First of all, we should be filial to our parents and respectful to our
brothers, sisters, and elders; secondly, we should be cautious
in our speech and behavior and be trustworthy. In the Confucian
Analectsit says: "At home one should be filial, and abroad,
respectful to one's elders." The character ru
means at home, chu
出 "go out" means going out, away from home. The character
was used in ancient times for the modern character ti
Originally, it referred to the affection and respect that a
younger brother should have for his older brother; the meaning
is extended to include being respectful to elders. Our parents
suffer great hardship in bearing us and bringing us up. A poem
in the Book of Odesof China says﹕
My father gave me life; my mother nourished me,soothed me,
raised me, helped me grow up, taught me, took care of me, looked
after me constantly, and took me in her arms wherever she went.
I wish to repay their kindness but it is as high as the heavens.
Our fathers gave us life, and our mothers nourished us and brought us
up. The word for "to nourish" has the meaning of bending over
and picking up with both hands, like when our parents hold us in
their arms, fearing that we will freeze in the cold or melt in
the heat. They protect and cherish us as their dearest
treasures, and soothe us with gentle caresses. When a baby
cries, his mother gently pats him on back and coaxes him into a
good mood. When he's cranky, his mother tenderly strokes his
head and pities him. How our parents love us and do their best
to take care of us! They raise us by feeding and rearing us.
Every mother goes through unbelievable suffering in feeding her
baby, yet when she sees that baby is nourished, she forgets all
about the suffering! After undergoing much hardship to bring up
their child, the parents must still educate him in the
principles of being a person and handling matters in the world.
"Took care of me, looked after me constantly" describe how
tenderly parents care for and protect their children without
ever becoming weary or lax. The mother takes her child in her
arms wherever she goes, not minding the inconvenience. Ah！
That is how parents bring up their children!
The energy and kindness that our parents have devoted to us is
as boundless as empty space. When could we ever finish repaying
it? We could never finish, but we must still try our best. Thus
the verse says that of all rules, Filial piety is the first
(literally "head"), which means the most important, just as the
head is the most important part of the body. Fraternity is an
extension of filial piety. Our parents gave birth to us, and so
we are related to our parents as the ten fingers are related to
the hands. Although some fingers are long and others are short,
just as some children are good and others are not, they cannot
separate from or abandon each another. Thus, only by loving and
caring for our brothers and sisters can we set our parents'
hearts at ease.
Our elders include our teachers, who nurture our
Dharma-body and wisdom-life, as well as our relatives.
Respecting our teachers and elders is equivalent to respecting
our own parents. By doing so, not only do we gain benefit
ourselves and bring honor to our parents, we won't disgrace our
parents by giving others cause to say that our parents don't
know how to teach their children. Therefore, filial piety and
fraternity are the most basic and important virtues.
After filial piety and fraternity, the next virtues we should have
are cautiousness and trustworthiness. Even if a person is
sufficiently filial to his parents and respectful to his elders,
if he does things in a reckless manner and fails to be
trustworthy, not only will things go wrong for him, but he will
bring trouble and disaster upon himself. That would also be
considered unfilial and disrespectful. Therefore, cautiousness
and trustworthiness are the next virtues we should possess.