Respect (Zun Jing)
Respect is the foundation of your relationship with your parents, teachers, your fellow students,other martial artists, and all other people in society. Respect makes a harmonious relationship possible. However, the most important type of respect is self-respect. If you can’t respect yourself, how can you respect others or expect them to respect you? Respect must be earned, you cannot request or demand it.
In China, it is said: “Those who respect themselves and others will also be respected.” For example,if you despise yourself and become a villain in this society, then you have lost your self-respect. Since you have abused your personality and humility as a human, why should other people respect you? Only when you have demonstrated that you are deserving of respect will respect come to you automatically and naturally.
I remember my grandmother told me a story. A long time ago a girl named Li-Li got married, and went to live withher husband and mother-in-law. In a very short time Li-Li found that she couldn’t get along with her mother-in-law at all. Their personalities were very different, and Li-Li was infuriated by many of her mother-in-law’s habits, the worst of which was constant criticism.
Days passed days, weeks passed weeks, but Li-Li and her mother-in-law never stopped arguing and fighting.Whatmadethe situation even worse was that, according to ancient Chinese tradition, Li-Li had to bow to her mother-in-law and obey her every wish. All the anger and unhappiness in the house caused everyone great distress.
Finally, Li-Li could not stand her mother-in-law’s bad temper and dictatorship any longer, so shedecided to do something about it. Li-Li went to see her father’s good friend Mr. Huang, who sold herbs. She told him the problem, and asked if he would give some poison so that she would solve the problem once and for all.
Mr. Huang thought for a while, and finally he said, “Li-Li, I will help you to solve your problem, but you must listen to me and obey what I tell you.” Li-Li said, “Yes, Mr. Huang, I will do whatever you tell me to do.” Mr. Huang went into the back room, and returned in a few minutes with a package of herbs. He told Li-Li, “You can’t use a quick-acting poison to get rid of your mother-in-law, because that would cause people to become suspicious. Therefore, I have given you a number of herbs that will slowly build up poison in her body. Every other day prepare some pork or chicken, and put a little of these herbs in her serving. Now, in order to make sure that nobody suspects you when she dies, you must be very careful to act very friendly toward her. Don’t argue with her, obey her every wish, and treat her like a queen.”
Li-Li was so happy. She thanked Mr. Huang, and hurried home to start her plot of murdering her mother-in-law. Weeks went by, and months went by, and every other day Li-Li served the specially treated food to her mother-in-law. She remembered what Mr. Huang had said about avoiding suspicion, so she controlled her temper, obeyed her mother-in-law, and treated her like her own mother.
After six months had passed, the whole household had changed. Li-Li had practiced controlling her temperso much that she found that she almost never got mad or upset. She hadn’t had an argument in six months with her mother-in-law, who now seemed much kinder and easier to get along with. The mother-in-law’s attitude toward Li-Li had changed, and she began to love Li-Li like her own daughter. She kept telling friends and relatives that Li-Li was the best daughter-in-law one could ever find. Li-Li and her mother-in-law were now treating each other just like a real mother and daughter.
One day Li-Li came to see Mr. Huang and again asked for his help. She said, “dear Mr. Huang, please helpme to keep the poison from killing my mother-in-law! She’s changed into such a nice woman, and I love her like my own mother. I do not want her to die because of the poison I gave to her.”
Mr. Huang smiled and nodded his head. “Li-Li,” he said, “there’s nothing to worry about. I never gave you any poison. All of the herbs I gave you were simply to improve her health. The only poison was in your mind and your attitude towards her, but that has been all washed away by the love which you gave to her.”
From this story you can see that before anyone can respect you, you must first respect others. Remember,”Theperson who loves others will also be loved.”
There was also another story my grandmother told me. In China, there was once a family made up of a father, a mother, a ten-year old son, and a grandmother. Every mealtime they sat together around the table. The grandmother was quite old. Her hands had begun to shake all the time, and she had difficulty holding things. Whenever she ate, she couldn’t hold the rice bowl steady and spilled rice all over the table.
The daughter-in-law was very upset by this. One day she complained to her husband, “My dear husband,every time your mother eats she spills her food all over the table. This makes me so sick I can’t eat my own food!” The husband didn’t say anything. He knew that he couldn’t keep his mother’s hands from shaking.
In a few days, when the husband had done nothing to solve the problem, his wife spoke to him again. “Areyou going to do something about your mother or not? I cannot stand it any more.” After arguing for a while, the husband sadly gave into his wife’s suggestion, and agreed that his mother should sit at a separate table, away from the rest of the family. When dinnertime came, the grandmother found herself sitting alone at a separate table. And to make things worse, she had to eat from a cheap, chipped bowl because she had dropped and broken several others.
The grandmother was very sad, but she knew she couldn’t do anything about it. She began to thinkof the past,and how much time and love she had given her son as he was growing up. She had never complained, but had always been there when he was sick or when he needed anything. Now she felt deserted by her family, and her heart was broken.
Several days passed. The grandmother was still very sad, and the smile began to disappear from her face.Her ten year old grandson had been watching everything, and he came to her and said, “Grandma, I know you are very unhappy about how my parents are treating you, but don’t worry. I think I know how to get them to invite you back to the table, but I’ll need your help.”
Hope began to grow in the grandmother’s heart. “But what to you want me to do?” she asked. The boy smiled and said, “Tonight at dinnertime, break your rice bowl, but make it look like an accident.” Grandmother’s eyes opened wide in wonder. “But why?” she asked. “Don’t worry,” he said, “leave it to me.”
Dinnertime came. She was curious about what her grandson was going to do, so she decided to do as he had asked. When her son and daughter-in-law were not looking, she picked up the old and chipped rice bowl that she had to eat out of, then dropped it on the floor and broke it. Immediately her daughter-in-law stood up, ready to complain. However, before she could say anything, the grandson stood up and said, “Grandma, why did you break that bowl? I wanted to save it for my mother when she gets old!”
When the mother heard this her face turned pale. She suddenly realized that everything she did was an example toher son. They way she was treating her mother-in-law was teaching her son how to devalue her when she got old. She suddenly felt very ashamed. From that day on, the whole family ate together around the same table.
From this, you can see that how we love, value and respect teachers and elders is exactly how we deserve to be treated when we are old. Real love is something that cannot be purchased. Respect your parents and love them always. Only then will you deserve the respect and love of your own children.
By Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming, Shou-Yu Liang, Dr. Jwing-Ming Yang, and Wen-Ching Wu