Proper Dharma Seal I

 

Chapter 2: To Govern

(6) Meng Wubo inquired about filial respect. The Master replied, “Where parents are concerned, illness is a major cause for worry.”

Meng Wubo inquired about filial respect. Meng Wubo, another official in the State of Lu at that time, also asked about how one should be filial to one’s parents. He was stricken with an illness. What illness was it? If it was not a drinking problem, then it was a case of being greedy for wealth. In short, it was an illness brought about by drinking, lust, wealth, and anger; and a serious one at that. The Master replied. Therefore, Confucius answered him in this way. Where parents are concerned, illness is a major cause for worry. What parents worry about is their children being sick. Once they become ill, that means they are not being filial.

(7) Ziyou inquired about filiality. The Master replied, “Nowadays, a filial person is said to be one who is able to support his parents and provide for their sustenance. As for hounds and horses, they too can be raised similarly. If there is no respect shown, wherein lies the difference?”

Ziyou inquired about filiality. Ziyou was a disciple of Confucius and he, too, asked about how to be filial to one’s parents. The Master replied, “Nowadays, a filial person.” Confucius cited the example of people then who claimed to be filial. Is said to be one who is able to support his parents and provide for their sustenance. They considered themselves as filial individuals because they said, “I’m able to provide for my father’s or mother’s needs.” For example, how do all of you, as disciples, show your filiality to your Master? By saying: “I am able to make offerings to my master; every cent of mine is spent on good food for my master to keep him alive.” Is that considered filial respect? Actually, it isn’t.

Confucius then elaborated further. As for hounds and horses. ‘犬’ (quan) refers to hounds or dogs, while ‘馬’ (ma) refers to domesticated horses. They too can be raised similarly. You can also keep horses and dogs and provide for them. If there is no respect shown, wherein lies the difference? If you do not treat your parents respectfully, then isn’t it the same as rearing dogs and horses? After all, these animals also receive the same treatment. This is why you should show reverence and respect.

(8) Zixia inquired about filiality. The Master replied, “Maintaining a pleasant countenance is hard. Should there be any task at hand, the junior person may undertake to carry it out. Where wine and delicacies are available, the seniors may be invited to partake of them. However, are these considered acts of filiality?”

Zixia inquired about filiality. His family name was Bu, his personal name was Shang and he was styled Zixia. He, too, asked about how to be filial to one’s parents. You see, quite a number of people inquired about filial respect and Confucius responded differently to each of them. 

The Master replied, “Maintaining a pleasant countenance is hard.” Do you know why Confucius answered him in this way? What’s the meaning of this line? Does it mean that it is very difficult to show a pleasant face? For your information, this is an allusion to bad-tempered people, who find it difficult to be pleasant and affable. There is no explanation for this other than “bad temper.” Such people try to fulfill their filial duties and yet tend to throw tantrums and show a sour face to their parents. This is how temperamental they can be. Should there be any task at hand, the junior person may undertake to carry it out. If the parents have any matters needing attention, the children should take it upon themselves to help them out. Where wine and delicacies are available, the seniors may be invited to partake of them. Wine and delicacies refer to delicious food. “Seniors” refer to parents, teachers and elders. Offer them whatever is flavorful and delicious. However, are these considered acts of filiality? Does the performance of such acts make one filial? In Confucius’ opinion, to be even-tempered is to be filial. Since always being pleasant and accommodating is not easy, it follows that maintaining a pleasant countenance is hard. This means that our facial expressions should not show any signs of displeasure and that we should not give vent to our bad temper. This is the same as what was mentioned in the previous section: As for hounds and horses, they too can be raised similarly. If you help them to do something or offer them some good food and yet get upset with them at the same time, how can this be considered filial respect?

 

 

為政第二

 (六)孟武伯問孝。子曰。父母唯其疾之憂。

「孟武伯問孝」:孟武伯也是當時魯國一個做官的人,也問怎麼樣孝順父母。孟武伯有病,什麼病呢?不是喝酒的酒病、就是貪財的財病,總之,是「酒、色、財、氣」才有的毛病,很厲害的。「子曰」:所以孔子就答覆他說,「父母唯其疾之憂」: 父母就是怕子女有病,一有病,那就是不孝了! 

 

 (七)子游問孝。子曰。今之孝者。是謂能養。至於犬馬。皆能有養。不敬。何以別乎。

 「子游問孝」:子游,是孔子的弟子;也是問怎麼樣孝順父母。「子曰:今之孝者」:孔子就說了,說現在講「孝」的人,「是謂能養」:他就說:「我能養我的父親、母親!」這就算孝順了。好像你們這些個做師父徒弟的,怎麼孝順師父的?「我能供養師父,我能拿出我所有的錢,給師父買點好東西吃,叫他能活著不死!」那就是孝順了?其實這不是的。

 孔夫子又說了,「至於犬馬」: 犬,就是「狗」;馬,就是自己所養的馬了。「皆能有養」:這個馬,你也能養牠;狗,你也能養牠。「不敬,何以別乎」:你若是不恭敬你父母,那和養犬、馬有什麼分別?你那個犬、馬,你也是養嘛!所以「不敬,何以別乎?」你要恭敬!

 

(八)子夏問孝。子曰。色難。有事。弟子服其勞。有酒食。先生饌。曾是以為孝乎。

「子夏問孝」:子夏,姓卜,名商,字子夏。他也問孝順父母,你看!這很多人問「孝順父母」,孔子答覆的都不同。

「子曰」,「色難」:你知道為什麼孔子這樣答他「色難」?「色難」怎麼講呢?是不是說「色,還很困難的」?

這個「色難」,告訴你們,就是「很大的脾氣」,因為要有好臉色是很難的;沒有什麼特別的講法,就是「大脾氣」!就是想要盡孝,又想對父母發脾氣,總給父母一個面孔看,總是那麼大的脾氣。「有事,弟子服其勞」:父母若有事,做子女的要服勞執役,幫他做。「有酒食,先生饌」:酒食,就是「好吃的東西」,這一種美味。先生,就是「父母、師長」。有什麼好吃的東西,就給先生來吃。「曾是以為孝乎」:這樣子,就可以算是一個「孝順」了嗎?孔子說,沒有脾氣,就是「孝順」;你總顏色和悅是不容易的,所以「色難」;那就是要在顏色上沒有脾氣、不發脾氣。就像前邊說的,「至於犬馬,皆能有養」,你幫他做一點事情,你給他吃點好東西,可是你又對他發脾氣,那怎麼算「孝順」呢?

 

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