Correct Our Mistakes

There are some people who absolutely refuse to admit their mistakes, and there are those who correct them right away. Those who refuse to admit their faults are like people who wear soiled clothes and do not wash them, or people who do not bathe when dirty. Others will find them repulsive and avoid them. They do not realize the problem is with themselves.

People are not saints. We all err from time to time. Mistakes are acceptable, so long as we correct them. Those who refuse to admit and correct their faults are like a wall that has been painted black, bereft of any color. They are like a soup that is too thick and heavily seasoned, without water to lighten the taste.

Admitting one’s own faults is a virtue. In a traditional monastery, fights rarely occurred, as everyone was willing to admit his or her mistakes. There are many ways to show one is repenting. For instance, we could say, “I apologize for offending you, teacher!” Or “You are so knowledgeable. I am ignorant, so please teach me more!” We can even say, “I am ashamed not to have served you better! Please forgive me! Please teach me! Please allow me to repent!” It is important to know, admit, and correct our mistakes. Others will not look down upon us for it. They will respect us for it.

In Chinese history, benevolent emperors issued edicts that pointed out their faults. They readily admitted their mistakes to the world. Today, friends resolve their disputes with a simple apology. A good article needs polishing, just as a good painting needs touching up. Plants and trees require pruning to grow strong and beautiful, just as our hair needs trimming to look tidy. Don’t our mistakes need to be corrected as well?

Common people are not the only ones who need to correct their mistakes. Sometimes even saints and sages make mistakes. After they correct them, they are still saints and sages. In families, it is not only children who should admit their faults. When parents admit their mistakes to their children, their relationship will be improved. Within an organization, workers as well as their managers should admit their mistakes. When the latter admit their faults, they win the support of the former.

The practice of admitting mistakes should not be limited to particular individuals. It is a virtue everyone should adopt!