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Liaofan's Four Lessons: The Ways to Change One's Destiny

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Author: He Yaqin;
Language: Chinese, English
Publication Date: 09/2018
ISBN: 9787501257485
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《了凡四训》
Liaofan’s Four Lessons1
一、立命之学
The First Lesson: Learning to Shape One’s Destiny2
余童年丧父,老母命弃学举业学医,谓可以养生,可以济人,且习一艺以成名,尔父夙心也。
我童年的时候,父亲就去世了,母亲要我放弃学业,不要去考功名,改学医,并且说:“学医可以赚钱养活自己,也可以救济一些病苦之人,而且这也是你父亲从前的心愿。”
My father passed away in my childhood and my mother advised me to study medicine instead of seeking an official rank. She said, ‘Being a doctor, you can not only support yourself but also help those in need. This was also your father’s wish for you.’
后余在慈云寺,遇一老者,修髯伟貌,飘飘若仙,余敬礼之。
后来我在慈云寺,碰到了一位老人,相貌非凡,一脸长须,看起来飘然若仙风道骨,我就很恭敬地向他行礼。
One day at the Temple of the Compassionate Cloud, I met an elder with a long neat beard and a dignified appearance. He had such an ease of bearing that I saluted him respectfully.
语余曰:“子仕路中人也,明年即进学,何不读书?”余告以故,并叩老者姓氏里居。曰:“吾姓孔,云南人也。得邵子皇极数正传,数该传汝。”
这位老人对我说:“你有做官的命,明年就会考取秀才,为何不读书呢?”我就把母亲教导我放弃读书去学医的缘故告诉老人,并且请问老人的姓名,是哪里人,家住何处。老人告诉我说:“我姓孔,云南人,得到宋朝邵康节先生所精通的《皇极经世书》之正传,从定数上来看,应该把它传给你。”
This elder told me, ‘You are destined to become a government official. Next year, you will pass the preliminary official examination1. Why aren’tyou studying for the exam?’ I told him that my mother instructed me to study medicine, but, as I was curious about him, I requested his name and where he was from. He replied, ‘My family name is Kong and I’m from Yunnan. I received the true teachings from Mr. Shao Kangjie who mastered Huang Ji Shu1 and developed the principles of accurate predictions of the future. By my analysis and calculations, it’s you to whom I should pass on the skills of making accurate predictions of the future.’
余引之归,告母。母曰:“善待之。”试其数,纤悉皆验。余遂起读书之念,谋之表兄沈称,言:“郁海谷先生,在沈友夫家开馆,我送汝寄学甚便。”余遂礼郁为师。
于是我就接这位老人到我家暂住,并将情形告诉了母亲。母亲说:“好好招待老人家。”试看老人的命学理数,结果孔先生所推算的,虽然是很小的事情,都非常灵验、准确。于是我动了读书的念头,和我的表哥沈称商量。表哥说:“我的好朋友郁海谷先生在沈友夫家里开馆,收学生读书。我送你去那里寄宿读书,非常方便。”于是我便拜了郁海谷先生为老师。
I invited Mr. Kong to my house and told my mother about what he had said. While she cautioned, ‘Treat Mr. Kong well’, to test the accuracy of his fortune-telling, my mother invited Mr. Kong to make a few more predictions about me. To our delight, every single prediction about me, no matter how small, turned out to be accurate. Accordingly, we were convinced of Mr. Kong’s predictive powers and, consequently, I thought again about studying for an official rank. Subsequently, I consulted with my cousin, Sheng Cheng, about this, and he explained, ‘My good friend Mr. Yu Haigu is teaching at Sheng Youfu’s. I’ll recommend you to him. You can board at Sheng’s, and it should be very convenient for you.’ Taking this advice and presenting myself to Yu Haigu, I reverenced him formally for accepting me as his student.
