The Sequence of Life Part Two

Confucius said, “At fifteen, I had my mind bent on learning. At thirty, I stood firm. At forty, I had no doubts. At fifty, I knew the decrees of Heaven. At sixty, my ear was an obedient organ for the reception of truth. At seventy, I could follow what my heart desired, without transgressing what was right.”

The general interpretation is: Confucius said, “At fifteen, I made a resolution to learn well. At thirty, I was independent. At forty, I wouldn’t be confused when encountering any situation. At fifty, I knew what fate was. At sixty, I learned to listen to others’ opinions and different opinions from mine. At seventy, I could do what my heart desires without transgressing either law or conscience.”

To be successful in life has several phases and steps as follows:

  1. Must make a resolution.

A common saying says, “Where there’s a will there’s a way.” Making a resolution is very important for an individual. Because, only when one makes a resolution, can one have enough motivation to pursue his success. The famous poet Su Shi said in his thesis of Chao Cuo, “The ones who can do great things in the old times, not only have the most extraordinary talents, but also have the resolution of perseverance.” For example, the famous writer Lu Xun had made a resolution to study well when he was young. When he was a teenager and studied in a school in Jiang Nan, the south region of China, he had a great achievement in school during the first semester, and received a gold medal as a reward. He immediately sold the gold medal to a store in Nan Jing, and bought a few books and a string of red chili peppers. When the night was cold and he had a hard time to concentrate on study, he picked a red chilli pepper, and chewed it in his mouth. The spicy chili pepper made his forehead sweat, so he chased the chill away in this way and persisted to continue to study. Because he put a great effort into study, later he became a famous literary author in China. Thus, making a resolution is a foundation stone for success. Only when one establishes his aspiration and strives for it, can one obtain success.

  1. Must learn.

“If one doesn’t learn, he wouldn’t know righteousness.” “If one doesn’t study when he is young, what achievement can he get when he is old?” Learning is an important link for advancing oneself. Confucius said, “A man zealously pursuing his knowledge yet forgetting his meals, taking his own delight yet blanking out sorrows, will never notice his oncoming old age.” “Zealously study” means Confucius was a man who had a learning spirit of “Live and learn for a life time.” Learning is not only about learning the knowledge in books, but also in daily life, in workplaces; we can learn knowledge anywhere, any time. It is so called, “Learn how to work at work; learn how to live in daily life.” When we see others’ strong points, we can imitate; when we see others’ flaws, we can use them to alert us. Through continual learning and practice, and connecting theory with actual practice; after a period of time, we will certainly have some achievements.

  1. Must be independent.

We must learn to be independent in our life; we can’t dependent on our parents or others for a long time. The ones who have great achievements are always striving continuously and self-sustaining. They steel themselves since they were young, always with discipline and training themselves to be useful materials. The primary condition of independence is to be diligent and active in free-will. The ancients said, “There’s nothing difficult in the world for a diligent person.” “Reward lies ahead of diligence, but nothing is gained by indolence.” Therefore, whether in the old time or modern time, in the western or eastern countries, most people’s achievements come from diligent cultivation and continual striving. Even if one’s natural talent is below others: if he can face the reality, work hard to be independent, learn a skill to make a living, and go through the hardship of learning and practice, he can still have a satisfying achievement.

  1. Have no confusion.

How to face the difficulties in life with confidence? We need to possess the following skills:

(1) Must learn to be industrious and thrifty in running one’s home. There is a saying, “Diligence is a priceless jewel; thrifty is a protective talisman.” Diligence and thriftiness are the priceless jewel and amulet that can protect us for a lifetime. If we can be industrious and thrifty in running our home, learn to reconcile ourselves to any kind of circumstance, allow the contentment to bring happiness, then I believe that we can say we have achieved the level of “no confusion.”

(2) Must know how to measure expenditure by income and collecting rice for rainy days. There is a famous verse in Master Zhū’s Maxims for Managing Home, “It is good to make preparations before it rains; don’t wait for thirst before you dig a well.” We need to know how important the bank saving is, because we need to make sufficient preparation for the future.

(3) Must know how to deal with matters and get along with people. When young people enter society, the main goal of learning is to learn how to deal with matters and get along well with others. There is a common saying, “Learn how to be a good person before learning how to deal with matters. Learn how to let other people take advantage of us before learning to get along with others.” If we can learn the method of “one heart and three willings”: a heart of responsibility, willing to let others take advantage of us, willing to accept hardship, willing to sturdy, we will be able to gain the effect of “born to be useful” in our life.

  1. Fate.

When one gradually grows up, he will understand the meaning of “the planning lies with man, the outcome with Heaven.” The master of traditional Chinese culture, Nan Huai-Jin used to explain the reason of “small fortune made by diligence, great fortune made by fate.” The right way to make a living and become rich is to do a small business with one’s labor, and gradually save the profits. But to make a great fortune is dependent upon fate and opportunity. If we want to be successful, other than through knowledge and effort, we still need good luck. The cause of luck depends upon the wealth you accumulated in the past. It includes material wealth and spiritual wealth. How much material wealth and spiritual wealth does each person have? This is another kind of wisdom, and the common saying is “fate.”

  1. Listen to others’ opinions.

When we approach old age, we have collected abundant actual practice and the experience of life, and slowly learned to have a heart of forgiving; thus, it becomes easier to understand other people’s minds. We are able to accept various different opinions, know how to act in accord with others’ wishes; know when to stop and when to go. It is very important to apply this application into teamwork in a corporation. The administrators must learn to listen to others’ opinions, especially the opinions different from themselves, in order to work together and establish the most beneficial strategies for developing the corporation. That is the meaning of this old saying, “Listening is bright while partial faith is dark.”

  1. Do what the heart desires without transgressing the law or conscience.

After several decades of practice and experience, eventually we will discover this most important mindset. Since we understand “The planning lies with man, the outcome with Heaven”, we won’t be too attached to, or care too much about the outcomes. At the onset of old age, it is most appropriate to go along with the flow, let everything go its natural way. In our daily life, if we are able to achieve the mindset of “do the good deeds and never ask for outcomes,” “keep on cultivating without expecting the harvest,” and “do the best and have a clear conscience,” then our life will be full of happiness and satisfaction.


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