Part Two: Dharma Discourses

Chapter Six: Exposition of Scriptures


59. The Master continued, “’Filial piety’ involves any action, in any matter, that practices the Way of gratitude, for the gratitude one feels toward one’s own parents becomes the first step in feeling gratitude toward all. How can a person who doesn’t even know gratitude toward one’s own parents possibly know any other type of gratitude and come to a broader understanding of the fundamental gratitude toward heaven and earth, fellow beings, and laws? Therefore, the practice of filial piety begins with gratitude toward one’s parents, which then is extended to learning the rest. By learning all these sources of gratitude, then, regardless of place and time, each and every person is able to turn the myriads of sensory conditions into occasions for gratitude; this is none other than the application of filial piety. This is not the ancient world’s narrow interpretation of filial piety where filial piety meant merely to stay always with one’s own parents, even when they were self-sufficient, or neglecting all other societal responsibilities and other types of gratitude. Therefore, the significance of filial piety is certainly grand and consummate, and, throughout the past and present, has been the great principle of the world and the root of the Way of humanity. If you examine the public sentiment of people today, for far too long filial piety, too, has been weak. At home, people resent their parents, and in the world at large they resent heaven and earth, fellow beings, and laws, so that the mood in the world has become gloomy and human lives are endangered. If we want to rectify this dangerous reality of our time and construct in its place a peaceful and comfortable world, we will have to promote the spirit of filial piety by whatever means possible so that public sentiment will return to filial piety; otherwise, it will be extremely difficult to accomplish.”