Rectifying Our Ethics and Notions
(Clearwisdom.net) I often read articles about traditional culture on the Minghui/Clearwisdom website. I realize that this is a reflection of Falun Dafa at this level. Human ethics and mentality need to be corrected during the Fa-rectification. Dafa practitioners are cultivating in the human world, and most practitioners have a family environment. How correctly we behave at home is not only the key to rescuing sentient beings at home, but also an important reference for the future. I have found a problem after I read some practitioners' experience sharing articles and witnessed how practitioners dealt with family conflicts. I would like to express some of my thoughts in this regard.
I noticed that when fellow practitioners face tribulations in their families, in most cases, it stems from incorrect ethics and acquired notions, which makes the conflicts more complicated, delays resolution, or causes repeated problems.
Let me use the word "Xiao" (filial piety) as an example. Everyone understands the saying, "Filial piety is at the root of all goodness." But what is truly considered filial piety? Confucius answered his disciples this way, "If one's parents make mistakes, the children should point them out kindly and politely. Whether or not the parents accept it, the children should still respect and love their parents as usual. Just providing food and supporting their parents doesn't equal filial piety. The most difficult thing is to not deliberately show how you feel in your facial expression to your parents." This is a standard Confucian-established rule for how children should treat their parents.
I would also like to discuss some of the interesting aspects pertaining to filial piety in ancient China. The phrase "Mao Die" describes the elderly who are over 80 years old. The word "Die" means fingers. This phrase means that when people get to be 70 or 80 years old they don't need to do anything themselves any more. They simply use their fingers to give directions to children or grandchildren to do things for them. The Chinese connotation [to mao die] is profound. One phrase can embody the rules of filial piety--the rights of the elderly and the responsibilities of being children and grandchildren.
During the Han Dynasty, when a person reached 70 years of age, the government would grant that person a walking stick made of jade and adorned with a carving of a cuckoo. The ancients called the cuckoo the "No choking bird." The cane was supposed to bless the elderly so that they could eat or drink without choking. It was also a reminder for the children and grandchildren to prepare delicious food for the elderly.
During different dynasties and eras in ancient China, from highly placed people to the lower, from kings to common folk, everyone followed the Confucian thought that promoted filial piety. If a person respected and loved his parents he was usually loyal as well. An often-told story goes like this: Emperor Kangxi from the Qing Dynasty once hosted a banquet and invited one thousand elderly who were over 80 years old, denoting that he strongly promoted filial piety in society and respected and loved the elderly.
Doing otherwise makes one go in the opposite direction--disrespecting the elderly. If one does not respect and love the elderly, one has no right to be in society. In other words, gods and humans no longer consider this person a human being. If one doesn't try to change or show repentance, one won't be able to reincarnate as a human. If one was condemned as not being filial, that would be considered a most shameful thing regarding one's human dignity. Current Chinese dictionaries no longer carry a meaning for the ancient connotation "Die," which now simply means "over 70 or 80 years old," "usually refers to the elderly." By merely looking at a modern Chinese dictionary, we can tell how much of traditional Chinese culture, ethics, and morals the CCP has destroyed.
Let us look at the word "Lun" (ethics). My understanding is that the bottom of the right side of this character--as it is traditionally written--looks like "Yi Ce." "Ce" means book. Books, of course, contain the rules of ethics, which means that regarding "Lun" (ethics) for human beings, there are principles and rules in books for people to follow, and people can't do just anything they please. Ancient Chinese said, "Without rules, there would not be 'Fang and Yuan.'" (Square and Circle) Ancient Chinese looked at the earth as Fang (square) and the heaven as Yuan (circle), thus the heaven and earth are called "Fang and Yuan." In this statement, the ancient people treated the rules of ethics as equally important and vast as heaven and earth. Examining this word "Lun" further, the right side of the character below "people" looks like a "fence." People are not supposed to step over fences, meaning that ethics spell out impassable rules. People overstepping the "fences" get into trouble or even cause disasters.
When the CCP was destroying traditional Chinese culture during the "Cultural Revolution," it popularized the slogan: "Feudal ethics and rites are heavy burdens that make people die." Ethics and rites are Confucian thoughts. It sets rules for human beings living between the heaven and earth. "The Ethics of the Three Cardinal Guides and the Five Constant Virtues" is the cornerstone and wellspring of Chinese traditional morality and traditional thinking and culture. The Party labeled it a "heavy burden," intending to have people live without moral restraints. They first removed "Yi Ce (book)" and "fence" from the word "Lun" and then replaced them with a "knife." They burned and destroyed the ancient books, cultural relics, and antiques so they could dig out the fundamental ethics from people's minds, encouraging people to do things at will, without the restraint of rules and ethics. That is why "loyalty, being dutiful to parents, self-respect and righteousness" mean nothing to people any more. The absence of these age-old rules makes people actually no different from ghosts and beasts. Without any rules or restrictions, would human beings be really free? Just the opposite--human beings ignorantly make mistakes and commit crimes that will eventually restrain them permanently like being tied by ropes layer by layer. How could you call this being free? While they are alive, they struggle with diseases and disasters. When they die, they will still have to pay off their wrongdoings. People without rules of proper conduct are no longer considered human beings in the eyes of gods. The current distorted thoughts and lax moral standards are already at a level lower than that of hell.
