How to Pursue the Truth (19) Part Four

In addition to having these expectations for adult children, parents also have a requirement for their own children that is common among all parents in the world, which is that they hope they can be filial children and treat their parents well. Of course, some specific ethnic groups and regions have more specific requirements for their children. For example, in addition to being filial to their parents, they also need to care for their parents till death and arrange their funerals, live with their parents after reaching adulthood, and take responsibility for their parents’ livelihoods. This is the last aspect of parental expectations toward their offspring that we will discuss now—demanding that their children be filial and take care of them in their old age. Is this not the original intention of all parents in having children, as well as a basic requirement for their children? (Yes, it is.) Parents ask their children when they are still young and don’t understand things: “When you grow up and earn money, who are you going to spend it on? Will you spend it on mommy and daddy?” “Yes.” “Will you spend it on daddy’s parents?” “Yes.” “Will you spend it on mommy’s parents?” “Yes.” How much money can one child earn in total? They have to support their parents, both sets of grandparents, and even their distant relatives. Tell Me, isn’t this a heavy burden for a child, aren’t they unlucky? (Yes.) Even though they speak in the innocent, naive way that children do, and don’t know what they are actually saying, this reflects a certain reality, which is that parents raise their children with a purpose, and that purpose is neither pure nor simple. When their children are still very young, the parents already start setting demands and are always testing them, asking: “When you grow up, will you support mommy and daddy?” “Yes.” “Will you support daddy’s parents?” “Yes.” “Will you support mommy’s parents?” “Yes.” “Who do you like the best?” “I like mommy best.” Then dad gets jealous, “What about daddy?” “I like daddy best.” Mom gets jealous, “Who do you really like the best?” “Mommy and daddy.” Then both parents are satisfied. They strive for their children to be filial starting when they have just barely learned to speak, and they hope that their children will treat them well when they grow up. Although these young children cannot express themselves clearly and don’t understand much, parents still want to hear a promise in their children’s answers. At the same time, they also want to see their own future in their children and hope the children they are raising will not be ungrateful, but filial children who will take responsibility for them, and even more so, on whom they will be able to rely, and who will support them in their old age. Although they have been asking these questions since their children were young, they are not simple questions. They are completely requirements and hopes arising from the depths of these parents’ hearts, very real requirements and very real hopes. So, as soon as their children start to gain an understanding of things, parents hope that they can show concern when their parents are sick, accompany them at their bedside and take care of them, even if it’s just pouring water for them to drink. Although they can’t do much, they can’t provide financial or more practical help, at least their children should display this much filial piety. Parents want to be able to see this filial piety while their children are young, and verify it from time to time. For example, when the parents are not feeling well or are tired from work, they look to see if their children know to bring them drinks, to bring their shoes, to wash their clothes, or to make them a simple meal, even if it’s just scrambled eggs with rice, or if they’ll ask their parents, “Are you tired? If you are, let me make you something to eat.” Some parents go out during holidays and deliberately do not come back at mealtimes to prepare food, just to see if their children have grown up and become sensible, if they know to cook for them, if they know to be filial and considerate, if they can share in their hardships, or if they are heartless ingrates, if they raised them for nothing. While their children are growing up, and even during adulthood, their parents are constantly testing them and prying into this matter, and at the same time, they are constantly making demands of their children, “You shouldn’t be such heartless ingrates. Why did we, your parents, even raise you? It was so that you’d take care of us when we got old. Did we raise you for nothing? You should not defy us. It wasn’t easy for us to raise you. It was hard work. You should be considerate and know these things.” Especially during the so-called rebellious phase, that is, the transition from adolescence to adulthood, some children are not very sensible or discerning, and they often defy their parents and cause trouble. Their parents cry, make a scene, and nag them, saying, “You don’t know how much we suffered to look after you when you were young! We didn’t expect you to grow up like this, not at all filial, ignorant of how to share the burden of household chores or our hardships. You don’t know how difficult all this is for us. You are not filial, you are defiant, you are not a good person!” Besides getting angry at their children for being disobedient or exhibiting radical behavior in their studies or in daily life, another reason for their anger is that they cannot see their own future in their children, or they see that their children will not be filial in the future, that they are neither considerate nor do they feel sorry for their parents, that they don’t hold their parents in their hearts, or more precisely, that they don’t know to go and be filial to their parents. So, in the eyes of their parents, they cannot place their hopes in such children: They may be ungrateful or defiant, and their parents are heartbroken, feeling that the investments and expenses they made for the sake of their children were in vain, that they made a bad deal, it wasn’t worth it, and they regret it, feeling sad, distressed, and in anguish. But they are unable to get back what they spent, and the more they can’t get it back, the more regret they feel, the more they want to demand that their children be filial, saying, “Can’t you be a bit more filial? Can’t you be more sensible? Can’t we be able to count on you when you grow up?” For example, say that parents need money, and they don’t make a peep about it, but their children bring that money home for them. Suppose that parents wish to eat meat or something delicious and nutritious, and they don’t say anything about it, but their children bring that food home for them. Those children are especially considerate of their parents—no matter how busy they are with work or how heavy their own family burdens are—they always bear their parents in mind. Then their parents will think, “Ah, my child can be counted on, they are finally grown up, all the energy spent raising them was worth it, the money spent on them was worth it, we’ve seen a return on our investment.” But if their children do anything that is slightly beneath what their parents expect, they will judge it based on how filial they are, determining that they are unfilial, unreliable, ungrateful, and that they brought them up in vain.

