Rude Use of Personal Pronouns

Anyone who studies Japanese will know from the start that you only reluctantly use a second-person pronoun. To say "you", especially anata あなた, in Japanese is considered undesirable and in some contexts rude. In conversation Japanese people will tend to gesture in your direction or use your name rather than use the pronoun.

In Classical Chinese you see the same custom in effect. Personal pronouns are often avoided apart from Buddhist texts which tend to be literal translations of Indian works which had no such custom, or were intentionally using such language for effect. It is no coincidence that Japanese avoids pronouns, given the deep influence Chinese had on the language and culture.

This reluctance to use personal pronouns is explicitly stated by the monk Yijing 義淨 (635-713) in his travel account of India. He was quite an Indophile and moreover insisted that Chinese monks follow the Indian conventions for everything from robes to language. He states the following: 

《南海寄歸內法傳》卷3:「若有人問云。爾親教師其名何也。或問。汝誰弟子。或可自有事至須說師名者。皆應言我因事至說鄔波馱耶名。鄔波馱耶名某甲。西國南海稱我不是慢詞。設令道汝亦非輕稱。但欲別其彼此。全無倨傲之心。不並神州將為鄙惡。若其嫌者改我為今。斯乃咸是聖教。宜可行之。」(CBETA, T54, no. 2125, p. 220, b3-10)

If a man inquires, “What is the name of your upādhyāya?” or “Whose disciple are you?”, or when one is obliged to mention the name of one's teacher, one should say, “In the circumstances, I am obliged to tell you the name of my upādhyāya, whose name is so-and-so.” In India and on the islands of the South Seas, it is not haughty to use the word “I”. It is also not a rude form of address if one says “you”. It is simply meant to distinguish one person from another, without a mind of contempt towards others. This is not like in China, where it is considered despicable to use such pronouns. If one dislikes using the word “I”, one may say “this person” instead of “I”. These points were taught by the Buddha, and it is fitting to put them into practice.1
This explains why you can often read whole texts in Classical Chinese that never once refer to "you" or "I". It might initially seem like it is expected the reader will understand from context who is being referred to, but in reality the custom throughout much of Chinese history was simply to avoid using personal pronouns.

Nevertheless, they were still used to convey a tone of voice. Many Chan records are written more or less in colloquial form and we see the ready use of pronouns in them. Take for instance the following from the Wumen Guan (Jpn. Mumon Kan) 無門關:

《無門關》卷1:「祖曰。我今為汝說者。即非密也。汝若返照自己面目。密却在汝邊。」(CBETA, T48, no. 2005, p. 295, c29-p. 296, a2)

The patriach said, "I [Huineng] will now explain to you it is not a secret. If you conversely reflect in on your own face, the secret is beside you."

You see this sort of ample use of personal pronouns in Chan texts. While it was no problem for Buddhist translations of Sanskrit, I suspect for native literature like this it was a bit striking. However, in Chan literature we see other shocking elements like casual references to defecation and so forth, so shock value was just an element of the genre.

On the other hand, in a lot of non-Buddhist Classical Chinese works we need to be mindful that any use of personal pronouns is probably noteworthy and trying to convey something special to the reader.

1 See Buddhist Monastic Traditions of Southern Asia, BDK English Tripiṭaka 93-I, translated by Li Rongxi (Berkeley, CA: Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, 2000), 100-101.