Spiritual Guidelines 4: To understand and practise Sacrifice, Honour, Respect, Patience, Perseverance and Trust

Sacrifice

While the original meaning of the word ‘sacrifice’ in Chinese ‘成仁’ was to be benevolent, we now use the term to imply dying for a good cause.  In participating in the spiritual activities of BAITIANGONG, followers are not just sacrificing their time and energy.  They are fulfilling a mission and a strong responsibility.  And what is this ‘responsibility’?   As an ancient Chinese saying goes, “Benevolence must be considered as one’s own responsibility” – we must see it as our life mission to achieve kindness and peace. The question is, for how long?

“Only with death does his course stop – is it not long?” We must be at it until our last breath before our mission is over.

The act of sacrifice must also be based on benevolence as a mission.  This is not merely a sentiment, but the ultimate goal of a virtuous person. A gentleman with a benevolent heart in his pursuit of his goals is not your usual gentleman, but one who can be entrusted with a mission in times of crisis.

In the olden times, people would be prepared to give up their lives when the need arose. As Confucius said, “The determined scholar and the man of virtue will not seek to live at the expense of injuring their virtue. They will even sacrifice their lives to preserve the wholesomeness of their virtue.”  This means that when someone’s life is entrusted with the mission, his own life is no longer important.  A universal love for humanity is the most important mission in one’s life, such that he will sacrifice his life at the critical moment. We have often heard from Cao Zhi’s (Bai Mai Pian) that “when the state is at stake, he would give his last breath. Would a homecoming soul fear to face death?” This means that when the need arises for one to save the masses, he can give up his life willingly, because such is the act of heroism.

We have often said that a hero who can stand up at the critical moment must have been well prepared in normal times. A heroic act may sometimes happen at the spur of a moment, but what is being tested is one’s usual behaviour. Benevolence is one such daily virtue that allows one to be courageous when faced with matters of life and death.

[The article is based on the Cantonese sermon delivered by Xian Sheng]

To die for good cause is to sacrifice oneself.

How should we treat others in order to truly feel our own existence with Self Realisation?(1)To die for a good cause is to sacrifice oneself. Tape number: 09A- 1999 Time: 03:30

To die for a good cause is to sacrifice oneself.  How then do we sacrifice ourselves? In olden times, sacrifice is giving up one’s life if that’s what it takes. A few followers once worked at Baixian company, and Xian Sheng would pay for their studies.  They could take paid leave for their studies. In addition, all related expenses, including meals and lodging and salary were paid for by Baixian. However, they left the company once they graduated from school.

In Baixian, there are some people who would show an uncooperative form of ‘sacrifice’. They would fight amongst themselves. Someone may say, “If it is like this, I will do it, but if the situation is different, I won’t do it.”  This is not sacrifice.  He is deceiving himself, thinking that this is sacrifice. This is also because he does not understand what humanity, justice, rites and wisdom stand for.

  • Sacrifice as seen by an ancient man – In the past, to sacrifice oneself for the country is to answer to the calls during war times and die willingly for the nation.
  • A woman would readily die to protect her chastity – A woman would not remarry after the death of her husband, but instead shoulder the full responsibility to raise her children, no matter how hard life was.
  • A man must emulate others of great talents – A true man is knowledgeable, has a sense of mission and responsibility, and is able to attain the virtues of humanity, justice, rites and wisdom.

Have the courage to admit your mistakes – To err is human. What is important is to admit our mistake and learn from it.

Honour

Honour refers to a glorious reputation, which is a dignified and reputable image that is known from near and far when one receives compliments and acknowledgements. Honour is a part of social history. In fact, honour is the acknowledgement and glorification by the society or organizations for virtuous acts carried by people in their fulfilment of the societal missions.  Mencius was the first to apply the concept of honour and shame from the ethical point of view when he said, “Benevolence brings glory, and the opposite of it brings disgrace.” This means that those who are benevolent will be honoured, while those who are not, will be disgraced.

Honour can be an individual’s or a group’s, but both are fundamentally consistent. Group honour is the basis and purpose of individual honour. Individual honour happens when we fulfil that inevitable responsibility that is within us.  As such, honour and responsibility are two sides of the same coin; they go hand-in-hand. Although one’s circumstance may undergo changes, one’s responsibilities must not be altered with such changes. Everyone will face different circumstances and therefore have different responsibilities. Our goal in life is not just to live, but to live with honour.

