Liaofan Yuan


Liao-Fan's Four Lessons was originally written in the Ming Dynasty of China by Mr. Liao-Fan Yuan. The book was intended to teach his son, Tien-Chi Yuan, how to recognize the true face of destiny, how to tell good from evil, and the method for correcting one's faults and practicing kind deeds. It also provided living proof of the rewards and outcomes of people who practiced kind deeds and cultivated virtue and humility. Relating from his own experience at changing destiny, Mr. Yuan himself was a living embodiment of his teachings.

After reading this wonderful book, one may feel more open and confident towards life, and at the same time, courageously compelled to follow the example of Liao-Fan in changing one's original destiny. Liao-Fan's Four Lessons is truly a rare book which is not only precious to an individual's spiritual needs, but is also capable of transforming unhealthy attitudes in today's society.

Liafoan's Four lessons is divided into four chapters or lessons. If one takes twenty minutes each day to read one lesson, this book can be finished in four days. If one reads this book continuoulsy for one year, they will be able to understand deeply the meanings within.

Three Conditions for Reforming

There are three ways to reform our faults.

  • One must feel shame
  • One must know fear
  • One must have a determination and courage

First, we must be able to feel ashamed. Many ancient Chinese sages and virtuous people taught us that knowing shame is close to possessing courage. Confucius often spoke of great wisdom, great kindness and great courage. By knowing what is shame, we will truly reform and improve ourselves. if we do not know what shame is, we will not have good futures.

Second, we must know fear. Constantly having this fearful mind will enable us to discipline ourselves so that we will no longer dare to commit wrongdoings. It will help us to be constantly apprehensive.

Third, we need to be courageous in regretting and reforming. The first way to reform, which is to know shame, is close to being courageous. Having a sense of shame is to be deluded. Therefore, a sense of shame is a condition for awakening and courage is the condition for diligent cultivation. Feeling ashamed is awakening from within ourselves. Having a fearful heart is the external force that helps us to refrain from wrongdoing; this also reflects the deep shame in our true nature.

Three Methods of Practice in Reforming

There are three methods of practice to help us reform.

  • Changing through behavior
  • Changing through reasoning
  • Changing from the heart

For changing through behavior we can use an example; such as killing living beings in the past. I vow never to kill them again. If I used to get angry and yell at others in the past, I vow never to do so again. This is changing through behavior by refraining from repeating a wrongdoing committed in the past and vowing never to do it again.

Changing through reasoning begins by understanding why we should not do something; for example, killing. To love all living things is a virtue of heaven. To love all living things is a virtue of heaven. Understanding that all living beings love life and fear death, how can I be at peace with myself and fear death, how can I be at peace with myself by taking another's life to nurture my own? At times, animals such as fish or crabs have been cooked alive. Such pain and suffering reach down into their very bones. How can we be so cruel?

What does changing from the heart mean? Although we have thousands of different faults, they ll stem from the heart, from the mind. We can correct our faults by beginning to change from our minds and practicing good deeds. If we practice from our minds, then even a small good deed such as unreservedly giving a penny to a person in need would be of infinite merits and virtues. Why? This deed comes from the great compassion in our true nature, thus the broadminded is boundless. The good fortune is infinite for the good deeds arises from our minds and accords arises with our true nature. However, if the good deed arises solely from our actions, then it is a small merit for it did not arise from our true nature.

Ten Ways to Cultivate Kindness

  • Supporting the practice of kindness
  • Harboring love and respect
  • Helping others succeed
  • Persuading others to practice kindness
  • Helping those in desperate need
  • Developing public project for the greater benefit of the people
  • Giving through donation
  • Protecting the proper teaching
  • Respecting our elders
  • Love and cherishing all living beings

The Four Lessons

Random foliage

There are four lessons or chapters in this book. The first lesson shows how to create destiny. The second lesson explains the ways to reform. The third reveals the ways to cultivate goodness. And the fourth discloses the benefits of the virtue of humility.