armed escorts? He has a broad and magnanimous energy and outlook.
How can we know if someone will become a follower or subordinate of others? He is timid and petty-minded. How can we know if a person will pursue the career of a teacher? He has limited aspirations and behaves with restraint. How can we know that someone will fail to develop his potential? He is not only foolish, but ludicrous. How can we know that someone will develop his potential but achieve nothing? He probably considers himself worthy and capable but fails to implement his plans.
A woman must be graceful and quiet; from ancient times till now, fair maidens have been respected for their virtues rather than their talents. A woman of dignified composure may assume the highest rank bestowed upon women; one who pays little attention to her appearance and attire is capable of managing sizeable family wealth. A garrulous and competitive woman may have descendants, but she will suffer poor health. On the other hand, a woman who is extremely filial and compassionate will not only help her husband, but will enable her sons to have successful careers.
A woman who doesn't complain at all during hard times will be praised and honored by both her own country and enemy countries. By the same token, her whole family will be wealthy and prosperous if she always cherishes clothes and food even when she is extremely rich. When a woman is tolerant, maids and servants will want to follow her. A wealthy family becomes that way due to the hard work and thrift of its members.
For the most part, women who are violent-tempered suffer from jealousy, and they will not have a home to return to in their old age. Maidservants were mostly disobedient women who wandered around in their youth. Why does a woman deceive her husband? Apparently, her behavior must be a bit excessive. Why is a woman childless? She must have secretly harmed other people.
To sum up all the previous issues, the consequences of past deeds are never off. We should encourage and instruct our later generations in hopes that they can be versatile and adapt to the circumstances. We may trust that determination and proper action go hand in hand. Certainly, if one is full of courage and exuberant spirit, one's courage and spirit will enhance each other. Recognize what is good and stick to it, and everything will become better and better; recognize what is bad and avoid doing it, and calamities will turn into blessings.