Emperor Kangxi’s Family Maxims Illustrate Traditional Chinese Civilization


She did not expect her rescuer to utter the words 'I know,' which was very comforting to hear at that moment. (Image: yyryyr1030 via Pixabay)

Emperor Kangxi worked diligently all his life — cultivating himself, regulating the family, managing the state, and bringing peace to the world. Most of his offspring were blessed with both brains and physical prowess. He left in his teachings a maxim for future generations in which he summarized the way of teaching children and illustrated the Chinese civilization comprehensively.

Understand the truth

Studying is done to understand the truth. If you understand the truth, you will have your own opinion. And then you will have your own judgment on whether it is right or wrong. When it comes to things that are difficult to make a decision about, as long as you act according to the truth, you will have no fear.

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Respect others

Regardless of the age of men, women, or children, you must respect them. Treat elders with respect and courtesy. You must not be too extravagant in your daily life. Be strict with yourself in your daily life, and know how to do things properly.

Treat elders with respect and courtesy. (Image: 667037 via Pixabay/CC0 1.0)

Realize your mistakes and correct them

Who does not make mistakes in life? No matter what big or small mistakes you have made, if you know the mistakes and correct them, you should get the chance to rehabilitate yourself.

Say good words and do good deeds

In order to get along well with your family, you should follow the ancients’ example: Say good words and do good deeds. I often teach you this, and you should treat your wives and children this way at home. The harmony of a family is based on this.

Asian Family at the table. Father two children and a mother reaching from inbetween the children passing the father a green salad bowl.
One should say good words and do good deeds for the family. (Image: Pixabay, CC 2.0

Diligence and thrift can bring you happiness and longevity

There is a fixed amount of food, clothing, and wealth that people can enjoy in a lifetime. If you are extravagant and greedy, you will lose your life once the blessings are exhausted. If you are diligent, frugal, and restrain yourself, you can increase your happiness and prolong your life. As an emperor, what kind of treasure can’t I use? However, I never waste food and clothing, because I cherish the wealth that Heaven has given me.

Translated by Joseph Wu and edited by Helen

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