硏磨

Almost everyone around the world have been quarantined at home, and it’s a perfect time to brush up your skillsets. Let’s take a look at this word, 硏磨 (to grind, study, or research). 硏 refers to an inkstone, which is a flat stone. What do you normally do with an inkstone? It’s used to grind ink. Once ink is ground and contained, you would write with it. Writing is associated with studying and researching, therefore you have a process from grinding of ink to writing, where you would be studying or researching, so we have all of these meanings associated with this character 硏.

With 磨 (to grind or rub), we have a compound of 麻 (hemp) and 石 (stone). So, the character was for an act of using a stone-based tool to soften or decorticate hemp stalks. It was done by either grinding or crushing the stalks, so we have both of these meanings associated with this character. When an object is either grinded or pounded, it wears out and it can even disappear eventually. So, 磨 can also mean suffering, being worn down, or disappearing after being worn down.

Combining above meanings we can think of the meaning of 硏磨 as an act of studying and researching until the subject (who would be studying and researching) would disappear from being worn down so much. We can associate a degree of pain with such an act, and there is a sense of constant repetition. Therefore, there can’t be 硏磨 without difficulties and repetition. Such process is needed in order to improve our skills and talents.

Even in English, the informal use of the word grind is associated with working or studying laboriously. So, it’s interesting to see that we have such commonalities both in the East and the West.

Source: https://www.donga.com/news/List/Series_70070000000757/article/all/20060104/8262972/1
Update and English translation by Michael Han (https://michaelhan.net)

奇貨可居

原: 史記, 呂不韋傳; 資治通鑑, 等等

奇貨可居 (기화가거,qíhuòkějū,きか-かきょ) special item [is of a] good purchase
Something that deserves an investment. A good opportunity. A worthy item to purchase for future.

During the Warring States period, even though the country of Jo (趙) was in a decline, the capital city of Handan (邯鄲) was still flourishing with a lot of trade with other countries. Yeobulwi (呂不韋), a grand merchant (豪商) of the country of Han (韓), also frequented Handan for business. One day, by chance, he found out Jacho (子楚: 異人), who was a bastard son of Prince An-guk (安國君) of Jin (秦), was being held as a hostage in that city.  At the time, Jin often invaded Jo so Jacho was despised, and he was treated badly. Yeobulwi saw this situation as an opportunity, and decided to help Jacho by first visiting his residence, which was a shabby place. Yeobulwi said, “King Soyang (昭襄王) is of old age, and your father is set to become the next king of Jin. But Queen Consort (正妃), Lady Hwa-yang (華陽夫人), has no sons, and there are over twenty sons born through concubines. Among them, who do you think would be the next Crown Prince? Surely, the confidence isn’t on your side.” Jacho wasn’t sure of the intent of this conversation and replied, “There isn’t anything anyone can do about that, is there?” Yeobulwi suggested that he would help Jacho with money, so he could send gifts to the Queen Consort to win her favor, while recruiting talented people around him. Yeobulwi promised that he would also go to the country of Jin and try to help appoint Jacho as the Crown Prince. At this, Jacho held Yeobulwi’s hands in gratitude and said, “If things work out as you’ve said, then let us rule Jin together.”

Finally, Jacho was installed as the Crown Prince with the help of Yeobulwi’s wealth and scheme. And, as Yeobulwi had strategized, Jacho succeeded as King Jangyang (莊襄王, 250-247 BC) of Jin in year 250 BC. As he had promised, Yeobulwi was appointed a minister as soon as he was enthroned, and Yeobulwi was able to gain unprecedented power and wealth.

Before all of these happened, Yeolbulwi had given one of his dancers to Jacho as a wife, and a son, named Jung (政), born to her became the Crown Prince, and later, he would become the Emperor Si (始皇帝). However, there was a report that this dancer who was wed to Jacho was already pregnant with Yeobulwi’s child, and the child who later became the Emperor Si was actually Yeobulwi’s son. 

Anyway, King Jangyang reigned only for 3 years and died. Crown Prince Jung succeeded him, and Yeobulwi was entrusted with even more power as the Chief Councillor, and he was even called uncle (仲父: next in line to one’s father) by the king. He enjoyed fame and held in one hand the power over Jin, and this was all because he discovered a precious gem in a pitiful place and paid dearly for it (奇貨可居). 

We often are affected by myopia, and miss the future opportunities that could be returned to us. A wise person knows to sacrifice little now for a greater return later. And, to do so with boldness as well. Such force of volition in decision making isn’t common among people, especially in this day and age of information overflow. So, it may take a lifetime of practice to learn to see what is not apparent in our daily transactions

狡兎三窟

原: 史記, 孟嘗君列傳; 經濟類編, 卷三十二/19 中
…狡兎有三窟僅得免其死耳…

狡兎三窟 (교토삼굴,jiǎotù sān kū, こうと-さんくつ), smart rabbit [has] three holes
Semper paratus (“always be prepared.”) Always have a back-up plan.

During the Warring States period (戰國時代) a retainer (食客) of Lord Maeng-sang (孟嘗君), named Pung-hweon (馮愋, 馮驩) received an order to collect the loan payments from the state of Seol (薛). He went and gathered everyone who were in debt to Lord Maeng-sang and then to the joy of everyone gathered there, he proceeded burn all of their documents of obligation. Pung-hweon came back and explained that by burning all those loan contracts he had gained gratitude and indebtedness (恩義) from people.

A year later, Lord Maeng-sang had angered King Min (泯王) of the country of Je (齊), and then he was driven out from his post to the outer parts of the kingdom. At this time, the people of Seol came out to be with Lord Maeng-sang to comfort him for 100 miles. This was the first help by Pung-hweon.

Then Pung-hweon went to the capital city of Wi (魏) and persuaded King Hye (惠王) that his country will made stronger by receiving Lord Maeng-sang. King Hye was convinced, and sent 1,000 pounds of gold and cartloads of gifts. Such gifts were sent to him three times, but following Pung-hweon’s advice, Lord Maeng-sang denied the offer, and did not receive those gifts. King Min, hearing of this, became fearful, and sent a servant with an apology, and reinstated Lord Maeng-sang to his post as a local sovereign. This was the second help provided by Pung-hweon.

As a third help, Pung-hweon advised Lord Maeng-sang to build an ancestral shrine of Je in the land of Seol. As long as the shrine existed, King Min would not be a threat to him, so Lord Maeng-sang’s authority was reaffirmed this way.

The world has always been in chaos and it is full of difficulties, so one must overcome a lot of difficulties in order to succeed in the world. People often say it is now the world of infinite competitions. Once must be well equipped in order to compete with others, and that also means one must also be prepared sufficiently for overcoming difficulties in life. And it can also produce anxiety if you have all your eggs in one basket. If one thing fails, there has to be another ready in place. This is true not only individually, but at the national level as well. There has to be some protective measures in place in case of emergencies.

Fake mask-selling sites; scammers

https://enstadia.com

https://sunflowerwishstore.com

https://familywellness.shop

It’s probably a small team operating these. They will even call you (on Saturday night) if you file a complaint. They’re well-versed in technology, and apt at avoiding detection. If you file a complaint with Facebook, it will be ignored, and any posts mentioning them will be taken down. They will hoard money as long as possible, and run before getting caught. I wonder when the law enforcement will catch these retromingent mofos.