The Book of Filial Duty, by Ivan Chen, , at sacred-texts.com
THE MEANING OF FILIAL DUTY
Once upon a time Confucius was sitting in his study, having his disciple Tsêng Tsan to attend upon him. He asked Tsêng Tsan: "Do you know by what virtue and power the good Emperors of old made the world peaceful, the people to live in harmony with one another, the inferior contented under the control of their superiors?" To this Tsêng Tsan, rising from his seat, replied: "I do not know this, for I am not clever." Then said Confucius: "The duty of children to their parents is the fountain whence all other virtues spring, and also the starting-point from which we ought to begin our education. Now take your seat, and I will explain this. Our body and hair and skin are all derived from our parents, and therefore we have no right to injure any of them in the least. This is the first duty of a child.
"To live an upright life and to spread the great doctrines of humanity must win good reputation after death, and reflect great honour upon our parents. This is the last duty of a son.
"Hence the first duty of a son is to pay a careful attention to every want of his parents. The next is to serve his government loyally; and the last to establish a good name for himself.
"So it is written in the Ta Ya 1: "You must think of your ancestors and continue to cultivate the virtue which you inherit from them."