Honour is the glorification of character and is an inseparable part of life. We may sometimes think of ‘reputation’ when we think of ‘honour’.  Although related, honour and reputation are not the same. While reputation is conferred onto us and is an acknowledgement given by others, honour is a form of dignity that comes from within ourselves. Hence, honour is an intrinsic value and more respectable than reputation.

In addition, honour is not an act of boasting, exaggeration or vanity, or something that one uses to gain praises from others. It is not an ambitious motivation; neither is it a means to satisfy one’s selfish needs of reputation, power and status. Some people may be so ambitious that they do not question their own abilities, and act as they wish to take a chance at achieving success.  As a result, this may lead to undesired outcomes. Their honour, and even their lives, could be buried in the ashes of their burning ambitions.  Ambition can be considered as a depraved form of honour.  A person with true honour must:

  • Maintain life’s dignity so that he has a spirit that will not be insulted and a life that will not be humiliated. His life is perfect and cannot accept any form of tarnish. His ideal life is one that is noble, just and strong. As such, others will respect him but not disregard him; they will love but not blaspheme him.
  • Be able to know what not to do.  This is the most difficult thing in life to achieve. Life is short and there are so many uncertainties.  The ones who can achieve great heights are those who know how to choose their goals and behaviours.  An honourable person will never do anything improper or carry out acts that will harm others. Cheating, acts that are narrow-minded, malicious or that are unfair and cruel are conducts that an honourable man will not care for.
  • Respect himself and others. He not only cherishes his own honour, but that of others as well. Being honourable is to possess the qualities of being able to acknowledge the abilities of others, praise others for their fortes and respecting others for their qualities.

All brothers and sisters of BAITIANGONG must not only have a sense of honour and a love for honour, but must possess the spirit of group honour.  This means the love of honour for the entire Movement. For example, in a family, each member must maintain the family tradition or reputation, and not do anything that will shame the family. Another example would be a shop. It will not sell sub- quality goods for fear of damaging its brand, which stems from the notion of love for group honour. In a school, whether they are teachers or students, everyone knows the importance of the school’s honour and will not do anything to tarnish the reputation of the school. For a race, a country or an organisation to thrive and survive, each member must work hard to maintain group honour. Humans possess the highest level of intellect, sensibility and character development in the animal kingdom. As human beings, besides striving to survive, we must be responsible and honourable. The more responsibilities we fulfil, the greater our honour will expand, and the greater the value of our lives will be. Only when we have done our part to fulfil the responsibilities of the greater good can we then achieve true honour.

Respect

Respect is to show regard and appreciation. We must follow and respect Xian Sheng‘s teachings.  In life, we follow a set of methods and principles in order to attain happiness in our lives and success in work. Only when we respect others can we gain their respect. When we are respectful, sincere and solemn without putting up a show, others will be convinced of our sincerity. This is easier said than done. As the old saying goes, “Cultivate yourself to be respectful” – you must train yourself well to maintain a solemn and respectful attitude.

It is a virtue and a form of self-cultivation to be respectful of others. “Those who respect others will be respected”. Treat others the same, regardless of race or religion. In our lives, we must interact with others, so respecting others is a sign of respect to ourselves.

Tolerance is the basis for respect. Everyone has their own way of thinking and behavioural models. Many people think that their own beliefs are the truth and their behavioural models are the most ideal. They do not care about how others think, and some even condemn the way others behave and act. These are not acts of tolerance. People with such a perception cannot respect others.  It is only when you treat others equally that you can gain understanding and respect.

The famous American philosopher Emerson once said, “Everyone I meet will have some quality that is better than I.  In those aspects, he is my teacher; someone worthy of my respect and for me to learn from.” Indeed, everyone has some area that is worthy of our respect. When we respect others, we will be able to win more friends. To us, this is a type of moral sentiment that comes from within, and to others it is a show of acknowledgement for their values. We respect those who succeed because we admire and appraise them. Such a form of respect is not that of flattery or blind idolization, otherwise we will lose our own character, dignity, and respect for ourselves. We respect those who fail, not because we sympathise with them, but because we want to console and encourage them. Sympathy can only provide temporary consolation, it cannot provide sustained motivation to help in the long run.

