Learning from an old blind man

Discussion in 'Eastern Religions and Philosophies' started by hk0382009, Jan 31, 2009.

  1. hk0382009

    hk0382009 oldblindman

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    :)Recently, I am very much impressed by the articles that I read about classical Chinese philosophy written by Mr. Qian Mu(.錢穆 ) His book
    "Words by a blind old man" (晚學盲言) written when he became blind and at age of eighty something ,includes several essays about classical concept of Chinese prospective of contemporary description of human right and democracy. Personally, I think there is some degree of incompleteness or misunderstanding about modern ideology of human right and freedom. His description of classic Chinese ideology of human independent existence and interpersonal relationship within group of people, however, had wonderfully point out important concepts of classic Chinese ideology of human existence.

    Firstly, Chinese in early days already develop a concept of harmony and co-existence with the "Way"--similar concept but not hundred percent like the close relationship with God of the ancient western religion. Chinese scholars always stress the following and pursue of the Way and hence subsequently the development of moral value. It signifies an individual effort of internal perfection instead of external pursue of right and alienation, which somewhat form partly the foundation of human right and democracy. The collective effect of Chinese self perfection points towards a collaboration form of administrative system of recognition of a "better" man ( a saint-like person in western word). That better man is universally supported to be their leader. This somehow is the emporor in later secular politics. The king in ancient Chinese history is no way an individual of his own righteousness and holiness. He always at some time or in some forms makes himself the actual representative of the "Way" (or being inclined by the holy heaven in western word). The "Way" is always the bigger and higher decisive factor in Chinese history in the metaphysic concept ,at least, in the heart of Chinese people.
    Mr.Chin, hence points out that the humanistic concept is the basis of Chinese tradition even in administrative politics. It differs from a western right and duty concept which based somewhat on a settlement of difference and contest. Mr.Qian also points out that the examination system of getting government officials in Chinese history is one form of such humanistic expression.

    Secondly, Mr.Qian has enlightened me about the motto of my mother school.( 明德格物).According to Mr.Qian, the word 格 is an ancient word describing the position of the one who is in the position of releasing an arrow in the art of archery.
    It implies an internal adjustment and responsibility to achieve wisdom i.e the target in archery but not an reckless search of external elements to achieve wisdom. The term of university in Chinese (大學) is implying a big knowledge or a great wisdom and hence starts with internal reflection and adjustment to gain wisdom. That wisdom later definitely includes external elements. (格物致知). It comes next with sincerity and righteousness (誠意正心). Obviously ,these two are essential basis of human communication and the other four steps of the great wisdom are :- keeping in shape moral being (修身), harmony of family(齊家), proper ruling of country(治國), pursue of equality in the world (平天下). These form a chain of effort made by an ideal Chinese follower of the great wisdom to put it into reality. To me,
    Mr.Qian is such an wonderful scholar that give in-depth and accurate description of the classic Chinese concept of a proper human being.

    Write a comment...
     
  2. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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  3. Dream

    Dream New Member

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    hk0382009,

    Thank you for that book idea. I have searched and cannot find the book Words from an Old Blind Man. Is the author the same Qian Mu that founded New Asia College in Hong Kong? The only translated book I could find in English is titled Traditional Government in Imperial China: A Critical Analysis .
     
  4. hk0382009

    hk0382009 oldblindman

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    Hello Dream,
    It is the same Quian Mu who found New Asia College. The book " Words from an old blind man 's learning" in fact is not translated into English yet. It impressed me a lot and I translate some of its idea for sharing. I do hope that someday someone can translate the whole book.
    Below is one more message that I chose to translate for sharing:-

    Traditional Chinese culture and human right (part 1)

    The term human right was translated from western society, no such term ever is found previously in Chinese history before. Nevertheless, traditional Chinese culture is one that pay up most respect to human right and the essence of the great meaning of human right. There is no other nations which can compare with ease.

    One example from history is China as an national state was formed since Emperor Huang 5000 years ago_One nation, one country sharing the same "way" and customs,people collectively work with internal coherence.That long history of five thousand years in such a big country with vast population and territory give hints to the human right acceptance and practice to make its longevity possible.

    The Great Learning includes self perfection修身, harmony of family 齊家, proper ruling of country 治國, making justice in world 平天下. These four follows and connected with each other and with self perfection as starting point. Self perfection relies on own practice and not on other individuals. That is the human right in Chinese prospective. If everyone is doing self perfection and hence getting the other three level becomes a reality then there needs no other way for getting peace in world.

    How one can get self perfection. The Great Learning teaches: to enlighten own self (在明明德), to get well with others ( 在親民), to reach ultimate goodness ( 在止於至善). To enlighten own self is to reexamine one self and the truth be found, to practise filial piety and fraternal duty, to act loyally and faithfully then you can get well with people. To love family members then one get a harmony among each others. This is the self enlightening to goodness that make harmony but not external laws to keep
    peace.

