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《敎育專欄》

 

FOCUS ON EDUCATION

慈祥代天宣化 忠孝為國敎民

On behalf of Heaven,proclaim and transform with kindness. For the country,teach the people to be loyal and filial.

弟子規淺釋
AN EXPLANATION OF THE RULES FOR BEING A STUDENT

孫秀美 文 By Jennifer Li

忿

泯 

yan

yu    

ren

 

fen     

zi   

min  

言辭

談話

忍讓

 

忿恨

自然地

消失,泯滅

words

talk

to be patient

 

resentment 

naturally,by itself 

to disappear 

錢財物品若看得很輕,嫌怨又哪裏會產生?

If we don’t think of wealth as important, how could resentment arise?

財 

物  

何 

cai

wu

qing 

 

yuan  

he

sheng

錢財  

物品 

看得輕 

 

嫌怨 

從哪裏;哪裏   

產生

wealth 

things 

to treat lightly or as unimportant

 

resentment 

how from where 

to arise, be produced

言談之間能忍讓謙和,忿恨自然消滅無蹤。

When words are both gentle and patient, bad feelings will naturally disappear.


孔子說過:「君子有三戒:少之時,血氣未定,戒之在色;及其壯也,血氣方剛,戒之在鬥;及其老也,血氣已衰,戒之在得。」這說明了凡人的一生,都在造業。雖則世間之人千萬種,造的業也千萬種;其實歸納起來,只有兩大類:一類爭名,一類為爭利──更多的人則是兼而有之。既然好爭,名利薰心的結果,往往連親情也不顧,遑論其他?解決爭端的辦法是什麼呢?給他們更多的財富地位嗎?那就像抱薪救火,火勢愈烈;人只有更貪婪,爭得也更厲害。所謂「人心不足蛇吞象」,「欲望猶如無底洞」;「不足」並非爭的原因,「貪」才是罪源。所以正本清源,從小教育孩子不爭,才是解決個人問題、社會禍亂,以及國際戰爭的根本辦法。

一切的教育,再沒有比兒童的啟蒙教育更要緊的了!而兒童的啟蒙教育,又肇始於家庭。古聖人教化的次第是:親親而仁民,仁民而愛物;因此以「孝、悌」為首倡,從善事近親做起。孝,是一種從事生、事死,到祭祀的全套作業,是人子終生要拳拳服膺的;終生行孝的人,自然會謹守法度,也能夠慈愛眾人了。所以說:「慎終追遠,民德歸厚矣!」而孝道是連悌道都包括在內的,前面不是說「兄弟睦,孝在中」嗎?那麼,怎樣才能令兄弟和睦呢?第一就要教他們「不爭」。要怎樣才能令兄弟不爭?第一就要教他們「忍」。忍什麼?忍氣、忍苦、忍難;總之,忍一切的不公平。

現代很多教育專家,成天呼籲父母師長要注意孩子的感受。過分看重的結果,慣得很多孩子凡事就衡量公平不公平,絲毫不肯退讓;只想到自己受不了,不知體諒人的難處。從小在家,就為了「為什麼哥哥可以出去玩,我不能」、「為什麼姐姐有新衣,我沒有」之類的瑣碎小事而受不了,動不動就叫不公平;受不了不公平便怎麼樣?爭!吵!小時爭小事情,大了就爭大的;在家與兄弟姐妹爭,上學就與同學爭,出社會就與國人爭。上下交征名,上下交征利,社會焉能不動亂?所以從家庭教育做起,教導孩子減輕欲心,學習忍不公平,學習吃虧,這才能人人不爭。

有個朋友生了三個女兒,每次領薪水,不是給女兒買玩具,就是買衣服;而且買的衣服,一定一式三套。我以經濟的眼光勸他:「小孩長得快,衣服馬上就太小不能穿了,一套衣服可以姐妹傳著穿嘛!」誰知她卻情緒激動地叫起來:「為什麼做妹妹的就得穿舊衣服?」我嚇了一跳,賠小心地又試探:「那也可以每人買個不同式樣的吧?」「不行!式樣不同也是不公平。要是她們認為另一件比自己的好,不是要爭了嗎?我受夠了我媽的不公平待遇,絕對不再讓孩子因為不公平而受傷害。」後來我才知道:原來她是家中三姐妹的老二,自小總覺得父母看重老大、憐惜老么,自己是最受忽略的一個;因此常與母親及姐妹爭,已有很多年不與母親及姐妹來往了。又過了十年,我聽說她的三個女兒不但也是彼此不合,還都很怨恨她,她過得很寂寞。由此可見,力求表面的公平,或盡量用物質去滿足孩子,仍無法教孩子不爭啊!說起來,還是從心地下工夫來得根本。只要能教孩子寡欲,孩子又有什麼可爭的呢?只要能教孩子忍不平,孩子又怎麼吵得起來呢?

古詩說得好:「兄弟同居忍便安,莫因毫末起爭端;眼前生子又兄弟,留與兒孫作樣看。」所謂毫末,就是不重要的。什麼是不重要的?財物是不重要的,名也是不重要的,男女私情也是不重要的;因為那些都是無常的。什麼又是重要的?人格道德是最重要的,因為那是不朽的。而人格道德的培育,自孝悌做起。況且自己不知孝悌,當然也教不來兒女孝悌,那就要自嘗苦果了。如是因,如是果,可不慎哉?

