In 1923, eight of the wealthiest people in the world met. Their combined wealth, it is estimated, exceeded the wealth of the government of the United States at that time. These men certainly knew how to make a living and accumulate wealth.

But let’s examine what happened to them 25 years later.

1. President of the largest steel company, Charles Schwab, lived on borrowed capital for five years before he died bankrupt.

2. President of the largest gas company, Howard Hubson, went insane.

3. One of the greatest commodity traders, Arthur Cutton, died insolvent.

4. President of the New York Stock Exchange, Richard Whitney, was sent to jail.

5. A member of the President’s Cabinet, Albert Fall, was pardoned from jail to go home and die in peace.

6. The greatest “bear” on Wall Street, Jessie Livermore, committed suicide.

7. President of the world’s greatest monopoly, Ivar Krueger, committed suicide.

8. President of the Bank of International Settlement, Leon Fraser, committed suicide.

What they forgot was how to make a life!

Money in itself is not evil! Money provides food for the hungry, medicine for the sick, clothes for the needy.

Money is only a medium of exchange.

We need two kinds of education. One that teaches us how to make a living and one that teaches us how to live.

There are people who are so engrossed in their professional life that they neglect their family, health and social responsibilities.

If asked why they do this they would reply that they were doing it for their family. Our kids are sleeping when we leave home. They are sleeping when we come home. Twenty years later, we’ll turn back, and they’ll all be gone.

Without water, a ship cannot move. The ship needs water, but if the water gets into the ship, the ship will face problems. What was once a means of living for the ship will now become a means of destruction.

Similarly we live in a time where earning is a necessity but let not the earning enter our hearts, for what was once a means of living will become a means of destruction.

So take a moment and ask yourself …. has water entered my ship?

RICHNESS is not Earning More, Spending More Or Saving More, but “RICHNESS IS WHEN YOU NEED NO MORE”

From Alec Ee


About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
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  1. dotseng says:

    The Cantonese have a saying, “lor take hei, fong tak look,” this is short but profound, as it means,, a worthy man must know when to put down something he once decided to pick up. The problem these days is we have lousy role models who like to hold on to the things they once picked up and have even forgotten WHY and HOW to put these things down. Usually money, power and influence is difficult if impossible to set aside. Insstead of playing the game. It is now playing these fools. As they have invested so much of their ego and prestige in the whole idea of what it means to pick up a thing. They have lost their sense of mission.These ppl r going against the Tao of nature. So their lives are not in harmony with the laws of nature. And where there is no soul, there can no balance of yin and yang and so this can only lead to suffering. And suffering leads to a sad ending.

    Darkness 2012


    拿得起放得下 (ná de qǐ fàng de xià) To put it down and go ahead !

    拿得起: 想做什么事情, 就敢于去做!
    放得下: 做一件事时,知道变通,该放手时就放手。


    Zen Buddhist philosophy of life


    Hi Darkness2012,
    Thank you for giving us a lesson on the philosophy of living. Your comment is a gist of your article on your blog.
    I have goggled on your Cantonese saying which I believe is somewhat similar to the Mandarin version. Sometimes, the idiosyncrasies of a dialect i.e. Hokkien, Teochew or Cantonese can never be equated with Mandarin let alone English. The significance is lost once it’s translated. Nevertheless, I found the Mandarin version of 拿得起放得下 (ná de qǐ fàng de xià) To put it down and go ahead so much similar.
    Throughout history there are many examples of such persons or establishments clinging on to power until they become so irreverent and even overthrown. Suharto, Marcos, Mubarak and Gadaffi are some examples. The lucky ones like Mao or Kim died in office.
    When I retire, I will spend more time reflecting Zen and other great philosophies on “how and when to let it go in life and move on!” It is a mystery that few have mastered. Even great men having themselves intoxicated with “money, power and influence” fail to appreciate and understand this simple truth! They just can’t let it go or get out of it even till their last days leading to much misery and suffering to all.
    If only those 8 wealthy men were to understand and realize this eternal truth or if only someone had enlightened them to this simple truth, their ending could have been different in this ever spinning wheel of life! But they lived and passed on without ever knowing this simple truth or Tao of life which is in harmony with the natural laws of heaven and earth between the yin and yang of existence!

