大度读人 (原文)   冯骥才

Reading broadly into a person (original essay) by Feng Jicai
Translated by YK Chan

On the worldwide stage every person appears as a book. To read a person is more difficult than to read a written book. I have been seriously reading this “Book of Man” over half of my life, and still haven’t understood it.

有的人,在阳光明媚的日子里愿意把伞借给你,而下雨的时候,他却打着伞悄悄地先走了。——你读他时,千万别埋怨他。因为他自己不愿意被雨淋着 (且是人家的雨伞),也不愿意分担别人的困难,你能说什么呢?还是自己常备一把伞吧。
When there is bright sunshine someone would lend you his umbrella. However, when it rains he would leave stealthily under his umbrella.–When you are reading him, don’t ever complain about him. Since he isn’t willing to get wet and it’s his umbrella after all, how can you question his reluctance to share other people’s problems? It’s better to have your own umbrella.

When you are in power or influential someone would hover all over you. However, when you leave your job or do not have clout anymore, he would make himself scarce.–

When you are reading him, try your best to understand him. He praised you in the past because he needed something from you. Since you don’t serve that function now, he does not have to glorify you anymore. From now on you have to keep your cool and ponder if you are too trusting of people. 

When conversing with you heart-to-heart someone may sweet-talk fluently like honey flowing in a river. Lurking in the river bed, however, is a polluted undercurrent.–

When you are reading him, don’t ever hate him. It is quite hard to always mislead and misrepresent oneself, wearing a mask of hypocrisy in front and behind people. If not acting perfectly, he could be punished by similar deception of his type. You should empathize with him and await the return of his true self and self-awakening.

When you are busy sowing, someone would just be looking on instead of offering to sweat it out with you. At harvest, however, he would shamelessly arm himself with excuses to reap and share your fruits.–

When you are reading him, don’t feel offended. You should welcome him regardless of his mentality, as someone is willing to share the sweetness of your bumper harvest. For a bit of sacrifice, you fulfill a person’s desire for accomplishment. Eventually, he would learn how to respect and care for himself.

Some people are particularly conscientious of their attire and appearance, wearing expressions of luxury and opulence. Their deep void inside, however, is filled with innocence or ignorance. Such psyche often seeps through their words and deeds.–

When you are reading him, don’t ever despise him. He does not understand that clothing is made by a tailor and just an currency indicator. The true value of a person lies in, however, his knowledge, character and poise. Against the vain and mundane, you should make timely juxtaposition of them against your own action.

Reading others is really also reading oneself. Read truth, kindness and beauty simultaneously with the hypocrisy behind upright appearance, the ugliness behind beauty, the cunningness behind gentle smiles…
…Of utmost importance in reading a person is learning what really lies in that person.
…To do so is to learn how to be a real person.

Hence, when reading into a person we learn how to become accommodating and open-minded. Only then we can learn how to improve ourselves, to be classy, blissful and fortunate.

What each person encounters in life is different. The outcome depends on how you deal with the situation. To co-exist and interact with people we need more mutual understanding and trust. If always striving for the positive, you will sense that life is not as bad as we may conjure. When you treat others with an open mind, you may discover that more happy surprises await you in life.  We shall all learn to smile in life, smile at whatever happens around us.  When you are able to do so, you will enjoy the sun and its warmth around you more.

It’s still that saying about our ephemeral existence of several decades, during which we should not mind being too generous towards others but learn how to be a real person. This sounds simple, but not anyone can master the true meaning of this “Book of Man”. Let us see straight into ourselves, face life with a pure heart and be kind to others and to ourselves, living each day happily.

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