Virtue Is the First Priority
(Clearwisdom.net) I read in Standards for Students how ancient people used to educate students. Although the book is not long, I can feel the spirit of the ancient people in how they promoted virtue in their conduct and held themselves to strict standards. The content of the book also has great inspirational significance for modern people.
Standards for Students states in the preface: "Standards for Students are instructions given by sages. First of all, he should be filial to his parents and respectful of his elders, and then be earnest and truthful. He should overflow with love for all and become intimate with humaneness. Whatever time he has left should be devoted to learning."
The rest of the book expands on the preface and discusses more specifically how to do well.
It can be seen from this book that what ancient people most valued and held foremost was virtue, and that one's skills were secondary. It is indeed so. It's not hard for us to find examples in history, from ancient times to the present, of people of virtue in different professions who learned techniques and skills but could truly master the inner meanings and more solidly do their work well, making full use of their advantages and accumulating profound, righteous inner strength. Those whose moral conduct was poor either were impatient on the surface or mastered the skills to do bad deeds.
It reminds me of education in mainland China. Many Western countries respect other people's beliefs. There are even specialized church schools. People with faith wish to maintain a certain moral standard, and they firmly adhere to their inner principles and show respect and love to others. In ancient China, because of its respect and worship of deities and Buddhas, its culture was maintained and passed on throughout its long history. However, since the Communist Party seized power, the Chinese people have been greatly brainwashed, and even children are not spared.
Let's read an excerpt from Standards for Students on how to be filial to one's parents:
"When your parents call you, you should not respond slowly. When your parents ask you to do something, you should not do it lazily. When your parents instruct you, you should listen with respect. When your parents reproach you, you should obey and accept their reprimand." There is more about how to be filial to one's parents, which makes me sigh with emotion.
"What matters with clothes is that they're clean, not whether they're stylish or fine. Wear what is suitable for you and accords with your status and means. Don't feel sad if your clothes and food are not as good as others. People whose conduct is good naturally earn a good reputation, what other people respect is not someone good looking."
Ancient people attached great importance to their self-cultivation and moral characters, and many people whose families were poor nevertheless had peaceful minds and concentrated on study. The ancients valued people's inner selves. Women were regarded as beautiful if they were calm and virtuous.
"If you try to rule others by force, you will never win over their hearts. Only if you convince them with reasoning will they not feel oppressed and be convinced. Being close to people who are humane,
we will obtain endless benefits; we will increase our virtues daily and make as few mistakes as possible. If we do not spend our time with people with virtues, we will suffer endless disasters; inferior men will take advantage of us and we won't succeed in doing anything."
November 23, 2009