    • dotseng says:

      You have googled it Gintai, but it is unlikely that you will find the real meaning of this ancient Chinese idiom. Since you are so interested, allow me to share with you my thoughts on this subject. The origin of this idiom, what you decide to pick up, you must know when and how to put down is intrinsically Cantonese, the teochew will not know what this means, as for the Hainanese, they think it is about hanging out laundry – but to most Cantonese, they know it well as part and parcel of martial arts culture, specifically Hon Kuen. Hon Kuen Kung Fu is the only martial arts that emphasizes on correctness of stance, so much attention is devoted to proper stancing, leopard, crane etc. This is not unusual as Guandong was a busy trading hub and many coolies worked as stevedores loading and unloading cargo from ships. So the Tao of balancing heavy weights was always an ellusive art handed down from master to apprentice. As time went by the simple idea of a man taking up a heavy stack and balancing it and putting it down safely became an allegory of what it means to live a purpose driven life.

      The prototypal martial artist from the Hon Kuen stable infact developed many of their martial stances by observing the stevedores who loaded the merchant fleet in Guandong. They came away convinced that the simple idea of bearing a heavy load and delivering it to it’s destination contained within it a microcosm of what it means to live a purpose driven life. So as time went by this allegory of life became a feature of coastal parlance. The emphasis is usually on correctness of conduct in the face of temptation and extraordinary hardship. So if a Mandarin says, “what I decide to pick up, I can put down.” It means, he will be unwavering in his mission and see it to the very end. If it is a businessman, it simply means, I will see this enterprise to success no matter what the odds and when the day comes for me to hand my responsibility over, it will be done perfectly in accordance with the laws of heaven and earth. There is a seriousness and finality in this idiom and it is usually used to emphasis that the person uttering it is a very serious man, someone who should never be toyed with or taken lightly.

      As since this idiom refers to correctness of conduct. There is also an art of war component here: that is the man who decides to pick up this thing must first know how to balance this heavy weight skillfully. If he misjudges what he is dealing with, he will fall off the plank and lose his load to the river.This is why this idiom is used specifically to educate the young that while it is very easy to pick up a load. It is no bloody use, unless he knows how to is settle this thing safely down. To those who may be older, this idiom means, please play the game and do not let the game play you or make sure you are always the master of money, do not allow money to be your master. So as you can see Gintai there are plenty of hidden meanings here.

      Suffice to say, this idiom is usually used by serious men to rebuke those who seem not to understand the importance of correctness of conduct, like a man walking around like a drunkard carrying a heavy weight, not knowing where to settle it or for that matter where he should even go. When a man is diffusing his energy in such a manner, it is very hard to know whether he is carrying the load or the load is carrying him – so the serious men of this world will say to this wayward fellow, “leih mo gau chor mah!, leh loh tak hei, fon tak lok moh?” – “are you kidding me! You have decided to pick up this load, do you know how to settle it down?” It simply means, this man is out of his depths, he has no business doing the things he is doing, he should sit down before he falls down, he should perhaps even stop what he is doing before he brings harm to himself and others.

      Gintai, money is best treated as a heavy weight. It should be picked up with the right attitude and with a clear vision of where it is supposed to be settled. If not a man is likely to fall into the river and make a bloody fool of himself.
      Darkness 2012

      • Darkness2012,
        This is much more than what I envisioned. Granted that the Mandarin version is way out of comparison with the Cantonese intrinsic hidden meanings after having heard your painstaking explanation. I’m a Teochew but that doesn’t mean that I don’t understand Cantonese. I understand it perfectly.

        This is what I found
        It seems that the famous Wong Fei Hong is also a practitioner from the 4th or 5th generation of martial arts exponents of Hong Kuen according to the write up.

        Basically, the form of martial art derived from those coolies lugging heavy stuff working as stevedores of the cargo ships along the coastal region of Guandong.

        This Cantonese idiom of “lor tak hei, fong tak lok” is the essence of countless generations of Chinese coolies earning their living as stevedores in Guandong. It’s the parlance of the area conveying the “microcosm” of a purpose driven life! How aptly you are able to capture this and convey to us it’s hidden meanings.

