Archive

明朝/Minh triều/Ming dynasty

bion ngo

The Great Proclamation upon the Pacification of the Wu (平吳大誥 , Bình Ngô Đại Cáo) was an announcement written by Nguyễn Trãi (阮廌 , 1380 – 1442) in 1428, for Emperor Lê Thái Tổ (黎太祖, 1385 – 1433) to proclaim the defeat of the Ming Dynasty and affirm the status of the later Lê dynasty (後黎朝 , Hậu Lê triều) as the legitimate ruler of Đại Việt (大越). Nguyễn Trãi, pen-name (號 , hiệu) Ức Trai (抑齋), was a Confucian scholar who helped as a strategist during the conflict against the Ming dynasty. He was also a noted author of both Chinese and Vietnamese poetry. This translation of the Great Proclamation is, to my knowledge, only the second complete translation into English. The first translation is that of professor Trương Bửu Lâm (張寶琳 , ?-?) in his book Patterns of Vietnamese Response to Foreign Intervention: 1858–1900. I unfortunately did not have the resources to obtain this translation and take it into consideration when making this present translation. My present translation is based on the original Chinese text as reproduced in “Nguyễn Trãi opera omnia” (阮廌全集 , Nguyễn Trãi Toàn Tập) published in the year 2000. In addition, I also consulted several Vietnamese translations, among which I found the translation by Hoàng Phạm Trân (黃范珍 , 1904-1949) under the pen-name Mạc Bảo Thần (莫寶臣) to be the most accurate (in general, all past Vietnamese translations capture the “spirit” of the original classical Chinese; most, however, depart from the original in terms more specific phrases and wording). The English translation presented here differs slightly from the version published on Facebook  previously this week. Only a few changes of word choice have been made. The unedited translation was recently published in the Phố Vui weekly newspaper, a print publication circulated in Southern California. Being a masterpiece of extreme historical importance and literary value, it is impossible to give this work due justice under this format. My time and resources being severely limited, the annotations presented here are but cursory. I hope to make up for this by providing some of my own commentary on the relevance of this work to modern day Vietnamese culture, and welcome any questions, criticisms, comments, or suggestions from my readership.

This post is divided into the following sections:

I. Original text
II. English translation
III. Notes
IV. Translator’s commentary

I.

