(Clearwisdom.net) Traditional culture emphasizes self-discipline, cultivating oneself to be a noble and dignified person, and even having peace of mind when in a dark room alone, so one's conscience doesn't have any regrets.

The famous intellectual Su Shi (1037-1101) of the North Song dynasty (960-1127) once heard a story from his younger brother. As the story went, a certain person was going to be resurrected. When he was still "dead," he asked the underworld officials how to cultivate to avoid sin. The officials told him to prepare a notebook and write down everything that he did during the day. If there was anything he said or did during the day that would be too shameful to record, then those were the words that he should not speak and actions he should not do. The underworld official also told him to meditate often to have longevity. He pointed out that no medicine in the human world is more effective than meditation, which doesn't have any bad side effects or cost. But it was a pity that hardly anyone did meditation. Su Shi titled this story "How to Cultivate" to encourage himself to never stop nurturing his true nature.

Su Shi said that, in this story, our ancestors taught us "Don't try to do things that you don't want others to know about." Sima Guang (1019-1086, a famous royal editor in the North Song Dynasty) said, "I have no extraordinary talents, but all that I have done in my life I am not ashamed to tell others." Su Shi praised these truthful quotes and thought that they were worthy enough to learn from.

A famous courtier Fan Zhongyan (969 – 1052, also in the North Song Dynasty) had evening "self repentence" sessions to see if each day's contribution was worth his pay. If he was peaceful without regrets he would sleep well, otherwise he could not fall asleep at all, and he would have to make it up the next day.