Eight Moral Precepts

Interviewer: Sifu. Thank you for agreeing to this interview. The topic I’d like to discuss is the Eight Moral Precepts you’ve spoken of in the past.

Sifu: Yes, the Eight Moral Precepts are important. They are: Conquer desire; Harmony in the Gwoon; Train diligently; Always study; Respect the Sifu and Seniors; Love country and family; Always maintain manners; Uphold justice.

Interviewer: Yes. Would you mind commenting briefly on each, please, sifu?

Sifu: Certainly. Conquer desire is self-evident. If you allow yourself to be a slave to desire you limit your attainment. Moderate desire. Develop virtues. Harmony in the Gwoon means that we must not compare ourselves to others except to inspire improvement. We must not be jealous or allow negative emotion to exist between us. We must avoid bringing disrepute to ourselves, to the art, to the gwoon or to the sifu by any troublemaking outside the gwoon. Train diligently means we must train hard and smart. This way we can attain ability. We also have to exemplify the three A’s attendance, application, attitude. Always study means to always research the art and study ways to improve. Respect the sifu and seniors is self evident. Relationships within the levels of the gwoon ought always be respectful. Love country and family means to care for the community and the wider world. Although we’d say “country” from the old days now the whole world is really one, thanks to globalisation. Our family is all of humankind. We can start with our gung fu family. Always maintain manners means that we reflect the moral character of our parents and ancestors. Students displaying good manners support the saying: “See the student, see the sifu”. We must reflect our sifu’s moral integrity and always be a good role model for true gung fu. Finally, “Uphold justice” means that we must strive to be fair and just in all our dealings.

Interviewer: They sound simple enough but contain a lot of advice to display Mo Duk, don’t they?

Sifu: Yes. They are simple but not always easy! Mo Duk is part of our training. Gung fu is not simply learning self-defence but is learning how to live appropriately. Whilst if we are attacked we must defend ourselves we must never use gung fu incorrectly. We must strive to only do, say and think that which helps other sentient beings and avoid doing, saying, and thinking that harms other sentient beings. We must do good, avoid evil, fight evil, purify and guard our mind-stream and respect and honour the teachers and good and virtuous people who have gone before us.

Interviewer: You’ve stated an interesting definition of “evil” sifu. Could you re-state it for this interview to share with our readers, please?

Sifu: Yes, it is that evil is no more, nor any different to a lack of empathy, a lack of compassion. It can extend from ignoring someone to mass murder – all on the same continuum. It is all on the same continuum – a lack of compassion.

Interviewer: Thank you for that sifu. That’s thought provoking.

Sifu: My pleasure.