平吳大誥

代天行化皇上若曰

蓋聞﹕

仁義之舉,要在安民,吊伐之師,莫先去暴。惟我大越之國,實為文獻之邦。山川之封域既殊,南北之風俗亦異。自趙、丁、李、陳之肇造我國,與漢、唐、宋、元而各帝一方,雖強弱時有不同,而豪傑世未嘗乏。故劉龑貪功以取敗,而趙卨好大以促亡。唆都既擒於鹹子關,烏馬又殪於白藤海。稽諸往古,厥有明徵。頃因胡政之煩苛,致使人心之怨叛。狂明伺隙,因以毒我民。惡黨懷奸,竟以賣我國。焮蒼生於虐焰,陷赤子於禍坑。欺天罔民,詭計蓋千萬狀。連兵結釁,稔惡殆二十年。敗義傷仁,乾坤幾乎欲息。重科厚歛,山澤罔有孑遺。開金塲,則冒嵐瘴而斧山陶沙。採明珠,則觸蛟龍而絙腰汆海。擾民設玄鹿之陷阱,殄物織翠禽之網羅。昆蟲草木,皆不得以遂其生。鰥寡顛連,俱不獲以安其所。浚生民之血,以潤桀黠之吻牙。極土木之功,以崇公私之廨宇。州里之徵徭重困,閭閻之杼柚皆空。決東海之水,不足以濯其污。罄南山之竹,不足以書其惡。神人之所共憤,天地之所不容。予奮跡藍山,棲身荒野,念世讐豈可共戴,誓逆賊難與俱生。痛心疾首者,垂十餘年。嘗膽臥薪者,蓋非一日。發憤忘食,每研談韜略之書。即古驗今,細推究興亡之理。圖回之志,寤寐不忘。當義兵初起之時,正賊勢方張之日。奈以人才秋葉,俊傑晨星。奔走前後者既乏其人,謀謨帷幄者又寡其助。特以救民之志,每鬱鬱而欲東。待賢之車,常汲汲以虛左。然其得人之效,茫若望洋。由己之誠,甚於拯溺。憤兇徒之未滅,念國步之猶屯。靈山之食盡兼旬,瑰縣之眾無一旅。蓋天欲困我以降厥任,故予益厲志以濟於艱。揭竿為旗,氓隸之徒四集。投醪饗士,父子之兵一心。以弱制強,或攻人之不備。以寡敵眾,常設伏以出奇。卒能以大義而勝兇殘,以至仁而易強暴。蒲滕之霆驅電掣,茶麟之竹破灰飛,士氣以之益增,軍聲以之大振。陳智、山壽聞風而褫魄,李安、方政假息以偷生。乘勝長驅,西京既為我有。選鋒進取,東都盡復舊疆。寧橋之血成川,流腥萬里。崒洞之屍積野,遺臭千年。陳洽賊之腹心,既梟其首。李亮賊之奸蠹,又暴厥屍。王通理亂,而焚者益焚。馬瑛救鬪,而怒者益怒。彼智窮而力盡,束手待亡。我謀伐而心攻,不戰自屈。謂彼必易心而改慮,豈意復作孽以速辜。執一己之見,以嫁禍於他人。貪一時之功,以貽笑於天下。遂使宣德之狡童。黷兵無厭,乃命晟、昇之懦將,以油救焚。丁未九月,柳昇遂引兵由丘溫而進,本年本月沐晟亦分途自雲南而來。予前既選兵塞險,以摧其鋒,予後再調兵截路,以斷其食。本月十八日,柳昇為我軍所攻,計墮於支棱之野。本月二十日,柳昇為我軍所敗,身死於馬鞍之山。二十五日,保定伯梁銘陣陷而喪驅。二十八日,尚書李慶計窮而殞首。我遂迎刃而解,彼自倒戈相攻。繼而四面添兵以逼圍,期十月中旬而殄滅。爰選貔貅之士,申令爪牙之臣。飲象而河水乾,磨刀而山石缺。一皷而鯨刳鱷斷,再皷而鳥散麕驚。決潰蟻於崩堤,振剛風於槁葉。都督崔聚膝行而送欵,尚書黃福面縛以就擒。僵屍塞諒江、諒山之塗,戰血赤昌江、平灘之水,風雲為之變色,日月慘以無光。其雲南兵為我軍所扼於梨花,自恫疑虛喝而先已破膽。其沐晟眾聞昇軍大敗於芹站,遂躪藉奔潰,而僅得脫身。冷溝之血杵漂,江水為之嗚咽。丹舍之屍山積,野草為之殷紅。兩路救兵,既不旋踵而俱敗。各城窮寇,亦相解甲以出降。賊首成擒,彼既掉殘卒乞憐之尾。神武不殺,予亦體上帝好生之心。參將方政、內官馬騏,先給艦五百餘艘,既渡江而猶且魂飛魄喪。總兵王通,參政馬瑛,又給馬數千餘疋,已還國而益自股慄心驚。彼既畏死貪生,而修好有誠。予以全軍為上,而欲民與息,非惟計謀之極其深遠,蓋亦古今之所未見聞。社稷以之尊安,山川以之改觀。乾坤既否而復泰,日月既晦而復明。於以開萬世太平之基,於以雪千古無窮之恥。是由天地祖宗之靈,有以默相陰佑,而致然也。於戲,一戎大定,迄成無競之功,四海永清,誕布維新之誥,布告遐邇,咸使聞知。

II.

Great Proclamation upon the pacification of Wu

Assuming the role of Heaven in order to initiate renewal, the emperor proclaims thusly:

I have heard that works of benevolence and righteousness take root in bringing peace to the people. In raising an army, nothing takes precedence to doing away with the cruel. Our kingdom of Đại Việt is truly a state of letters and learned men. The boundaries and borders of rivers and mountains already being divided, the customs of south and north also differ. From the time that the Triệu, Đinh, Lý and Trần dynasties established our domain, along with the Han, Tang, Song, and Yuan emperors each ruled his own land. Though strength and weakness have at times been unequal, never has a generation been found lacking heroic and talented men.