    Chinese mention humanity but not human right. Humanity origin from human hearts not outside force. That is true freedom and true equality. Right is a force and forces will struggle. Force and struggle is definitely not the Way as believed by Chinese. The other four heading before self perfection in the Great Learning are "inspecting" matters( 格物) gaining wisdom (致知), sincerity (誠意), righteous heart (正心.)The ancient meaning of 格 means the position of one who is going to release an arrow in archery. Hence the hitting of the target does not relies on other things but the archery himself. The fault is not on other but one's own self. It is human right concept of the Chinese preference.

    Western society put much emphasis on individualism. Human right belongs to individuals. To fight for wealth and power, to fight for respect and close relationship. Modern imperialism and capitalism originate on these assumptions. Christianity mentions the rich is difficult to get into heaven and Caesar's rule differ from Jesus 's rule. The separation of politics and religion make human right noted to be more important in politics but not in religion.
     
  5. hk0382009

    hk0382009 oldblindman

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    sorry that I don't think I want to discuss theology but you may find the view point by John Hick in his book " the Fifth Dimension" very interesting and bring
    new insight into Christianity.:)
     
  6. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Welcome to InterFaith, hk0382009. Enjoy your stay!
     
  7. Dream

    Dream New Member

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    The West is no longer truly separate. West is becoming an alternate way of going East, and continuing East will eventually bring one West. I watched, on the internet, a beginning lesson on how to paint bamboo, and I remember how moral virtues were taught along with it as part of the painting process itself. "There are," said the painter, "four major subjects of painting in China" each emphasizing different lessons. It is a wonderful thing to see how values are taught to children in another culture, and this has had an impact upon me a Christian. I saw virtue in another direction.

    It is a shame that we don't know much about China. I bought the 10-CD Pimsleur learning set for Mandarin Chinese, and I've learned how to pronounce the phrases. I've shopped in used book stores and found books on Mandarin, learning the 5 major tones. It is still expensive, however, and I have to learn something else today.

    Individualism and struggle is one view of the West, however there is another view. Through much individualism and many struggles the lessons of the way also have also become apparent. Individuals cannot exist in large groups without a covenant, and this has become more and more apparent. You can be certain that we are all human beings, and so we all perceive the value of harmony. We all try to find it, see it, hope for it for the future (even after we are gone). You say many Chinese believe harmony is secured completely within each individual. I believe something like that, however I call it a covenant between a person and the group. It is the only way a human being can really bear to look at the future. As taught in Economics, the person must pursue its own benefit as well as the group's benefit. I do not know, however, if all of the responsibility falls upon the individual. The individual is neither a mountain, nor a speck.
     
  8. hk0382009

    hk0382009 oldblindman

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    :) It is nice to know your understanding of the west in modern time. Thanks to the advance of technology that East can meet west much easier than before. There is still much barrier in term of language difference.
    In traditional Chinese Confucius teaching and ideals, every man is possible to become a saint through his internal perfection. Even without much effort, man can still in much harmony and affiliation with the heavenly being. Just like described in one poem by Liǔ zōng yuán. He feels himself touring with the creator when he is appreciating his tour of the "west hill". Chinese, especially believer, of Confucius have put the heavenly being in their hearts many a time not in a figurative being such a cross or Jesus etc.
    One very interesting thing regarding self perfection is that the original meaning of ancient word is not well explained in modern time. Like that of the word (格 )is not commonly explained about its original meaning of a self adjustment instead of external act. The word " sin " according to my knowledge means missing the target by an arrow in Hebrew. That implies similarly a self responsible act when one commit "sin"not due to temptation alone. That emphasis of self responsibility may lessen the different in concept between east and west in view of human wish of attaining "perfection" or "sinless harmony with God". Briefly the findings of modern archeology and reexamination of ancient writing may help more in depth understanding of both religions and ancient philosophy both in East and West.
     
  9. hk0382009

    hk0382009 oldblindman

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    Continue to learn from old blind man.
    In his chapter about the term "道理" in Chinese. It would simply mean reasoning in English. It would imply two different level of human mind if the two Chinese characters are studied separately. "道" would be implying the "way" and is not that words of mankind can fully describe. "理" is implying logic that mankind can use to describe different relationships and happenings of the universe. Confucius is teaching most of the time humanistic part of the way, which is the positive side of the way and Mencius describe the goodness tendency of human nature which in other sense belongs to the negative part of the way. Just like " Yin Yang" describing both sides of universe. Human nature already falls in the negative part of the way as nature itself belongs to negative part of the way in its strict sense. Maybe it would be the transcendental part of the universe belongs to the positive side of the way only and Confucius is preaching the humanistic effort of mankind to go along side with that transcendental tendency.

    I have this understanding that Confucius is of up most wisdom that he
    is trying to save the world in his time at least which is of chao and people were suffering from wars. :)
     

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