Heartfelt Advice on Worldly Codes of Conduct

By Thukwan • Chokyi Nyima
Translated into Chinese by Khenpo Sodargye

Homage to the Guru and the Three Jewels!

While it is not generally expected for the young to teach the elders, it is appropriate for the older generation to educate the younger generation. This article, which expounds Heartfelt Advice on Worldly Codes of Conduct, was written with the intention to be of benefit to the young.

1) It is undoubtedly good to be righteous, but if one is too righteous in this defiled time of degeneration, one will be made a fool of by others and treated like a beggar’s monkey. Therefore, it is my heartfelt advice to you to be watchful of the extent of your righteousness.

2) It is not bad to be articulate, eloquent, and persuasive, but if one talks incessantly at any time and in every place, then everything about oneself will be laid bare to others. Therefore, it is my heartfelt advice to be cautious of the extent of your speech.

3) It is obviously good sometimes to conceal one’s abilities and bide one’s time. Even appearing to others as slow-witted, can sometimes be a kind of wisdom. But if one keeps quiet too often and no one will ever be aware of your wisdom, you will be as useless as a secret fountain that spills no water onto the ground. Therefore, it is my heartfelt advice to be mindful to find the correct balance between expression and reservation.

4) Although worldly people say that it is good to oppose all evil and to be ready to fight one’s enemies, if you often become angry at the slightest provocation, you will soon be seen to be like a watchdog that barks indiscriminately at everyone. Therefore, it is my heartfelt advice to avoid losing your temper easily.

5) It is undoubtedly good to possess sweet speech and a good heart. However, in these difficult days, when good people are not always fully appreciated, and deluded people dominate the world, excessive kindness may be seen as a kind of weakness and can become the cause of scorn and insults. Therefore, it is my heartfelt advice to find the appropriate balance between softness and toughness.

6) It is undoubtedly good to be free of the desire for wealth, but this is an age when everybody spurns penniless beggars and the dogs of plutocrats are treated as distinguished guests. It is my heartfelt advice that you should, in an appropriate manner, save some money.

7) Business conducted dishonestly, such as giving short measures and cheating customers, can disturb the peace of a whole country. Therefore, it is my heartfelt advice that you accumulate wealth through proper means, and abandon wrong business practices that are driven by the desire for excessive profits.

8) It is invaluable to be good at saving money, but if one is too miserly and churlish when it comes to spending a penny, relatives and friends will turn away from this kind of person and other people will spurn their companionship, leaving one as isolated as a ghost who stands alone guarding a treasure. Therefore, it is my heartfelt advice to find the balance between generosity and thrift.

9) It is undoubtedly pleasant to be sociable and to have many friends, but there are wicked people who can lead one astray, with the result that you may be put into a dangerous situation that in the end, like falling into a river, can lead to your destruction. So, it is my heartfelt advice to be cautious when choosing friends.

10) Very few people can be constantly and completely carefree and emotionally un-affected by the situations that they find themselves in. However, if, on the other hand, one is too moody, one will be spurned by others, and may even lose friends and companions because of it. Therefore, it is my heartfelt advice to maintain a relatively stable mind.

11) To plot mercilessly against, or to deceive, friends or relatives who trust you and have turned to you for refuge, is to be like a wild dog that has no concept of right and wrong, Therefore, it is my heartfelt advice to have a sense of shame, and to strive to be reliable.

12) There are those who are two-faced and offer flatter and praise on the one hand, but are quick to criticize others once their backs are turned. Those who engage in this kind of behavior are as vicious as a poisonous snake with two tongues. Therefore, it is my heartfelt advice not to talk too much, either in front of people, or behind their backs.

13) It is very rare for a person to be agreeable to every request, and then, in every case, to uphold their commitment. The more readily one promises something; the easier it is to forget or renege on a promise. Therefore, it is my heartfelt advice not to trust those who make promises too quickly

14) Too many of you spend a great proportion of your time engaging in trivial thinking. Once you become involved in this kind of thinking, it is unlikely that your efforts will begin well or end well. When enterprises do not begin or end well, there is great danger that you may bring harm to yourself, as well as the derision of others. Therefore, it is my heartfelt advice not to spend too much time thinking of, or engaging in trivial things.

15) When respected by people, you should have self-awareness; when supplanted by others, you should make strenuous efforts to be strong. It is my heartfelt advice to be independent.

The above texts are worldly instructions. The Buddhist instructions are expounded elsewhere. Regardless of whether people heed this advice or not, what I have written above was born of an altruistic mind.

May this be auspicious!

(This concludes the translation of the Heartfelt Advice on Worldly Codes of Conduct.)