Liao Fans's Four Lessons

Original work by Liao Fan of the Ming Dynasty


Liao-Fan Yuan originally wrote Liao-Fan’s Four Lessons in the sixteenth century in China. The book was intended to teach his son, Tian-Chi Yuan, how to recognize the true face of destiny, tell good from bad, correct one’s faults and practice 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.

While reading, one may wonder why the Chinese placed so much emphasis on examinations. In the past, studying was held in highest regard while all other occupations were considered ‘low-class.’ The Chinese government selected its officials through a system of meritocracy. Many levels of imperial examinations were given to all who wished to take them. It was very difficult to pass these tests and one had to be very learned and talented in writing essays.

Those who did pass had the chance to advance to high government positions and live a life of wealth and prominence. People who could not pass the examinations were not recognized, regardless of how smart or capable they were otherwise. This was why many youths of that time turned to studying for the exams in hopes of a prosperous future.

Since the original work of Liao-Fan was written in classical Chinese, it tended to be hard to read and understand. In the early 1900s, Mr. Zhi-Hai Huang added a detailed commentary to the book using contemporary Chinese. His edition of Liao-Fan’s Four Lessons became very popular and benefited many people of his time. However, as time went on, even Mr. Huang’s edition became too difficult for today’s readers, so the influence of this beneficial book was greatly reduced.

In view of this sad situation, The Foundation of Liao-Fan’s Four Lessons, which is dedicated to the reorganization, editing and reprinting of the book, initially sponsored the editing of The Brief Explanation of Liao-Fan’s Four Lessons. As a result they released an updated version of Liao-Fan’s Four Lessons as an audio book. The following edition is a further re-editing of the Foundation’s initial work. We hope that everyone will learn the spirit of Liao-Fan in changing one’s destiny and creating a brighter future for oneself, society, the nation and all the people of this world.