There are also some parents who are occasionally busy with work or running errands, and they come home a bit later to find that their children made dinner without saving any for them. These young people haven’t yet reached that age, they may not think about it or have the habit of doing this, or some people may simply lack that humanity, and not be able to show consideration or care for others. They might also be influenced by their parents, or it could be that their humanity is inherently selfish, so they cook and eat themselves without leaving any for their parents or making an additional portion. When the parents come home and see this, they take it to heart and get upset. What are they upset about? They think that their children are neither filial nor sensible. Especially when it comes to single mothers: Seeing their children behave like this makes them even more upset. They start crying and shouting, “You think it was easy for me to raise you for so many years? I’ve been both a father and a mother to you, raising you all this time. I work so hard, and when I come home, you don’t even cook a meal for me. Even if it’s just a bowl of porridge, if it’s not even hot, it would still be a nice gesture of your love. How can you not understand this at your age?” They don’t understand and don’t act appropriately, but if you didn’t have this expectation of them, would you be so angry? Would you take this matter so seriously? Would you consider it as a criterion of filial piety? If they don’t cook for you, you can still cook for yourself. If they weren’t there, wouldn’t you still have to go on living? If they aren’t filial to you, shouldn’t you have just not given birth to them? If they really never learn how to cherish and take care of you their whole lives, what should you do? Should you treat this matter correctly or be angry, upset, and regretful about it, always at loggerheads with them? What is the right thing to do? (Approach the matter correctly.) All in all, you still don’t know what to do. In the end, you just tell people, “Don’t have children. You regret every child you give birth to. There is nothing good in having children, or in raising them either. They always grow up to be heartless ingrates! It’s better to be good to yourself and not to put your hopes in anyone. No one is reliable! Everyone says that children can be relied upon, but what can you rely on? It’s more like they can rely on you. You treat them well in a hundred different ways, but in return, they think that being a little bit nicer to you is an immense kindness, and that it counts as doing right by you.” Is this statement wrong? Is it a kind of opinion, a kind of thought and viewpoint that exists in society? (Yes, it is.) “Everyone says that raising children helps provide for you in old age. It’s not easy to get them to even make a meal for you, let alone provide for you in old age. Don’t count on it!” What kind of statement is this? Isn’t it just a lot of grumbling? (Yes, it is.) How does this grumbling come about? Isn’t it because parents’ expectations for their children are too high? They have standards and requirements for them, demanding them to be filial, considerate, obedient to every word they say, and to do whatever necessary to be filial and to do what children ought to. Once you set these demands and standards, it is impossible for your children to meet them no matter what they do, and you will be full of grumbling, and have a pile of complaints. No matter what your children do, you will regret giving birth to them, feeling that the losses outweigh the gains and that there is no return on your investment. Isn’t this how it is? (Yes.) Isn’t this because your goal in raising children is wrong? (Yes.) Is it right or wrong to bring such consequences about? (It’s wrong.) Giving rise to such consequences is wrong, and clearly, your initial goal in raising children was also wrong. Raising children is in itself a responsibility and obligation of human beings. Originally, it was human instinct, and later it became an obligation and responsibility. Children do not need to be filial to their parents or to support their parents in their old age, and it is not as if people should only have children if they are filial. The origin of this goal is itself impure, so it ultimately leads people to voice this kind of mistaken thought and viewpoint: “Oh goodness, don’t raise children, whatever you do.” Since the goal is impure, its resulting thoughts and viewpoints are also incorrect. So, don’t they need to be corrected and let go of? (Yes.) How should one let go of and correct them? What kind of goal is a pure one to have? What kind of thought and viewpoint is correct? In other words, what is the correct way to handle one’s relationship with their children? First of all, raising children is your choice, you willingly gave birth to them, and they were passive in being born. Apart from the task and responsibility given to humans by God to produce offspring, and apart from God’s ordination, for those who are parents, their subjective reason and starting point is that they were willing to give birth to their children. If you are willing to bear children, then you should raise them and nurture them into adults, allowing them to become independent. You are willing to bear children, and you have already gained much from raising them—you