Confucius taught that people should nurture the Five Virtues: Humaneness, Principle, Etiquette, Knowledge and Trustworthiness. We should take a closer look at them and compare them against the Buddhist teachings.
- Humaneness: Dwell at quiet places. One is at ease and unruffled, having a non-fighting attitude, embraces others and treats them with equanimity. This is exactly the Bodhisattva spirit in Mahayana: inside, one’s mind is at peace and pure; outside, one is non-discriminating and works to save all living beings. Therefore, one works hard at developing one’s samadhi, non-discrimination and compassion.
- Principle: At all times, be in accord with the rules and regulations of nature and the laws of the country. One’s resolve is unflagging, one’s nature is unchanging and one’s mind is undaunted. The ancients valued loyalty and slighted those who sacrificed the principles for survival, let alone for small gains. The Buddhists who understand these principles tend to be grateful and strive to repay others’ kindness.
- Etiquette: This includes all that elucidates the rules and regulations, thereby creating respect and regard, maintaining order and according with the true and ever-lasting principles. Those who lack etiquette should not be befriended, drawn near to, or frequented lest one will regret such relationships in the future. In Buddhism, the principle is equivalent to the Vinaya, the teaching of the moral precepts and rules of comportment. Those who understand the Vinaya will always be humble and respectful of others.
- Knowledge: There is nothing that one does not understand just like there is nothing that water cannot penetrate. Therefore one needs to vigorously study and do sufficient research. The young and old alike must continually learn in order to develop their true wisdom. Buddhist practitioners emphasize both study and practice in order to unfold their inherent wisdom. Ultimately, when they become a Buddha, they will realize the Buddha’s All Wisdom which enables them to understand all phenomena in the worlds throughout time.
- Trustworthiness: This means to be unshakable, just like the earth’s cycle of the four seasons which generates the natural birth and destruction of all plants and trees. One should keep one’s word or else one will have a hard time keeping business partners and customers or keeping loved ones or friends. This is truly the spirit of the Buddhist Precept of Non-lying. Those who lie cannot succeed in Buddhist cultivation.