【译文】一个人只要心中刹那间引出贪婪或偏私的念头，那他就容易把原本刚直的性格变得很懦弱，聪明被蒙蔽得很昏庸，慈悲的心肠就会变得很残酷，原 本纯洁的人格就会很污浊，结果是毁灭了一辈子的品德。所以古圣先贤认为， 做人要以“不贪”二字为修身之零，这样，才能超越他人战胜物欲度过一生。
【注解】 一念：一刹那所引起的观念，《二程遗书》说：“一念之欲不能制，而祸流于滔天。” 变恩为惨：恩，惠爱。惨，狠毒。度越：超越的意思。据《汉书杨雄传》：若使遭遇时君，更阅贤知， 为所称善，则心度越诸子矣。颜师古曰：‘度，过也。’”
【英文译文】Once greed and selfishness dominate a man’s mind, his previously steel-like nature will become soft and weak; his intelligence will become blocked and dulled; his benevolent nature will become vicious; his pure spirit will become muddied; and the virtue he has accumulated over a lifetime will become dissipated. That is why the ancients regarded “Be not covetous” as a precious percept for self-improvement. It was thus that they managed to overcome greed for material things and enjoyed peace and security throughout their lives.
So long as a slight selfish desire emerges into a man’s mind, his uprightness will become weakened and yielding; his intelligence dulled and invalid; his benevolent nature degenerated and cruel; his pure aspiration sullied and unworthy—and as a result, the virtue he has accumulated over lifetime will become totally spoiled. That is why the ancients took “Not be covetous” as the discipline to guide themselves aright in surmounting material desires all their lives.
A momentary weakness of avarice and selfishness will turn uprightness into cowardice, wisdom into stupidity, benevolence into cruelty, and cleanness into dirtiness, thus spoiling one’s moral character for life. Hence the ancients regarded as invaluable the virtue of being free from avarice, something that makes one spend one’s life in peace.