Hence, desirous for merit, Liu Gong embraced defeat; fond of grandeur, Chao Hsie rushed headlong into destruction. Suo Du having been captured at Hàm Tử pass, Wu Ma also perished in the waters of the Bạch Đằng Sea. Studying past ages, of this there is clear evidence.

Recently, the Hồ regime’s excessive ordinances caused the people’s hearts to become resentful and rebellious. The upstart Ming took advantage of this opportunity to poison our people. Wicked factions embraced deceit, finally to sell our realm. Burning commoners in conflagrations of cruelty, burying the people in depths of disaster, deceiving Heaven and tricking the people, their lying machinations were countless in form. Gathering soldiers and accumulating wrong-doings, their wickedness increased for twenty years. Destroying righteousness and ruining humanity, Heaven and Earth oft approached annihilation. Under oppressive taxation, the very mountains and marshes were stripped bare. Searching for precious metals, they forced our people to brave poisonous miasmas, smashing mountains and shoveling sand. Looking for bright pearls, we delved into the depths of the sea, brushing against dragons and serpents. Agitating the people, they set up traps for black deer. Harming creatures, they wove nets to capture precious pheasants. Even worms, insects, grasses and trees were not able to fulfill their existence. Burdened by suffering and hardship, widowers and widows could not live in peace. The lips and teeth of perverse and cruel men became soaked with the blood of living souls. Exhausting the resources of the soil and trees, they built for themselves private residences. The taxes and labors put upon townspeople was heavy is such excess that business within the village gates was brought to naught. All the water of the Eastern Sea would not be enough to wash away their filth; should the bamboo of the Southern mountains be completely cut down, it would not be sufficient to record all their evil-doing. Because of this, both God and man were together infuriated; because of this, Heaven and Earth would not harbor them.
Rising with force and spirit from the Lam Sơn Mountain, I hid myself in the abandoned wilds. Meditating on this generational enmity, how could one bear to share the same sky with these men? I swore that I would not live alongside these insolent renegades. With pained heart and aching head, I passed over ten years. Sleeping on brushwood and tasting gall, I spent not but a single day. Erupting in fury, I forgot my meal; constantly did I study and meditate upon annals of stratagems and the art of war. Reflecting on antiquity and observing the present, I carefully researched the principles of rise and fall. Not even in sleep and rest did I forget my ambition to carry out my plans. When the banner of righteousness was first raised, the enemy’s strength had just reached its peak.

Alas, how could I bear that talented men were scarce like the autumn leaves, brilliant heroes as sparse as stars at morning-tide. Running to and fro, before and after, men were always lacking. Within our camps and tents, there was scarcely anyone with whom to discuss strategies and plans. Ardent with desire to rescue the people, choked up with sorrow I wished to conquer eastward. Waiting for the chariots of worthy men to arrive, I constantly waited for one to sit at my left.
Yet, waiting for talented men, I was like one gazing blindly towards the distant ocean. Relying on my own unwavering sincerity, I was like unto one saving a drowning man. Enraged that these cruel villains were not yet exterminated, reflecting that the realm faced many tribulations, at times in Linh Sơn rations were depleted for weeks at a time. In Khôi district, there were at times not a single band of men. Truly, Heaven wished me to suffer in order to bestow upon me a great mission. Thus my resolve became hardened in order to overcome these trials. Raising bamboo as our banner, commoners assembled from all four directions. Making libations of wine and feasting with officers, our soldiers were like fathers and sons, forming an army with a single heart. Weak against strong, we assaulted the enemy when he was unprepared. Few against many, we continually prepared ambushes, making manifest our brilliant strategy.

