Found ! Zhongyong. Doctrine of the Mean.

Found !  Zhongyong.  Doctrine of the Mean.

In an earlier posting I mentioned that I could not find an old chinese saying about ‘heaven, nature, and culture’. But now I found it and, silly me, it just happens to be the first line of one of the great 5 classics !

These were books that every aspiring chinese bureaucrat had to learn to pass the time-honoured ( Ming 1368–1644 and Qing 1644 – 1912 dynasties) civil-service examinations. In effect this meant they had to be known by heart (which might explain chinese/asian rote learning (also common in islamic learning) ).

As such it encapsulates, and formed/forms, much of chinese culture. In other words many of the cookie-wisdom sayings come from this book !

It is attributed to be written by Kong Ji, the only grandson of Confucius. It was published as a chapter in the Classic of Rites.

Below are two translations of the first sentence. The first by the venerable Legge (1893). The second by A. Charles Muller from 1991. I also added a third which is by the person i see if i look in the mirror. I do not like the word ‘Duty’ and i think it is very un-Tao- like (even though this is Confucian doctrine, more-over neo-Confucian doctrine).

(Zhongyong / Doctrine of the Mean 1.) 天命之謂性。率性之謂道。修道之謂教
(Legge, 1893)
1. What Heaven has conferred is called The Nature; an accordance with this nature is called The Path of duty;  the regulation of this path is called Instruction.

(A. Charles Muller, 1991)
1. What Heaven confers is called “nature.” Accordance with this nature is called the Way. Cultivating the Way is called “education.”

(Me, myself and i, 2016)
1. What Heaven confers is called “nature.” Accordance with this nature is called the Way (Tao). Cultivating the Way is called “culture.”

Just for your pleasure, below some other cookies from the same book. A lot has to do with how to order social relations, how to improve yourself, and how to govern a state.

13:3. “When one cultivates to the utmost the principles of his nature, and exercises them on the principle of reciprocity, he is not far from the path. What you do not like when done to yourself, do not do to others.” [sounds familiar ? ]

20:18 “Sincerity is the way of Heaven. The attainment of sincerity is the way of men. He who possesses sincerity is he who, without an effort, hits what is right, and apprehends, without the exercise of thought;– he is the sage who naturally and easily embodies the right way. He who attains to sincerity is he who chooses what is good, and firmly holds it fast.”

24:1 “It is characteristic of the most entire sincerity to be able to foreknow. When a nation or family is about to flourish, there are sure to be happy omens; and when it is about to perish, there are sure to be unlucky omens. Such events are seen in the milfoil and tortoise, and affect the movements of the four limbs. When calamity or happiness is about to come, the good shall certainly be foreknown by him, and the evil also. Therefore the individual possessed of the most complete sincerity is like a spirit.”

26:6 “Such being its nature, without any display, it becomes manifested; without any movement, it produces changes; and without any effort, it accomplishes its ends.”

Did you find some other goodies ?

By the way: Aristotle was also busy with a Doctrine of the Mean. The Budhha’s way is also called the Middle Way. Something appealing in not going to extremes it would appear.

Update Een nederlandse vertaling door Dhr. D. Eisma, Den Haag is zojuist verschenen. Mocht u interesse hebben in een bestelling gelieve dit te vermelden in een comment (uw email-adres wordt niet getoond).

Do you want to know more about the ZhongYong / Doctrine of the Mean ?

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doctrine-of-the mean

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