Brief Talk on Moral Education: Transforming Life's Emotions

Shao Hui

PureInsight | May 14, 2006

[] What does it
really mean when an adult says, "You are truly old- fashioned" (Min Nan
dialect) to a child? Is it a compliment or a criticism? "Being
old-fashioned" was originally a positive expression, describing the
pure and kind hearts of the ancient people. However, modern people now
usually put a negative meaning to it and don't distinguish the good
from the bad.

Chinese People often say that one should keep "the heart of a red
person." "Red Person" originally meant a small child, and the
expression meant that one should maintain the heart of a little kid,
which is pure, kind and uncontaminated. It does not mean encouraging
people not to study hard and giving up fulfilling their potential,
because if a student does not study hard he is not a good student, and
if an adult does not do his job well, he is not a good worker. What
does "the heart of a red person" mean? This expression actually means
that one should keep one's mind pure. 

Here are some examples: a used soy sauce bottle will still smell like
soy sauce even after it's washed; a used air freshener will still carry
the odor of the perfume that it used to carry inside. So, a human heart
is like a container that will carry the characteristics of whatever was
put into it over a long period of time. When a person hears and sees
something all the time, the person is actually assimilating to it.
Internet sites and TV programs contain everything. When what is
delivered to us are extreme violence and pornography, our choice to
either accept and assimilate to them or firmly reject them with a clear
mind may bring us totally different results. Extreme deviation often
starts from a tiny error at the beginning. Why is it that the media
often report on certain senior people's being accused of corruption or
sexual crimes? When people are tempted, the trouble usually comes from
their unrighteous notions, which are sometimes artificially
strengthened by what they see or read. If one is constantly attached to
some bad notion, after a long period of time it will in return
manipulate the person to do bad deeds. On the contrary, reading good
books and speaking good words are actually making one beautiful.


In fact, in order to teach children to stay away from the temptations
of violence, pornography, drugs, etc, merely forbidding them to look at
them is not enough. The important thing is to have the right thoughts
to guide them and allow them to safeguard their own hearts. If one's
thought is righteous, he will have upright behavior. People have to
maintain their purity and this is true for adults too. When a child
reaches some outstanding accomplishment and brings glory to the family,
Chinese people would say that is due to "burning good incense in a
previous life" and "the virtue accumulated by ancestors." In reality,
when one does not make efforts to cultivate his kind heart, how can big
bundles of incense bring him any good fortune? And if there is "virtue
accumulated by ancestors," don't adults set good examples for their
children when they conduct themselves well? Won't the later generations
benefit from their good deeds in this lifetime? Teaching children to be
honest, reasonable, rational, and wise helps them maintain the purity
of their hearts. A truthful person is the most beautiful.  


Some parents fear that their children will be taken advantage of in
society, so they teach them to "fight back," "show others your
strength," and the like. Among ordinary people, there is a common
narrow-minded saying, "kind people will be taken advantage of and nice
horses will be ridden," and this is also being used as a teaching.
Chinese people emphasize predestined relationships and believe that the
relationships between parents and children, teachers and students, and
even classmates and friends are all predestined. The deteriorating
common practices in society and the tension and conflicts among people
are bound to have certain predestined factors. They do not exist by
accident. Some people say that they are [sprouted] seeds from previous
lives and appear by reason of retribution. We do not need to talk about
it this way when teaching kids to control their emotions. We should
urge them to understand and express everything with a kind heart while
not being attached to the end result too much. "Kind thoughts," which
emphasizes positive messages whatever we do, should be promoted in our

"If you are fearsome, I will be even harsher than you." Using violence
to control violence and returning bad with bad is how ordinary people
are. People may even regard these kinds of people as being capable. In
fact, they are living a most tiring life, afraid of losing
self-interest even in their sleep and fighting with others constantly.
Some just live to make their points and commit suicide when they feel
they can't take it anymore. Life in modern society is especially
complicated and people live under great tension. Many people become
depressed. If one remembers in his heart all the unhappy and
unsatisfactory incidents in one's life, he won't be able to live at
all. Right or wrong is measured naturally by law and rationality. If
one does not want to be involved in a deep whirl of emotion and wants
to enjoy a peaceful and harmonious spiritual life, he must develop
tolerance of tribulations. This tolerance is not being weak, but a
manifestation of one's internal strong will. If everyone treats each
other "nicely" and there are no different opinions and conflicts among
people, there will be no opportunity for us to lift our "emotion
control threshold." Then, how can one discover his negative habits and
get rid of them to obtain happiness? The upper part of the Chinese
character for tolerance is a cutting edge of a knife and the lower part
is a heart. Ancient people made this character to teach people to "cut
off various negative human attachments with the sharp knife." Tolerance
is the giving up of negative attachments.

Modern children do not have many opportunities to endure hardship, thus
have relatively low tolerance of frustration. We should teach them to
observe and deal with frustration wisely, and help them develop stable
emotions and face life, which can be 90% unsatisfactory, in a positive
way. This kind of tolerance does not have tears and grievances, but
instead is like an ocean receiving hundreds of rivers. When you act in
such a way, you might lose a bit of self-interest at the moment.
However, after putting down your competitive mentality what you gain
will be higher wisdom and a happy and pleasant life. In fact, what is
hard for people to let go of in a conflict is their ego. If one can
take one's ego lightly, let go of it, and put himself in others' shoes
and consider others first, a healthy and mature human relationship will
be more easily established.

Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance is the standard to measure good
and bad. Of course they have even broader and deeper inner meanings
that need to be realized and applied by us. Doing this will bring
better morality to the society.

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