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慈祥代天宣化 忠孝為國敎民

On behalf of Heaven,proclaim and transform with kindness. For the country,teach the people to be loyal and filial.

An Explanation of the Rules for Being A Student

第六章 親仁
Chapter 6:On Drawing Near to the Humane

孫秀美 文 By Jennifer Li

neng qin ren   wu xian hao
能够 親近 有道德的 人 没有止境的, 不可估計的 好處
be able to draw near humane unlimited immeasurable good

To follow the truly humane will bring immeasurable good.

de ri jin   guo ri shao
品德 每日地 進步 過 错 每日地 减少
virtue daily to progress mistakes daily to reduce

我们的品德會一天比一天進步,我们的過 錯會一天比一天减少。
Virtue will grow day by day. Day by day our mistakes will be fewer. 

bu qin ren   wu xian hai
不能够 親近 有道德的人 没有止境的,不可估計的 害處
don't to draw near humane unlimited immeasurable harm

To not follow the truly humane will bring immeasurable harm.

xiao ren jin   bai shi huai
没有品德的人 向前接近 每件事情 敗壞
petty people to come forward hundred matters (everything) to be ruined

Unworthy people come forward; everything will be ruined.








Earlier we mentioned that Emperor Taizong of Tang Dynasty had an honorable queen, Zhang Sun, as well as a blunt and loyal minister, Wei Zheng. Not only was Queen Zhang Sun virtuous and respectable, but she was very knowledgeable too. However, she never flaunted her talent out of arrogance or improperly interfered with politics. Furthermore, she never used her position to indulge in extravagances or covetously harm the emperor's concubines.

Queen Zhang Sun was so modest and laconic that Emperor Taizong did not discover the queen's Guide for Women among her mementos until her death. The emperor couldn't help but become emotional over this discovery. Why? This work had collected past and present female role models and compiled imperatives encouraging kindness. The handbook was succinct and lucid. During her lifetime, no one knew that Queen Zhang Sun had written this Guide for Women; therefore we know that she didn't author this manual to parade her writing skill or to seek praise and reputation. This guide was strictly a product of the accumulated lessons of a woman's lifetime of quiet cultivation and propriety in action.

During the time that she led the six imperial harems, she served as a role model. Imprudent and boastful people, incidents of jealousy and disarray were absent in these palaces. Queen Zhang Sun's remarkably virtuous conduct made her an exemplary archetype for women. The Guide for Women was widely circulated after her death. Up until the Qing Dynasty, women in imperial palaces were required to read this manual! Even in the current era of equality between the sexes, modern women may still find this handbook a worthwhile reference for noteworthy rationale and principles behind some of its arcane rites and rules.

Next, we'll talk about Wei Zheng, whom Emperor Taizong feared yet respected. Although Emperor Taizong was a holy and understanding son of the heavens who accepted suggestions humbly, Wei Zheng was still glad about and grateful for the emperor's partiality and trust. Consequently, Wei Zheng dedicated himself wholeheartedly, providing a thorough critique on any matter that benefited other countries or harmed the monarch. Emperor Taizong always let Wei Zheng speak his mind too. Since the path of free speech existed, worthy people were attracted to this ruler, and the Tang Dynasty had no choice but to flourish.

After Wei Zheng's death, Emperor Taizong personally arrived and grieved in pain. The emperor failed to govern national affairs for five days and mandated an elaborate funeral for Wei Zheng. The just and incorruptible Wei Zheng also had a virtuous and fair wife. Mrs. Wei actually rejected the Emperor's bequest of honor, saying, "Zheng was typically economical and simple. If we perform the funeral of the highest grade, then that would go against the wish of the deceased." As a result, only cloth carriages were used to transport the casket.

On the day of the funeral procession, the emperor ordered all ministers and officials to accompany the casket out to the countryside while he ascended atop a tower to watch the funeral, crying uncontrollably. Emperor Taizong said, "Each person has three mirrors. Using the mirror of copper (glass mirrors didn't exist yet), one can dress appropriately. Using the mirror of history, one recognizes the successes and failures of the past and present. Using the mirror of people, one examines one's own merits and faults. 1 always keep these three mirrors around to prevent mistakes and negligence. With the departure of Wei Zheng, I have lost one of my most precious mirrors!" It is no wonder that during Emperor Taizong's lifetime he had no stirrings among his harems and capable sages filled his imperial court.

It was not only through his own competence that this Emperor led the Tang Dynasty to peace and prosperity. Historically, there were plenty of gifted monarchs; however, there were few rulers who were virtuous and wise like Emperor Taizong. There was only a handful of heads of state who knew to cherish an exemplary queen and accept a minister's admonition. Thus, it was no surprise that Emperor Taizong built an empire that reached heights incomparable in the world and throughout history.

For us ordinary people who want to make progress in cultivating virtue and further our aspirations, we must also "draw near humane ones and distance ourselves from scoundrels." The Analects states, "similar objects tend to gather together"; in other words, "birds of a feather flock together." If we do the deeds of civilized characters, then civil persons will naturally draw near us; when humane characters draw near us, our virtues advance. In contrast, if we do the deeds of scandalous ones, then villains will naturally draw near us; when villains draw near us, then our virtues deteriorate gradually. Therefore, virtuous people always have good teachers, beneficial friends and helpful partners, while unscrupulous scoundrels usually have evil teachers, harmful friends, and sullen seducers.

Who's considered humane and who's considered scandalous, however? This appeared to have been one of the favorite debate topics for Confucius and his students. The Confucian Analects and the Words for the Household repeatedly iterated these definitions. For example, once Yan Hui inquired about the definition of a scoundrel. Confucius explained that a crook was "One who purposely depicts others' good deeds as bad, yet merrily considers oneself flawlessly eloquent. A scoundrel is calculating and endangering, yet one considers himself exceptionally intelligent. One sees others make mistakes and delights in the disaster. One doesn't try to learn humbly but actually laughs at others' ignorance. These are some of the typical habits of a scoundrel." Then what are the outstanding qualities of a civil being? Confucius answered, "The civil one uses action as his language whereas the scoundrel relies only on words. Thus, civil persons will mutually criticize and compare according to reason and pertinence of the issue. Privately they value and respect each other. On the other hand, scoundrels cooperate and depend on one another while committing crime. Privately they treat each other like enemies."

In summary, the biggest difference between civilized humanitariansand scoundrels is that "Civil ones are acclimatized to justice while uncivilones are acclimatized to self-interest." In other words, one maintains anopen and straightforward heart, safeguarding integrity while the otherdwells selfishly in narrow-mindedness, caring only for one's benefits.When gentlemen gather, for instance, they always consult one another andencourage each other to be good. When rascals meet up, however, they always collaborate to do evil.             

Thus, although we speak of equality among living beings and "love of all beings," we should be clear about good and evil, using "drawing near humaneness" as an anchor. The principle of loving living beings is basically the principle of maintaining equitable kindness; to draw near civility is an expedient act that concurs with principle. If you intend to be a humanitarian, you must conduct yourself wisely. A humane heart and wise conduct are sufficient to prop up heaven and earth and enter the brilliance of the four seas.


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