Confucianism, Buddhism. and Taoism in the land of China have existed for thousands of years and have shone with brilliance in the history of human civilization. During the process of human civilization in China, Confucius first established ethics and rites for human beings. During the Han Dynasty, Buddha appeared to the Emperor of the Han Dynasty in a dream. After the Emperor awoke, he sent people to introduce Buddha into China. In the land of China, people first understood the rules and ethics for human beings, and then started cultivating toward levels higher than human beings.
In The Biography of Immortals, Lu Dongbin (a Taoist deity) once asked his master, Han Zhongli, "Why did Master only teach one disciple--myself--even though Master became a divine being over 1100 years ago? Is it because our Taoism cultivation way is not benevolent enough and not willing to save more people?" His master laughed and said, "You don't know people in this world. There are many that are not filial. There are many that are not righteous and loyal. How could these people become divine beings?" Lu Dongbin was not convinced. He boasted to his master that he would go down to the human world and save three thousand people. His master laughed and assented. The end result was the well-known story we have all heard and the comment Lu Dongbin made, "I'd rather save an animal than a human being." He had brought no one back when he finally knelt before his master.
From ancient times, people who were not filial or righteous or loyal would never be able to reach consummation, no matter which cultivation way they followed. The ways in the Tao School would not even admit anyone like that into their gate.
With Buddha's immense compassion and benevolence, Master came to the human world to save sentient beings that have been lost for ages. Dafa only looks at one's heart. Master has changed our bodies from the microscopic level to the surface, evolving our gong, and now the changes in our bodies have truly been reaching the surface. Confucian thought is the most superficial premise of Dafa, and it also needs to be rectified in Dafa.
Dafa practitioners are also rectifying the most superficial principles in the human world, such as by presenting painting and art exhibitions, parades, floats, giving Divine Land Marching Band performances and staging the NTDTV wonderful Christmas shows and the New Year Spectacular. These all exhibit the broadness and profundity of the most legitimate and traditional morals and culture for humans. Besides using the arts and cultural formats to rescue sentient beings, these presentations likewise rectify fundamental rules on the surface in the human world, providing references and establishing foundations for future people. All the things Master asks us to do are not only limited to one or more goals on the surface; they are truly significant. However, what I have realized so far is still very limited.
The magnificent act of the Fa-rectification has unfolded the profound and splendid five thousand years of history. The Dafa disciples' New Year Spectacular brings the world divine music and extraordinary splendor. In everything Dafa disciples have been doing, some are unprecedentedly dramatic, and some are happening silently. When I say happening silently, I am referring to the practitioners who live in this human society and in a family environment. They have been rescuing sentient beings and doing righteous things with righteous thoughts among ordinary people. The magnificent act is being staged, the show on the stage is continuing, and the performances of Dafa practitioners' daily lives are going on. The gods are closely watching everyone's behavior without even blinking their eyes. Let me now go back to talk about the title of this article, "RectifyingOur Ethics and Notions."
Let us talk about the issue of grandparents helping their children take care of grandchildren. When we mention family happiness, we often picture a family with grandchildren playing in harmony with grandparents. In many families nowadays, grandparents often raise their grandchildren. But in ancient China, sending grandchildren to their grandparents was for the grandparents' amusement instead of having grandparents take care of the grandchildren, because grandparents love young children and are happy to see them. However,
raising children is the parents' responsibility and not that of the grandparents. I have mentioned the true meaning of "Die." Parents should teach their children not to make trouble for grandparents and make them tired, and they should always pay attention to this. If grandparents become tired, parents should take the children away immediately to permit the grandparents to rest. In the past, women were customarily responsible for chores at home, but some well-off families hired others to help with the family chores. In less affluent families women sometimes needed to help with field work. Then grandparents would help watch the grandchildren. But people understood the reason for this and acknowledged that the elderly were making extra efforts to help them. They paid even more respect and showed increased filial piety to the elderly for their help. They cared for and showed more consideration to the elderly to make them happy. Those considerations made for pleasant, harmonious family environments in the society.