Confucius said, “A superior person should restrain himself in three ways during his life. In his youth, when he is not yet physically mature, he should refrain from lust. In the prime of life, when his physical vigor is at its peak, he should refrain from fighting. In his old age, when his physical strength has declined, he should refrain from acquiring things.” This quote makes clear that a person creates karma throughout his entire life. There are millions of different kinds of people in the world, and they create millions of different kinds of karma. Yet these various kinds of karma can be divided into two main categories: one is karma created in the struggle for fame, and the other is karma created in the struggle for profit. Most people create both kinds. Intoxicated with the desire for fame and profit, they may even forsake the close ties of family, how much the more other things. Can the problem be solved by giving them more wealth and status? That would be like using firewood to put out a fire; it only makes the fire blaze higher. Their greed would only increase, making them strive all the more eagerly. As it's said, “People are never satisfied; they are like a snake wishing to swallow an elephant.” “Desire is like a bottomless pit.” The cause of their strife is not that they do not have enough, but that they are greedy. Therefore the fundamental solution is to teach children not to contend. This is the basic way to resolve personal problems, restore order in society, and stop war between nations.

No form of education is more important than the education given to young children. Such instruction begins at home. The ancient sages prescribed the following order of teaching: “From being filial to parents, one learns to be kind to all people. From being kind to all people, one learns to love all creatures.” Therefore, they first emphasized filiality and fraternal respect, and taught people to attend well upon their parents. Filiality involves a full set of duties including serving one's parents when they are alive and after they pass away, including making offerings to them. These are obligations that a child must diligently carry out for his whole life. People who are filial their whole lives will naturally be law-abiding citizens who show tender concern to all. Thus it is said, “Let there be careful attention to performing the funeral rites for parents, and let them be followed when long gone with the ceremonies of sacrifice; then the virtue of the people will resume its proper excellence.” The practice of filiality includes within it the practice of fraternal respect. As the text said earlier, “If brothers and sisters get along harmoniously, then it's clear they know how to be filial.” How can there be harmony among siblings? First, they must be taught not to contend. How can they be taught not to contend? They have to be taught to be patient--to have the patience to endure scoldings, sufferings, hardships, and all sorts of unfair treatment.

Many modern educators do nothing but warn parents to pay attention to their children's feelings. As a result of the overemphasis of this point, children have become spoiled to the point that they only think about whether or not things are fair to them, and they will not yield in the least. Only aware of their own discomfort, they never give any consideration to others’ difficulties. When they are growing up at home, they complain about small things, such as: “How come my brother can go out to play, and I can't?” “How come Sis has new clothes, and I don't?” They complain about every little thing that they think is “not fair.” What happens when they get upset over things not being fair? They fight! They argue! As children they bicker over small things, but by the time they grow up they contend over big things. At home they bicker with their brothers and sisters; at school they argue with their classmates; and in society they contend with their fellow citizens. With such competition over fame and profit at all levels of society, how can chaos not result? Therefore, only by starting at home and teaching children to lessen their desires, to be patient with unfairness, and to learn to take losses, can we stop people from contending.

I have a friend who has three daughters. Every time she gets paid, she goes out to buy toys or clothing for them. And when she buys clothes, she always gets three sets of the same thing. Thinking economically, I advised her, “Children grow very fast and outgrow their clothes almost immediately. Why don't you buy one of everything and let them hand it down from the older to the younger sisters?” I was taken aback by her sharp retort:“Why should the younger ones always have to wear hand-me-downs?”

I cautiously tried to make another suggestion:“Well, at least they could each buy a different style, couldn't they?”

“No. If the style is different, it's not fair either. If they thought someone else's was better than theirs, they'd start bickering. I had enough of my mother's unfair treatment, and I'll never let my own children undergo that kind of injustice.” Later I found out that she was the second of three sisters. Ever since she was little, she felt her parents had favored the eldest and adored the youngest, but had neglected her. That's why she had always quarreled with her mother and sisters, and had not communicated with them for many years. Ten years later, I heard that not only did her three daughters not get along, but they all blamed her, and so she was very lonely. From this, we can see that insisting on superficial fair treatment or trying to please kids with material things is not the way to teach them how not to contend. The fundamental solution is to work on their hearts and minds. If we can teach children to reduce their desires, what could they possibly contend about? If we can teach them to tolerate unfair treatment, how could they possibly get into arguments?

An ancient poem puts it well: “With patience, we can get along well with our brothers and sisters. Do not start fights over little things. As siblings, we ought to set a good example for our children and grandchildren to follow.” Little things means trivial matters. What is trivial? Wealth is trivial, and so is fame and romance, because none of them are lasting. What is important? Integrity and moral virtue are the most important things, because they never perish. The development of integrity and virtue begins with filiality and fraternal respect. If we ourselves do not understand how to be good to our own parents and siblings, then of course we can't teach our children to be good to their parents and siblings, and we'll have to suffer the bitter consequences. As is the cause, so will be the result. How can we not take heed?

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