Buddhism in Plain Terms

Filial Piety: Nurturing Your Field of Blessings

< Buddhism in Plain Terms < 白话佛法共修分享    

🌟 Master Lu once said, “If we wish to have blessings, we must fulfil our filial duties”. 🌟

With May and June being the months we celebrate Father’s and Mother’s Days, let us be reminded that being filial to parents is foremost. In this pack, we will explore:

✅ Why we should cherish our parents regardless what our karmic role is?

✅ Ways to practise filial piety given our parents’ unique circumstances and characteristics.

✅ Is physical presence essential to fulfil our filial duties?

✅ How does repaying parental kindness relate to honouring Buddhas and Bodhisattvas?

Last but not least, let us reflect on this piece of advice from Master Lu:

“As Buddhist practitioners, we should rely on our spiritual cultivation, to help our deceased loved ones to gain liberation, besides helping many others to abandon suffering and gain happiness. This is the essence of filial piety.”


Master Lu’s discourse for Father’s Day


Master Jun Hong Lu: As your Master, “I no longer have a personal family (小家). All of you are like my children, so on Father’s Day, it feels like I miss all of you even more. It really pains me to see some children not striving enough. Conversely, the diligent ones will bring much joy to me. Those who have experienced fatherhood will understand this sentiment: When misfortune befalls your own child, the parents’ hearts will clench in agony, so to speak (心像揪住一样).

I urge all Buddhist friends across the globe to not regress in your cultivation. In fact, you should forge ahead in your practice. Our dharma door is unique in its emphasis on ‘love for the country and its people, and the adherence to the law’ (爱国爱民,遵纪守法). No other dharma doors prioritise this aspect.

Caller: That’s right.

Master Jun Hong Lu: This stands as a primary tenet of Guan Yin Citta. We must strive towards global peace, besides, we must love our homeland, our people, relatives and friends, and cherish all sentient beings in this world. Our commitment manifests in action: We abstain from consuming meat, refrain from killing—that is our expression of love. Our compassion is about assisting all sentient beings whom we cross paths with.

Source: Wenda20160619A 49:00, Master Jun Hong Lu’s call-in radio program


Why should we cherish our parents, regardless of  our karmic roles?


Caller: Master, I notice that people who are particularly filial would receive lots of blessings from Bodhisattvas.

Master Jun Hong Lu: Of course, and it comes with meritorious rewards as well. These days, many people simply lack merit because they are not very filial to their parents.

Caller: Actually, filial piety is a way to accumulate merits for ourselves.

Master Jun Hong Lu: Exactly! Think about it, even if your parents are here to repay their karmic debts to you, but if you do not claim them, don’t you think you are actually accruing merits for yourself? Conversely, if you are karmically indebted to your parents and you choose to repay the karmic dues by giving them all of your blessings, aren’t you in a way repaying your karmic debts? Whatever your karmic position is, both outcomes will work in your favour.

In a nutshell, as long as you are filial to your parents, be it repaying karmic debts or refusing to claim karmic debts from them, you will be blessed!

Source: Wenda20141026A 06:45, Master Jun Hong Lu’s call-in radio program


How can one demonstrate filial piety to their parents in all circumstances?


Master Jun Hong Lu: In this lifetime,

if you have parents who are poor, you must practise filial piety by providing for them financially;

if your parents are old, fragile and sickly, practise filial piety by taking care of them;

if your parents are short-tempered, practise filial piety by understanding them;

if your parents are diligent and thrifty, practise filial piety by helping them;

if your parents are assertive, practise filial piety by going along with them;

for parents who are naggy, practise filial piety by listening to them.

And, for all the support your parents have rendered you, practise filial piety by fulfilling their hope for you.

Source: Master Jun Hong Lu’s Public Talk, New York, USA, 14 October 2018


Do we always need to be by our parents’ side as a demonstration of filial piety? 


Caller: Hi Master, I would like to ask about certain aspects of filial piety towards our parents. Some parents do not practise Buddhism. Hence, as children, what we can do is to offer Little Houses and perform life liberation for our parents but we hardly get in touch with them. Can this be considered as being filial to our parents?

Master Jun Hong Lu: Yes, of course. Take a look at the monastics, they may be physically apart from their parents, but they can pray for blessings and good health for their parents; and bestow strength on them. They can even transfer some of their meritorious blessings to them.

