Common Knowledge of Chinese Culture

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Filial Piety

Filial piety is the greatest of all virtues in the Chinese eyes, while disobedience is the greatest of all crimes. From his early childhood the child is trained up, as far as books are concerned, in this idea, while at the same time he is spoiled by the doting love of fond parents, mixed with such a portion, however, of severity, that the compound of bitter-sweet treatment produces on the whole better results than might reasonably be expected; the bitter, generally coming after the sweets of spoiled infancy, has some effect in toning down the over-indulgence so lavishly acted on. Confucius said, " while a man's father is alive, look at the bent of his will; when his father is dead, look at his conduct. If for three years he does not alter from the way of his father, then he may be considered to be filial." He also taught that filial piety should be accompanied by reverence, and that its duties should performed with a cheerful countenance. The Classic of Filial Piety says: " Filial duty is the root of virtue, and the stem form which instruction in the moral principle springs... The first thing which filial duty requires of us is, that we carefully preserve from all injury and in a perfect state, the bodies which we have received from our parents. And when we acquire for ourselves a station in the world, we should regulate our conduct by correct principles so as to transmit our name to future generations, and reflect glory on our parents. This is the ultimate aim of filial duty." The Chinese governments were understood through the relation which existed between a father and his son.

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