But nowadays people behave very differently. They feel that it's "perfectly justified" to have grandparents take care of grandchildren. If the elderly won't do it, the younger ones will deliberately show their unhappy faces to the elderly. They don't understand that showing an unhappy face to their elderly parents is un-filial. Some parents don't want to send their children to daycare centers because they think it's easier and more convenient to have the grandparents take care of the children. They no longer know the ancient rules of filial piety. They have only a vague, erroneous notion that, generation after generation, everyone was raised by the elderly. They don't understand the meaning of ethics. Some of the elderly nowadays don't even understand it, because when they were young, they were already living during the time of turbulence when the wicked CCP had taken over.
I once heard two elderly ladies chatting on the street. One of them said, "I no longer want to look after my grandson every day. It is so tiring, but I have no choice. Other grandparents are taking care of their grandchildren. If I don't do it I would feel guilty!" I felt sad hearing her comments. This elderly lady must have been busy for her whole life raising her children, but now she has ended up feeling sorry for them. The ethics of being a human have been distorted. Human beings really don't know how to live their lives. They no longer know what is right or what is wrong.
For Dafa practitioners to confront similar issues in their families is not uncommon. Some senior practitioners are so busy and tired looking after their grandchildren that they put aside their true missions for coming into this world. Some have tried their best to help, though their children or daughters-in-laws are still not happy with them. The elderly feel bad and still try to improve their xinxing and pass the xinxing tests. Even some young practitioners are not happy with their parents when they didn't help look after the grandchildren due to the grandparents' health. Some don't even visit their elderly parents once a year. Some are very polite to other people outside their home and follow the principles of "Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance," but when they come home, they don't follow the same principles with their family members. They are used to showing their unhappy faces to their parents. Some even argue with their parents, without realizing anything is wrong. Some practitioners' children are not educated well enough and don't even have basic good manners in their treatment of other people.
Practitioners are actually doing well in many other areas. However, because the CCP took away our opportunities to learn traditional Chinese culture, problems have arisen in our mindsets in terms of the ethics of being human. Just as Master said in the Fa,
"For instance, if a part from a washing machine was put in a television, then as I see it, that television wouldn't be able to display anything." ("Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Houston")
The distorted notions that the CCP infused into people's minds are the bad parts that are unethical and that we need to completely erase. It might well be that once our thinking is all cleaned up, everything will revert back to normal.
When examining distorted notions and thinking of how they came about, I thought of a story: Each day as a gentleman passed by a street corner he always handed the beggar a dollar. After a while the beggar got used to it. One day the gentleman didn't have any cash. He told the beggar, "Sorry, I don't have any cash with me today." The beggar answered, "No problem. Next time, you can just give me two dollars to make it up." It sounds ridiculous. The beggar already felt the gentleman owed him something. Isn't it true that many human notions were acquired like this, by force of habit? When we rectify ourselves and use the standards of divine ethics to measure human notions and examine how they are created, we will realize these notions are really ludicrous.
A Dafa practitioner needs to always be a good person. What is considered "being a good person?" Is it the one acknowledged by the distorted notions? For elderly fellow practitioners, is it to be considered being good and improving xinxing if they do everything possible for their children and tolerate their children's supercilious looks? My thought is: "Dafa is rectifying everything. Dafa practitioners should rectify themselves in the Fa, and we should also rectify everything that is not righteous, starting with our own environments." Our ancestors had a saying, "Raising children without moral education is the fault of the father." If our children don't understand the basic rules of ethics and basic moral standards and don't understand filial piety, isn't this our fault as parents? Because of the evil Party culture, this was previously difficult to comprehend. But now that we are practicing Dafa, we should no longer continue to be muddleheaded. It does not mean that Dafa practitioners should not help raise grandchildren, nor does it imply that practitioners can only improve xinxing under their children's supercilious looks. What it does imply is this: Dafa practitioners should start over to educate their children regarding filial piety and help them understand the rights of the elderly and the responsibilities of being sons and daughters.
What I have stated above only focused on "filial piety." Actually, conflicts between husband and wife or among family members primarily targets practitioners' incorrectly acquired ethics and notions. When some people face family disagreements, they use their acquired notions to judge right and wrong. Some people do what they are supposed to do to begin with, but since they are comparing themselves with already lowered standards, they feel unbalanced in their hearts and yet still need to raise their xinxing to find a balance. It is actually their ethics and notions that are wrong. They should remove their faulty ethics and notions and rectify themselves, instead of acknowledging the corrupted ethics and notions, and raise their xinxing to "forgive" others. If this is not done, no matter how hard you try to improve your xinxing, if your incorrect ethics and notions still exist, you will be no different from non-practitioners when faced with family disagreements, and it would be the same as treating yourself as an ordinary person in the family. Your xinxing would not reach the "pure" standard. The tribulations would then recur again and again and never end, or become more complex, which is actually taken advantage of by the demons. Some might already know what they did is wrong, but in order to save face, they may lack the courage to admit their mistakes.
The above are my personal experiences and thoughts. Please kindly point out anything inappropriate.