Filial piety is one of the core virtues Confucianism advocates. It calls for kindness and respect towards our parents. Not only should one be filial towards one’s parents, one should be filial to all ancestors of the family and the race at large. Why? Vertically, we inherit the collective of what our ancestors have become; and horizontally, we are supported by the collective efforts of mankind and the world. If horizontally we should expand our kindness and respect to people around, as all major religions advocate, then vertically we should also expand our kindness and respect to our parents and ancestors. Filial piety is, therefore, a proper way of saying thank you to our predecessors for what they have brought to us.
Why did Confucius question about the acts of Filial Piety and said attitude is the most difficult part? Because many are merely doing the deeds superficially without sincerity and heart. When we do something repeatedly, like meditation, on the first time we would put great deal of effort and sincerely, and as time goes by the intensity reduce and our mind slips to something else while on the surface we act like meditating. Therefore, to be filial in the true sense, we should stay sincere while carrying out the external acts. Sincerity, therefore, is another important quality to cultivate enroute to Dao.
2.3 Filial piety
Zixia asked what filial piety was. The Master said, ‘The attitude is the most crucial and difficult part. If, when their elders have any troublesome affairs, the young take the toil of them, and if, when the young have wine and food, they set them before their elders, is THIS to be considered filial piety?’