have benefited greatly. First of all, you have enjoyed a joyful time living together with your children, and you’ve also enjoyed the process of raising them. Although this process has had its ups and downs, it was mostly filled with the happiness of accompanying your children and being accompanied by them, which is a necessary process for humanity. You have enjoyed these things, and you’ve gained a lot already from your children, isn’t that right? Children bring happiness and companionship to their parents, and it’s parents who, through paying prices and investing their time and energy, get to watch these small lives gradually grow into adults. Starting as clueless and young lives that don’t know anything at all, their children gradually learn to speak, gain the ability to put words together, to learn and differentiate various types of knowledge, to have conversations and communication with their parents, and to view matters fairly. This is the kind of process parents undergo. To them, this process cannot be replaced by any other event or role. Parents have already enjoyed and gained these things from their children, which is a great comfort and reward to them. In fact, just from the act of bearing and raising children, you have already gained a lot from them. As for whether your children will be filial to you, whether you can rely on them before you die, and what you can obtain from them, these things depend on whether you are destined to live together, and it’s up to God’s ordination. In another respect, what kind of environment your children live in, their living conditions, whether they have the conditions to be able to take care of you, whether they are financially comfortable, and whether they have extra money to provide you with material enjoyment and assistance, also depends on God’s ordination. Moreover, subjectively as parents, whether you have the fate to enjoy the material things, money, or emotional comfort that your children give you also depends on God’s ordination. Isn’t that so? (Yes.) These are not things that can be solicited by humans. You see, some children are not liked by their parents, and their parents are not willing to live with them, but God has ordained for them to live with their parents, so they are unable to travel far away or leave their parents. They are stuck with their parents for their entire lives—you couldn’t drive them away if you tried. Some children, on the other hand, have parents who are very willing to be with them; they are inseparable, always missing each other, but for various reasons, they are unable to reside in the same city as their parents, or even in the same country. It is difficult for them to see each other’s faces and talk to one another; even though communication methods have become so developed, and video chat is a possibility, it is still different from living together day in and day out. Their children for whatever reason go abroad, work or live in another place after getting married, and so on, and they are separated from their parents by a long, long distance. It is not easy to meet up even once, and making a phone or video call depends on the time. Because of the time difference or other inconveniences, they are unable to communicate with their parents very often. What are these major aspects related to? Aren’t they all related to God’s ordination? (Yes.) It is not something that can be decided by the subjective wishes of either parent or child; most of all, it depends on God’s ordination. In another respect, parents worry about whether they can rely on their children in the future. What do you want to rely on them for? To bring tea and pour water? What kind of dependence is that? Can’t you do that yourself? If you are healthy and able to move and take care of yourself, to do everything on your own, isn’t that great? Why do you have to rely on others to serve you? Is it really happiness to enjoy your children’s care and companionship, as well as them serving you both at the dinner table and away from it? Not necessarily. If you are unable to move, and they really do have to serve you both at table and away from it, does that constitute happiness for you? If you were given a choice, would you choose to be healthy and not need your children’s care, or would you choose to be paralyzed in bed with your children by your side? Which one would you choose? (To be healthy.) It’s so much better to be healthy. Whether you live to be 80, 90, or even 100 years old, you can keep taking care of yourself. This is a good quality of life. Although you may grow old, your wits may become slow, you may have a bad memory, eat less, do things more slowly and not as well, and going out is not as convenient, it’s still great that you’re able to take care of your own basic needs. It’s enough to occasionally receive a phone call from your children to say hello or have them come home and stay with you during the holidays. Why demand any more from them? You’re always relying on your children; will you only be happy when they become your slaves? Isn’t it selfish for you to think that way? You’re always demanding that your children be filial and that you be able to rely on them—what is there to rely on? Did your parents rely on you? If your parents didn’t even rely on you, why do you think you should rely on your own children? Isn’t that being unreasonable? (Yes.)