Patience

To show patience is to suppress one’s negative feelings and not show them.  Patience is not a pessimistic behaviour as most people would think, and neither is this due to fear and therefore lack of action. The important thing is that one is not meek and submissive, but rather actively waiting and holding on, bravely facing adversity and not getting beaten down.  He should stand firm in what he believes in and even when he cannot change the situation, he should control his anger and not let mean words come out of his mouth. In 1976, after Xian Sheng began to spread the word on BAITIANGONG, he was drawn into a systematic attack on his reputation.  These unfounded accusations and scandalous articles appeared in major Chinese newspapers, tabloids and magazines. What was strange was that even though Xian Sheng had taken legal actions, there appeared to have been no follow-ups.  After Xian Sheng attended the World Chinese Congress in Mauritius in 1992, the media once again made inaccurate and defamatory reports on Xian Sheng. This prompted Xian Sheng to take up legal actions once again, in Singapore, where he finally won the case.

For more than ten years, Xian Sheng had been putting up with the harassment and persecutions of unfounded accusations. Xian Sheng did not retaliate with hatred; he did not seek revenge or hold grudges against those who did something unethical towards him. Instead, he responded with justice, openness and honesty. Being the noble gentlemen he is, Xian Sheng remained calm and undaunted, trusting the law to take care of everything.

Perseverance

Perseverance appears to be a simple word, but it has a more profound meaning to it. It represents a strong will and unwavering patience, and is a show of sheer grit and willpower. Perseverance is also a continuous process. There are many temptations in our lives and our will is usually not able to withstand the temptations of our desires. Even if there are many things that can convince us to give up, we must be determined and not be quitters. Regardless of what we do, especially in our convictions in BAITIANGONG, having a clear objective is important. More importantly, our persistent perseverance and resilience is essential for success.

Trust

Trust is the foothold upon which we establish ourselves. If we are able to hold on to our credibility, we are raising the bar for our characters. In today’s society, trust is an invisible pass. Even though trustworthiness may not be written in your portfolio, it is a person’s reputation.  How well a person goes about doing things and his personality would all be carved in his reputation. As such, everyone has an idea of the importance of trust.

‘Trust’ is not just something you have for others, but also within yourself. The basis of credibility is integrity, which is of utmost importance, whether it’s in the past or present.

Integrity is the basis to judge a person. It is a litmus test for a person’s character. True integrity can be achieved by everyone. With integrity, one can find his place within the society and settle down within himself. Honesty is the basis of integrity. If a person cannot be truthful about his own life and is not able to display any signs of sincerity, how then can he keep his words and gain trust? Trust should be the foundation for any professions and trades so that one can establish himself in the society, build strong relationships with others and thereby march towards the path of success.

BAITIANGONG places a strong emphasis on integrity.  Xian Sheng wants BAITIANGONG followers to be very strict with ourselves and treat others with a strong sense of responsibility. He taught us to be honest, and when we make a commitment, we must be a person of our words and follow through. As the saying goes, “A promise made is a promise kept”. Whether or not a person can keep his promise is a sign of his trustworthiness. When we give someone our promise, we will incur a feeling of debt towards that person. As such, make sure you think twice before making a commitment towards someone. If the other party is not given your commitment, he will not harbour hopes and thus will not keep waiting pointlessly.  As a result, he will not feel disappointment.

(Note: Reference can be made to the abstract on the key points of the four cardinal virtues of humanity, justice, rites and wisdom from The Analects.)

Humanity, Justice, Rites, Wisdom and Trust

[The article is based on the Cantonese sermon delivered by Xian Sheng]

Realisation of Self includes: Humanity, Justice, Rites and Wisdom – Through these we can truly feel our existence.(2)Realisation of Self includes: Humanity, Justice, Rites and Wisdom. Transcript Date: 1999-2-7 Time: 1:48:20

If something happens, we need to know how to handle it. Do we think first before we say something? In order to truly feel our existence, we need to have the virtues of humanity, justice, rites and wisdom. “A woman would readily die to protect her chastity”, “A man must emulate others of great talents”, “Have the courage to admit your mistakes” These are the ancient verses that Xian Sheng showed us. Xian Sheng asked if we remembered that he saw two (sets of) numbers, and Lao Ying (Xian Sheng ‘s friend) asked Xian Sheng to go buy these numbers. Xian Sheng saw that Lao Ying was very engrossed in an old book, which contained many numbers and numerous words. Xian Sheng asked Lao Ying what the words in the book mean. Lao Ying read it for him, “A woman would readily die to protect her chastity”, “A man must emulate others of great talents”, “Have the courage to admit your mistakes”. He explained that a man must be one of character, and a woman who has lost her husband will never marry even if it means she has to undergo hardship to raise her children.

