Reminder from last issue:
Because Confucius' ideals were too high, he was unwilling to go along with the crowd, and so he traveled through many states for fourteen years, experiencing all kinds of difficulties and dangers. He had the will but lacked the opportunity and so he gathered many students and disciples.
When Confucius returned to the State of Lu, he compiled the Book of Poetry, established the Music and Rites, annotated the Book of Changes, and compiled the Spring and Autumn Annals. In this way he sorted out the good from the bad and put in order over 1500 years of China's cultural heritage, thereby making it easy for future generations to understand and take delight in putting it into practice. Therefore some have said, "It is because of Confucius that Chinese culture has been preserved." This is not an overstatement. Actually, "It was China's long and lofty cultural heritage that produced Confucius; but it was because of Confucius, the sage-philosopher sent by heaven, that China's cultural heritage was put in order and revealed in all its greatness." The above historical accounts are verification that there is a certain way to put a nation in order or to perish; if the method is accepted by the populace, then one will win the country and be able to put it in order. If the method is not accepted by the populace, then the country will be lost and will perish. There are no exceptions to this. In essence, the method is based on public spirit, comes forth from utmost sincerity, returns to striving for humaneness, is stationed in adhering to equilibrium, and accomplished through practice.
If you can embody these five qualities, you can be said to have attained the Way. One who attains the Way receives much aid. One who loses the way is bereft of aid. When one is completely bereft of aid, even his relatives rebel against him. Heaven accords with one who receives maximum aid. When those whom heaven accords with go into combat against those whose relatives oppose them, the former will certainly win every battle and be successful in governing. Transmitting the system of this Way is called "cultural tradition." After being transmitted from generation to generation, it becomes the common belief of the entire populace, and it instills the people with the special ethnic qualities of being "magnanimous and all-encompassing, strong and unbending, just and unbiased, proper and not devious." Upon reaching our Founding Father, Mr. Sun Zhungshan, this term (cultural tradition) became even more apparent. In 1922, he said, "China has a continuous cultural tradition passed down from Yao, Shun, Yu, Tang, Wen, Wu, Zhou, and Confucius. The foundation of my philosophy is this. The goal of my revolution is to enable this heritage of traditional philosophy to flourish." This is the formation of the cultural tradition of China.
4. The Development of the Eight Virtues
The Chinese Founding Father, in order to make it easier for the people to understand the five qualities of "public spirit, sincerity, humaneness, equilibrium, and practice," systematized them into eight virtues of loyalty, filiality, humaneness, fond regard, trustworthiness, righteousness, harmony, and peace. These are also the virtues of Chinese cultural inheritance. Note: With sincerity come loyalty and trustworthiness. With humaneness come filiality, righteousness and fond regard. With equilibrium come harmony and peace. One's practice must be public-spirited.
Loyalty and filiality: Loyalty toward one's country and filiality toward one's relatives are the fundamental requirements for being a person.
Humaneness and fond regard: These are an expansion of loyalty and filiality. Loving one's family, one will be humane toward the people. Being humane to people, one will have fond regard for all creatures.
Trustworthiness and righteousness: These come from putting humaneness and fond regard into actual practice. Only talking about humanness and fond regard without putting them into practice won't help anything. Therefore "what you say must be trustworthy and what you do must be in accord with righteousness." Your actions and your thought must be the same, and what you say must accord with what you do.
Harmony and peace: These gradually arise through the expansion of the previous six.
If everyone can practice the six virtues of loyalty, filiality, humaneness, fond regard, trustworthiness, and righteousness, then love between people and a spirit of mutual helpfulness will naturally arise, leading to harmony among people and peace in all matters.
5. The Propagation of the Four Cardinal Virtues
Although Guan Zi belonged to the legalist school and his methods differed from the Confucian way of governing, his principles were similar. The cultural tradition bases itself on "the Way of Heaven" and the source of this school of thought arises from a naturalism that accords with heaven, loves the people, and leads to an unselfish and public spirit. This has become the principle of governing which has not changed since ancient times. Propriety and righteousness are a direct way and integrity and a sense of shame are an indirect way to seek for harmony among the people and peace in all matters.
→To be continued