        Yes, I got it at last after your lengthy explanation. This classic Cantonese idiom is also interpreted by different people of different stages in life and also refers to different businesses. Here you emphasize money. Could it be referring to the burden of state as you casually mentioned at one point i.e. the Mandarin. He had to carry out his mission unwavering to the very end until he was able to hand over the burden to another competent person. Putting it down safely.

        The antithesis of “leh loh tak hei, fong tak lok moh?” is the pertinent question to ask of those who do not play the game well.

        Incidentally the Cantonese word “loh” seems to also imply survival like come here to loh or it could also refer to the “loh hei” during the CNY Yusheng raw fish salad where it’s stirred about. Countless interpretations indeed. It’s richness in meanings and interpretations cannot be ignored.

        Thank you so much for this valuable lesson given free to me. Obviously you have made such an extra effort to convey the significance of its special hidden meanings to us. This is at the opportunity cost of running your plantation.

        May I suggest that you file it under the brotherhood press for future reference and research. Coolies existed in that bygone era. The young may not appreciate that this idiom is derived from the countless sweat, tears and toil of those hardworking pioneers.

        Thank you again for this insightful essay.

  3. patriot says:

    The simplest is always
    the hardest to master.


  4. patriot says:


    Me had on many occasions heard the Above used to console sad, disappointed people including others who used it to pacify and console yours sincerely.

    When one suffers a great failure or an impending one and is in a depressed and inconsolable state, 拿得起放得下 is usually used to console and to uplift the spirit of the ones suffering from failures. No matter how successful one maybe, there is always the fate of failure, downfall and unpredictable disaster and consequence. Rare is one having smooth sailing and success in endeavour and free from disease in ones’ life. To pick up oneself in a great failure requires resilient and tenacity, that is; the ability to face failure bravely and ever ready to pick up again. It
    is also to mean when one is facing great difficulty, one must not give up and stay in grief of the problem.

    It probably could be extended to mean that one should not insist on increasing ones’ good fortune and success. That whence one had more than sufficient, one should share ones’ spoil with others around less fortunate, well off or are facing problems.

    Be it wealth, power or luck, no human has the good fortune of holding onto them perpetually due to the transient state that nature has us beings made. Even, if one has the good fortune of longevity, one does not have the luxury of free time to fully use one’s accumulation of material. So, do not stay in grief of failure, loss, illness. AND REGRET NOT THAT ONE CANNOT STAYS IN POWER , REMAINS RICH AND HEALTHY FOREVER, be mindful that one is mortal and not only that, we exist like a flash.


  5. Patriot,
    I think there is a subtle difference in meanings of the Cantonese and Mandarin versions as explained by Darkness2012. Your version is more akin to mine – the Mandarin version which is more philosophical based mainly on Zen Buddhism idea of transient and impermanence of things. In a flash like you say. 
    Whereas Darkness2012 is more on “correct and proper conduct in one’s life”.  His is about playing within the natural laws of heaven and earth in the game of life. Do not be a fool and drown like the coolie with the heavy weight & burden if the game of life overcome you. That is the gist of it. If u lift up – “loh hei” the weight (could be business, state affairs or money), then finish off the task in an honourable and dignified manner with a purpose driven goal until such time you are ready to properly hand over the burden or weight to another guy! Know when and how to unload according to the rules of the game!
    It reminds me a unique character in JinYong’s novels
    独孤求败 is a unique character created by Jinyong with so much truth personifying our human nature and life span in this transient world. There are lots of literature analysizing him. Spend some time to this
    I will just highlight his “无招胜有招!” In the novels, 独孤求败  is often mentioned here and there. He left a legacy of kungfu. His life or his real story was never told in the story. He is just a legend referred by the other characters as a senior having lived and passed on years ago.
    It was said that he used a different sword at each stage of his life. From the lightest to the heaviest sword throughout his sword fighting career until he reached the peak where he no longer need a superb sword.
    At his peak, any thing such a tree branch could be his deadly weapon. His sword play is formless  it deadly. Hence 无招胜有招 meaning his sword fighting skill is formless and nameless. His spirit is one with any weapon to take down any opponent.
    The title of 独孤求败 was given to him by others until eventually no one knew his real name. He became a legend. That title literally means that he is lonely having reached the number one martial arts exponent in the world with no worthy opponent. He yearns and desires to be defeated! He led a lonely and sad life as the number one in the martial arts world.
    Now ostensibly it is about martial arts and opponents. Critics take it to mean pursuing or seeking glory, status, wealth, power etc in one’s lifetime ending with no sense of satisfaction or fulfillment. That I think is where Darkness2012’s “leh loh tak hei, fong tak lok moh?” It is the pertinent question to ask of those who do not play the game well and let the game overwhelm you instead. What is the use of being the most powerful and richest if you end up unfilled cuz you do not know how and when to unburden yourself at the correct moment until its too late when you just pass on. 