Men will study, take exams, earn a living, and rise through the ranks. A person must have a mission. By mission, it refers to humanity, justice, rites and wisdom. We must have a sense of responsibility in what we do. These are all recorded in the ancient book (The Almanac).  Xian Sheng also talked about what we should do and what it means by sacrifice if we want to truly feel our existence. The contents of this ancient book also mentioned that people in the ancient times are BAITIANGONG. Now BAITIANGONG Universal Spiritual Movement has expanded.  The development of BAITIANGONG is now up to us.  This is very important!

[The article is based on the Cantonese sermon delivered by Xian Sheng]

We must understand sacrifice and patience.(3)We must understand sacrifice and patience. Transcript Date: 1983- 10-7 Time: 02:11

We may fight and argue till our faces turn red, but after that everyone would go out together. We would go for tea and a meal, and no one would take it to heart. If we can do that in BAITIANGONG, it would be great. This reflects our wisdom and high level of understanding. Xian Sheng told a story of a brother who did not want to be rebutted and laughed at by others, and so he became upset. Xian Sheng said, “If we want to improve, there will be rebuts in our discussions.  We must not be afraid of being laughed at. We at BAITIANGONG must understand the fourth guideline. We must understand, so when we have finished our discussion, we will shake hands and be friends again.

Xian Sheng always taught us about humanity, justice, rites, wisdom and trust. These are the core concept of Confucianism.  So, what is the true meaning of humanity, justice, rites, wisdom and trust? We have taken the key points on these values from The Analects as a reference.

Humanity(仁)

Confucius saw humanity as the highest state of knowledge and morality. However, humanity is not something unreachable. We can demonstrate this value anywhere, anytime if we want. “Is virtue a remote thing? If I wish to be virtuous, I can be”. This means that humanity is not far away, and we just need to practise it. Another similar saying states that “It is not difficult for someone to do something good at times, but it is tough to be good all life long.”  When Confucius’ students asked him to define humanity, he answered with two words, “Love others.” The virtuous person loves others and treats everyone with heartfelt kindness. The Chinese character for humanity, “仁”, is made up of two parts – a radical of ‘person’ and a ‘two’. This means that humane love is never something that can be achieved alone.  To show humanity is to love everyone and to maintain an interpersonal relationship as well as the code of ethics. Furthermore, humane love is also a very specific behaviour.  When one treats others with humane love, his actions will show in all aspects. Every little thing he does stems from humane love. Confucius said, “The virtuous will be sure to speak correctly, but those whose speech is good may not always be virtuous. Men of principle are sure to be bold, but those who are bold may not always be men of principle.” (Analects, Xian Wen) The first sentence means that if someone who is truly ethical is kind in heart and practises universal love, he will be able to express it in many different forms.  However, someone who may speak well may not necessary be virtuous.   The second sentence “Men with humanity are sure to be bold, but those who are bold may not always be men of humanity” says that someone who is truly humane will know how to realise the value of life, and he has no fear. On the other hand, the mundane person would be eager to show how righteous he is. While he might be courageous, he may not necessarily be humane.

According to Confucius, ‘humanity’ in life is to practice self-restraint and restore to the rites. We must purify our souls and restrain our behaviours in order to achieve that. ‘Humanity’ is practiced, and preached. One facet of ‘humanity’ is to ‘love others’, while the other side is that of a ‘bad person’. Confucius believed that someone who is not humane is by nature full of selfish desires. He is blinded by his desires and what he sees as good or bad may not be the truth. Only those who are humane are not affected by their own desires and can therefore tell the difference between the good and the bad.  If we are able to practise humanity, we will be able to judge others in a fair manner and differentiate between the good and the bad.  Human love is not merely a sentiment, but is the ultimate goal in our moral integrity. Anyone can attain humanity through practises such as cultivation and showing kindness. These are seemingly abstract and unreachable, but in actual fact, not difficult.  It all depends on whether you are aware and willing. ‘Humane love’ changes our state of life and allows us to face the world with joy, building a harmonious relationship between the world and ourselves.