Regarding the matter of expecting their children to be filial to them, in one respect, parents must know that everything is orchestrated by God and depends on God’s ordination. In another, people have to be reasonable, and by giving birth to their children parents are inherently experiencing something special in life. They have already gained a lot from their children and come to appreciate the sorrows and joys of parenting. This process is a rich experience in their lives, and of course it is also a memorable one. It compensates for the shortcomings and ignorance that exist in their humanity. As parents, they have already gained what they ought to gain out of raising their children. If they are not content with this and demand that their children serve them as attendants or slaves, and expect their children to repay them for raising them by showing their parents filial piety, taking care of them in their old age, sending them off in burial, placing them in a coffin, keeping their body from rotting in the house, weeping bitterly for them when they pass, going into mourning and grieving them for three years, etc., letting their children use these to pay back their debt, then it becomes unreasonable and inhumane. You see, in terms of how God teaches people to treat their parents, He only requires them to be filial to their parents, and does not at all require that children support their parents until death. God does not give people this responsibility and obligation—He never said anything like this. God only advises children to be filial to their parents. Showing filial piety to parents is a general statement with a broad scope. Speaking about it in specific terms today, it means fulfilling your responsibilities within your ability and conditions—that’s enough. It’s that simple, that is the only requirement for children. So, how should parents understand this? God does not demand that “Children must be filial to their parents, take care of them in their old age, and send them off.” Therefore, those who are parents should let go of their selfishness and not expect everything about their children to revolve around them just because they gave birth to them. If children do not revolve around their parents and do not consider them the center of their lives, then it isn’t right for parents to constantly scold them, plague their conscience, and say things like “You are ungrateful, unfilial, and disobedient, and even after raising you for so long I still can’t rely on you,” always scolding their children like this and putting burdens on them. Demanding that one’s children be filial and accompany them, take care of them in old age and bury them, and constantly think about them wherever they go, is an inherently wrong course of action and inhumane thought and idea. This kind of thinking may exist to a greater or lesser degree in different countries or among different ethnic groups, but looking at traditional Chinese culture, Chinese people particularly emphasize filial piety. From ancient times to the present, this has always been discussed and emphasized as a part of people’s humanity and a standard for measuring whether someone is good or bad. Of course, in society, there is also a common practice and public opinion that if children are not filial, their parents will also feel ashamed, and the children will feel unable to bear this mark on their reputation. Under the influence of various factors, parents are also deeply poisoned by this traditional thinking, demanding without thinking or discernment that their children be filial. What is the point of raising children? It is not for your own purposes, but a responsibility and obligation that God has given you. One aspect is that raising children belongs to human instinct, while another is that it is a part of human responsibility. You choose to give birth to children due to instinct and responsibility, not for the sake of preparing for old age and being taken care of when you’re old. Isn’t this viewpoint correct? (Yes.) Can people without children avoid getting old? Does getting old necessarily mean that one will be miserable? Not necessarily, right? People without children can still live to old age, and some are even healthy, enjoy their later years, and go to the grave in peace. Can people with children definitely enjoy their later years in happiness and health? (Not necessarily.) Therefore, the health, happiness, and living situation of parents who reach old age, as well as the quality of their material life, actually have little to do with their children being filial to them, and there is no direct relationship between the two. Your living situation, quality of life, and physical condition in old age are related to what God has ordained for you and the living environment He arranges for you, and they have no direct relationship to whether your children are filial or not. Your children are not obligated to bear the responsibility for your living situation in later years. Isn’t that right? (Yes.) Therefore, regardless of the attitude children have toward their parents, whether they are willing to take care of them, do a rough job of it, or do not want to take care of them at all, it is their attitude to have as children. Let’s put talking from the perspective of children aside for now, but speak instead only from the perspective of parents. Parents should not demand that their children must be filial, must take care of them in their old age, and must bear the burden of their parents’ later life—there is no need for that. In one respect, it is an attitude that parents should have toward their children, and in another, it is the dignity that parents should possess. Of course, there is also a more important aspect: It is the principle that parents as created beings should abide by in treating their children. If your children are attentive, filial, and willing to take care of you, you don’t need to refuse them; if they are unwilling to do so, you don’t need to moan and groan all day long, feel uncomfortable or dissatisfied in your heart, or hold grudges against your children. You should take responsibility and bear the burden