Di Zi Gui 弟子規
Chapter 1 – At Home, Be Dutiful to My Parents
Chapter 2 – Standards for a Younger Brother When Away from Home
Chapter 3 – Be Cautious in My Daily Life
Chapter 4 – Be Trustworthy
Chapter 5 – Love All Equally
Chapter 6 – Be Close to and Learn from People of Virtue and Compassion
Chapter 7 – After All the Above are Accomplished, I Should Study Further
Read more on Dizigui from the website of Venerable Reverend Chin Kung
Read more about Dizigui on wikipedia
The Chinese culture has been deeply influenced by Confucius, a great Chinese teacher and educator. His influence extends throughout the world even today. Confucius believed that moral principles, virtues and discipline should be the very first lessons taught to a child, and that children need to practice them daily.
Unlike modern-day parents who disapprove of physical punishment, ancient Chinese parents actually encouraged and thanked the teacher when their children were punished for misbehaving. It was most important to the ancient Chinese parents that their children learned moral principles and virtues first – before any other subjects, because without these as a foundation, the learning of all other subjects would be futile. In ancient China, the purpose of going to school and studying was to prepare for becoming saints and sages, not to pave the way for fame or making a profit.
Di Zi Gui 《弟子規》 is the ultimate guide to a happy life. For thousand of years, this book contained the recommended standards for students. Even though they seem stringent by today’s standards, it is apparent that the people of that time felt it was important that the child should be well-disciplined and taught moral principles and virtues when still very young. They felt that without strict discipline and moral standards, a child would amount to nothing. Not knowing what it meant to be dutiful to parents and respectful to teachers, a child would grow up not listening to or respecting anyone.
Ironically today, many parents listen to the child instead of the other way around. Additionally, teachers are afraid to teach and discipline children because they are fearful of violating the children’s legal rights and being sued by the parents.
Currently, we live in a tumultuous world where the relationships among people, between people and their environment, parents and children, husbands and wives, and employers and employees are disintegrating. Parents do not act like parents. Children do not act like children. Our minds are polluted and our family system is disintegrating, as evidenced by an ever-increasing divorce rate. Soon the planet Earth will no longer be fit for us to live on. We are fearful for our futures and the futures of our children.
In reintroducing this book, we hope it will serve as reference material and provide guidance for parents and children. Thus, future generations will benefit from it and society and our world will be at peace.
All the footnotes have been added by our translators to help readers more easily understand the text. Chinese characters have extensive and profound meanings. If readers feel we have not yet fully explained the text, we take this opportunity to apologize in advance.
It is also important to note that these standards were used in ancient China, at a time when society was centered on the male and only the male child was allowed to enter school. Therefore, all the pronouns used in the translation are of the male gender. For today’s society, the standards apply equally to all children, male and female.
Cartoon song on Dizigui
Di Zi Gui (弟子規)
At Home, Be Dutiful to My Parents
When my parents call me, I will answer them right away. When they ask me to do something, I will do it quickly.
When my parents instruct me, I will listen respectfully. When my parents reproach me, I will obey and accept their scolding. I will try hard to change and improve myself, to start anew.
In the winter, I will keep my parents warm; in the summer, I will keep my parents cool. I will always greet my parents in the morning to show them that I care. At night I will always make sure my parents rest well.
Before going out, I must tell my parents where I am going, for parents are always concerned about their children. After returning home, I must go and see my parents to let them know I am back, so they do not worry about me. I will maintain a permanent place to stay and lead a routine life. I will persist in whatever I do and will not change my aspirations at will.
A matter might be trivial, but if it is wrong to do it or unfair to another person, I must not do it thinking it will bear little or no consequence.(1) If I do, I am not being a dutiful child because my parents would not want to see me doing things that are irrational or illegal.
Even though a object might be small, I will not keep it a secret from my parents. If I do, I will hurt my parents’ feelings.(2)
If whatever pleases my parents is fair and reasonable, I will try my best to attain it for them.(3) If something displeases my parents, if within reason(4) I will cautiously keep it away from them.
When my body is hurt, my parents will be worried. If my virtues(5) are compromised, my parents will feel ashamed.
When I have loving parents, it is not difficult to be dutiful to them. But if I can be dutiful to parents who hate me, only then will I meet the standards of the saints and sages for being a dutiful child.
When my parents do wrong, I will urge them to change. I will do it with a kind facial expression and a warm gentle voice.
If they do not accept my advice, I will wait until they are in a happier mood before I attempt to dissuade them again, followed by crying, if necessary, to make them understand. If they end up whipping me(6) I will not hold a grudge against them.
