The Principles Explained (continued)

Social Ritual/Propriety
We do not live in a vacuum, in social isolation. We live with people, organized into a society. Because of that, we have certain functions and certain responsibilities. The way we deal with our work, with our community, and our neighbors is just as important as the way we deal with prayer or meditation. We live in this world, and we need to blend in with customs and cultures as much as possible. We also need to recognize that our jobs, no matter what they are, are important and fulfill a function. We are all interdependent, each playing an essential role in making sure the whole of life works smoothly. We should be guided by these principles, as well as the laws of society, in trying to do what is right, not only for ourselves but for humankind as a whole.

Proper Roles — Family and Society/Ethics
Just as we have certain social functions within the society, we also have important roles in the micro-society of the family. For the Chinese and Asian communities proper roles within the family are particularly important. This is reflected in the Principle Board by the fact that all of the principles can and should be applied to the family as well as to society at large. Another thread affecting both family and society that can be seen running through all ten principles is the influence of Confucianism. To a certain degree they are all based on or are influenced by the Confucian belief in moral living and proper human relationships. This principle, which is also translated as ethics, is based on the Confucian belief that each member of society and family has specific status and role based on duty and responsibility. If each individual, starting with the ruler of the country and the father of the family, carries out the duties of that role properly, then everyone is taken care of. The people are ruled justly, the family flourishes, and therefore the individual flourishes.

This points out an important distinction between Western and Eastern cultures. Westerners are trained to be more independent or self-centered, whereas Easterners are taught to be more others-centered. In the West, it is believed that if each individual is self-actualized and finds personal contentment, he or she has more to offer their family, friends, and society in general. In the East, it is believed that if each individual sees first to the needs of the family, friends, and the society in general, then he or she can experience contentment and feelings of personal achievement. These differences make this principle more challenging for Westerners because we are not always comfortable playing a proper role more for the benefit of others or for the benefit of the whole, rather than for their own needs and desires.

 Wong Loh Sin See ©2010 Sin See Center, all rights reserved.