Friday, 6 January 2012

Filial Piety 孝顺/ 孝道

Old Chum Mok TC sent me this meaningful mail. Need to share this message with those who cherish in life with their love for their parents and grandparents, and those who lamented that they should have done much more when their parents were still around. Good read, believe me.

Alan CY Kok

Confucius (Master Kung 551-479BC), one of the most influential Chinese philosophers of all time, had always emphasized in his teaching the paramount importance of filial piety in Chinese culture. Most Chinese people revered him, so they carried out the essence of filial piety with earnest zest.
A diver got close to one of the 5 gates of the submerged city of Shi Chen 狮城 and he could read the words ‘Filial Piety” clearly. The Atlantis of China, as it was nicknamed; the Shi Chen of Zhejiang was submerged under about 40meter of water when a dam was being constructed since 1959. The ancient city was founded in Don Han 东汉era (25-200AD) but met its final fate when the dam and the gorgeous Qiandao Hu (Lake of Thousand Islands) 千岛湖were created. 
The two huge Chinese characters on the wall mean "To observe the practice of filial piety" Travel blogger friend Ching NB had the picture taken of him in ancient village of HongCun, near TunXi, HuangShan city, a distance from Shanghai. 

This is neither sermon nor a nag; it's a very simple message. The article below was written by Dr. Chris Anthony ; I regret that I had not read it earlier during the days when both my parents were still alive.

Aging is inevitable. Will the children still love and care for their parents? knowing well that dementia, Alzheimer's disease and other age related sickness may creep in gradually.

It is better to give them (your parents) a little now than to give them the world when they are gone. The world is full of sons and daughters like you and me.

I had a marvelous mother, who loved me, sacrificed for me and helped me in every way possible. In all of my growing up from childhood through school and eventually marriage, Mom was always at my side.

Younger generation should know it's a fortune for the aged people if the older folks could sleep a little bit longer.
Grandchildren love their grandmother so much. They're treasure to the older folks. In Asian countries, lots of grandparents are roped in to help bringing up kids of their own adult children. In such way, the older people will live much longer and lead a more meaningful life.

And when I needed help with my little ones, she was there for me.
A few years ago, we buried this wonderful lady. Can you imagine how I felt when I returned home and found a poem in her drawer, written by my Mom:

  The time is now...
         If you are ever going to love
            Love me now while I can know
              The sweet and tender feelings
                 Which from true affection flow
                    Love me now while I am living
                     Do not wait until I am gone
                        And then have it chiseled in marble
                          Sweet words on ice-cold stone
                            If you have tender thoughts of me
                              Please let me know now
                                If you wait until I am sleeping
                                 There will be death between us
                                       And I will not hear you then
                                        So if you love me, even a little bit
                                          Let me know while I am living
                                               So that I can treasure it
                                                      Your loving mum

                     Now she is gone and I am sick with guilt
                         Because I never told her what she meant to me


Babies are God-sent. Many proud young couples will say that. Yes, their arrivals will consolidate the love of the two in union. Kids will grow to be adults and parents will age to become old; it is the circle of life, no way to get away from this phenomenon.

My children loved Grandma from the times they were babies.
They often turn to her for comfort and advice.
She understood them.
I realize now that I was too critical,
Too short-tempered, too stingy with praise.
Grandma gave them unconditional love.
The world is filled with sons, daughters and a child like me.I hope they see themselves in this letter and realize from it.


Not just knowing or feel love is around; that's not enough. One must let his/her loved ones know that he/she loves them.
Deeply missing a loved one? Many could not get over the demise of a loved sad.

Very often we are willing to spend thousands to give them a grand funeral with the most elaborate preparations and expensive coffins and so on. We are willing have memorials without fail year after year.  We give alms in memory of our late parents but we could not afford to spend some time with them when they were with us before their death.

It is ideal to have a daughter or son to help out running a family business.

It is no use to spend lots of money for your parents' funeral because they will not be able to cherish what you do ; the lavish funeral rites or expensive casket that you spend on them ONLY BENEFIT the funeral parlour; nobody bothers how much you spend on your parents when they are dead. You may be magnanimous to donate alms collected during the wake to charity in memory of your parents ......but will they know?

A picture we all love to see. It paints a great bond between the young and the old.

Hence, if you want to shower money on your parents so as to make them happy and gratified, do it when they are still around and able to appreciate and cherish your love and concern. Do not do it only after their death.
It'll be regrettable for the rest of your life.

Don't regret till it's too late. Go tell your parents that you love them.

The Chinese Proverb says it well with regards to Filial Piety:


The children (The descendants) wish to repay the kindness and gratitude to their parents by looking after them, yet by then they have already gone to another world.

                             A burning candle flame marks a passing life

So while you still have your parents close at hand, besides you, do look after them well with filial piety. Don’t be in a haste to send them away to nursing or old folk home, unless situation warrants the need to do so.

Reproduced from a mail received through the net
 Alan CY Kok           

1 comment:

  1. Law is ill-equipped to form a virtuous people. It is one thing to outlaw vice in its outward manifestation of conduct; how can legislation mandate virtuous conduct, or even instill virtue within a human soul? Mandating virtuous conduct, such as in Massachusetts’ “Good Samaritan” law, may be possible where the conduct is in public and thus readily enforceable. Virtue within the home is far more difficult for the law to reach and thus foster. Even vice behind closed doors, such as incest as well as physical and emotional abuse more generally, is difficult for police to catch. To an extent, property rights enable such vice and allow people the option of not being virtuous in a family context. Yet in countries in which an authoritarian state trumps even property rights, as in China, the question becomes whether legislation is the sort of thing that can foster or mandate virtuous conduct and even a virtuous character. See “China: Mandating the Virtue of Filial Piety by Law,” at