for your own life and survival so far as you are able, and you should not put it off on others, especially your children. You should proactively and correctly face a life without the company or help of your children, and even if you are distant from your children, you can still face whatever life brings you on your own. Of course, if you require essential help from your children, you can ask them for it, but it should not be based on the idea that your children must be filial to you or that you must rely on them. Instead, both parties should approach doing things for each other from the perspective of fulfilling their responsibilities, so as to handle the relationship between parent and child rationally. Of course, if both sides are rational, give each other space, and respect each other, in the end, they will definitely be able to get along better and more harmoniously, cherish this familial affection, and cherish their care, concern, and love for each other. Of course, doing these things based on mutual respect and understanding is more humane and appropriate. Isn’t that the case? (Yes.) When children can approach and carry out their responsibilities correctly, and as their parents, you no longer put any excessive or extraneous demands on your children, then you will find that everything they do is quite natural and normal, and you will think it’s a pretty good thing. You won’t treat them with the same critical eye as before, finding whatever they do displeasing, wrong, or insufficient to repay the debt of having raised them. On the contrary, you will face everything with the right attitude, be grateful to God for the company and filial piety your children provide, and think that your children are pretty decent, and that they are humane. Even without the company and filial piety of your children, you won’t blame God, nor will you regret raising them, let alone hate them. In short, it is paramount for parents to correctly face whatever attitude their children have toward themselves. Facing this correctly means not placing any excessive demands on them, not behaving extremely toward them, and certainly not making any inhumane or negative critique or judgments about anything they do. That way, you will begin to live with dignity. As parents, according to your own ability, conditions, and of course, God’s ordination, you ought to enjoy whatever God gives you, and if He doesn’t give you something, then you should also thank God, and submit to Him. You shouldn’t compare yourself to others, saying “Look at so-and-so’s family, their child is so filial, always taking his parents out for a drive and going on vacations in the south. Every time they come back, they are loaded with bags of all sizes. That child is so filial! Just look at their kid, he’s someone they can rely on. You’d have to raise a son like that to have someone to take care of you in old age. Now look at our son: He comes home empty-handed and never buys us anything; not only is he empty-handed, but he rarely comes home at all. If I don’t call him, he doesn’t come home. But once he comes back home, all he wants is food and drink, and he doesn’t even want to do any work.” Since that’s the case, just don’t call him back home. If you call him back home, aren’t you asking to be miserable? You know that if he comes home, he will just eat and drink for free, so why call him? If you don’t have any motive for doing so, would you still call him home? Isn’t it just because you are debasing yourself and being selfish? You always want to rely on him, hoping you didn’t raise him in vain, hoping that the one you yourself raised may not be a heartless ingrate. You always want to prove that the one you raised is not a heartless ingrate, that your child is a filial one. What’s the use of proving this? Can’t you live your own life well? Can’t you live without children? (Yes.) You can go on living. There are too many examples like this, aren’t there?

Some people cling to a rotten and outdated notion, saying, “It doesn’t matter whether people have children to be filial to them and whether their children are filial while they are still alive, but when they die, their children must carry them out in a coffin. If they don’t have their children at their side, no one will know when they die, and their body will rot in their house.” So what if no one will know? When you die, you’re dead, and you’re no longer conscious of anything anymore. When your body dies, your soul immediately leaves it. No matter where the body is or what it looks like after death, isn’t it dead anyway? Even if it is carried out in a coffin at a grand funeral and buried in the ground, the body will still rot, won’t it? People think, “Having children by your side to put you in a coffin, to wear burial clothes for you, to put on makeup, and to arrange a grand funeral is a glorious thing. If you die without anyone arranging a funeral for you or sending you off, it’s like your whole life has had no proper conclusion.” Is this idea correct? (No, it isn’t.) Nowadays, young people don’t pay much attention to these things, but there are still people in remote areas and older people with little insight who have the thought and viewpoint deeply planted in their heart that children must take care of their parents in old age and send them off. No matter how you fellowship about the truth, they do not accept it—what is the final consequence of this? The consequence is that they suffer greatly. This tumor has long been hidden inside of them, and they will be poisoned by it. When they dig it out and remove it, they will no longer be poisoned by it, and their lives will be free. Any wrong actions are caused by wrong thoughts. If they are afraid of dying and rotting in their house, they will always be thinking, “I have to raise a son. When my son grows up, I can’t let him go very far away. What if he’s not by my side when I die? Not having someone who will take care of me in old age or send me off would be my greatest regret in life! If I have someone to do this for me, then my life would not have been lived in vain. It would be a perfect life. No matter what, I cannot be the