Guide to Conduct and...


Guide to Conduct and Ceremony

General Introduction

A sage of old said, “Proprieties are the fabric of heavenly principles and the rules of human affairs.” Without proprieties, a person would be devoid of the highest of human qualities and public morals and social order would hardly be maintained; therefore, laying down the rules of propriety is a matter of vital importance in human life.
Due to the changes of times and borders, however, traditional proprieties from the past may be considered no longer proper in the present and what may be accepted as politeness in one country may not be in another country; hence the need for a person to adopt only what is proper arises. While proprieties, when first laid down, may seem carelessly done due to their procedural simplicity, adding volumes of supplementary expositions as time passes, on the contrary, would create troublesome practices that may not correspond well with people’s daily life; therefore the need for a person to adopt moderation without excess or deficiency is called for. As laying down the rules of propriety relates heavily to external matters, namely relations between people and those between people and things, a person ignorant of the fundamentals of propriety is likely to think that merely following formalities and keeping up appearance with whatever means according to time and place is all there is to practicing propriety. This is why a person should train himself from within, in pursuit of the fundamentals.
Consequently, what are the fundamentals of propriety? The first is to show far-ranging respect, which is always having respect for all things in the universe. The second is to show humility, which is always humbling oneself and honoring others. The third is to never compare nor reckon up, which is always asking oneself whether one has been improper in anyway and not reckoning up the improprieties of others.
Moreover, as the rules of propriety deals heavily with distinction of rank and seniority, a person may easily think that merely elucidating ways of distinction according to ranks and seniority with whatever means is the true nature of propriety. According to the principle, however, the way for one to train oneself in propriety as a whole is to first seek the mind, and then to have the mind rest in the place devoid of distinction, and finally to apply the ways of distinction in dealing with the matters of external nature. Only after having trained oneself this way, will one's conduct coincide with the fundamentals and will he be able to avoid being concerned with issues of minor or of no importance when dealing with matters.
The Won-Buddhist order, in consideration of all such points, compiled the Canon of Propriety, the collection of necessary rules of propriety selected from both the old and the new, in which general propriety is first elucidated, followed by formalities concerning family affairs as well as the rites and rituals of the Order that meet the needs of the times based on the Way for the public. Those who faithfully put them into practice as prescribed will truly be versed in the order of things in propriety and contribute to improving the world.