Filial Piety the best virtue; Lascivious the worst sin!

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百善孝为先!
万恶淫为首!

English translation.

Whenever I pass by Sim Lim Tower along Jalan Besar I can’t miss this eye catching poster. Why would anyone spend so much money to put up this huge poster not advertising any products or services but telling people to do the right thing! It’s preaching moral value to who ever cares to read.

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Just a brief translation, the first line “白善孝为先” means that amongst the 100 virtues, filial piety is the foremost. Its the No: 1 virtue of the 100 virtues.

The second line “万恶淫为首” declares that there are 10,000 sins but the worst sin is lascivious or lust.

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We could say that the obnoxious ostentatious poster fronting the building facade along the busy motorway is telling people to be filial to your own parents and avoid lasciviousness by not patronizing prostitutes or having extra marital affairs.

Is it referring to the 44 itchy monkeys I blog about or telling us not be like those itchy monkeys? I’m not sure about the intention of the advertiser or the reasons behind this poster. What I know that it certainly costs quite a lot of money to mount this display and also paying for the rental of the space. It sure beats me.

Related article.

Discussion in a neighboring country about this topic.

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About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
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18 Responses to Filial Piety the best virtue; Lascivious the worst sin!

  1. MCH says:

    China’s become more western and Singapore has become Little China. I guess this is for all the Chinese-speaking folks in Singapore. I studied mandarin as a 2nd lang in school, in Singapore, but I would have a problem reading the poster, if not for the English words…below.

    What’s with the religious figures? I reckon a rich Bhuddist placed the ad up!

    • Yes, it could a wealthy Buddhist spending lots of money to put the advertisement to atone for his sins? Some of them resort to printing Buddhist literature for free distribution to accumulate merits or atone for past mistakes or sins etc. We don’t know. Only that person knows. Whatever it is I feel that it’s rather noble of him to do it.

  2. agongkia says:

    This poster was seen months ago ,coincidentally after a reported case of extramarital affair .

    How one can say China has become more western and Singapore has become Little China when there is a higher percentage of Singaporean having angmo names than the Mainland Chinese.

    This banner act as a reminder for those who do not treasure their elders to be filial.
    I am not guilty of the first reminder and is proud to say so.
    But I have difficulty handling the second one.Too many Char Bor,the young,the sweet,the widowed,the divorcee,the separated…. trying to get close to me with all kind of excuses.
    I siam,I avoid,I chow,I gave excuses but starting to finding difficulties to resist the temptation now.
    Till the day when Garmen can allow me to marry many wives.If not I will have to continue to suffer in silence if I dun want to commit sexual misconducts.

  3. dotseng says:

    Meaning is usually lost in a translation. Matters not whether it is Mandarin or even Russian to English – the nuanced message doesn’t seem to be able to make the cross over in a translation. But this is not really a religious edict – IMHO, it is closer to the philosophy of what it is required to build a harmonious family which goes back to the classical idea of Hexie Shehuih – where people can always be counted to do the right thing and reject the wrong. It is, in effect, another way of saying do not allow the modern way of life to rob you of what is really valuable and meaningfully – here filial piety is not used in the literal sense, but refers to duty and correctness of conduct on the part of the man and woman. Neither does the reference to screwing around a stricture either. Rather what is seems to be saying is this is what will happen, if there is no sense of duty. So it is really a warning Gintai – as without a balanced mind there can be no harmony of thoughts and actions between a man and woman and this is quiet logical. As without correctness of thought – how can there be correctness of conduct – and so there can be no such thing as a harmonious family. Without a harmonious family, neither man or woman can seek refuge from the ravages of living in a modern world. As the modern world is really a very taxing place that ONLY takes, takes and takes. The modern world these days gives the average man and woman very little – It only knows how to take, take and take. And so the home is the only refuge for the modern man and woman and it is really not so different from sanctuary. A place where the both of them can let their hair down, recharge their batteries, tune their mind like car and patch up the many bullet holes the world has inflicted upon the mind, body and spirit. Without a harmonious home, it is really quiet impossible for goodness to radiate out from a man or woman. Neither will he or she be motivated to do good deeds for his family members, colleagues at work and friends. In fact without harmony in a man heart- a man or for that matter any man (including myself) will probably NEVER want to go back home. He will find countless excuses to stay away from the hell of his nagging wife and demanding in laws – and as time goes by this poor fellow can only end up going into a karaoke bar to seek it out a perfect imitation of heaven between the legs of woman which is really a form of sugar coated hell – when that happens, it is finished. Game over! So to me, what this message is trying to convey is not only to the man and husband. But also the woman and wife. IF YOU BOTH WANT TO LEAD A HARMONIOUS LIFE, GO BACK TO BASICS, START BY PUTTING FAMILY FIRST.

    That is why a wise man always tells his wife from time to time. Please do your utmost to make our home a heavenly and harmonious place. So that we can both fulfill our duty to our parents and children. if the man or woman is petty and the happy-go-luck sort and does not take these words seriously and creates hell instead, then it is only a matter of time before the man or woman will walk right out of the door and seek a slice of heaven somewhere else. He or she cannot be blamed. Will not be blamed. Not by the heavenly laws of nature, at least. As a home that is hell is really not a place that any right thinking man or woman should even go back too. I do not recommend that ANY man or woman goes back to a home that is hellish – it will probably end up as a nasty police case – it is best if he cuts his losses, walk away and start all over again. 

    Read it again, that message very cheem. So deep that I have only really scratched the surface of Hexie Shehuih. 

