Readers are strongly encouraged to read the blue numerical footnotes below to gain a better understanding of the original Chinese text and to review some major errors in the translations made by others.
Original Chinese Text
Yet, for a gentleman to conduct himself properly in society, it is necessary for him to first refine and cultivate his own innate character.
Yang Xiong (揚雄 53BC -18BC) once said poetries and songs are trivial and minor arts, and hence a strong and able adult should not spend time practicing them,
let alone additionally be obsessed with penmanship (豪釐, 34) and lose oneself in dedication to the world of calligraphy.
and even taking pleasure in dedicating oneself to fishing in solitude (垂綸, 35) can allow one to experience the savors of being at peace with whatever the circumstances (行藏, 36).
Moreover, many do not realize that calligraphy (as a means to scribe) (詎若, 37) has the merit of helping to revise the Rites and Music (禮樂, 38),
and is as marvelous as celestial beings;
it can have infinite variations (罔窮, 39) tantamount to the boundless changes created when a skilled potter is hand-kneading clays to make different potteries (挻埴, 40),
and [is a wonder] that is akin to (與, 41) the exquisite craftsmanship of an adept blacksmith who can work seamlessly with a furnace (or forge fire).
For those who appreciate the wonders and marvels of calligraphy, they will often like to toy around with the shapes and manners of characters in many ways and directions;
for those who like to examine the art of calligraphy in extreme detail, they will be able to obtain the knowledge and the understanding of the profound and subtle implications (奧賾, 42) hidden within the variations (推移, 43) observed in calligraphy.
Writers and critics often focus on the dregs of calligraphy (糟粕, 44) as a pretext [to belittling it] , but those who can truly appraise it will admire (挹, 45) the essence of the art.
Hence, calligraphy is a culmination of the principles of righteousness (義理, 46), and so I believe those who are wise, talented and virtuous (賢達, 47) should be able to write good calligraphy as well.
Therefore, if one were to devote oneself towards preserving the essence of calligraphy while finding spiritual sustenance in appreciating the art of penmanship, how could such dedication be in vain!?