孔为余起数:“县考童生,当十四名;府考七十一名;提学考第九名。”明年赴考,三处名数皆合。
复为卜终身休咎。言某年考第几名,某年当补廪,某年当贡。贡后某年,当选四川一大尹,在任三年半,即宜告归。五十三岁八月十四日丑时,当终于正寝,惜无子。余备录而谨记之。
孔先生替我起数算命说:“你县考应该考第十四名;府考应该考第七十一名;提学考应该考第九名。”到了第二年,果然三处的考试,所考的名次和孔先生所推算的完全相符。
孔先生又替我推算终生的吉凶祸福。他算出某年我会考取第几名;某年应当补上廪生缺;某年应当做贡生;等到贡生出贡后,某年应当选为四川省的一个县长,在任三年半后,便该辞职回家乡;到了五十三岁那年八月十四日的丑时,就应该寿终正寝;可惜我命中没有儿子。这些话我都一一记录下来,并且牢记在心中。
Again Mr. Kong made predictions for me, saying, ‘You’ll be placed fourteenth in the preliminary examination, seventy-first in the regional one and ninth in the provincial one.’ The following year, each of these predictions came true.
Mr. Kong also made predictions for the rest of my life: at such-and-such a place in such-and-such a test in such-and-such a year I would become a linsheng1 at a certain time, I would be promoted to gongsheng2 and, lastly, I would be appointed governor of a county in Sichuan. Three-and-a-half years after that, I would then retire and return to my hometown. I would die between one and three a.m. on 14 August, 1603 at the age of 53. Unfortunately, I would not have any children. I carefully recorded everything that he had predicted and kept them in mind.
自此以后,凡遇考校,其名数先后,皆不出孔公所悬定者。独算余食廪米九十一石五斗当出贡;及食米七十余石,屠宗师即批准补贡,余窃疑之。
从此以后,凡是碰到考试,所考名次先后都不出孔先生预先所算定的名次。唯独算我做廪生领到九十一石五斗米的时候才能出贡,哪里知道我吃到七十一石米的时候,学台屠宗师就批准我补贡生,我私下就怀疑孔先生所推算的有些不灵了。
Thenceforth, my places in whichever examinations I took turned out to be exactly as Mr. Kong had predicted – with one exception. According to the prediction, I would be promoted to gongsheng after I had received state benefits of 91 dans1 and 5 dous2 of grain. However, I received only 70 dans of grain when I was recommended by Mr. Tu, the provincial director of education, to be gongsheng. Because of this inaccurate prediction, I began privately to doubt Mr. Kong’s predictions.
后果为署印杨公所驳,直至丁卯年,殷秋溟宗师见余场中备卷,叹曰:“五策,即五篇奏议也,岂可使博洽淹贯之儒,老于窗下乎!”遂依县申文准贡,连前食米计之,实九十一石五斗也。
余因此益信进退有命,迟速有时,澹然无求矣。
后来果然被另外一位代理的学台杨宗师驳回,不准我补贡生。直到丁卯年,殷秋溟宗师看见我在考场中的备选试卷,替我可惜,慨叹道:“这份卷子所做的五篇策竟如同上给皇帝的奏折一样。像这样有大学问的读书人,怎么可以让他埋没到老呢!”于是他就吩咐县官,替我呈文,正式升补贡职。经过这番的波折,我又多吃了一段时间的廪米,算起来连前所吃的七十一石,恰好总计为九十一石五斗。
因此,我就更相信:一个人的进、退、功、名、浮、沉,都是命中注定。而走运或迟或早,也都有一定的时候,所以从此对人生心灰意冷,把一切看淡,不去追求了。
Nevertheless, even this prediction turned out to be correct. While the recommendation was turned down by Mr. Yang, the deputy director, several years later when Mr. Yin Qiuming saw my past exam papers and exclaimed, ‘These five essays are as well-written as reports to the Emperor! How could we allow such a virtuous and knowledgeable talent to be wasted and not recognised?’ Subsequently, Mr. Yin instructed the governor of the county to present a letter, formally recommending me to be a gongsheng, and the recommendation was approved. Accordingly, Mr. Kong was proven to be absolutely right in his prediction that I would receive 91 dans and 5 dous of grain before I was promoted to a gongsheng, a candidate eligible to study at the Imperial Academy.
After this, I was completely convinced that I could not escape my destiny and that what was preordained would come true in due time. As a result, I began to treat everything with indifference, aspiring to nothing in the world since nothing I did or believed would make any difference to my destiny.
