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Selected Translations from the Book "Role Model to the World" by Yuan Cai (Part 3)

July 30, 2007 |  


Be in earnest and faithful in speech; be sincere and polite in deeds

Be in earnest with one's words, and be respectful with one's deeds. This is why a noble person is trusted and respected by village residents.

That is to say, do not do things in favor of one's own interests while bringing losses to others. During hardships, do not take advantage of others to achieve one's own goal. This is being in earnest. For any promise--no matter how big or small--always fulfill it. Once setting a deadline, do not take a minute's delay in meeting it. This is being faithful.

When getting along with other people, be warmhearted and honest. This is what people called sincere. Be attentive and humble. This is what people called polite.

If one can follow these, everything he or she does will go smoothly. An ordinary person can also be polite to others since doing so can be out of one's self-interest. However, if a person is nice to others on the surface while looking down upon others in the heart, this is being polite, but not sincere. A noble person will refer to such a person as sly. As time goes on, he or she will not be trusted by others.

Be strict with oneself, and tolerant of others

One must be earnest and faithful as well as sincere and polite oneself before requiring others to do the same. If one does not meet such standards he or she may be criticized.

Nowadays, very few people are introspective enough to see if they are acting in earnest and faithful, as well as being sincere and polite. In contrast, many people expect others to meet such standards. In fact, even if someone is able to meet them, he or she may not necessarily require others to do the same.

There are some people who are able to follow these standards, and this is really good. However, within this group there are those that are very strict with others and easily reprimand other people severely for minor things. This is not forgiveness. In fact, doing so can easily bring complaint or hatred.

In Lun Yu (collected words of Confucius), there was a story. One day, a student of Zixia asked Zizhang how to get along with other people. Zizhang said, "A noble person respects those with virtue and is forgiving of ordinary people. He praises those who are extraordinary, while sympathetic to those who are incapable. If I am doing very well and near perfect, is there anything I cannot tolerate? If I am doing very poorly, how can I complain if others refuse to talk with me?"