We generally rate people into high, medium, and low grades, just as we do for the things we use and the food we eat. Teachers in school often assess their students similarly. In the army, they grade their officers in much the same way. Lieutenant general is given one star, a major general two, and a brigadier general three stars.
We often evaluate things in the world the way we grade hotels. There are the five-star, four-star, three-star, and some which may not even be worthy of one-star. For historic sites, there is also the grading of first, second, and third class. It is natural that there are so many grades in the world. For instance, members in a family consist of grandparents, parents, and children. That is a natural filial order.
Within the framework of this order, when we have morals, knowledge and capabilities, and when we work for the benefit of the community, then we are at the premier grade. When we do our job well and put in our best effort, we are in the middle. But if we are bent on taking advantage of others, our unethical behaviour and crooked ways will mark us as low grade. Therefore, we should remind ourselves constantly on which grade we want to be.
In speaking, there is also high-grade speech, which is genteel, respectful, and full of praise for others. Then there is medium-grade speech, which should be right, and according to our position. Low-grade speech is incongruous and rough. Just as in writing, the high-graders are thorough and concise, or descriptive and lively. The medium ones are clear and straightforward, with no special flair. And the low grades are without substance and boring. Whether in speaking or writing, we also need to ask ourselves which grade we belong to.
In Buddhism, when we talk about repentance, taking initiative, and making vows, there are also the three grades. In high-grade repentance, we bleed through our pores. For medium-grade repentance, we perspire in our fervor. And in low-grade repentance, we shed hot tears of remorse.
In life, even if we cannot be a high-grade person, and act and speak as such, we should at least not fall into the low grade. By being in the middle, we should not ruin the reputation of our order, nor harm others in our behavior, but instead conduct ourselves appropriately. We should take life and our position with an even mind and just be an ordinary person. Then we could at least be at peace with life.