  6. patriot says:

    ” It means, he will be unwavering in his mission and see it to the very end.”, unquote.

    The Above Quote is significant. I read it to mean once one chooses to commit oneself
    to benevolent cause, one should convict oneself to the course of attaining the goal. It
    requires complete dedication and sacrifice, no turning back and no regret. It also means
    one is a man of his words and honour.

    Maybe Darkness could help to confirm for me if i have had it appropriately deciphered and
    I wish to thank him in advance.


    • Will let Darkness2012 confirm it. I just want to add that after the mission is accomplished he must know when to unburden and settle down instead of clinging forever to the illusive status quo until his last days. That’s my interpretation.

    • dotseng says:

      Hi Patriot,

      Nice to touch base with you again. Yes you are right Patriot, this at least is my understanding of the Cantonese idiom “loh tak hei, fong tak lok.” Honour certainly features aplenty, as setting down a thing is NEVER easy and often requires character. Many people fail to realize money often brings with it power and influence. So it is very easy for a man to be corrupted to a point whereby he will hold on to power and influence like a death grip. If you look at so many problems we have in the world as Gintai highlighted. It is really due to this category of people who seem to be very eager to pick up things, but when it comes to setting it down it is usually a different story, they prefer to give it to their own family members, tribe and inner circle of cronies instead of handing it over to the very people and place that they once picked up this thing called money, influence and power – these people have no honour, no sense of duty, they are shameless and SHOULD be despised.

      When a man’s character is weak, it is like a man with a very weak spine. He should avoid carrying heavy loads. Or better still someone who is more capable should relieve him of such a burden.

      Darkness 2012

  7. agongkia says:

    Wow Patriot,miss your view here .Love to learn from you.

    There are men who are being betrayed,boss around,cheated by their girlfriend or wife and yet dying for that woman to stay and stick with them.I only know how to use this idiom 拿得起放得下 followed by telling them and go for alternatives.
    I also use to tell those uncles,ah Lau and Ah peh instead of complaining to me everyday and scolding the short sighted Cheng Hoo for causing them not having enough filial son ,westernise son or no grandson to carry their incense because of the Stop at 2 policy,,I told them 拿得起放得下 followed by telling them to go for alternatives.

    When I say go for alternatives,I dun mean to tell them to vote for opposition hor,dun ask me lim kopi and bankrupt me.I mean 拿得起放得下 and go oversea and produce children.

    Being lowly educated,dun know whether I am using the correct idiom .

  8. thanks for the reminder. not many pple can do. 🙂

  9. patriot says:

    Thank You Darkness.

    Was having coffee with Gintai when he was alerted by his mobile of incoming mail. When he opened it, it was your Post. We were excited.

    A simple yet profound Chinese Idiom have got us into very meaningful discussions and best of all inspired us to look into the purpose of existence. Personally, me has always being awe by the wisdom of the Chinese in the inculcation of the individual to create a virtuous and wholesome society. The virtues and values espoused since ancient time are valid for eternity.

    In reality, much stands in the way of perfection and the human species had contributed in no small part to the flaw and aberration of the human world. We are so culpable that it results paradoxically, in us having to constantly remind one another of the sin instead of creating a better world with the accumulation of virtue and propriety.

    In conclusion, shall we say indeed mankind has to learn and practice 拿得起放得下 to contribute to a better society.


  10. Patriot,
    Yelp. We were excited. We are as usual impressed by Drkness2012’s intellectual prowess! He is rather convincing in his analysis. I can’t agree more with him.

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