Finally, with supreme righteousness we conquered the fierce and cruel; with ultimate benevolence we took the place of the oppressive and tyrannical. At Đồ-Bằng Mountain, our army was as fierce as thunder and lightning. In the battle of Trà-Lân, the enemy was smashed like bamboo, reduced to ashes billowing in the wind. Our troop’s morale multiplied; the roar of our army pealed and thundered. Chen Chi and Shan Shou lost their senses and became terrified upon hearing the wind. Li An and Fang Cheng fled, clinging to life breath by breath. Riding upon victory we pushed onward; Tây-kinh once again entered our possession. Selecting talented soldiers, we advanced to Đông-Đô, reconquering our old territory in its entirety. At Ninh-kiều, blood flowed forming rivers, the stench rank across ten-thousand miles. At Tốt-động, corpses piled up in the wilds, leaving behind their putrid smell for a thousand years. Chen He, the heart and mind of the enemy, had his head smashed into a pulp. The parasitic worm, Li Liang had his corpse exposed. Wang Tong attempted to put order to the chaos, but that which was already in conflagration burned with greater intensity. Ma Ying attempted a rescue, but those who were already enraged became only more infuriated. Their wit exhausted and strength depleted, with tied hands they awaited destruction. We struck into their hearts and minds, not raising the sword against them, they still toppled on their own. One would have thought that they ought have a change of heart and mind. Who could have expected that they would persevere in their evil, bringing disaster upon themselves? Hardened and stubborn in their ways, they continued to bring ruin to others. Greedy for fleeting merit, they became the laughingstock of the entire world. They persuaded the upstart boy of Hsuan-Te not to tire of war; they ordered cowardly generals like Mu Sheng and Liu Sheng to put out fire with oil. In the ninth month of the Đinh Mùi year, Liu Sheng led his army, advancing from Qiu-wen. In the tenth month of the same year, Mu Sheng split directions and came from Yun-nan. I had already selected soldiers to prepare ambushes at essential locations, destroying their vanguard. I then ordered men to block their escape route, cutting off the transportation of their rations. In the eighteen day of the same month, our troops attached attacked Liu Sheng, who had fallen into a trap in the wilderness of Chi-lăng. In the twentieth day of the same month, Liu Sheng was defeated by our troops and perished in the mountains of Mã-yên. On the twenty fifth day, the earl of Bo-Ding, Liang Ming, lost in battle and was slaughtered. On the twenty eighth day, at his wit’s end, the minister Li Ching slit his own throat.

We conquered wherever we advanced; the enemy turned around fighting their own. Our troops increased, surrounding them on all four sides. A date was set in the middle of the tenth month for complete extermination. Officers and generals, ferocious as tigers and leopards, were selected. Our elephants drank rivers dry. Our swords were sharpened to such extent that they could pierce the rocks of mountains. One battle and leviathans and whales were slaughtered and cut to pieces. Another battle and the enemy was like unto scattered birds, terrified and separated from their flock. A flood destroying an ant nest; a great wind sweeping through dry leaves. The military governor, Tui Hsiu, fell to his knees and offered surrender. The minister Huang Fu tied himself up and delivered himself into captivity. Stiffened corpses piled up along the roads of Lạng-Giang and Lạng-Sơn. The waters of Xương-Giang and Bình-Than were red with the blood of war. The wind and clouds changed appearance in response; the sun and moon were dismal and ceased to give illumination.

The soldiers from Yun-nan were entrapped by our army at Lê-Hoa. Confused and terrified, their entrails immediately became entwined. When Mu Sheng’s troops heard that Liu Sheng’s army had suffered devastating defeat at Cần-Trạm, they trampled over one another each trying to escape with his life. At Lãnh-Câu, the banks shimmered with blood; the river water seemed to choke up in response. At Đan-xá corpses piled up like mountains, the wild grass dyed crimson. Both directions of rescue troops had not time to turn their feet and flee before being destroyed. Emerging from their fortresses, the cornered enemy took off his armor in surrender. The enemy’s general having become captives, they were like tigers, who having fallen into a trap, wagged their tails begging for mercy. Divine and tremendous warfare does not require killing; emulating God, I took pity on their lives. General Fang Cheng and official Ma Chi were first provided with over five hundred ships; having already crossed the ocean, they were still like ones whose souls had left their body. Commander Wang Tong and governor Ma Ying were then given over one thousand horses; after returning to their domain, their knees still shook, their hearts still terrified. They were afraid of death and greedy for life; their proposal for treaty was sincere. I put the entire army above all else and desired that the people should rest. Not only were these strategies and plans truly profound and far-sighted, from past unto present these were events hitherto unheard and unseen.

Peace and order was thus brought to the realm. The mountains and rivers became renewed. Heaven and Earth having passed through hardship was restored to prosperity. The sun and moon having been darkened, shone once more. Thus was laid the foundation for supreme peace for ten-thousand generations. Thus was washed clean the boundless disgrace of a thousand ages. Truly it was with the hidden assistance of Heaven and Earth and the souls of our ancestors that this was achieved in such manner.

