We live in an unfortunate time. The temptations of this world are too powerful and make people indulge in a wanton life. Profits dim their wisdom. Rapid scientific development has caused people to forget their foundation. During this unfortunate time, if we can recognize the situation and not go along with it, we’ll be able to change our destiny and become fortunate people.
What is the basis for being a person? Confucius said, “A superior person devotes himself to the foundation. When the foundation is established, the Way will come forth. Filiality and fraternal respect are the basis of humaneness.” So the basis of a person is “filiality and fraternal respect.” But in the West people neglect this foundation. They don’t even know what filiality and fraternal respect are. This is just like digging out the roots of a tree. If a tree has no roots, or the roots are exposed, then the tree will fall. People who don’t understand filiality and fraternal respect are just like trees without roots. How can they be useful?
A superior person devotes himself to the foundation. At home you should be filial to your parents and respectful towards your siblings, help with the housework, and not be a lazy glutton. If you pay attention to the basics, you can become an outstanding and fortunate person in this turbulent time. Young friends, make yourselves into
Strong candles in the gutsy wind;
Pure gold in the blazing fire.
The gustier the wind, the brighter the candle burns. Other people may become mad and deluded, but you won’t be tempted by material desires; you won’t go along with the crowd. Be like a strong candle in the gusty wind. Pure gold is not afraid of being smelted in the blazing fire. No matter how you smelt it, it will not lessen, because it is pure. You should be like pure gold that cannot be harmed by any fire.
A talk given on November, 1983,
at the Gold Wheel Sagely Monastery, Los Angeles