We can read in an ancient book as follows: ``In thousands of Buddhist books of prayers, filial piety is always taught first. Now that we have taken refuge in Buddhism, and practice it at home, let us do our best to obey our Master in observing filial piety.
Our Buddha of Tay An used to advise us that to keep filial piety, there are Four Debts of Gratitude we must strive to comply with:
Be thankful to our ancestors and parents.
Be thankful to our country.
Be thankful to the Three Treasures: Buddha, Buddhic Law; Sangha (priesthood.)
Be thankful to our fellow countrymen and to mankind (for the priests, be thankful to the donators.)
BE THANKFUL TO OUR ANCESTORS AND PARENTS
We were born with a body to be active from our childhood to manhood with a given wisdom and knowledge. Do we know how much our parents have suffered during all those years? Our ancestors gave birth to our parents, therefore, we must be grateful to our ancestors as we are towards our parents.
To show our gratitude to our parents, we must obey the right lessons they teach us and must not annoy them. If our parents did anything wrong or acted against moral laws, we should do our best to advise and prevent them from doing so. We should also support them, keep them from hunger and sickness, we should bring accord among brothers and sisters and happiness to our family so as to please our parents. Pray for our parents to enjoy happiness and longevity. When they die, pray for their souls to be freed from sufferings in the Buddhic Kingdom.
To show our gratitude towards our ancestors, let us not do anything wicked or shameful to our familys name. And if our ancestors had done anything wrong, and left a legacy of sufferings to their descendants, we should dedicate ourselves to act in compliance with the moral principles to restore our ancestors honor.
BE THANKFUL TO OUR COUNTRY
We were born thanks to our ancestors and our parents, but we owe our living to our native land. While enjoying our land, and its produce, we feel it is our duty to defend our country, if we want our life to be happy and our race to survive. Let us contribute to the safeguarding of our fatherland and to make it strong and prosperous. Let us try to liberate it from foreign dominations. We are safe only when our country is strong and wealthy
Let us try our best and dedicate ourselves to our country according to our ability and strength. In case we have no talent to assume important responsibilities or no opportunity to help our country, let us try to avoid doing wrong things that may hurt it and we should never help the enemy in harming our native land.
That is how we show our gratitude towards our country.
BE THANKFUL TO THE THREE TREASURES
What are the Three Treasures? They are: Buddha, The Buddhic Teachings of Buddhism and the Priesthood.
Man is born and brought up thanks to its ancestors and parents and he owes his existence to his country; that is the physical aspect of life. In the spiritual field, man needs the help of Buddha, the Teachings of Buddhism and the Priests to open his mind. Buddha is the most flawless and most perfect creature who is infinitely altruistic and determined to save living creatures from misfortune and sufferings. That is why He bequeathed His Teachings to the Priests as to disseminate them through the world. The Priests are none but Buddhas great disciples. As Buddha always guides and saves human beings from bewilderment and suffering, we must respect Him, we must believe and have confidence in His world-salvation work and comply with His Teachings conveyed to us by the Priests. Our ancestors had known the miracle, the deep love of Buddha towards human beings. They respected and venerated Buddha, acted in compliance with His Teachings and have cultivated and strengthened our religion so as to expand it, thus building a castle of peerless and unparalleled virtue bequeathed to posterity.
It is therefore our duty to follow our ancestors highest virtues, to have a clear mind so as to reach the path of deliverance and help those who fall into misfortune. We must especially continue to cultivate and spread Compassion and Fraternity everywhere among human beings. Only then would we not be ungrateful to the magnificent work left by Buddha and our ancestors and not be guilty towards future generations.
BE THANKFUL TO OUR FELLOW COUNTRYMEN AND MANKIND
Ever since our birth, we find ourselves depending on people around us, and as we grow up, our dependency on them grows. We need their grains to live on, their clothes to keep ourselves warm and their houses as shelters against weather adversities. We enjoy happiness and share misfortune with them.
They and we are of the same culture and tradition, history, and language. Together we form a Nation. Who are they then? They are what we call our fellow countrymen. Our fellow-countrymen and we are of the same root, have the same illustrious and heroic history, help each other in distress, have the same task of building of bright future for our country. Our fellow-countrymen and we have a close relationship, we are indivisible, undetachable and never would we be there without our fellow-countrymen or vice-versa. We must therefore do our best to help them as to show them in some way our gratitude for the assistance we have received from them.
Besides our fellow-countrymen, there are other peoples in the world, those who are working hard to supply us with necessities. They are the human race, those who live with us on this earth. What would become of us if there were no mankind? Would we have enough materials for our needs? Would we be able to be self-sufficient? In brief, would we be able to face, by ourselves, natures inclemencies, illnesses, dangers, and keep up our present living? Definitely not. Our people, therefore, need mankind, i.e. other people, and we must be grateful to them. Let us think of them as we do of ourselves and of our own compatriots.
Moreover, Buddhas mercy and compassion are very wide and deep: they are boundless, without discrimination of race, of social status and are bestowed upon all living creatures.
There is, therefore, no valid reason for us to do harm to other people only for our own sake or that of our fellow-countrymen. On the contrary, we should have a spirit of concord, of indulgence towards them and we should make it our duty to help them in case of distress.
For the priests who have taken refuge in Buddhism, they should, in addition to their gratitude as stated above, be directly thankful to donators who supply them with daily needs. They depend on them for their rice, clothes and medicine necessary for their existence. In brief, they are entirely dependent on the kindness of people for their life. They are deeply indebted to everyone. They should, therefore, guide mankind in the search for Truth in order to show their gratitude to the favors received.