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Vegetable Roots was written by the Chinese scholar Hong Ying-ming in the late 16th century. The book is a crystallization of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism, which teaches people to love peace, to be kind and not to go to extremes. These teachings are not only well known to Chinese around the world but also have greatly influenced their attitude towards life.
A moment of power exchanges for eternal loneliness.
For those who observe the moral principle, loneliness is only temporary, but for those who surrender to power and wealth, loneliness will be eternal. An enlightened person evaluates things beyond their material value, and plans for life beyond its temporal existence. He is willing to suffer loneliness temporarily, but not to be rejected eternally.
Simplicity and honesty are good ways to conduct life in this world.
Being innocent of worldly shrewdness is innocent of sophistication. Sophistication is not far from cunning. It is better to be simple and honest than to be shrewd and sophisticated.
Disclose intention, but conceal ability.
A real person’s intention, which is like the bright sun in the blue sky, is void of any shadow of evil; therefore, there is no reason to conceal it. A real person’s ability, which is like the precious stone or the valuable pearl, is easy to attract jealousy, so it should be carefully treasured instead of any unnecessary exposure.
Keep clean in the mud. Reject cunning maneuvers.
Chasing neither power nor wealth is clean. Possessing both power and wealth but without being contaminated by them is even cleaner. Knowing no cunning tricks is admirable. Knowing various cunning tricks but refusing to use them is even more admirable.
Effective medicine tastes bitter. Good advice sounds dreadful.
Harsh criticism and unpleasant experience often improve a person’s moral character. Black calamity usually lurks in rosy good fortune.
Geniality leads to good fortune. Cheerfulness brings favorable results.
While biting wind and angry rain sadden the whole universe, warm sunshine and gentle breeze bring life to the earth. It exemplifies that geniality is essential to the universe, and cheerfulness is indispensable to human beings.
True flavor is found in unseasoned food. Heroic and noble qualities are realized in common behavior.
Richly seasoned food has lost its genuine flavor. The true flavor of food is plain. Extraordinary talent or intelligence is not the quality of a noble character. The real quality of a noble character is simply ordinary and common.
Don’t slow down when unoccupied. Relax when heavily engaged.
Although people do not feel the movement of time, time never halts its steps. Although the day and night have never ceased chasing each other, they show little sign of hastiness. A real person will not waste his time when unoccupied, nor will he be in any rush when heavily engaged.
Look into your conscience quietly; the truth emerges.
Sitting alone in a quiet night to look into your conscience, you will find out the truth from the fiction. The result often pleases and shames you simultaneously.
Quit while ahead. Stay while behind.
Glory is often the disaster in disguise. It is wise to put it down as soon as possible. Setbacks often herald success. It is advisable to hold on and face the challenge.
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