That which is wise is self-restrained and virtuous; that which is foolish is corrupt and self-indulgent. They are like fire and water and cannot exist together. Choose which you will have in your life.
One who follows the way of self-restraint and virtue is like a tree growing near streams; it bears fruit in season and its leaves never wither, but those that follow only their desires are like chaff blown around by the wind. They have no roots.
Those who follow the way of self-restraint and virtue strengthen their minds. When you follow the path, your decisions will be firm. If you give thought to what you will get out of the decision, however, there will be no end to your wavering and compromise. As soon as you crave anything, that thing begins to control your mind. Thus, when you indulge in desires, a weak mind arises. A weak mind will be plundered by outside objects. In the same way, exerting ones’ strength when seeing there is favor to be gained, or to offer one’s services when seeing there is profit in it – this is the behavior of mediocre and lesser people.
Human desires are like water, but wisdom restrains like a dam. If the dam is not strong, the water will burst through. If a person’s desires are not governed, the self-indulgent will be weak. So to get rid of feelings and end delusion, to end evil and stop wrong, we cannot forget the Way for a moment. Those who forget the way are in the dark, intellectually. They are disconnected from the higher life because of their ignorance, a consequence following desires and closing their minds. They will dull their sense of right and wrong so that can they abandon all self-control and pursue to excess every kind of desire.
Put aside you old self, your old way of life, corrupted by following desires that were merely illusions. Focus your mind, renew your spirit, become a new person. Any bitterness or bad temper or anger or shouting or abuse must be far removed from you – as must every kind of hatred. Uncontrolled passion, evil desires and especially greed, hot temper, malice, abusive language, lies, and dirty talk – destroy them. You have stripped off your old behavior with your old self, and you have put on a new self, which still progresses towards true knowledge; you are to be clothed in heartfelt compassion, in generosity and humility, gentleness and patience. Finally, bear with one another; forgive each other if one of you has a complaint against another. For who has no faults? To be able to correct error is best of all. The wise correct their faults and change to good, whereas the foolish mostly conceal their faults and cover up their wrongs. This is the characteristic of a lesser person.
The tongue gives evidence of the way of restraint. Whoever controls their speech, controls themselves. The tiny bit in a horse's mouth guides the entire beast; the rudder of a ship steers the whole vessel, even in a gale. Our tongues control our bodies and spirits in exactly the same way. Also, think of how a tiny flame sets fire to an entire forest. The tongue is a flame too, and its fire can spread to all the parts of its owner's life. Many wild animals have been tamed, but who can tame their own tongue? It can be a pest and a poison! Can the same tongue bless and curse others? This must be wrong – fresh and salt water doesn't flow out of the same pipe; neither does one tree produce another's fruit. Remember this, my brothers; everyone should be quick to listen but slow to speak, and slower yet to anger; No one who fails to keep a tight reign on the tongue can claim to be following the way; this is mere self-deception
Persons of the way must persevere when the path is hard. There are certainly things in the world that grow easily, but we have never seen anything that could live given one day of warmth and ten days of cold. When you plant a tree and take care of it, you do not see it increase, but in time, it gets big. When you accumulate virtue with continued practice, you do not see the good of it, but in time it will serve you well.
When the way is hard, consider it a great joy. When the task is difficult, the will must become sharp; hardship makes the thoughts deep. You know that hardship produces perseverance, and perseverance must complete its work so that you will become fully developed, complete, and not deficient in any way success will come to anyone who perseveres when trials come. Such a person proves his or her worth. These times will come to everyone; everyone will be put to the test by being attracted and seduced by his or her own wrong desires.
Don’t say virtue isn’t possible these days. Can what was possible in the past not be possible now? It is only because teaching is not complete and practice is not powerful. Some say the ancients were pure and simple and therefore could be taught, while people of today are fickle and shallow, and therefore cannot be taught. These are words that foster delusion – truly they are not worthy of consideration.
Listen for advice, but be careful of your sources. Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, whoever mixes with fools will be ruined. Do not follow the minds of your own generation only: There is no conflict between the old and the new; the conflict is between the true and the false. Ask widely among the prudent people of the older generation, in order to broaden your knowledge and amend your shortcomings, to shed light on what has not yet dawned on you. Avoid those who change their devotion because of destitution or success, gain or loss; they are simply not yet worthy of talking to about the Way.
Accept reproof and grow in understanding; accepting correction is proof of self-respect, for while the fool thinks the way he goes is straight, the wise is listening to advice. The mocker does not care to be reprimanded, and will not choose the wise as companions.
Do not follow the way of Anger. Anger is a wind that blows out the lamp of the mind. Sharp words stir up anger, but a mild answer turns away wrath. Mastery of temper is high proof of intelligence, but a quick temper makes folly worse than ever.
Do not follow the way of Hatred. Hatred is darkness, and those who hate are in darkness walking about blindly, not knowing where they are going. Those who love remain in the light and there is nothing in them to make them fall away, but whoever claims to be in the light but still hates is really in darkness.
Follow those that show love toward others. Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful, conceited or rude; love never seeks its own advantage, and it does not take offense or keep track of grievances. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth. It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes. In love there is no room for fear, because fear implies punishment and whoever is afraid has not come to perfection in love. The best kind of wisdom is simply being kind to everyone – what could possibly make your life easier?