Traditional Culture: Teachings for Enlightening Children (Part I)

Teachings for Enlightening Children (Xun Meng Wen) was one of the Chinese classic texts for educating children on observing etiquette and rules and cultivating benevolence in society. It was originally written by an intellectual named Mr. Li Yuxiu (1662¡V1722) during Emperor Kang Xi's (1654-1722) reign in the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912). It was then edited by Mr. Jia Cunren in the Qing Dynasty, who changed the title to Student Rules. Arranged in simple three-character verses, it has five parts detailing the rules in a variety of settings. As the second most influential text for children, (the most influential being Three Character Classic (1)) Teachings for Enlightening Children teaches filial piety, respect, cautiousness, honesty, forbearance, tolerance, etc.

China was once called "The Nation of Etiquette and Morality." But the beautiful Chinese traditional etiquette and morality have been trampled and destroyed since the Communist specter stationed itself in the once-civilized China and promoted the deviated theories and evil notions of falsehood, evil, and aggression. In today's China, adults have little knowledge of the morals that even little children knew in ancient times. Therefore, I have tentatively interpreted selected parts of Teachings for Enlightening Children for the benefit of the public.

Elder brothers' Dao (2) is friendliness,
Younger brothers' Dao is respect.
Harmony among brothers,
Is love for parents.
With money and property taken lightly,
How could there be hatred.
If forbearance is in the words uttered,
Anger will naturally disappear.

Whether eating, drinking, sitting, or walking,
Older ones are first, and
Younger ones follow.
When older people call out for a person,
Young ones should help find them.
If he is not in,
Young ones should come instead of him.
Don't call older or respected people by their names.
Don't show off abilities before them.
When older people are standing,
Young ones should not be seated.
One can be seated,
If a seated older one asks him to.
In the presence of respected or older people,
Talk with a low voice.
But a voice too low to hear,
Is not appropriate.
Come up quickly,
Back down slowly.
When answering questions,
Don't lose eye contact.

Take steady steps,
Stand upright.
Greeting bows should be deep and round,
Thankful bows should be respectful.
Don't step on the wooden curb at the door,
Don't lean against things.
Don't sit with the legs apart,
Don't wave the legs.


(1) The Three Character Classic (Pin Yin: San Zi Jing): also translated as Trimetric Classic, is one of the Chinese classic texts and an embodiment of Confucianism for teaching young children. It was probably written in the 13th century, and attributed to Wang Yinglin (1223-1296) during the Song Dynasty.

(2) Dao: also translated as Tao, or Way, or Law, refers to the laws that guide the proper functioning of each level of the cosmos.

You are welcome to print and circulate all articles published on Clearharmony and their content, but please quote the source.