( Edited by Kaer)
There are countless paths of life but few of them are without regrets. From imperial families to those in poverty and from highbrow dignitaries with imperial notions to the masses who follow pop culture, few people can say when they leave the mortal world, “I regret nothing in my life.”
Regrets are part of life. Remorse and distress interweave into life as people advance dauntlessly, trying to pursue an optimum life through one attempt after another. Philosophers, religionists, and politicians try to navigate through Life with efforts to make them work without regrets and although everyone begins to fight for their ideal Life from the time they are born, almost all eventually leave the world with regrets and emotional scars.
Which way leads to a life without regrets? In the early 1980’s, I wrote a letter to a friend in which I listed three main pursuits in life: health, wealth, and freedom, however I have found that even after having achieved these goals, I am still far away from that life without regrets.
Today I view having a life without regrets as one which realizes these five ideals:
1.To connect one’s own life with that of the source LIFE. In this case, no matter how short one’s life is in this mortal world and no matter what hardships or splendours they might traverse, their LIFE will always remain connected with eternity, and a much more magnificent picture will manifest itself in the end. In this way, their life will have no regrets.
2.To accept one’s fate as it is.Whether one is a blade of grass or a peony, a robust eagle daunting through the sky or an agile swallow flying over fields and under eaves, whether they are born handsome and beautiful or plain and ordinary, whether they are highly gifted or severely challenged, and whether they are born into a humble house in a remote village or into the imperial palace in the capital, they can all appreciate the sun and moon, rivers and mountains, the rosy dawn and sunset’s glow, the wind and frost, and the rain and snow. As long as they have hearts like this, they will feel grateful and not complain about the Tao of heaven being “unfair. This too is the way to lead a Life without regrets.
3.To create joy in one’s life through hard work, as busy as a bee working cheerfully. No matter how much spiritual or material wealth they create, no matter whether the fruits of their labour are enjoyed by many or few, they must keep working sincerely. They must not expect to be extremely rich and noble, or to earn great fame and recognition. As long as their blood, sweat, and tears drip into the soil along their natural paths, they can all be proud to say: I have tried! In such a case, their life will have no regrets.
4.To act in accordance with one’s nature. It is a Life’s eternal error to imitate and emulate others. A lady from an illustrious family has her special charm as a daughter from a humble family also has her qualities, urban city dwellers have their style while countrymen have their pure beauty, the rich have their problems but the poor have their happiness, delicacies have beautiful tastes and colours but plain tea and simple food have rich nutrition, and extraordinary people have special gifts but ordinary folks also have their advantages. To dream one’s dreams and enjoy their pleasures, to take things as they are and act in accordance with one’s nature, neither to force one’s actions, follow fashion, nor compare themselves with others, to love what one loves and hate what they hate, and to treat oneself sincerely are all necessary if one is to enjoy a Life without regrets.
5.To do their best at everything they do. Whether it is to support their parents and rear their own children or to help their siblings, friends, and neighbours, and seek public benefit, as long as one does their best, they will have no regrets. Our parents brought us up and their love is higher than the mountains and deeper than the sea. Every child wants their parents to enjoy their twilight years and to show their filial piety every day, but there are many things beyond our control and few can do absolutely as they wish. Parents understand this, and as long as they have tried their best, they will have no regrets. Children are our future and our ideal and every parent wants their children to enjoy wonderful and successful lives, but wishes are wishes and reality is reality. Even one’s fingers are of different lengths and weeds will grow in flower gardens. No one can expect perfection, but as long as they have done their best to rear their children, they should have no regrets regardless of what happens. There is nothing anyone can do when their children complain and resent them, but those who have done everything to the best of their ability, will have no regrets. No one should ever carry more burdens than they can bear nor force themselves to do the impossible. To act to one’s capability and to do their best is to realize a life without regrets.
We can certainly run on and on, but as there is no perfect life under heaven, why should we pursue one? All things created by the Greatest Creator are strewn in random order but at distinct levels. As long as we obey the arrangements of the Greatest Creator, fulfill our obligations as human beings, and advance along the track of human nature, then whether our life shows favor or adversity or is bright or dark, ours will be a life without regrets.