    Darkness 2012 

    • Hi Darkness2012,
      Thank you for your insightful analysis. Yes, the two lines of phrases have rather deep inner meaning that withstands timeless history.
      It all started with the three verse analects or 三字经. http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMTU5MTUxMDg=.html
      Every Chinese stream student would have learnt that in primary school. Whereas our Western educated or English stream students started learning ABC instead. That is the difference in the systems of primary education.
      With the inculcation of strong values, that boy will hopefully grow up to resist all kinds of temptations in the real world where money and power can command anything he wishes assuming that he grows up to be a wealthy and powerful man.
      Yes Darkness2012, you are correct to say that it compasses more than the apparent meaning stated by me. It’s more than that.
      The building block of a society is in the family unit. If that guy is not filial to his own parents having brought him up with so much sweat and tears, then that guy will treat others in a ruthless and disregard honor. That man will not hesitate to commit more sins.
      The first virtue of the 100 virtues is filial piety and his character is built from there. The honor and right attitudes will guide him throughout his lifespan in his dealings with his fellow compatriots esp if he assumes a powerful dominant position where to corrupt and self aggrandizement is just with the wave of a hand.
      It’s a regret that in our local schools such basic virtues are no longer inculcate to our young in schools. That part explains why recently our leader was publicly rebuked by a young man. It is unthinkable to do such thing in my time as a student.

  4. auntielucia says:

    Not sure why you describe the poster as “obnoxious”. If we can accept stuff like “Don’t drink n drive”, why not a large poster concerning virtues and vices? Perhaps you used an inappropriate adjective 🙄

    • Aunt Lucia,
      You are correct. Wrong description. I should have used ‘conspicuous!’ Thks for pointing it out.

      • auntielucia says:

        A better word Alan is “ostentatious” meaning kwa jang (excuse my hanyu pinyin!)

        • 誇张. I hope I got it right. Chinese characters usually are different but with same pronounciation. Ok. Will use this word in lieu of obnoxious. Thks.

          • agongkia says:

            All these while I just feel that the word kwa jang means to exaggerate and the jang should be the same word as the surname of DPM Teo.Word like ostentatious or kwa jang is still not perfect to me .This poster has no religious connotation and is reminding me to be a good boy.I want to be a good boy.
            .

          • Yes. You are correct about the zhang. Thks.

  5. dotseng says:

    Gintai,

    This is a very cryptic message. The first line is OK, it makes perfect sense. As filial piety is the tap root of good and proper conduct – all good conduct emanate from this idea of respecting and caring for our parents. If a man cannot even do this, then forget about honesty or keeping his pecker in his trousers.

    But the second message confounds and I suspect will cause many to tune off – as how can sleeping around be the greatest sin? Let us all be reasonable lah – if that is the case where does murder stand in the pecking order?Are you telling me murder is less of a sin than a session in hotel 81? k

    Hello no meaning lah!

    But in China I happen to see a lot of these posters some of them are quite comical – like, “Moral uprightness is bring happiness to your liver.” When I asked my PRC counterpart what this meant – he said, this is an anti alcohol message. In other cities in China especially the provinces, you even have more bizarre messages like, “preserve your precious bodily fluids for harmonious household.” I thought this was a water conservation campaign message. But again my PRC friend stumped me by highlighting this was to discourage married men from visiting prostitutes.  

    • Hi Darkness2012,
      Totally concurred with your view on the 2nd line. If u refer to the link, the writer also rubbished the 2nd line like what u did. No argument abt that.
      However, it’s actually more than the apparent explanation like I said earlier. Lust here refers to more than a wanton nite at Hotel 81. It’s more of a karma or vicious cycle here. I linked it to the 44 itchy monkeys in the article.
      You see just for a moment of lust or heavenly pleasure as you term it – led to untold misery and ruined future. I’m sure you heard of the face that launched a thousand ships in ancient Greece or Rome? Was it Helen the poisonous cobra?
      What about ancient China emperors and generals fought over beauties leading to so much deaths and suffering? Is it not the sin of lust over a filthy cobra? All these are recorded in ancient history. 英雄难过美人关!Try getting hold of the song sang by Roman Tam in Cantonese “小李飞刀!” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzGODXN6zao&feature=youtube_gdata_player Examine the lyrics to understand the spell cast by lust. Again, is it not lust with tons of money that the Ferrari driver was found with a little cobra when it hit the mother of all crashes just a street away from that huge conspicuous banner which is the subject of our discussion here? Far reaching repercussions right? Even great heroes also fall under the spell of lust. What about the father / founder of communist PRC?
      In PRC country, they love slogans of every imaginable types. I’ve nvr been to PRC but I read and heard a lot abt their slogans esp in their schools and govt buildings. I call them propaganda slogans like those u mentioned.
      I would prefer those old proverbs or idioms which I shall blog more if I got the time. It’s quite tedious to do a bilingual post here cuz of my limited Chinese knowledge! I need to check and countercheck esp Chinese characters written differently but having same or similar pronounciation.
      I won’t argue with you that murder is worst sin than laying around with a sensual cobra in Hotel 81.
      Like I said earlier, the implications of lust and lascivious conduct are far more reaching in the like of those 44 itchy monkeys and that ‘face’ that launched a thousand ships. If we put that 2nd line in that context, then only it will make some sense. I hope you see my point even though I’m not dismissing any of your logic. Thank you for your feedback which allows me to elaborate further. Cheers.

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  7. 百善孝为先 originates from a Confucian writers in the Qing Dynasty. The origin of 万恶淫为首 is not clear, but it’s believed to be a common saying passed down through the generations in China, probably to justify the drowning of adulterous couples. They are rather closed-ended and extreme statements, quite atypical of Buddhist sayings.

    • Oh yes. I heard that in ancient China they put the adulterous couple inside the “pig rattan cage” to drown them as punishment if caught. In Muslim countries, it’s death by stonning. Maybe you are right about that. This.

  8. Pingback: Filial Piety the best virtue; Lascivious the worst sin revisited! | Gintai_昇泰

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