Peng Duanshu: To Learn ~ 《为学一首示子侄》 彭端淑 with English Translations

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《为学一首示子侄》,收录于《白鹤堂文集》,为清代彭端淑作品,作于乾隆九年(公元1744年),因彭端淑同族子侄很多,仅其祖父直系就达69人之众,但当时连一个文举人都没有,作者见状,甚为忧心,急而训之,所以才写出这篇文章来。

《为学一首示子侄》 彭端淑

天下事有难易乎?为之,则难者亦易矣;不为,则易者亦难矣。人之为学有难易乎?学之,则难者亦易矣;不学,则易者亦难矣。

蜀之鄙有二僧,其一贫,其一富。贫者语于富者曰:“吾欲之南海,何如?”

富者曰:“子何恃而往?”

曰:“吾一瓶一钵足矣。”

富者曰:“吾数年来欲买舟而下,犹未能也。子何恃而往!”

越明年,贫者自南海还,以告富者。富者有惭色。

西蜀之去南海,不知几千里也,僧富者不能至而贫者至焉。人之立志,顾不如蜀鄙之僧哉?

To Learn
Peng Duanshu

There is nothing difficult for us to do in the world. If we do it, the difficult thing will be easy; if we don’t do, the easy thing will be difficult. There is nothing difficult for us to learn. If we learn it, the difficult thing will be easy; if we don’t, the easy thing will be difficult.

There lived two monks in the western frontier of Sichuan, one poor and the other rich. One day the poor monk said to the rich one.

“I want to go to Nanhai, what do you think?”

“On what do you depend for going there?” asked the rich monk.

“A bottle and a basin will suffice me,” answered the other.

“Well, I have been meaning to go there by boat for many years, but failed. How could you go without any support!”

After one year the poor monk returned from Nanhai, and told his story to the rich one, who was ashamed to hear it.

It is so many thousand miles from the western frontier of Sichuan to Nanhai. The rich monk failed to go, but the poor one went. Couldn’t we make up our minds to do something as the poor monk of the western frontier of Sichuan did?

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