The western dictionary’s version of “righteous” is too vague and not precise enough. As Taoist, we follow the wisdom and standard that our Tao has passed onto us. In this article, I will dig into the real definition and details about being righteous for a Taoist, and how it can benefit you and your family by possessing this virtue.
Definition of Being Righteous
Righteous is when you are feeling, thinking and doing things that are going the way that the big group you belong to is also going for. When the goals are aligned, and the way is aligned, you are being auspicious, and also righteous to the group. For example, you follow the Tao of Saam Law, by wearing a cross you are not righteous, because it makes you look like a member of Christianity, and not like a Taoist, it is against and not aligned with your Tao identity, and therefore it is not righteous.
There are 3 kinds of righteousness in general.
Small righteousness 小義 – this is being righteous to yourself, smarting from being auspicious and aligned with your own heart. That means, you should not be a hypocrite who say one thing and do another. Make sure your action, speech and mind are aligned and not contradicting with each other. If the heart is toward the Tao, but your action and speech not, then your small righteousness failed.
Big righteousness 大義 – This righteousness is an upgrade to the first, which is changing yourself for the big group. For example, I like coffee, but the big group say they wanted tea. Okay, I will sacrifice myself and drink tea with them, since the group is more important compared to just myself. When small righteous matured, then you upgrade to this level and being a much more matured mindset.
Righteousness of Justice 公義 – This is the ultimate kind of righteousness, which is sacrificing yourself for the big group and the public’s benefit and not your own. You are doing it not just to sacrifice for the sake of following what the group does, but doing it for the sake of the benefit of the group instead of yourself. For example, you really want to start smoking, but because you don’t want to ruin the lineage’s reputation, you want everyone in the world to say this lineage is so clean and good, then you sacrifice yourself and don’t start smoking to give the lineage a better image.
How to be Righteous
Understanding and being loyal, sacrificing yourself for the group you follow, being happy about doing so, is the way to be righteous. If you feel it is a kind of suppression, or you are being forced to do so, then your action is not righteous at all, since it is not done out of joy, like you don’t even have love in your action.
A Taoist needs to be righteous by following the Tao’s teachings such as the 5 virtues, 10 commandments, etc. We all follow those, why shall you not? Maybe some rules seem like a restriction to control you, but that is for you to be righteous to the Tao. You are changing, sacrificing, and being a different person than what you initially were, because you want to be part of the Tao family. To do so, you need to be following the big group, being aligned with them, and not being “yourself”. However, you convert yourself to be a new person, which means the new you is still you, and you should feel happy about doing it. To be righteous, you do remove your “true self” to become a new self, so don’t try to argue that “it is not me, it is not what I am”. Yes, we all know, and everyone changes themselves to become what a Taoist SHOULD BE. So, you are removing a lot of things from yourself, including habits and actions that are no good to keep.
What is Wrong Being Non-Righteous
No one wants a non-righteous person around, because they are like not on the same boat as the big group, they will become disloyal and eventually do a lot of things to damage the group instead of helping. Imagine that 100 people work in google, and 1 of the non-righteous guy always go to work wearing that Apple shirt. It just feels like he is an enemy or something.
Being a non-righteous disciple, you feel, think and act different from the group, from what we teaches, and that makes you a bad disciple, like a black sheep in the group. You will eventually isolate yourself out of the group and you don't feel you belong in the lineage anymore, and that lead to you losing interest in staying and being with the lineage, and the Tao. You will want to be "yourself", and that is the sign of a failure to stay righteous.
Being a Saam Law Taoist, if you don’t follow the teachings and rules in the lineage, then everyone including the gods and people will not like you, since you are being a hypocrite. You say you are loyal and committed, but your action proves another way.
Watch out for those heart devils that makes you feel you want to be "yourself" and not be following what your master said. That is the time when you are actually being a crook. Your masters is not here to harm you, why shall you even not follow his teachings? It is because you have become non-righteous, which in another word, crooked and evil, non-aligned with the Tao.
How to Correct
Just like we have said in the article about loyalty, you need to make changes, but also to self punish to get the memory etched into your heart to correct all the issue.
In this society, if you are non-righteous, you will be committing crimes, meaning you are offending the law, and therefore you will be penalized or punished or even put to jail.
In your Tao-learning journey, you can also do the same thing. If you find yourself non-righteous, then penalize yourself by donating to the Tao which means you let the Tao take away your money and give you pain. You have done something wrong, then do something “right” – supporting the lineage and giving the Tao some help is always right. Beside that you can also offer your time and energy to help the Tao do things, ask the uppers what you can help the lineage do, and you can output your time and energy to make up for your wrong doings too.
For the jail part, it is about being corrected, and so you can ask your uppers to give you a session of correction teachings, being scolded, criticized, and so on. Yes, it hurts, and it is painful to the heart, but it is what you need as a medicine. Better than not being able to be corrected and staying as a black sheep, then eventually being kick out of the lineage, because of all the wrong doings.
Are you feeling righteous today? How much are you alike with the big group here?
Ordain today to learn more about these virtues and wisdom, they do impact your life greatly. Knowing how to be righteous makes you auspicious to the group, no matter it is your career, or Tao-path, it will still be a very good virtue to have. Being non-righteous, it leads to being kick out of the group, people losing trust and faith in you, and eventually you see everyone goes away from you will be left with no friends or family.