Chinese idioms: Marching Forward Courageously 勇往直前


Epoch Times, Singapore Edition (Issue 491, July 25 – August 7, 2014)

By Jade Pearce
Epoch Times Staff

Have you ever been faced with a daunting obstacle, but forged ahead with courage and determination? If so, you would have exemplified this week’s idiom勇往直前, which translates as “marching forward courageously”.

This Chinese idiom originated from the 16th-century Chinese novel, The Investiture of the Gods (Fengshen Yanyi). Set during the decline of the Shang Dynasty and the rise of the Zhou Dynasty, it is a mythological story that intertwines gods and human heroes.
In Chapter 73, the prince Yellow Flying Tiger had led a 10,000-strong Zhou army to surround and capture the Green Dragon Pass, which was guarded by the general Qiu Yin and no more than ten of his lieutenants.

Amidst the Zhou army’s fearsome battle cries, Qiu Yin called together a meeting with his lieutenants and said, “The Zhou army have trespassed our boundaries illegally, and shown insolence. Until reinforcements arrive, each of you must now give your all to serve your country.”

His generals replied, “We will fight till our last breath,” and grinding their fists, they marched forward courageously.

This idiom describes marching forward to meet adversity without hesitation or doubt, in spite of how badly the odds are stacked against oneself. It is about exhibiting the greatest courage under the direst circumstances, and not stopping until one’s objective is reached.

Life is like a journey across a vast ocean. As we sail ahead, we will, at times, encounter favourable winds or terrible storms. As captain of our vessel, we must be willing to rise to the challenge, and must never give up.

In life, there will always be sweet and bitter moments, joy and sadness, laughter and tears, as well as successes and failures. And naturally, there will always be obstacles and difficulties.

Before he became one of the most well-known and respected US presidents in history, the great Abraham Lincoln had to deal with multiple failures throughout his life. He ran for and lost eight elections, twice failed in business, and once even suffered a nervous breakdown.

But he did not give up, and instead used each failure as a stepping stone forward, finally becoming one of the greatest US presidents in history. His life story tells us that we should never retreat, but always move forward with determination.

Famous scientist Marie Curie once said: “Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.”

And she is right—it was through perseverance that Madame Curie discovered the element radium, and pioneered the application of radioactivity to medicine.

It was through perseverance that Thomas Edison conducted over a thousand experiments, and invented the light bulb.
It was through perseverance that the ancient Chinese historian Sima Qian endured imprisonment, castration, and humiliation to complete his monumental work, the Records of the Grand Historian (Shiji)—one of the oldest and most influential historical works in human history.

We will all encounter difficulties in life, but, we should also take to heart the truth in this anonymous quote: “Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.”

When a difficulty is viewed as a burden, it becomes even harder to move forward. But when viewed as a positive stepping stone or a challenge, it opens up a path for self-improvement.

A positive attitude, perseverance, and going forward with courage and without hesitation—these are the elements that will enable one to live a successful and meaningful life.

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