In all matters, it's best to stop at the right moment or the appropriate point;
that's the only way they can endure over time.
Reminder from the last issue:
The Truth of Humaneness and the Truth of Equilibrium
Neither "going too far" nor "not going far enough" is good. Things must be at the "right place" before they can be considered perfect. That is why it is said, "To go too far is just as bad as to not go far enough." Take wearing clothes: if you put on too much clothing, you will be hot; if you put on too little clothing, you will be cold. You have to wear the right amount of clothing before you feel comfortable. Take fashion, for example. A garment that is too long, too short, too loose, or too tight will not stay in fashion long. That kind of trend will not last. It will go out of style in no time at all. Only clothes that are neither too long nor too short can last. Take eating for another example. Not eating too much and not eating too little, but knowing when to stop at the right time is best. The taste of the food should not be too sweet or too sour or too bitter or too hot. Then people will not get tired of it. In all matters, it's best to stop at the right moment or the appropriate point; that's the only way they can endure over time. "Equilibrium denotes the correct course to be pursued by all under heaven." "Being without inclinations is called equitable." "Being without inclinations is being public-spirited."
The principle of the mean is an important virtue in Chinese culture. That is because in "equilibrium" there can be no partiality. When one is not partial, then everything will be level and equal. No one will be out of harmony. The more progress people make in their pursuit of knowledge, the more clearly they can observe the two extremes and they will understand that everything is in constant motion at all times. Leaning toward either extreme, one can easily make the mistake of "When something is pushed to the extreme it backfires." Everything must meet the long lasting need of the majority before it can be considered the norm; this is what "equilibrium" means.
E. The Truth of Practice
The fifth thing people learn from the Way of Heaven is "practice."
Heaven has never stopped even for a single moment in its progress. The qian hexagram refers to this, saying, "The movement of heaven is full of power." This is telling people to make progress every day. One cannot be lazy or stop. One should urge oneself on ceaselessly. Anything that moves will follow a fixed track and the course will be like waves--electric current, sound waves, light waves, and so forth. There is nothing under Heaven that moves in a straight line. Rather, progress is zigzagged. For instance, when the stock market reaches a peak, it is certain to fall. It's said, "When something reaches an extreme, it will reverse. When happiness reaches its extreme point, sadness will set in." All this knowledge comes from the Book of Changes. What heaven reveals to humankind is perseverance. To persevere, one urges oneself on ceaselessly. Advancing forward without stopping is making progress. That is, "If you can one day renovate yourself, do so from day to day. Yea, let there be daily renovation." If you know how to progress ceaselessly, then there will be constancy.
What Confucius detested most was people who sat around and talked and didn't practice. To only talk and never do shows a lack of sincerity and humaneness. That is why it is said, "Practice is close to humaneness." "One who uses fine words and an insinuating appearance is seldom associated with humaneness." Those who only speak and do not practice are called "yes men"--hypocrites. Mencius called them "thieves among the virtuous." The Founding Father of the Chinese Republic echoes this, saying, "The theory is difficult to know but easy to practice."
3. The Cultural Tradition and its Formation.
The above five areas are the Way of People, based on the Way of Heaven. They are the foundation for dealing with people and handling matters in Chinese culture, which has been transmitted for thousands of years and has become the cultural tradition.
To put it briefly,
From the point of view of principle, it's called "public spirit"-- the public spirit of having no selfishness and no ego.
From the point of view of self, it's called sincerity-- self-accomplishment and success in doing things.
From the point of view of people, it's called humaneness-- supporting people and reaching people.
From the point of view of doing things, it's called equilibrium-- not being inclined to either extreme.
From the point of view of applying effort, it's called practice--renewing oneself every day.
To be continued