We should pay attention to the Four Modes of Deportment in our daily lives.
Young friends, you should be like lotus blossoms: beautiful, pure, and fragrant. Everyone likes them. The lotus flower grows out of the mud, but is not stained by the mud. It isn’t defiled or common; on the contrary, it is rare and precious. In times like this, when people are mad and confused, if you can discover your roots and not swept along by the crowd, you’ll be as noble and precious as a lotus flower.
You all have the opportunity to become supporting pillars of society and the nation. But first you have to prune the branches, that is, do away with all improper habits, so that you can become a useful person. If you don’t refine yourself, you’ll be just like ordinary people, and the world will never improve that way. If you want to reform the world and change its negative trends, you have to set guidelines for yourselves when you are young. You will also need support to help you advance along the way.
What provides this support? The Four Modes of Deportment: walking, standing, sitting and reclining. There are set rules for all of these; we cannot go about them in a sloppy manner. Many students don’t walk properly; they bounce and leap, peering east and west like monkeys. That shows lack of deportment. It is said, “Walk like the breeze, sit like a bell, recline like a bow, and stand like a pine.”
“Walking like the breeze”: When we walk, we should be like “a soft breeze that makes no ripples on the water.” This wind is a soft breeze, not a storm or a whirlwind that blows down houses and uproots trees. We should be careful about this.
“Sit like a bell”: When we sit, we should be as steady as a big bell. Don’t be like the bell clapper, swinging to and fro. You should sit upright and not swing your legs, especially if you are a girl.
“Recline like a bow”: When we lie down, our bodies should look like bows; this is the posture for reclining.
“Standing like a pine”: When we stand, we should look like great pine trees, tall and straight, singularly outstanding. We shouldn’t be bent and curved like snakes.
We should pay attention to the Four Modes of Deportments in our daily lives and learn these basic things when we are students. We should always choose to follow good examples and change conduct that is not virtuous. “If it’s the Way, advance upon it; if it’s not the Way, retreat from it.” I tell you all this in utmost sincerity. I hope you will put forth your best effort. Otherwise you will simply be bodies that can walk around and consume food and drink, but that make no contributions to the world.