Alas! One war brought about this supreme order, resulting in incomparable merit. The four seas henceforth forever tranquil, let this edict of renewal be announced.

Let all far and near heed this proclamation that they may hear and know!

III.

Notes

– Wu (吳 , Ngô) refers to ancestral land of the Ming dynasty’s royal family. Here it refers to the Ming dynasty

– Liu Gong (劉龔 , Lưu Cung , 889-942) was a ruler of the Southern Han dynasty (南漢 , Nam Hán). His son, Liu Hong-cao (劉弘操 , Lưu Hoằng Tháo) was killed in an attempted invasion of Vietnam. Liu Hong-cao’s naval defeat under the hands of Vietnamese general Ngô Quyền (吳權 , 898-944) numbers among the most famous military victories in Vietnamese history

– Zhao Hsie (赵禼 , Triệu Tiết , 1026–1090) was a Song dynasty general who retreated from an unsuccessful invasion of Lý dynasty (李朝 , Lý triều) Vietnam

-Sogetu (唆都 , Toa Đô) and Omar (烏馬 , Ô Mã) were Yuan dynasty generals that led unsuccessful invasions of Trần dynasty (陳朝 , Trần triều) Vietnam. There is an error in the original text; Sogetu was in fact killed and Omar captured alive.

– “conquer eastward” refers to a quote from Liu Pang (劉邦 , Lưu Bang , 256-195 BC), the founder the Han dynasty expressing his desire to conquer eastward (吾亦欲東耳,安能鬱鬱久居此乎 , Ngô diệc dục đông nhĩ, an năng uất uất cửu cư thử hồ)

– I currently do not have time to make meaningful annotations of the remaining names of people and locations in this work. The great majority of them refer to geographic locations in northern Vietnam and the personal names of various Ming dynasty officials and generals involved in the conflict. Aside from personal names and locations, this work also includes a huge number of references (many of which can be difficult to detect) to Confucian classics and previous historical events. Rather than wait to compile complete annotations of these minute details, I have decided to publish this translation first and add to the annotations as time allows, should the readership require. I hope that interested readers that are capable of reading classical Chinese or Vietnamese can assist me in this work. If there are any sections for which annotations are wanted, please write a comment expressing inquiry.

IV.

Translator’s Commentary

The Great Proclamation upon the pacification of Wu remains one of the most important and widely known documents in Vietnamese history. Many of my friends, none of whom know classical Chinese, can quote the opening section from memory. However, it is a mistake to present this work as an “anti-Chinese” (chống Tầu) document. Nowhere in this work does the author use the word “Chinese”, simply because the modern concept of “China” and what constitutes “Chinese” did not exist in his historical backdrop. Terms such as “Middle Kingdom” (中國 , trung quốc), “central plains” (中原 , trung nguyên) , and “divine realm” (神州 , thần châu) have been used by both Vietnamese and Chinese people to describe their own kingdoms and lands. It is worthy of note that the term “middle kingdom” (中國 , trung quốc) is not used to reference the Ming dynasty in this work. The enemy here is simply the Ming dynasty – not what is today identified as “China” or “Chinese culture”. The author’s argument that Vietnam is a state of “letters and learned men” (文獻之邦 , văn hiến chi bang) emphasizes that the Ming dynasty and Vietnam are both “civilized” states with the same shared culture, largely based on Confucian ethics. Being already civilized, Vietnam had no need for the Ming dynasty to interfere under the pretense of a civilizing mission (用華變夷 , dụng Hoa biến Di). On this note, it is important to remember that terms such as “Hua-hsia” (華夏 , Hoa Hạ) and “Han” (漢 , Hán) were used by Vietnamese authors to describe Vietnamese culture, people, language, etc. up until the 20th century. Today, the use of these terms by Vietnamese people as derogatory names for Chinese people and culture and for Vietnamese who are allegedly “slaves” to Communist China and modern Chinese culture (漢奴 , Hán nô) is inaccurate, uneducated, and offensive to our Vietnamese ancestors who took pride in identifying themselves as “Hua” (華 , Hoa) and “Han” (漢 , Hán). There are many, scholars and commoners alike, in the modern day Vietnamese community that look to the Great Proclamation as a sort of “Declaration of Independence” that firmly establishes the division between what is now called “China” and “Vietnam”. Misunderstanding the author’s intent, such people assume that his eloquent prose argues that “Chinese” culture was an essentially alien presence forcefully imposed on the Vietnamese people, who were happy to be rid therefrom. As previously mentioned, the enemy against whom Nguyễn Trãi directed his powerful writing was simply the Ming dynasty – no more, no less. For example, the author’s delineation between “north and south” is simply geographic and refers to the Ming dynasty as ruling the north while the  Vietnamese have dominion over the south. If nothing else, the author’s writing shows obvious evidence of profound erudition in the ancient classics and Confucianism, the historical and cultural tradition in which Vietnam and what constitutes modern day Korea  and Japan was steeped. Hence, in translating this work into English, I hope to bring to new life a fresh look on this old document for the sake of readers interested in Vietnamese studies. In particular, modern day Vietnam’s conflicts with Communist China are very hot topics in the Vietnamese community, both in Vietnam and overseas. Through this humble contribution, I hope to both affirm the morale of my countrymen, but also simultaneously remind them that the conflict between “Vietnam” and “China” is one of politics, not a “culture war”. This Nguyễn Trãi already captures beautifully in his writing.

