One day, a child made a lot of noise chewing his food. His parents didn't make any effort to teach him even though they didn't like it. On one occasion the child was noisy chewing his food, his father who was moody that day, yelled at him:
“Do you know what animal makes the loudest noise when it eats?”
The Child answered instantly, “Little piggy!”
The father, who was furious, shouted:
“Do you know why little piggy makes such a lot of noise when he eats?”
The child replied, “Of course I know. It's because the big piggy didn't teach him!”
Children learn by listening and observing from their parents and every word and action of the parents is noticed and imprinted in their hearts. These impressions become the basis of their language and behavior. Children are a reflection of their parents and an unhappy child most likely came from an unhappy family. A child who has a lively disposition most probably came from a lively and vivacious family.
If you advise your son not to spend time in pubs, he might say, “But I saw you going in the pub door.” If you tell your son not to gamble, he might say, “You gamble too.” If we want our children to be free from bad habits, we must first clean up ourselves. Children can be compared with white sheets of paper or pieces of jade. It is up to us to draw or carve and in the words of “The Three Characters Classic,” it is said:
“To raise a child without teaching it the right way is the fault of the parents. To teach a child without being strict is a sign of laziness in the teacher.”
Human civilization is comprised of three aspects: 1] What is passed on to us from our predecessors 2] What we ourselves create and 3] What we pass on to the next generation.
Teaching by the use of rules, precepts, good advice and other verbal forms of instruction is never as influential as what is taught by example because humans have a natural aptitude for imitation. Good living examples have greater credibility and usefulness and Confucius once said:
“When a leader's conduct is righteous he does not have to give orders to make others follow him. However, if his personal conduct is not righteous, he may give orders but no one will follow them.”
Children generally obey and follow our instructions while they are young but as they grow older their respect and obedience seem to diminish at an alarming rate. This message we should not ignore. The successive generation will become stronger or weaker and it all depends on our teachings and living examples. Mencius said:
“If we show compassion to others but no affection is returned, let us look within ourselves and examine the quality of our own benevolence. If we guide others but they refused to follow our guidance, let us self reflect and examine our wisdom. If we treat others politely and they failed to respond in the same way, let us self reflect and examine our own level of respect. When our intentions are not realized, we must look for the fault within ourselves. Only when a person's actions are righteous will the world turn to him with recognition and compliance.”
If we are always ready to comply with the governing principles, and willing to place great demands on ourselves, then we can find happiness and peace. Preaching is easy but to practise what we preach is difficult. In the process of cultivation it is important that our hearts and mouths are one, our words and actions coincide and our bodies and environment are in harmony. We need to have constant self-reflection, and others are our mirrors and in an old text called “Shu,” it is written:
“Heaven has sent all people to witness what all that is done and listen to all that is said. The heart of the people is the will of the universe; the words of the people are the words of the universe.”
In any situation, whether it is a family matter, an institution or a nation, teaching by example is the way to harmony and unity within social environment. The heart of the people means the wish of the majority of the people through words. In the Great Learning, there is a reference to the Book of Poetry which says:
“Lofty is that mountain, Zhong Nan, with its rugged masses of rock! Greatly distinguished are you, Oh Grand Teacher Yi Yin for your position and power. All people revere you. A ruler of state cannot afford to be imprudent. If he should deviate even slightly from his concern for the people's wellbeing, he will be condemned.”
A leader must be whiter than white. When he is high up, he can easily be seen and a slightest mistake can make him fall and be condemned. A hundred good things done can be overshadowed by one small mistake and people remember and see that mistake but forget the hundred good actions done. To be a good role model, one has to be a good living example.
Author: T.A Chew
T.A Chew was taught in the Tao environment, the predecessors and forerunners have set good example and teach with kindness and patience. The downline, in return, should understand the good will of their forerunners, learn patiently, do the same and carry this Truth to other parts of the world. Be a good role model and living example. Website: http://www.white-sun.com