subject of ridicule by my neighbors.” Isn’t this a rotten ideology? (Yes, it is.) It is narrow-minded and degenerate, attaching too much importance to the physical body! In reality, the physical body is worthless: After experiencing birth, old age, sickness, and death, there is nothing left. Only if people have gained the truth while alive, when they are saved, then they will live forever. If you haven’t gained the truth, then when your body dies and decays, there will be nothing left; no matter how filial your children are to you, you won’t be able to enjoy it. When a person dies and their children bury them in a coffin, can that old body feel anything? Can it perceive anything? (No, it cannot.) It has no perception at all. But in life, people attach great importance to this matter, demanding a lot from their children in whether they can send them off—which is foolish, isn’t it? (Yes, it is.) Some children say to their parents, “We believe in God. While you are alive, we will be filial to you, take care of you, and serve you. But when you die, we will not arrange a funeral for you.” When parents hear this, they get angry. They don’t get angry about anything else you say, but as soon as you mention this, they explode, saying, “What did you say? You unfilial thing, I’ll break your legs! I’d rather not have given birth to you—I’ll kill you!” Nothing else you say bothers them, only this. During their lifetime, their children had many opportunities to treat them well, but they insisted that they send their parents off. Because their children started believing in God, they told them, “When you die, we won’t hold a ceremony for you: We’ll cremate you and find a place to store the urn. While you are still alive, we’ll let you enjoy the blessing of having us around, we’ll provide you with food and clothing, and spare you from being wronged.” Isn’t this realistic? The parents reply, “None of that matters. What I want is for you to arrange a funeral for me after I die. If you don’t care for me in my old age and send me off, then I’ll never let it go!” When a person is this foolish, they can’t understand such simple reasoning, and no matter how you explain it to them they still won’t comprehend—they are like an animal. Therefore, if you pursue the truth, as parents, you should first and foremost let go of the traditional, rotten, and degenerate thoughts and viewpoints surrounding whether children are filial, care for you in old age, and send you off with a burial, and approach this matter correctly. If your children truly are filial to you, then accept it properly. But if your children don’t have the conditions, energy, or desire to be filial to you, and when you grow old, they can’t take care of you by your side or send you off, then you don’t need to demand it or feel sad. Everything is in God’s hands. Birth has its time, death has its place, and God has ordained where people are born and where they die. Even if your children make any promises to you, saying, “When you die, I will definitely be by your side; I will never let you down,” God hasn’t orchestrated these circumstances. When you’re about to die, your children may happen not to be by your side, and no matter how hard they try to rush back, they may not make it in time—they won’t get to see you for the last time. It may be three to five days since you breathed your last breath, your body has all but decayed, and only then do they come back. Are their promises good for anything? They can’t even be the master of their own lives. I’ve already told you this, but you just don’t believe it. You insist on making them promise. Are their promises good for anything? You’re satisfying yourself with illusions, and you think that your children can stand by their promises. Do you really think that they can? They can’t. Every single day, where they’ll be and what they’ll do, as well as what their future holds—they don’t even know these things themselves. Their promises are actually serving to deceive you, giving you a false sense of security, and you believe them. You still can’t comprehend that a person’s fate is in God’s hands.

How much parents and their children are fated to be together, and how much they can gain from their children—unbelievers call this “receiving assistance” or “not receiving assistance.” We don’t know what it means. Ultimately, whether one can rely on their children is, in plain terms, predestined and ordained by God. It’s not like everything plays out exactly how you wish. Of course, everyone wants things to go well and to reap benefits from their children. But why have you never considered whether you are fated for that, whether it is written in your destiny? How long the bond between you and your children will last, whether any job you do in life will have a connection with your children, whether God has arranged for your children to participate in the significant events of your life, and whether your children will be among those involved when you experience a major life event—all of these depend on God’s ordination. If God has not ordained it, then after raising your children into adulthood, even if you don’t drive them out of the house, when the time comes they will leave on their own. This is something that people need to comprehend. If you can’t comprehend this matter, you will always hold on to personal desires and demands, and establish various rules and accept various ideologies for the sake of your own physical enjoyment. What will happen in the end? You’ll find out when you die. You have done a lot of foolish things in your lifetime, and you have thought of many unrealistic things that do not conform to facts or to God’s ordination. Won’t it be too late to realize all this on your deathbed? Isn’t this the case? (Yes.) Take advantage while you are still alive and your brain is not yet muddled, while you are still able to understand certain positive things, and quickly accept them. Accepting them does not mean that you turn them into an ideological theory or slogan, but that you try to do these things and put them into practice. Gradually let go of your own ideas and selfish desires, and don’t