nlvnpf-1007-001

The following passage is translated from the chapter “Examining the Heart” (省心, Tỉnh tâm) of the Precious Mirror of the Enlightened Heart-Mind (明心寶鑑, Minh Tâm Bảo Giám) which has been introduced in a previous post.

 

王良曰:欲知其君, 先視其臣。欲知其人, 先知其友。欲知其父, 先知其子。君聖臣忠, 父慈子孝。家貧顯孝子, 世亂識忠臣。

Vương Lương viết: Dục tri kỳ quân, tiên thị kỳ thần. Dục tri kỳ nhân, tiên thị kỳ hữu. Dục tri kỳ phụ, tiên thị kỳ tử. Quân thánh thần trung, phụ từ tử hiếu. Gia bần hiển hiếu tử, thế loạn thức trung thần.

Wang Liang said: Desiring to know a ruler, first examine his subjects. Desiring to know a man, first examine his friends. Desiring to know a father, first examine his son. A sagacious ruler produces loyal subjects, a benevolent father, filial sons. When a family is in poverty, the filial piety of the son is made clear. When the realm is in chaos, loyal subjects are made known.

 

Notes:

– The illustration is taken from a Nguyễn dynasty printing of the book The Twenty-four Filial Exemplars translated (二十四孝演音, Nhị thập tứ hiếu diễn âm). It is a translation and annotation of the popular Yuan dyansty (元朝, Nguyên triều, 1260–1368) work of disputed authorship. The contents include stories of twenty four paragons of filial piety and Confucian morality. It was a popular didactic text in Vietnam, especially under the Nguyễn dynasty (1802-1945). Editions of this work can still be found today, many of which are printed with illustrations or in comic book form for children.

– A variation of this quote was used in one episode of the 2010 television series Three Kingdoms (三國, Tam Quốc). 

 

nlvnpf-0831-001

The Minh Tâm Bảo Giám (明心寶鑑, also romanized as Minh Tâm Bửu Giám) is an anthology of aphorisms and quotations selected from various Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist sources. The compiler of the work is unknown, although many point to a Ming dynasty (1368-1644) scholar named Phạm Lập Bản (范立本 Fan Li-ben). The title of the work translates to “The Precious Mirror of the Enlightened Heart-Mind”. It was highly influential and widespread in the Sinosphere (China, Vietnam, Korea, Japan) and was also translated into European languages by Roman Catholic missionaries in the 16th century. Each chapter covers a separate topic, which vary from the duties of governing a nation to the virtues proper to house-wives. Vietnamese translations and printings of this book were common during the Nguyễn dynasty (1802-1945). It was used as an educational tool. Vietnamese translations and printings of this work can still be found today. The book used in writing this post is a modern reprinting of an edition originally published in 1968, which in turn used the translation of Jean-Baptiste Pétrus Trương Vĩnh Ký (張永記, 1837-1898), a scholar, linguist, and convert to Roman Catholicism, who played a tremendous role in promoting the romanization of the Vietnamese language (𡦂國語 chữ Quốc ngữ).