There are many ways to exercise filial piety, you do not necessarily have to be by their side to take care of them. Most parents would want to see their children turn out successful, ambitious and noble.

There you are, by their side doing all the work that can actually be done by the nurses and you consider that an act of filial piety? If you can recite the Buddhist scriptures for them and help relieve them from pain and suffering, it is far better than having you by their side, tending to their needs, like doing massage for them and bringing them towels when they are in excruciating pain. In fact, you can alleviate their pain by reciting Buddhist scriptures and offering Little Houses for them. Which do you think is a better gesture of filial piety?

Source: Wenda20170203 00:51, Master Jun Hong Lu’s call-in radio program


How does parenting sow the seeds for filial piety?


Master Jun Hong Lu: In the past, many parents were very filial to their elders, which rubbed off on their children from a young age. Unsurprisingly, as they grew old, their offspring would follow in their footsteps and would be very filial towards them. This is a clear example of a virtuous reward (善果) that comes at a later stage of one’s life for a wholesome cause (善因) planted in their early years.

Conversely, there are many parents who are not only self-centred, they will not hesitate to scold their elders in front of their children. They are even rude enough to address their elders as “an old fart”, “a useless old fart”. Little do they know, in time to come when they are old and seriously ill, the mistreatment that they will receive from their children will be far worse. In fact, they could even be kicked out of their homes. Clearly, they are responsible for what they sow for not not properly educating their children from little.

Therefore, to educate your children is in a way planting a wholesome cause for yourself. If your child is unfilial towards you, who can you blame but yourself for having planted the evil cause (种下的恶因). Echoing this is the saying, “An unfilial child is the fault of the father” (子不孝,父之过). This means parents are responsible for the unfilial behaviour of their children. That explains why it is important for all Buddhists and spiritual cultivators like us to understand the working of the law of karma.

Source: Master Jun Hong Lu’s Buddhism In Plain Terms (Radio Program), Volume 1 Chapter 25


How does repaying parental kindness relate to honouring Buddhas and Bodhisattvas?


Caller: It is often said in Buddhist scriptures that it is close to impossible to repay the kindness of parents (父母恩是难以回报). Could you kindly enlighten us, Master?

Master Jun Hong Lu: Is it difficult and painful for your father and mother to raise you?

Caller: Yes.

Master Jun Hong Lu: Should you repay the kindness of parents (父母恩)?

Caller: Yes.

Master Jun Hong Lu: Exactly! To repay the kindness of parents is an act of filial piety. This explains why in the past, there were many filial children who were able to ascend to heavens and become heavenly deities. We are indebted to our parents for their kindness of raising us (养育之恩), while towards the Bodhisattvas, we are indebted to Them for the kindness of educating and guiding us. Whatever the case may be, we should be grateful.

It’s challenging to repay the kindness of parents, but as Buddhist disciples, the term ‘parents’ extends beyond those who gave birth to and raised us. In fact, anyone who guides us is considered a parent. Why is it that we regard Guan Yin Bodhisattva as a mother? Because Guan Yin Bodhisattva nurtures us, right? Why do we regard the Buddha as our father? This is because He teaches us to abandon suffering and attain happiness, guiding us to be virtuous individuals? Do you understand now?

Therefore, we must be eternally grateful for the kindness of our parents (对父母亲的恩德要感恩巨大). For our sake, they make great sacrifices and even shoulder our karmic burdens. Given our hefty karmic obstacles, we should repent, make offerings to the Triple Gems, uphold the precepts, practise generosity, and engage in Buddhist cultivation; all these are ways to repay the kindness of our parents.

Consider this, when you become a good person, don’t you think your parents will accumulate more merits?

As a matter of fact, it’s not just your biological parents who gave birth to and raised you; even I, your Master, am considered your parent, right? Therefore, the concept of ‘having gratitude for the four kindness’ (上报四重恩). Many Bodhisattvas exemplify great filial piety; the filial devotion of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva is particularly well-known. Hence, we must fulfil our filial duties not only to our biological parents but also to our ‘parents’ from above that is, the Bodhisattvas in heaven. Do you understand?

Caller: Yes.

Source: Wenda20180511 20:01, Master Jun Hong Lu’s call-in radio program


< A Father’s Lesson, A Son’s Gratitude >



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