Justice (义)

Zi Lu (Confucius’ student) asked his teacher “Should a gentleman be courageous?” Confucius replied him, “A gentleman holds courage to be of highest importance. A gentleman, having valour without righteousness, will be guilty of insubordination; the mean person, having valour without righteousness, will commit robbery.” (The Analects, Yang Huo) What it means is that it is not wrong for a gentleman to look towards courage, but such courage is restrained.  As mentioned above, the basis is of courage is ‘righteousness’. True courage is fronted by righteousness. Otherwise, a gentleman will be guilty of insubordination, and a mean person may commit robbery in the name of courage. If you think about it, doesn’t a robber or a thief need to be courageous to sneak into someone’s house, steal or even commit murder? However, such courage without the restraints of moral values is the greatest disaster in society. So, what is this thing called ‘righteousness’? It is a type of internal restraint. Confucius said, “The cautious seldom err.”  One who exercises restraint and cautiousness will see less errors in behaviour. If someone can “examine oneself three times a day”, he will be able to exercise restraint. He will also be able to admit his mistakes and have the courage to change.  Such is true courage.

Confucius places more emphasis on righteousness than gains, and did not appear to be keen on discussing about ‘gain’. He even defined the difference between one who hankers after gains and one who is convinced about humanity and righteousness as that differentiating a mean person and a gentleman.  Unfortunately, social interactions in our lives are usually associated with personal interests. There are some people whom we cannot rely on, for that ‘friendship’ is based on each party making use of the other. Once the other party is deemed to be of no value, they would split and go separate ways. With regard to this point, Confucius once said, “The mind of the gentleman is conversant with righteousness; the mind of the mean man is conversant with gain. “The gentleman will also go on the righteous path, while the mean person, who is most concerned about personal gains, will go the wrong way in order to achieve personal gains.  While Confucius did not emphasis on ‘gains’, he did not condemn it.  ‘Gains’ simply refer to profits or wealth.  Some people would go to any extents to amass more wealth, cheating and lying, while some may even steal, rob or murder for money. There would be people who would betray their friends and relatives, and even sell their children. In this world, there are many of such heartless people who are blinded by money.  Confucius would acknowledge and even support those who pursue their gains through proper means. The ones that he condemns are those who disregard righteousness and be unscrupulous for selfish reasons. In other words, Confucius was not against the pursuit of gains. Rather, he did not approve of those who forget all moral principles at the sight of profits.

Rites (礼)

Rites are regulations that govern the social behaviour of human beings. They regulate the relationship between members, thus ensuring the order of the society. The social rites system of ancient times had already been scraped, but the spirit of rites has always been around. In modern days, there are two aspects to ‘rites’ – one relates to the rules and regulations in government bodies and social organizations.  The other aspect is concerned with the social class differences between people in the society and the behavioural norms related to such class differences. In any society and historical period, these aspects exist objectively. Basically, laws are also a form of system developed based on the ritual system. In current times, we all know the importance of systems, and it is thus not difficult to imagine the significance of rites in maintaining order during ancient times. If nobody follows any rites, there is bound to be chaos in the society.  As such, it is necessary for the ruling party to emphasize the ritual system in order to ensure the steady and orderly development of the society.  Etiquette are external codes of conduct for everyone to abide by, where one should treat others with the appropriate etiquette and be involved in the society to create a harmonious world with external rules and regulations. All these stem from a wonderful and sincere heart, and is a result of progress of the human society towards civilization.

In fact, many conflicts are brought about by differences in boundaries, race, religions, financials interest, beliefs or languages. Fights due to family, assets or feelings are displays of disharmony. The essence of rites is in fact a form of respect for others, while etiquette is the result of such a respect for things external. We can thus say that rites are expressed through etiquette. In order to have the appropriate etiquette, we must have a certain level of virtue and self-cultivation. Without virtue as a foundation, etiquette is merely a type of pretence, an empty shell without substance. What people look for is not the ceremonial gesture, but the sincerity that comes through. If we look closely, details are what make up the essence of etiquette. So, whether you are meeting someone, attending a meeting, dressing up, welcoming guests or doing many other things in your daily lives, you need to put in more effort in your every gesture and expression if you want to be sure that you are gracious in your every approach.

