Ancient Wisdom for Parenting Children – Part 5

Standards for Being a Good Student and Child

(A Guide to a Happy Life)

Chapter 5

“Loving All Beings”

This is the fifth chapter from Di Zi Gui and is titled “Loving All Beings”. It teaches us that:

  • A person must love all equally. What do we mean by equally?
  • The love it talks about is universal love, not worldly love. It teaches us that as human beings we should have compassion for all people.
  • To be a person of compassion, we must first start by being filial children: respecting our parents and by loving our siblings.
  • Then we should learn how to expand this love and respect to include all who are parents and siblings.
  • Eventually we will learn to love all people equally.

First Standard

Love all beings, for we all live under the same sky and are supported by the same earth.

While we are all different, we all wish for the same thing. All living things want to be safe. As humans, we want to be happy and to be around those we like and care about us. We want to be treated with kindness and respect. All non-human life has similar wishes; to be safe and not be harmed. We all, both human and non-human, want to be loved.

So how do we get those things we wish for? By giving to others!

If we want to be loved, respected, happy and safe, we need to offer those things to others. If we want to be loved, we must be prepared to offer that love. Likewise, if we want to be respected, we must be prepared to offer that respect.

We have the ability to offer all living things happiness and safety by treating them as we wish to be treated. There is a scripture in the Bible which is called the “Golden Rule” which says, “Do unto others as you have them do unto you.”  If you want to be treated nicely, then you need to treat those around you nicely. If you want to be respected, you need to treat those around you with respect. You can only receive what you have given.

What about all those things that are non-human or even not alive? How should be treat them? The same way we wish to be treated. We would water the plants when they are thirsty. When walking, we would be careful not to step on any insects. We would clean our desk so it is neat and tidy. All of our books would be neatly stacked on the bookshelf.

It’s important that we are always aware of the many things around us, both living and non-living, that share our planet with us.

Second Standard

A person of good character is highly respected.
Respect is not based on external appearances.

A capable person will naturally have a good reputation.
People are not won over by boasting or self-praise.

All of us are different. We all look and act differently. Many of us are often judged by how we look. You have perhaps heard the phrase “do not judge a book by its cover”. What does this phrase mean?

How a person looks can be very deceiving in determining who a person is. What really matters is that person’s character, their goodness.

We need to remember this when we chose our friends. A friend is someone who is always there for you, no matter what. A friend is someone we trust and value their opinion. I suspect our best friend is most likely not going to be captain of the football team or the president of the student council. What really matters is that person’s character. They care about others and we respect them for that.

This is the kind of person we should try to become.

Third Standard

If we are good at something, we should be willing to use that ability to benefit others.
When we feel others are more competent than us, we should not criticize or slander them for being so.

Neither flatter the rich nor despise the poor.
Neither ignore old friends nor take delight in only new ones.

Instead of only thinking about how our skills can help ourselves, we should think about how our skills can be used to help others.

What if it is others who have the skills and not us? We should not be jealous or say anything bad about them. Instead, we should compliment them.

When we praise others, it should be based on their abilities. We shouldn’t praise them simply because they have a lot; nor should we look down on those who have a little.

Fourth Standard

When others are busy, do not bother them.
When they are troubled, do not make things worse by talking unnecessarily.

We should neither expose the shortcomings of others nor disclose their private matters.

When we have something to say, we often do not consider if it is a good time to speak. When we begin speaking without consideration, we can easily become frustrated if no one pays attention. Even worse, the other person may become annoyed at the interruption.

Sometimes when have something to say, we begin speaking immediately before realizing that the other person is troubled about something. So instead of listening to them, we are single-mindedly focusing on what we are saying while frustrating the other person.

What should we be doing?

Before we begin speaking with someone, we need to ask if it is a good time to speak. Likewise, we can see if that person is busy or deep in concentration about something. If we begin talking to someone and they are not paying attention, then it is most likely not a good time to interrupt them.

What do we do if someone tells us something personal about them or someone else; or about a weakness or fault someone has? We should never gossip about the faults of others or talk about their personal matters. By not gossiping we are showing respect for others and will be respected in return.