think that, as parents, whatever you do is right and acceptable, or that your children ought to accept it. This kind of reasoning does not exist anywhere in the world. Parents are human beings—are their children not? Children are not your accessories or slaves; they are independent created beings—what does whether they are filial or not have to do with you? Therefore, no matter what kind of parents you are, how old your children are, or whether your children have reached the age of being filial to you or the age of living independently, as parents you should adopt these ideas and establish the correct thoughts and viewpoints on how to treat your children. You should not go to extremes, nor should you measure everything according to those wrong, decadent, or outdated thoughts and viewpoints. Those thoughts and viewpoints may align with human notions, human interests, and the physical and emotional needs of humans, but they are not the truth. Regardless of whether you think they are proper or improper, these things can only bring you various troubles and burdens in the end, trap you in various predicaments, and make you reveal your hotheadedness to your children. You’ll state your reasoning, they’ll state theirs, and in the end, you’ll both hate each other and blame one another. Family won’t act like family anymore: You’ll turn on each other and become enemies. If everyone accepts the truth and the correct thoughts and viewpoints, these matters will be easy to face, and the contradictions and disputes that arise from them will be resolved. However, if they insist on traditional notions, not only will these problems remain unresolved, but their contradictions will deepen. Traditional culture is not a criterion in itself for evaluating matters. It has to do with humanity, and things of the flesh like people’s affections, selfish desires, and hotheadedness are mixed up in it. Of course, there is also something that is the most essential to traditional culture, that is, hypocrisy. People use the filialness of their own children to prove that they educated them well and their children possess humanity; similarly, children use filialness toward their parents to prove that they are not ungrateful people but humble and modest gentlemen and ladies, thereby gaining a foothold amid various races and groups in society and making it their means for survival. This is inherently the most hypocritical and essential aspect within traditional culture, and it is not a criterion for evaluating matters. Therefore, with regard to parents, they should let go of these requirements for their children and use the correct thoughts and viewpoints to treat their children and view their children’s attitudes toward themselves. If you do not possess or understand the truth, you should at least look at it from the perspective of humanity. How does one look at it from the perspective of humanity? Children living in this society, in various groups, job positions, and social classes do not lead easy lives. They have things they have to face and deal with in various different environments. They have their own lives and a destiny established by God. They also have their own survival methods. Of course, in modern society, the pressures put on any independent person are very great. They face problems of survival, relationships between superiors and subordinates, and problems having to do with children, etc.—the pressure of all this is huge. To be fair, no one has it easy. Especially in today’s chaotic, fast-paced living environment, full of competition and bloody conflict everywhere, nobody’s life is easy—everybody’s is rather difficult. I won’t go into how this came about. Living in such an environment, if a person does not believe in God and does not perform their duty, they have no path left for them to take. Their only path is to pursue the world, to keep themselves alive, to constantly adapt to this world, and to fight for their future and survival at all costs in order to get through each day. In fact, every day is painful to them, and they are struggling through every day. Therefore, if parents go on to additionally demand that their children do this or that, it will undoubtedly add insult to injury, wrecking and tormenting their body and mind. Parents have their own social circles, lifestyles, and living environments, and children have their own living environments and spaces, as well as their own living backgrounds. If parents intervene too much or make excessive demands on their children, asking them to do this and that for them in order to repay the efforts they once put forth for the sake of their children; if you look at it from this perspective, it is quite inhumane, isn’t it? Regardless of how their children live or survive, or the difficulties they encounter in society, parents have no responsibility or obligation to do anything for them. That being said, parents should also refrain from adding any troubles or burdens to their children’s complicated lives or difficult living situations. This is what parents ought to do. Don’t demand too much from your children, and don’t blame them too much. You should treat them fairly and equally, and consider their situation with empathy. Of course, parents should also handle their own lives. Children will respect parents like this, and they will be worthy of respect. As parents, if you believe in God and do your duties, then regardless of the duties you do in God’s house, you won’t have time to think about things like demanding that your children be filial and relying on them to support you in old age. If there are still people like this, they are not true believers, and they certainly aren’t pursuers of the truth. They are all just muddleheaded people and nonbelievers. Isn’t that the case? (Yes.) If parents are busy, if they have duties to do and are busy with work, then they certainly should not bring up whether their children are filial or not. If parents are always bringing it up, saying, “My children aren’t filial: I can’t rely on them, and they won’t be able to support me in old age,” then they are just indolent and idle, looking for trouble without