Wisdom (智)

When Fan Chi asked the Teacher what ‘wisdom’ meant, Confucius merely said, “To understand people”. (The Analects, Yan Yuan) What this means is that if you know everything from heaven to earth, or are well versed in biology and chemistry, or perhaps you are not extremely wise but possess some knowledge, you are merely possessing knowledge. True wisdom means observing and having an astute judgement of character. How, then, can we understand people? Confucius said, when you look at someone, you must “See what a man does. Mark his motives. Examine him when he rests. How can a man conceal his character?” (The Analects, Wei Zheng) What does this mean?

“See what a man does.” From the beginning, observe why he does things. It does not mean looking at what a person does, but why he does it. “Mark his motives” is to observe the process of what he does and the methods he uses. Observe the one who does bad deeds and see if he is doing it due to circumstances or evil intentions. When one has ill intentions, he will be unscrupulous to achieve his goals, and may even resort to swindling tactics.  We must also observe even those who are doing charitable deeds separately, to see if they are sincere and honest, and what are their true objectives.  If one is truly kind, he will not pretend and have no motives other than doing good.

“Examine him when he rests”. When a person does something, how do we know when it is over or not? It does not refer to the end of the process of what he does, but whether he has found closure in his heart. Some things may be over, but we may still feel uneasy, as though there are things yet to be completed. As such, when we observe what a person does, we do not just look at the process, but how he settles his mental state. “See what a man does” gives us a starting point, while “mark his motives” gives us a process. “Examine him when he rests” gives us the destination. As such, “How can a man conceal his character?” When you go through such a detailed analysis, how can a person still hide his true colours? You have already figured out his true self.  Not only did Confucius tell you that it is important ‘to understand people’, he has also taught you how to ‘understand people’.  In fact, this tells us how to gain true wisdom.  It means that we should not just observe what a person says or does from just one single perspective.  We cannot conclude that because a person said something, he is such a person. Rather we must listen to what he says and observe what he does.  What is important is not the result but the dynamic process.

In the diversified world out there, human beings are the most complicated animals, and the most difficult to make sense of.  In real life, many people do not walk their talk, often painting a more beautiful picture than their actions and sometimes not even practicing what they preach. We must therefore not only look at what one does before others, but also at what he does behind their backs. Some people may appear all gracious in the presence of others, but once no one else is around, they would reveal their true unrefined self. In addition, we must also observe if he is consistent in what he does. There are some hypocrites out there who have two faces. Most of the times they are no different from the true gentlemen, and sometimes they are even more gracious than the gentleman. However, these are all but pretence. Once his interest is threatened, he will change his attitude. Such people are very good at pretending; they are extremely eloquent, so it would be difficult for others to tell their true intentions.

Coming back to the question of wisdom, there are methods that can help us gain enlightenment. This is a world where we are faced with an influx of information.  While information is important, wisdom is even more vital, and experience has an even greater significance than wisdom.  For this, the key is our ability to perceive. In other words, how can we enhance our experiences and render them practicality and appropriateness, so that we can provide wisdom in our lives that cannot be replaced by others?  We will have to rely on cultivating and enhancing our ability to perceive.  What, then, does it mean by cultivating our inner self?

Human beings are a very self-centred species. There are four problems that everyone has:

  1. From the thoughts that arise within, we like to make unfounded assumptions and guesses;
  2. We are subjective and arbitrary when we express our views;
  3. We tend to insist on our views when we act, and
  4. In the process of what we do, we are even more egoistic.

Such behaviours are linked to our instinctive mentality and behavioural habits and have a profound impact on our understanding and objectiveness, as well as our actions and behaviours. Confucius brought up four frailties from which we should be free – no foregone conclusions, no arbitrary predeterminations, no obstinacy, and no egoism.  What does that mean?

No foregone conclusions – We must not have any subjective assumptions or make groundless guesses. Confucius advised us that we must have substantial evidence in whatever we do, and not make any unjustified conjectures.  We all have such experiences in life.  If we make baseless assumptions, we might sometimes cause damage to a person’s reputation and contradictions may arise. This may easily affect the relationship between people and cause unnecessary conflicts.

No arbitrary predeterminations – We do not make any subjective and arbitrary assumptions. Some people are full of themselves and will not listen to others, neither would they allow others to express their thoughts. They could thus err easily, resulting in grave consequences.

