[Buddha-l] Re: Men and women of good family

Vicente Gonzalez vicen.bcn at gmail.com
Tue Feb 20 16:34:10 MST 2007

thanks for the helpful commentaries.

Interest comes from the emphasis of this idea in Chinese Mahayana.
I'm reading this paper "Filial Piety in Early Buddhism" by Guang Xing

here there is a cite of Nakamura putting distances between the
Chinese filial piety notion and the filial debts of early Indian

"Buddhists were forced to teach filial piety to the common people in
China just because the most important virtue in Confucianism was
filial piety, which demanded a one-sided obedience from children, the
younger people, to their parents, the venerated elders. This idea,
however, did not exist in Indian Buddhism, as can be seen in the
original Sanskrit texts where there is no such term corresponding to
the idea of hsiao, filial piety, found frequently in Chinese
translations of sutras. The translators must have added this term."
It is in the same line of your comments here.

Guang Xin continues seeking coincidences inside Pali, and clarifying
Nakamura about the difference between the Buddhist and Confucianist
filial piety. However, it seems he forget some key works in this
matter, like the Mouzi Lihuolun. Here those ancient Chinese Buddhists
reinforced that previous Indian notion in order to be accepted by the
Han society and rulers.

Still I'm reading more in this topic and I'm quite ignorant about the
reach of filial piety inside Chinese thought. It seems these debts
also existed as a part of a long structure of social obedience; a
chain of debts which end up in the ruler. In this sense, it become not
strange when seeing Buddhism under protection and obedience of rulers
in the History of Buddhist countries.

When there is a problem in that schema, at least in the social Chinese
order existed the Heaven's law notion, also useful to legitimate the
authority of a ruler. When the country become a chaos, then it can
means the end of filial piety to the ruler. And here we find a way to
clean the problems of society and politics.

There is a similar counterpart of Chinese Heaven's Law regarding
family and parents in the Chinese thought?.

At the other side, in the West this idea of an strong filial piety
appears many times in popular books of Buddhist practice.
I'm not sure until where these books are reflecting the Buddha
teaching or just they want to reflect those behaviors of ancient
Matter is when many times it sound contradictory. Maybe because
inside the Western thought there is an implicit legitimacy to be
rebellious against parents or the government. Many times, rebellions
are perceived as something healthy in the development of individuals
and societies, be in psychological, political or social terms.

A concrete case of the problems of this notion of Buddhist filial
piety, is when today many children are killed, sold or abused by their
own parents. In such conditions, explaining such debts of filial piety
in that ancient style can sound really bizarre when not
counterproductive for the mental health of these victims.

How Buddhist morality had solved these problems in the History?.
There any episode of the end of filial piety in Indian Buddhism?

many thanks for the help,

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