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Enlightenment in Life: A Pure Heart is Like Ice in a Jade Kettle
Guan Ming, PureInsight.org
7/25/2009

For ordinary people, the most precious thing in this human world is affection for family. However, for those people with great virtue, they value their moral quality highly. Because one’s moral quality determines whether one is good or bad, it is the most important thing in one’s life. When we were young, we used to recite some Tang Dynasty poems. One of them was very short, but I had a very deep impression of it and reflected on one line in my heart again and again: “If my relatives in Loyang ask me, only my pure heart is like ice in a jade kettle.” At that time, although I could recite it, I didn’t understand it’s inner meaning. With the passage of time and the accumulation of experience, I could understand this line more thoroughly as such: It is the best repaying of kindness to friends and relatives if one can have a pure and compassionate heart.

The line, “If my relatives in Loyang ask me, only my pure heart is like ice in a jade kettle,” is from the poem, “Seeing Xinjian Off at Furong.” The full poem is:

“The cold rain came to Wu at night. I saw my friend off at daybreak and the Chu Mountain stood there very lonely. If my relatives in Loyang ask me, only my pure heart is like ice in a jade kettle.”

The rough meaning of this poem describes the scene of the poet seeing his friend off at Furong, where he tells his friend that if his relatives in Loyang ask about him, to please forward his good will and his pure heart to them. This is a poem of seeing a friend off, but it takes the sad feeling of separation lightly and attaches more importance to people’s moral quality. The first two sentences describe the loneliness of separation. Then the poet uses the last two sentences to compare himself with an icy heart and jade kettle and shows his open mind and strong determination. This poem has very deep connotations.

In ancient China, around the Liu and Song periods, the poet Bao Zhao used “clear as ice in a jade kettle” to describe highly pure moral quality. During the Tang Dynasty, Minister Yao Chong wrote “Ice Kettle Commandment,” and Tang poets Wangwei, Cuiying and Libai all used the “ice kettle” as a literary device to encourage themselves and eulogize noble character. In this poem, Wang Changlin uses the crystal clear icy heart and jade kettle to encourage himself and instill a kind of confidence in himself. It was most valuable to his friends and relatives when he presented to them a pure heart like ice in a jade kettle. The message he wanted his friend to convey to his relatives was not the ordinary message of safety, but the message of his upholding his own purity and belief. With this faithful quality, he earned respect, and later people always used “pure heart like ice in a jade kettle” to describe noble aspirations and interests.

Different people have different ambitions and desires, so different people have their own pursuits. During this short life, some people think money is the most important thing and they pursue fortune their whole life. Some people value fame and pursue it heartily. Some people regard power as everything and put personal power as the highest priority. Finally, some people look upon sentimentality as the most important thing in life. Only those people with high moral standards can go beyond this secular world and are not deluded by fame and gain. Although they are unknown to the public, they still keep their purity and nobility.

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