When my parents are ill, I will taste the medicine first before giving it to them.(7) I will take care of them night and day and stay by their bedside.
During the first three years of mourning after my parents have passed away, I will remember them with gratitude and feel sad often for not being able to repay them for their kindness in raising me. During this period I will arrange my home to reflect my grief and sorrow. I will also avoid festivities and indulgence in food and alcoholic drinks.
I will observe proper etiquette(8) in arranging my parents’ funerals. I will hold the memorial ceremony and commemorate my parents’ anniversaries with utmost sincerity. I will serve my departed parents as if they were still alive.(9)
(1) For example, in Buddhism, it is considered breaking the precept of not stealing if I borrow a piece of paper or take someone’s pen without permission. It is considered breaking the precept of not killing if I kill an ant or mosquito. If I lie or talk about someone behind his or her back, I have broken the precept of not lying, etc.
(2) Parents will be saddened by the actions of a child who behaves secretively. If he/she behaves in such a way when lie/she is still young, then lie/she will probably twist the law, obtain bribes, and be a curse to his/her country and his/her people when he/she grows up.
(3) If what pleases my parents is illegitimate or unreasonable, I should tactfully dissuade my parents, and tell them the reasons that they should not have it.
(4) I should lead my parents to proper views and understanding of things.
(5) Virtues are standards and principles of one’s conduct. In China a man’s conduct is ruled by “Wu Chang” and “Ba De”. Wu Chang are the five moral principles: kindheartedness, duties and obligations, proper etiquette , wisdom, and trustworthiness . Ba De are the eight virtues: duty to parents, respect for elders, loyalty, credibility, proper etiquette, duties and obligations, a sense of honor, and a sense of shame.
(6) In ancient China, when a child did not obey the parents, the parents were allowed to discipline the child. If a child refused to be disciplined, the parents had the right to ask the authorities to have the child executed.
(7) Chinese people take herbal medicine prescribed by Chinese doctors. Herbs are boiled with water to make a liquid medicine. Before giving such medicine to one’s parents, a child should first taste it to ensure itis not too hot or too bitter.
(8) In ancient China, funeral etiquette was laid down by the emperor.
(9) When my parents are alive, I should treat them with love and respect. When they pass away, I should arrange their funerals with deepest sorrow. For all the subsequent commemorations and anniversaries held, I should show love and respect as if they were still alive.
Di Zi Gui (弟子規)
Standards for a Younger Brother
When Away from Home(10)
If I am the older sibling, I will befriend the younger ones. If I am the younger sibling, I will respect and love the older ones. Only when I can maintain harmonious relationships with my siblings am I being dutiful to my parents.(11)
When I value my familial ties more than property and belongings, no resentment will come between me and my siblings. When I am careful with words and hold back hurtful comments, my feelings of anger naturally die out.
Whether I am drinking, eating, walking, or sitting, I will let the elders go first; the younger ones should follow.
When an elder is asking for someone, I will get that person for him right away. If I cannot find that person, I will immediately report back, and put myself at the elder’s service instead.
When I address an elder, I should not call him by his given name(12). This is in accord with ancient Chinese etiquette. In front of an elder, I will never show off.
If I meet an elder I know on the street, I will promptly clasp my hands and greet him with a bow. If he does not speak to me, I will step back and respectfully stand aside.
Should I be riding a horse(13) and spot an elder I know walking, I will dismount and pay respect to the elder. If I am riding in a carriage(14), I will stop, get out of the carriage, and ask if I can give the elder a ride. If I meet an elder passing by. I will stand aside and wait respectfully. I will not leave until the elder disappears from my sight.
When an elder is standing, I will not sit. After an elder sits down, I sit only when I am told to do so.
Before an elder, I will speak softly. But if my voice is too low and hard to hear, it is not appropriate.
When meeting an elder, I will walk briskly towards him; when leaving, I will not exit in haste. When answering a question, I will look at the person who is asking me the question.
I will serve my uncles as if I am serving my parents. I will treat my cousins as if they are my own siblings.
(10) These standards also apply when the younger brother is at home.
(11) Parents are happy when their children get along with each other. This is one way children can show they are dutiful to their parents.
(12) In ancient China, a male person had at least two names. The first name was the “given name”, which was given to him by his parents when he was born. A second name was given to him by his friends when he reached the age of 20, at a “Ceremony of the Hat” given in his honor to announce his coming-of age. After that only his parents called him by his “given name”. Out of respect, everyone else, including the emperor could only call him by his second name. The only exception was if he committed a crime. During sentencing, he would be called his “given name”.
(13) In ancient China, most people used horses as their means of transportation.