No obstinacy – We must not insist on our opinions. There are many reasons why some people refuse to budge in their opinions. They may be aware that they are wrong, but refuse to admit for fear of losing face. Or they may be over confident of their own abilities, and as such, believe that they can only be right. In the end, such an obstinate mindset may only end up hurting them.

No egoism – We must not to be overly-opinionated.  We must not be arrogant, but instead learn to be humble and unassuming. That said, all humans would have some bad traits in them. In order to fulfil their selfish desires, many people can even trample on the feelings and dignity of others. Such selfish and conceited behaviour is frowned upon by Confucius.

In fact, if we want to attain great wisdom, we must look deep down within ourselves and ask which realm of wisdom we are capable of reaching. Some wisdom in this world can be observed, while some can be sensed. In the end, we will all know that the highest realm of wisdom lies in our own realisation, and to attain that final achievement will be the joy of life.

Trust (信)

The Analects talked about the issue of trust as a basis and foundation to life. The core message is to be sincere and trustworthy. Confucius once said, “I do not know how a man without truthfulness is to get on.”  It is hard to image how someone can live his life in this world without any credibility. Credibility is the key for a person to establish himself in this society. Someone without any credibility cannot have any moral ethics, much less be a virtuous gentleman.  It takes plain courage to be able to maintain constancy in our lives. One must accept one’s reality and face oneself truthfully. This is the starting point of credibility. We live in a world of languages and we speak with one another in our daily interactions. We make promises, but can you fulfil your promises? Are you sure that you can deliver what you have committed? It all depends on how far your commitment is from your morals.  If your promises are consistent with moral values, the chances of you fulfilling them are higher. This is what it means by the saying, “When agreements are made according to what is right, what is spoken can be made good.” Does a country need any credibility?  The ones who govern a country must deliver what they promise the people, and not keep changing their minds every other day. Otherwise all the rules and regulations are as good as nothing. No matter how talented a government official is, he will not be able to achieve anything if he has not gained the trust of the people. Only when one is credible and trustworthy can he then be impartial and just, and handle the relationship between the government and the people, as well as amongst the people. Such is the making of a good ruler. Be it from our individual paths in life or from the overall development of the society, let us be sincere from our hearts. Right now, right here in our lives, let us acknowledge reality and face it with our true self. If we embrace our credibility with a positive attitude, life’s path will open for us.

Xian Sheng’s Quotation

Xian Sheng quoted a conversation between Han Shan and She De, two poet-monks from the Tang Dynasty who lived in seclusion in Taizhou Guoqing Temple, Tiantai County, Zhejiang Prefecture.

I had asked: “The people underestimated me, mocked me, cheated me, threatened me, bullied me, despised me, harmed me, and were jealous of me, what shall I do”

The answer: “I can only respect him, tolerate him, accommodate him, be patient with him, not bother about him, and see him after awhile.”

He says: “Settle it after death.”

Xian Sheng says: “After death, I will settle it for him.”

Xian Sheng merely said, “Remember it well.” Just these phrases. When you have finished reading it, Xian Sheng will let you understand him half a percent. He says, so learn it well.

To understand Xian Sheng.

If we want to understand Xian Sheng, we must read each anniversary book multiple times. In this way, we can only potentially understand Xian Sheng 2 to 3 percent.(4)To Understand Xian Sheng. Tape number: 052A-1994 Time: 12:58

2. Xian Sheng also quoted the Seven Step Poem by Cao Zhi :

“We are born of the same root. Why should we be in such a haste to hound each other to death?”

The Chinese interpretation of Xian Sheng’s Cantonese explanation says that: Everyone is our brother and sister, especially our brothers and sisters in Baixian.  Why must we look down on others? Why? In Baixian, we must be humble and give in to one another. It is important to remember it well.

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References   [ + ]

1. To die for a good cause is to sacrifice oneself. Tape number: 09A- 1999 Time: 03:30
2. Realisation of Self includes: Humanity, Justice, Rites and Wisdom. Transcript Date: 1999-2-7 Time: 1:48:20
3. We must understand sacrifice and patience. Transcript Date: 1983- 10-7 Time: 02:11
4. To Understand Xian Sheng. Tape number: 052A-1994 Time: 12:58

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