Fifth Standard

It is good to praise the virtuous actions of others.
Knowing that they are being praised, people will be encouraged to do better.

Gossiping about the wrongdoings of others is in itself wrong.
When we slander another excessively, we too will suffer harm and great misfortune.

When we praise others for doing good deeds and they hear this, they will try even harder in the future; so we both benefit. We are happy with what they have done and we know they will do even better in the future.

What about gossiping? We have already said that gossiping is not a good deed. Talking about other’s faults may seem harmless since the other person will not hear us talking. But gossiping can be harmful because the person we are talking to may believe what we are saying and therefore think badly of that person. By gossiping, we will in turn be gossiped about. Why? Because by gossiping, we’ll have lost the respect of those who hear us gossip.

While gossiping in itself bad, slander is even worse.

Gossiping is where we say something we believe to be true about another person. Slander is where we say something we know to be not true. Such talk will harm and create problems for the other person. But we should also remember that when we speak badly of others, we too will be harmed and have many problems.

Sixth Standard

By mutually encouraging one another to do good, both of us will improve our characters.
By not advising one another to correct our respective faults, our characters will diminish.

When giving and receiving, we should be clear in what we are doing.
It is better to give more and receive less.

When we and friend encourage each other to do what is good and help each other, we will both become better people. On the other hand, if we fail to tell a friend their faults, both our characters will suffer.

Seventh Standard

Before we ask others to do something, we should first ask ourselves if we would do it.
If not, then we should not ask others to do it.

We should repay the kindness of others; we should let go of our anger.
Spend less time holding grudges and more time repaying kindness.

Would we ask someone to do something we don’t like to do? If so, do we consider if this something the other person would like to do? For example, we are afraid of spiders but our friend is not. Therefore, they would most likely not mind catching the spider and releasing it outside.

But what if it is something the other person does not like? Suppose they do not like spiders either. Then we shouldn’t ask them to catch a spider for us.

But what if we don’t know how the other person feels about something we don’t like doing? Then we should not ask them to do something we ourselves do not want to do. They might become upset that we asked them to do something we wouldn’t do ourselves.

We have all experienced anger and know afterwards that it’s not a good feeling. When we become angry, we often cannot think clearly and logically. Since we know the awful feeling of anger, we should not be the cause of other people feeling this way.

Not wanting to upset others, we should not ask them to do something unpleasant we ourselves don’t want to do. Instead, we should treat others with respect and consideration. This way, in return, we will also be treated thoughtfully.

Eighth Standard

When we interact with people who serve us, we should act in ways that inspire respect.
And while being dignified and proper is important, it is also important to be kind and generous.

If we force others to do as we wish, they will silently rebel.
But if we convince them with sound reasoning, they will happily agree without complaining.

In some homes it is common to have a maid or even a gardener. Elsewhere, this is more unusual. But even if our family does not having someone working to serve us, there are still many other people who serve or help us in some way.

That person may cook or bring us food in a restaurant. They may deliver our mail, fix our house or wash our car. They may check our groceries, mow the lawn, or clean our home.

All of these people are helping our family, so we should show them courtesy and respect. Remember that if not for them, we would need to do many more things for ourselves!

Thanks to those who help us, we have more time to spend time with our family, to go the park, visit our friends, and go on a picnic. So the next time someone brings us food in a restaurant or delivers something to our home, we should show our appreciation by saying “Thank you” with a respectful smile.

What are some other ways we can act towards those that help our family?

When we need someone to do something for us, we can take the time to explain why we need their help. For example, instead of just telling the delivery person to put the package inside the door, we could ask “Could you please put the package inside the door?” And then explain, “It’s too heavy for me to carry.” Then we can smile and say “Thank you!”

As long as others know why we are asking them to do something, the easier it will be for them to help us. Once they understand the reason for our request, there is a better chance they will happily help us. Then we will be happy since we are getting the help we need.

Remember that the manner in which we act towards others is the way others will act towards us.