Should You Be Filial to Your Parents?
we'll investigate the topic, "Should you be filial to your parents?"
From a worldly point of view it is easy to answer this question. Of
course we should be filial to our parents. We should naturally express
our gratitude to our parents by practicing filial compliance. To be
filial like that is the very least that any person in the world can do
to repay the kindness of his parents. But there is another kind of
filiality which is greater than this. Because you young friends here
have not heard this kind of filiality explained before, I will explain
it for you now.
From a transcendental point of view, true
filiality is practiced through true cultivation. If you are truly
cultivating the Way, you are being truly filial. Now that doesn't mean
that while you are cultivating, you are constantly having false
thoughts about your parents and feeling very emotional about them. You
shouldn't be "sticky" even with your parents and relatives. Instead,
you should cultivate vigorously and bring forth the Bodhi resolve. In
this way, you can become an outstanding person, an extraordinary
person; you will be a person who can transcend the mundane world. Then
you are practicing a kind of filiality which goes beyond, and surpasses
ordinary filial piety. For it is said,
- If one person can achieve Buddhahood,
Nine generations of ancestors are reborn in the heavens.
transcendental filiality is filiality on a vast scale. You are being
filial toward heaven and earth. You are repaying your parents in life
after life -- that is magnanimous filiality!
Filial Piety: The young lamb kneels to drink his mother's milk.
on a small scale is being filial only to your parents in this present
life. In practicing this small-scale filiality, you try to make your
parents happy, even if you have nothing to offer them but plain water.
You care for their hearts and minds, as well as their bodies, and you
do it with the utmost reverence. Not only do you look after your own
parents, but you treat all elders with respect. Treating everyone as
you treat your own parents is practicing ordinary filialty.
practice filiality on a vast scale means that you are filial not only
to your own parents but to all ancient sages and worthies of the past.
A person who is able to emulate the sages and worthies of old is known
as one who practices far-reaching filiality, filiality which transcends
the worldly. But ordinary people of today aren't even practicing the
ordinary worldly filiality of providing for their parents, to say
nothing of practicing far-reaching filiality. Instead, people today are
busily at work committing offenses! As a result, the world is getting
worse day by day. People's hearts are growing more and more corrupt and
their minds are full of doubts and problems, all because they are not
The men and women of today who kill, commit
arson, indulge in sexual promiscuity, tell lies, and steal have vulgar
characters. They believe that they should be doing such things and that being filial to one's parents is wrong, that they should learn to be mean and rotten. This is a very grave mistake.
while we are young it is important for us to make a good, healthy start
in learning to do what we should do in order to be good human beings
and good citizens of this world.
Vajra Bodhi Sea, January 1984