(14) See footnote 13
Di Zi Gui (弟子規)
Be Cautious in My Daily Life
I will get up each morning before my parents; at night, I will go to bed only after my parents have gone to sleep. When I realize that time is passing me by and cannot be turned back, and that I am getting older year by year, I will especially treasure the present moment.(15)
When I get up in the morning, I will wash my face and brush my teeth. After using the toilet, I will always wash my hands.
I must wear my hat straight,(16) and make sure the hooks(17) of my clothes are tied. My socks and shoes should also be worn neatly and correctly.
I will always place my hat and clothes away in their proper places. I will not carelessly throw my clothes around, for that will get them dirty.
It is more important that my clothes are clean, rather than how extravagant they are. I will wear only what is suitable for my station. At home, I will wear clothes according to my family traditions and customs.
When it comes to eating and drinking, I will not pick and choose my food. I will only eat the right amount; I will not over-eat.
I am still young, I must not drink alcohol. When I am drunk, my behavior will turn ugly.
I will always walk composed, with light and even steps. I will always stand up straight and tall. My bows will always be deep, with hands held in front and arms rounded. I will always pay my respect with reverence.(18)
1 will not step on doorsills or stand leaning on one leg. I will not sit with my legs apart or sprawled out. I will not rock the lower part of my body while standing or sitting down.
I will always lift the curtain slowly,(19) and quietly. I must leave myself ample space when I turn so I will not bump into a corner.
I will hold empty containers carefully as if they were full.(20) I will enter empty rooms as if they were occupied.(21)
I will avoid doing things in a hurry, as doing things in haste will lead to many mistakes. I should not be afraid of difficult tasks, and I will not become careless when a job is too easy.
I will keep away from rowdy places. I will not ask about things that are abnormal or unusual.
When I am about to enter a main entrance, I must first ask if someone is inside. Before entering a room, I must first make myself heard, so that those inside know someone is approaching.
If someone asks who I am, I must give my name. To answer `It is me’ or `Me’ is not sufficient.
Before borrowing things from others, I must ask for permission. If I do not ask, it is stealing.
When borrowing things from others, I will return them promptly. Later, if I have an urgent need, I will not have a problem borrowing from them again.
(15) There is an old Chinese proverb: “A unit of time is as precious as a unit of gold, but you cannot buy back one unit of time with one unit of gold.” It means that time is really very precious, as no amount of money can buy time.
(16) Guan means hat. In ancient China, when a male wore a hat, it meant he had attained the age of an adult.
(17) In ancient China, in place of buttons, people used hooks. When dressed, hooks had to be tied.
(18) Bai means paying respect. In ancient China, people paid their respect to others by bowing, holding one hand over the other which is closed, or prostrating themselves on the ground.
(19) In ancient China, curtains were made of bamboo strips woven together. They were used to shelter a room from view.
(20) Even if a container is empty, out of reverence to things whether living or not, one should treat it with respect and handle it with care.
(21) In ancient China, a virtuous man always behaved properly, regardless of whether he was alone or with others.
Di Zi Gui (弟子規)
When I speak, honesty is important. Deceitful words and lies must not be tolerated.
Rather than talking too much, it is better to speak less. I will speak only the truth, I will not twist the facts.
Cunning words, foul language, and philistine habits must be avoided at all costs.
What I have not seen with my own eyes, I will not readily tell to others. What I do not know for sure, I will not easily pass on to others.
If I am asked to do something that is inappropriate or bad, I must not agree to it. If I do, I will be doubly wrong.
I must speak clearly and to the point. I must not talk too fast or mumble.
Some like to talk about the good points of others, while some like to talk about the faults of others. If it is none of my business, I will not get involved.
When I see others do good deeds, I must think about following their example. Even though’ my own achievements are still far behind those of others, I am getting closer.
When I see others do wrong, I must immediately reflect upon myself. If I have made the same mistake, I will correct it. If not, I will take extra care to not make the same mistake.
When my morals, conduct, knowledge, and skills seem not as good as those of others, I will encourage myself to be better.
If the clothes I wear, and the food I eat and drink are not as good as that of others, I should not be concerned.
If criticism makes me angry and compliments make me happy, bad company will come my way and good friends will shy away.
If I am uneasy about compliments and appreciative of criticism, then sincere, understanding, and virtuous people will gradually come close to me.
If any mistake I make is inadvertent, it is merely a mistake. If it is done on purpose, however, it is an evil act.
If I correct my mistake and do not repeat it, I no longer own the mistake. If I try to cover it up, I will be doubly wrong.