a cause. Isn’t that the case? What should you do if you encounter parents like this? Teach them a lesson. How should you do it? Just say, “Are you unable to live on your own? Are you to the point where you can no longer eat or drink? Are you to the point where you can no longer survive? If you’re able to live, then go ahead and live; if you’re not, then die!” Do you dare say something like this? Tell Me, is it inhumane to say it? (I don’t dare say that.) You’re unable to say it, aren’t you? You can’t bear to say it. (That’s right.) When you get a little older, you’ll be able to say it. If your parents have done too many infuriating things, then you will be able to say it. They have been really good to you and never hurt you; if they do hurt you then you’ll be able to say it. Isn’t that so? (Yes.) If they’re always demanding that you come home, saying, “Come home and bring me money, you ungrateful child!” and scold you and curse you every day, then you will be able to say it. You’ll say, “If you’re able to live, then go ahead and live; if not, then die! Can’t you go on living without children? Look at those elderly people who don’t have children, aren’t they living well and happy enough? They take care of their own lives every single day, and if they have some free time, they go out for a walk and exercise their bodies. Each day, their lives appear quite fulfilling. Look at you—you lack nothing, so why can’t you go on living? You’re debasing yourself and you deserve to die! Should we be filial to you? We are not your slaves, nor are we your private property. You have to walk your own path, and we are not obligated to bear this responsibility. We’ve given you enough to eat, to wear, and to use. Why are you messing around? If you keep messing around, we’ll send you to a nursing home!” This is how one should deal with parents like that, isn’t it? You can’t spoil them. If their children are not there to take care of them, they cry and sob all day, as if the sky is falling, as if they can’t go on living. If they can’t go on living, let them die and see for themselves—but they won’t die, they cherish their lives too much. Their philosophy of living is to depend on others to live better, freer, and more willfully. They have to build their happiness and joy on the suffering of their children. Shouldn’t these parents die? (Yes.) If their children pay them company and serve them every day, then they feel happy, joyful, and proud, while their children have to suffer and take it. Shouldn’t these parents die? (Yes.)

Let’s conclude our fellowship here today concerning the last item of parents’ expectations for their offspring. Has the matter been made clear regarding parents’ approach to whether their children are filial, reliable, take care of them in their old age, and send them off? (Yes.) As parents, you should not make such demands, have such thoughts and viewpoints, or place such hopes in your children. Your children do not owe you anything. It is your responsibility to raise them; whether you do this well or not is another matter. They do not owe you anything: They are good to you and take care of you purely out of fulfilling a responsibility, not to repay any debt, because they owe you nothing. Therefore, they are not obligated to be filial to you or to be someone you can depend and rely on. Do you understand? (Yes.) They take care of you, are someone you can rely on, and give you a little money to spend—this is just their responsibility as children, it is not being filial. We previously mentioned the metaphor of crows feeding their parents and lambs kneeling to suck milk. Even animals understand this doctrine and can carry it out, of course humans should too! Humans are the most advanced creatures among all living things, created by God with thoughts, humanity, and feelings. As humans, they understand this without needing to be taught. Whether children can be filial or not depends broadly on whether God has ordained a destiny to exist between you both, whether a complementary and mutually supportive relationship will exist between you, and whether you can enjoy this blessing; more minutely, it depends on whether your children possess humanity. If they truly possess conscience and reason, then you don’t need to educate them—they will understand it from a young age. If they understand it all from a young age, don’t you think they will understand even more as they grow up? Isn’t that the case? (Yes.) From a young age they understand such doctrines as “Earning money to spend on mom and dad is what good children do,” so won’t they understand it even more when they grow up? Do they still need to be educated? Do parents still need to teach them such ideological lessons? There is no need. Therefore, it is a foolish course of action for parents to demand that their children must be filial, take care of them in their old age, and send them off. Are the children you give birth to not human? Are they trees or plastic flowers? Do they really not understand, do you really have to educate them? Even dogs understand this. Look, when two little dogs are with their mother, if other dogs start running at their mother and barking, they won’t stand for it: They protect their mother from behind the fence and don’t let other dogs bark at her. Even dogs understand this, of course humans should too! There is no need to teach them: Fulfilling responsibilities is something that humans can do, and parents don’t need to instill such thoughts in their children—they will do it on their own. If they don’t possess humanity, then even under the right conditions, they won’t do it; if they do possess humanity and have the right conditions, then they will naturally do it. Therefore, parents don’t need to demand, prompt, or blame their children concerning whether or not they are filial. This is all unnecessary. If you can enjoy the filial piety of your children, it counts as a blessing. If you cannot enjoy it, it does not count as your loss. Everything is ordained by God, isn’t it? Okay, let’s end our fellowship here for today. Goodbye!

May 27, 2023

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