贡入燕都,留京一年,终日静坐,不阅文字。己巳归,游南雍,未入监,先访云谷会禅师,于栖霞山中,对坐一室,凡三昼夜不瞑目。
等我当选了贡生,按照规定,要到燕京的国子监去读书。所以我在燕京住了一年。一天到晚,静坐不动,不说话,也不转动念头; 也懒于读书求进。到了己巳年,回到南京的国子监读书。在没有进国子监以前,先到栖霞山去拜见云谷禅师,一位得道的高僧。我同禅师面对面,坐在一间禅房里,三天三夜,连眼睛都没有闭。
After being selected as a gongsheng, I attended the Imperial Academy in Yanjing (Beijing). During my year-long stay at the Academy, every day I just sat in the classroom quietly without a single thought. I lost interest in books and stopped studying. The following year I returned to the Imperial Academy in Nanjing. Before settling down at the Academy, I paid a visit to Master Yungu, a venerable Zen master who resided on Mount Qixia. Together, we sat face to face in a meditation room for three days and nights without sleep.
云谷问曰:“凡人所以不得作圣者,只为妄念相缠耳。汝坐三日,不见起一妄念,何也?”
云谷禅师问我说:“但凡一个人不能够成为圣人,都是因为杂念及欲望在心中不断地缠来缠去;而你静坐三天,我不曾看见你起一个杂念,也不胡思乱想,这是什么缘故呢?”
On the morning on the fourth day, Master Yungu said to me, ‘The reason why ordinary people can’t become sages is because their minds are entangled with wandering thoughts. During the three-day meditation, I didn’tobserve a single thought arising in you. Why is that?’
余曰:“吾为孔先生算定,荣辱死生,皆有定数,即要妄想,亦无可妄想。”
我说:“我的命被孔先生算定了,何时生、何时死、何时得意、何时失意,都有个定数,没有办法改变。起心动念也是枉然,因此把心定下来了。”
Respectfully I replied, ‘Mr. Kong predicted the entire outcome of my life. I’ve seen that my birth and death as well as the favourable and unfavourable situations in my life are all preordained and unchangeable. It’s futile for me to have any thought or to try to act any differently from what was predicted for me.’
云谷笑曰:“我待汝是豪杰,原来只是凡夫。”
云谷禅师笑道: “我本来认为你是一个了不得的豪杰,哪里知道,你原来只是一个庸庸碌碌的凡夫俗子。”
The master laughed and replied, ‘I thought you were a hero. But, after all, you’re an ordinary person.’
问其故,曰:“人未能无心,终为阴阳所缚,安得无数?但惟凡人有数;极善之人,数固拘他不定;极恶人之数,亦拘他不定。汝二十年来,被他算定,不会转动一毫,岂非是凡夫?”
我听了之后不明白,便请问他此话之意。云谷禅师说道:“一个平常人,不能说没有胡思乱想的那颗意识心。既然有这一颗一刻不停的妄心在,那就要被阴阳气数束缚了。既被阴阳气数束缚,当然就有定数,但也只有平常人(凡夫俗子)会被数所束缚住;若是一个极善的人,数就拘他不住了。因为极善的人,尽管本来他的命数里注定吃苦,但是他做了极大的善事,这大善事的力量就可以使苦变成乐,贫贱短命变成富贵长寿。极恶的人,数也拘他不住。因为极恶的人,尽管他本来命中注定要享福,但是他如果做了极大的恶事,这大恶事的力量,就可以使福变成祸,富贵长寿变成贫贱短命。你二十年来的命都被孔先生算定,不曾把数转动一分一毫,反而被数拘住了。一个人会被数拘住,就是凡夫。这样看来,你不是凡夫,是什么呢?”
Feeling quite confused by what Master Yungu had told me, I asked him to explain. He replied, ‘The mind of an ordinary person is forever occupied by wandering thoughts and therefore his life is confined to the destiny created within yin and yang.1We cannot deny the existence of destiny, but only ordinary people are confined to their destinies. Nevertheless, destiny cannot confine those who have done extremely good deeds. This is because the merits accrued from their good acts are so great as to alter their original destinies for the better. The merits accrued can actually change their destinies from suffering to happiness, poverty to prosperity, and a short life to a long one. Similarly, destiny can’t confine those who commit extremely evil deeds.When a person’s evil deeds are great and powerful, the good fortune and prosperity predetermined in their original destinies will be altered. So the life of such a person will be transformed completely from good to bad. For the past twenty years, you’ve lived your life in accordance with Mr. Kong’s predictions and haven’t done anything to change them. Therefore, your life’s direction has been contained by your foreordained destiny. In this case, aren't you just an ordinary person?’
Liaofan's Four Lessons: The Ways to Change One's Destiny
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