Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Aug 05th
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Home Our Founder Master's Teachings Miscellaneous The Price of Pursuing Illusions

The Price of Pursuing Illusions

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Just look around you: How many people in this world are suffering as badly as the denizens of hell and the Realm of Hungry Ghosts? They are helpless in the face of an unavoidable fate.

And yet even people who do not experience such sufferings choose to inflict pain on themselves by tattooing and piercing their bodies or dyeing their hair. By doing those things, they are trying to attract attention from others. This is a form of vanity, and it can even be a kind of psychological disorder.

All these are illusory things that boil down to an unwholesome mindset. Some young people tattoo their whole bodies in order to win praise for their courage. But instead, people find them frightening and shy away from them. They get the opposite of what they long for and just become lonely in the end.

Some women put in a lot of effort to beautify themselves. They cheerfully spend hundreds of dollars on a single jar of facial cream, all for the purpose of retaining their youthfulness. But can one remain youthful all the time? There are also people who spend money to whiten their skin or undergo cosmetic surgery, but can they become truly beautiful in this way? In fact, it is nothing but vanity.

Confucius said that true filial piety begins with taking good care of yourself and protecting your body from injury. When Zeng Zi (a student of Confucius) was gravely ill in his old age, he was still concerned about whether he had been a good son and observed filial piety. He asked his disciples to examine his body to see if it was free of injuries. Only when they told him that his body was whole and intact did he have peace of mind.

That was how the great saints observed filial piety — by taking good care of themselves. Our bodies are given to us by our parents. If we can take good care of ourselves and thus keep our parents from worrying about us, then we are repaying them for what they have done for us. Moreover, we should take our filial piety one step further and try to honor our parents by doing good deeds.

Take for example Wang Zhi-hong, vice superintendent of the Hualien Tzu Chi Medical Center. His parents live in southern Taiwan, but he himself stays all year round in Hualien, eastern Taiwan, treating patients. Although he cannot spend a lot of time with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wang have no complaints. Instead, they are quite contented. “Our fellow villagers envy us,” they said. “They tell us we are blessed because our son is such a good doctor.”

Parents do not ask a lot from their children. So long as you can look after yourself, refrain from doing wrong, and try your best to contribute to society, you are repaying your debts to your parents, and your parents will be content and happy. If you can do your duty and try your best to benefit the world, you will naturally win admiration and praise from others even though you never brag about your accomplishments.


" There is no need to learn many teachings. If we can put one simple verse into practice, we can awaken our true nature of goodness. "
Jing-Si Aphorism