Di Zi Gui (弟子規)
Love All Equally
Human beings, regardless of nationality, race, or religion – everyone – should be loved equally. We are all sheltered by the same sky and we all live on the same planet Earth.
A person of high ideals and morals is highly respected. What people value is not based on outside appearance.
A person’s outstanding abilities will naturally endow him with a good reputation. Admiration from others does not come from boasting or praising oneself.
If I am a very capable person, I should use my capabilities for the benefit of others. Other people’s competence should never be slandered.
I will not flatter the rich, or despise the poor. I will not ignore old friends, only taking delight in new ones.
When a person is busy, I will not bother him with matters. When a person’s mind is not at ease, I will not bother him with words.
If a person has a shortcoming, I will not expose it. If a person has a secret, I will not tell others.
When people are being praised and approved of, they will be encouraged to try even harder.
Spreading rumors about the wrongdoings of others is a wrongdoing in itself. When the harm done has reached the extreme, misfortunes will surely follow.
. When I encourage another to do good, both of our virtues are built up. If I do not tell another of his faults, we are both wrong.
Whether I take or give, I need to know the difference between the two. It is better to give more and take less.
What I ask others to do, I must first ask myself if I would be willing to do. If it is not something I would be willing to do, I will not ask others to do it.
I must repay the kindness of others and let go of my resentments. I will spend less time holding grudges and more time paying back the kindness of others.
When I am directing maids and servants, I will act honorably and properly. I will also treat them kindly and generously.
If I use my influence to make them submissive, their hearts will not be with me. If I can convince` them with sound reasoning, they will have nothing to object to.
Di Zi Gui (弟子規)
Be Close to and Learn from People of Virtue and Compassion
We are all human, but we are not the same. Most of us are ordinary; only a very few have great virtues and high moral principles.
A truly virtuous person is greatly respected by others. He will not be afraid to speak the truth and he will not fawn on others.
If I can be close to and learn from people of great virtue and compassion, I will benefit immensely. My virtues will grow daily and my wrongdoings will lessen day by day.
If I choose not to be close to and learn from people of great virtue, I will suffer a great loss. People without virtue will get close to me and nothing I attempt will succeed.
Di Zi Gui (弟子規)
After All the Above are Accomplished,
I Should Study Further and Learn Literature
and Art to Improve My Cultural and Spiritual Life
If I do not actively practice what I have learned, but continue to study on the surface, even though my knowledge is increasing, it is only superficial. What kind of person will I be?
If I do apply my knowledge diligently, but stop studying, I will only do things based on my own opinion, thinking it is correct. In fact, what I know is not the truth.
There are methods to study correctly. They involve concentration in three areas: my mind, my eyes, and my mouth. To believe in what I read is equally important.
When I begin to read a book, I will not think about another. If I have not completed the book, I will not start another.
I will give myself lots of time to study, and I will study hard. If I devote enough time and effort,(22) I will thoroughly understand.
If I have a question, I will make a note of it. I will ask the person who has the knowledge for the right answer.
I will keep my room neat, my walls uncluttered and clean, my desk tidy and my brush(23) and inkstone(24) properly placed.
If my ink block(25) is ground unevenly, it shows I have a poor state of mind. When words are written carelessly, showing no respect, this shows my state of mind has not been well.
My books(26) should be classified, placed on the bookshelves, and in their proper places. After I finish reading a book, I will put it back where it belongs.
Even if I am in a hurry, I still must neatly roll up and bind the open bamboo scroll(27) I have been reading. All missing or damaged pages ought to be immediately repaired.
If it is not a book on the teachings of the saints and sages, it should be discarded and not even looked at. Such books can block my intelligence and wisdom, and will undermine my aspirations and sense of direction.
Neither be harsh on myself, nor give up on myself. To be a person of high ideals, moral standards and virtue is something we can all attain in time.
(22) If I do not understand part of a book I am reading, I should read it again t and again, even if for a thousand times. Its meaning will come to me in time.
(23) “Brush” here means Chinese writing brush.
(24) “Inkstone” is a stone stand used for preparing the ink used in Chinese brush calligraphy.
(25) “Ink block” is a solid ink piece. A person grinds it with water against the inkstone to make ink for writing Chinese brush calligraphy.
(26) Here the term “books” refers to books on laws, constitutions, and the organizational systems of a nation.
(27) “Scroll”, or “Juan” means a bamboo scroll. It is an ancient book, in the form of a scroll made of bamboo slips with knife-carved or painted Chinese characters. Such books were used before paper was invented.
《说说唱唱》《弟子规》 弟子规 – 歌曲 (泓睿曲 罗豪+艳妮演绎)
Cartoon and song version of dizigui