The following quotation is taken from the first chapter of the Minh Tâm Bảo Giám – Doing Good (繼善篇 Kế Thiện thiên).

凡人有勢不可倚盡, 有福不可亨盡, 貧窮不可欺盡, 此三者乃天地循環週而復始, 故一日行善, 福雖未至, 禍自遠矣, 一日行惡, 禍雖未至, 福自遠矣。行善之人如春園之草, 不見其長, 日有所增, 行惡之人如磨刀之石, 不見其損, 日有所虧。損人益己切宜戒之, 一毫之善與人方便, 一毫之惡勸人莫作, 衣食隨緣自然快樂, 算甚麼命?問甚麼卜?欺人是禍, 饒人是福, 天網恢恢, 報應甚速, 謹聽吾言神欽鬼伏。

Phàm nhân hữu thế bất khả ỷ tận, hữu phúc bất khả hưởng tận, bần cùng bất khả khi tận, thử tam giả nãi thiên địa tuần hoàn chu nhi phục thủy, cố nhất nhật hành thiện, phúc tuy vị chí, họa tự viễn hĩ, nhất nhật hành ác, họa tuy vị chí, phúc tự viễn hĩ. Hành thiện chi nhân như xuân viên chi thảo, bất kiến kỳ trưởng, nhật hữu sở tăng, hành ác chi nhân như ma đao chi thạch, bất kiến kỳ tổn, nhật hữu sở khuy. Tổn nhân ích kỷ thiết nghi giới chi, nhất hao chi thiện dữ nhân phương tiện, nhất hao chi ác khuyến nhân mạc tác, y thực tùy duyên tự nhiên khoái lạc, toán thậm ma mệnh? Vấn thậm ma bốc? Khi nhân thị họa, nhiêu nhân thị phúc, thiên võng khôi khôi, báo ứng thậm tốc, cẩn thính ngô ngôn thần khâm quỷ phục.

Now, men have power and authority but it cannot be fully relied upon. They have fortune and prosperity, but cannot enjoy it to the fullest. Whilst in poverty and hardship, their shame has no limit. In Heaven-and-earth these three circumstances cycle without end and return to the beginning to repeat once more. Hence, if today one performs good works and good fortune has not yet come, at least misfortune will remain far-off. If today one does evil, though disaster has not yet fallen upon him, good fortune has also taken flight. The man who does good is like the grass of a vernal garden. Though one cannot see its growth, it increases daily. The man who does evil is like a whetstone. Though one does not see him deteriorating, he daily falls deeper into ruin. One must guard against taking away from others to the benefit of oneself. Always be ready to perform even the smallest good deed for others, and never shrink from cautioning others against even the smallest evil. If one contents himself with the clothing and food allotted by fate, what need is there to consult fortune-tellers and divination? Despising others is the root of disaster and misfortune, forgiving and loving others is the source of good fortune and happiness. The net of Heaven is vast; reward and retribution are swiftly dealt. Listen carefully to my words, and even the spirits will respect you.

 

Notes:

– the illustration used is a picture from a Nguyễn dynasty printing of the Minh Tâm Bảo Giám, printed in the third year of emperor Đồng Khánh (同慶, 1864-1889), temple name Nguyễn Cảnh Tông (阮景宗). The title of the printing is “The Precious Mirror of the Enlightened Heart-Mind Explained” (明心寶鑑釋義 Minh Tâm Bảo Giám thích nghĩa) and the text provides Vietnamese translations of various terms and quotations.

 

Nguyễn Thụy Đan

Văn Học ~ Xã Hội ~ Tông Giáo

Nghiên cứu lịch sử

Các bài nghiên cứu, biên khảo và dịch thuật các chủ đề về lịch sử

Sensus Traditionis

A Website Dedicated to the Sacred Tradition of the Roman Catholic Church

Le Minh Khai's SEAsian History Blog

Always rethinking the Southeast Asian past

henry darragh's blog

tell her for me

Tương Mai Cư Sĩ

Non non nước nước tình tình

The Sacred at Park Place

Bringing Catholic sacred tradition to the neighborhood at Park Place Blvd.

歸源 (Kuiwon)

Classical Chinese Works Written by Korean Authors Translated - 한시•한문 영역 - 漢詩•漢文 英譯