The number eight is very important for Chinese and the Eight Virtues explained why when a person follows the Eight Virtues, he will be very lucky or fortunate. The pronunciations of “eight" and “prosperity" in Chinese are almost the same and traditionally for the spiritual Chinese people, they connect to The Eight Virtues. Coincidently the Eight Virtues also link closely with the teachings of Buddhism in its Right Eightfold Paths. The 8 Virtues follow the rank of importance below:
1] Filial Piety – Filial piety is the most important virtue among the eight virtues and it is the origin of all good deeds. Without filial piety, it is like a tree without its root, or the water without an origin. Charity begins at home and this is true. If a person cannot be good to his parents, then most likely all other good things done by him are not real or have ulterior motives. Devotees of Tao are always asked whether they have the filial heart of “Zeng-Zi" (Confucius’s disciple, renowned for his filial piety. Zeng-Zi is one of the four Confucian Saints and the author of the Confucian classic Da-Xue ‘The Great Learning’ around 500 BC).
2] Brotherhood – It is the kind of care and concern found among siblings. They are brought up under the same roof and have gone through many experiences together, be it hardship or happiness. Hence, siblings are closely related just like our hands and legs. The elder being generous and lenient, the younger being enduring, then there will be brotherly love and the family will then be harmonious and prosperous.
3] Loyalty – When we perform any task, we must be truthful and sincere. The task must be rational and legal. We must give our best to complete the task and be impartial. There should be no false declaration when we are reporting or speaking. By being righteous, we are not afraid to let people see what we are doing. We do not do anything discreditable so as to be upright and honorable. We are said to be loyal when we are able to face God or Deities, country and society, parents and spouse with a guiltless conscience.
4] Trust – The word “trust" means having faith in another person’s words or character. The success or failure of a business or career is also based on trust. There is a saying, “A word once spoken cannot be taken back. " This means that what is said cannot be unsaid. If we want to gain trust and respect, then we must keep our promise to others and be earnest in our performance of duties. There must also be unity between word and action. With these, trust will then prevail.
5] Etiquette – It is the display of refined and courteous mannerism. If we are impolite, we are degrading ourselves and also lose the respect from others. Our status and personality can be expressed through politeness. He who is polite will more likely be modest and upright, being courteous to the elders and benevolent to the younger. If we treat others politely, others will treat us likewise. We shall not do anything that will offend public decency. Confucius said, “See no evil, hear no evil, say no evil and do no evil. " By observing these Four Don’ts, etiquette will prevail. Without it, this world will be in total disorder. Therefore, we must be mindful in our conduct and at the same time, show respect and love for others. In this way we will have a sound and healthy character.
6] Righteousness – It is the act of being just and upright. In anything we do, our actions must always be in accordance with our conscience. Although there are temptations around us, we must stand firm by our principles. Anything desired must be obtained through the right course. If we obtain wealth unscrupulously by harming others to benefit ourselves, then retribution will come to us sooner or later. Thus a superior man does not crave for ill-gotten wealth, but instead he is generous in helping needy people and relieving distressed. He will not only be respected by the people, but also bring honor to his ancestors and set good example for his descendants.
7] Integrity – It means to be pure and upright in our actions. A person with integrity does not have selfish desires and evil thoughts. He does not do things that are against his conscience. He is honest with friends and is a responsible person. When dealing with money, he is conscientious and meticulous. He does not indulge in sensual pleasures and is an upright gentleman. Thus, to uphold integrity, we need to exercise greater self discipline.
8] Shamefulness – Everybody has a sense of shamefulness. A person who understands shamefulness will be honest and just in his undertakings. If a person does not know about shamefulness, most likely he may not have an upright mind and actions. We have to be mindful in our speech, action and thoughts so as to refrain ourselves from depravity. We should avoid doing things that may arouse suspicion, thus creating disgrace and embarrassment and ultimately ruin the reputation of the family.
Our thoughts are the seed of good or bad fortune; we must then rectify them according to the Eight Virtues if they are wrong. If we lose our humanity, we are actually no better than animals. Filial piety and brotherhood are the basis of humanity and cultivators must first practise them. If we are filial and obedient, deities and people around will respect us. God and Saints will be happy when the other virtues are practiced and there will be no evil and crimes.
On the first virtue, my Heavenly Teacher JiGong said, “When a mother raises a son or a daughter, she would never consider what the child can give her in the future before she offers her care. Since she has given birth to him, she only knows of loving him and caring for him. She also understands clearly that he may disappoint her when he grows up, but she still misses him and takes care of him, even to the extent of taking on his guilt and dying for him. Dying for him without resentment and without regret – this is the heart of a mother, and this is exactly the heart of Buddha. "
Author: T. A Chew
T. A Chew was told that to have a better life, he must practise the 8 virtues. It is the very basic to understand life and to develop the heart of a Buddha or the Enlightened One. He can see that devotees of Tao of Heaven are sincere in this practice because of the Truth in the teaching. Website: http://www.white-sun.com