“The Three Character Classic” – Unit 13

Zheng Jian Editing Group for Chinese Culture Teaching Materials

PureInsight | July 5, 2011


Unit 13


父(fù) 子(zǐ) 恩(ēn),夫(fū) 婦(fù) 從(cóng),
兄(xiōng) 則(zé) 友(yǒu),弟(dì) 則(zé) 恭(gōng),
長(zhǎng) 幼(yòu) 序(xù),友(yǒu) 與(yǔ) 朋(péng),
君(jūn) 則(zé) 敬(jìng),臣(chén) 則(zé) 忠(zhōng),
此(cǐ) 十(shí) 義(yì),人(rén) 所(suǒ) 同(tóng)。


(1) 恩(ēn):gratitude
(2) 從(cóng):submission
(3) 則(zé):should, ought to
(4) 恭(gōng):pay respect to
(5) 長(zhǎng):an elder, a senior, one of the senior generation
(6) 幼(yòu):a junior, one of the junior generation
(7) 序(xù):sequence, order
(8) 友(yǒu):a friend
(9) 朋(péng):one who shares interests with
(10) 敬(jìng):respect
(11) 忠(zhōng):loyalty
(12) 義(yì):righteousness principle

Test Explanation

There should be love and gratitude between father and son, submission and harmony between husband and wife. As to siblings, the elder should be friendly to the younger, and the younger should pay respect to the elder. There should be precedence between the elder and the younger, honesty and support between friends, respect from the sovereign, and loyalty from the subject. These are ten righteous principles which we all should put into practice.

Discussion Questions

1. Do you have brothers and sisters? How do you get along with each other? Please share your experience.
2. Sincerity is most important for friendship. When you are sincere to others, what feedback will you get?
3. In ancient times, people sought to be loyal to the emperor. In a democratic society, citizens should be loyal to their country. What can you do to be a loyal citizen?


Brotherly Love

In the Han Dynasty, there was a man called Zhao Xiao. He and his younger brother, Zhao Li were very loyal and congenial towards each other. One year, there was a famine. A group of thieves occupied Mt. Yi Qiu. One day, a thief kidnapped Zhao Li and wanted to eat him. Zhao Xiao ran to the thieves’ hideout and said to them, “Zhao Li is sick, thin and small, and not delicious. I am fat, and willing to take his place to be eaten.” Zhao Li did not agree with his brother, saying, “I was caught by them, it is my destiny, it has nothing to do with you!” Both brothers were hugging each other and in tears. Feeling touched, the thieves set them free. Later the emperor acknowledged their noble acts and made them both government officials.

Liu Bei’s Three Visits to Zhuge Liang

During the Period of the Three Kingdoms, Liu Bei solicited talents from near and far to bring back the glory of the Han Dynasty. When he heard that Zhuge Liang was skilled in military tactics, and possessed great wisdom and intelligence, he went to Nanyang with Guan Yu and Zhang Fei to ask Zhuge Liang for help. During the same time they went to Nanyang, Zhuge Liang happened to be far away from home. They had no choice but to go back home with disappointment.

Not long after, Liu Bei heard that Zhuge Liang had returned to Nanyang. Excited about this news, he again went to visit Zhuge Liang with Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, this time it was snowing heavily. When they arrived at Zhuge’s gate, the servant told them “The master went out yesterday.” Upset about not meeting Zhuge twice, Zhang Fei and Guan Yu became impatient. However, Liu Bei refused to be discouraged.

A few days later, they paid a third visit to Zhuge Liang. The servant told them, “The master is sleeping.” Guan Yu and Zhang Fei wanted to awaken him immediately, but Liu Bei stopped them and waited outside Zhuge Liang’s residence calmly. It was the coldest time of year, after the winter solstice. It was snowing with bone chilling winds; it was freezing cold outdoors. Guan Yu and Zhang Fei could hardly bear the cold any longer, but Liu Bei waited in silence. After Zhuge Liang woke up and heard that Liu Bei and his brothers had been waiting outside for a very long time, he felt deeply touched. He asked them to enter his residence immediately, and started to discuss the nation’s affairs with them.

Liu Bei appreciated Zhuge Liang’s insightful opinions very much. And Zhuge Liang, touched by Liu Bei’s sincerity, also felt grateful for being recognized and agreed to help Liu Bei with his great undertaking. Even after Liu Bei passed away, he still assisted Liu’s son with all his heart. Eventually he died from overwork and fulfilled his promise, “I will do my best until my heart stops beating.”

Writing Reflection

1. If you were the older brother, Zhao Xiao, what would you do facing such a dangerous situation?
2. Both brothers were not selfish, but instead, were very considerate of each other. Do you also think of your brothers and sisters first?
3. The story of “Liu Bei’s Three Visits to Zhuge Liang” is widely known to Chinese people. Why do you think Zhuge Liang accepted Liu Bei’s request? What do you think about Zhuge Liang’s loyalty to the Kingdom Shu?

Simplified Chinese: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2007/3/12/42589.html


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