Doctrine of the Mean - Center Unchangeable - Translation and Commentary

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Doctrine of the Mean

Zhong Yong - Center Unchangeable

Translation and Commentary - Part 1

The Logics - Doctrine of the Mean (Zhongyong) Translation and Commentary

(PD) Zhong Yong on Winter Forest

Photograph enhancements and wording by Larry Neal Gowdy


Larry Neal Gowdy

Copyright©2018 March 31, 2018



Translating the Title


Within all ideologies and all philosophies, it is extraordinarily rare to find words that suggest that the authors understood what was written. Most often, the masters taught while the scholars wrote their own interpretations of what the masters taught. The originating masters might have known what the teachings implied, but the scholars who wrote the words did not know.

If the scholars did not know what their words meant, then it is also not possible for anyone today to positively know what the scholars' words might mean. All translations of 中庸 (Zhong Yong) are speculative guesses of what the words might have meant when the words were first written.

The Chinese title, 中庸 (Zhong Yong), begins the first difficulties of translations. The Chinese character is popularly said to imply 'center', but 'center' means different things to different people. To scholars and followers of western science, 'center' means a mathematical measurement, a learned method of measuring half the distance between two points. The scholarly approach might also apply weights and motions to the measurements, but the imaginary measurements remain to be flat two-dimensional mathematical inventions between two points.

Beginning with Zhong Yong's first word of the title, it is already seen that the remainder of all words translated by scholars must be interpreted within a mathematical interpretation, which renders all scholarly translations to be imaginary, inventive, and very incorrect.

Within some 'ways' of life, the word 'center' implies the firsthand experience of the I's awareness: the I's presence is as the center of all that exists and of all that is observed beyond the I. From the 'center' of where the I resides, the I remains at rest, not moving, while the I observes the body's experiences of life, and the I observes the mind reasoning its own experiences of life. From the I's perspective, life and Reality exist as peripherals, of as a fluid sphere of motioned things that occur around where the I rests.

The I is sometimes interpreted by scholars to be 'consciousness', but consciousness is one of the many things that even the scholars themselves admit to not understanding, and, so, if were to imply consciousness, then still there can be no rational scholarly translation of because scholars do not know what consciousness is.

Zhong Yong's second word, 庸, popularly implies 'unchangeable'. Modern English synonyms may include invariable, permanence, and 'not moved'.

Scholars' interpretations of 'center' are mathematical and always changing, but it is not possible within Nature for there to exist an unchanged center that is measured by lengths, weights, and speeds. Nature is always in motion, Nature is always changing, and never do the same things occur twice in Nature. Within Nature's laws of this Reality, it is utterly and eternally impossible for a measured center to be unchangeable.

The mind is that which measures; the I is that which observes the mind measuring. The I and the mind are not the same things. The mind can change its beliefs, but the I cannot change being I.

Of the only things in Nature that remain unchanging, are [1] Nature's laws, and [2] the I.

To the individual who experiences the I firsthand, and who observes the body's experiences as witnessed by the I, to that individual the experience is what is real, it is the act of life, the act of being present within this Reality.

To scholars, who do not experience the I firsthand, they invent maths, doctrines, and other philosophies that pretend to be answers for things that the scholars have not themselves witnessed, and who have no knowledge of.

The master of his I, he speaks from firsthand experience, while the scholar, who has no mastery, he speaks of his own desires, those of written words that are to be memorized and followed: the 'master-slave' relationship. The scholar's life is lived within the belief and acceptance that written words are as rulers of life, and that all people should bow and worship the words as being the one true truth. Scholars name their words to be doctrines.


From what appears obvious — at least on the surface of how Chinese is popularly translated into English — the book's title 中庸 (Zhong Yong) ought to likely be translated into English as Center Unchangeable. From the firsthand point of view, the I is at rest, the I is aware of what occurs beyond the I, and the I always remains unchanged, which, from the firsthand point of view, interprets the book's title 中庸 to mean exactly what it says: center unchangeable.

Scholars have translated 中庸 into the English words Doctrine of the Mean. Scholars believe that written words — doctrines — are the true truths, and that 'mean' implies a mathematical measurement. The scholarly approach to translating 中庸 is to contort the title's words into a form that appears to support the scholars' own master-slave doctrines. Scholars cannot know what the I is, nor what consciousness is, nor what a is, and so the scholars' mistranslations are expected.


Proceeding Beyond the Title


Most cultures have long existed within a master-slave relationship, of some individuals assuming of themselves to be the authorities over all other people, and the cultures have evolved within the master-slave relationship. As the Milgram experiments verified that about 65% to 85% of all humans will kill another human if told to do so by an individual who is believed to be an authority, so does the public believe that scholars are authorities who must be obeyed, and who cannot err within translations.

Today, translating 中庸 into English is rather difficult because scholars have for so long twisted words into meaninglessness, that it cannot now be known what the original words might have been, nor what the words might have implied.

Perhaps the only favorable approach to translating 中庸 is to first ignore all scholarly translations, secondly to attempt to find reasonable English synonyms to the Chinese words, and thirdly, to self-observe and attempt to interpret the book's words as concepts, permitting the concepts to form their own unions, which, hopefully, might enable an idea of what the author might have intended.


Logographic Characters


The traditional Chinese characters are logographic, of symbols and unions of symbols that point to concepts held within one's own firsthand experiences, and understood through the firsthand experiences. All symbols and words of all languages have their meanings to be rooted within the cultures and eras of when the symbols and words were written, and, so, it is known beforehand that there cannot be an accurate breadth of translation of ancient Chinese into modern English.

Too, no two individuals share the same thoughts, nor the same experiences, and so it is not possible for any written character to accurately communicate the author's thoughts.

For myself, I might have chosen a circle '○' or a point within a circle '⦿' to infer center. When a concept is within an action of observing the motion of a manmade thing, then I might choose the symbol because it suggests directed attention and evaluation towards a single thing that is shaped as a manmade object: a weighed 'balance'. For the second word, I might choose something like a big X over a double tilde (sort of like the ≉) to infer invariance, but mathematical symbols are similar and cause readers to interpret the 'word' to imply a mathematical definition. Too, the '⦿' already infers a center, and for individuals who understand what '⦿' implies, there is no need for a second word because the first word already carries within itself the concept of being unchangeable.


The Logics - Doctrine of the Mean (Zhongyong) Translation and Commentary

© 2006-2018 Larry Gowdy - Center Turtle


And, so, the title 中庸 itself causes concern, that the title's characters might be suggesting a thing that is not possible within Nature. There exist speculations and plausible evidence that 中庸 was influenced by the written words of Taoism, but if the author of 中庸 were of a mastery of Tao, then why would the author choose 中庸 as a title instead of more accurately using a single 'symbol-word' like ⦿? If, similar to English, the Chinese language does not possess a descriptive word that points to 'center', then an accurate translation is not possible anyway. Too, if the author was not a master of Taoism, then the book could only be scholarly, and be of no value.

And, so, beginning with the title itself, four core questions are raised: [1] is 中庸 merely a philosophy that was invented by the author(s), [2] is 中庸 a collection of useful ideas that were suitable for the era, [3] is 中庸 a scholarly recitation of other people's words, or [4] does 中庸 possess evidence of firsthand understanding? The four questions ought to be able to be answered by how the remainder of the book's concepts are presented. By how the book's concepts harmonize and develop new concepts, so will the concepts help to describe and to translate whether the title is center unchangeable or if the title might be better translated as balance steady or something else entirely.

And this is the approach that I have taken within my translations, of comparing the characters 中庸 to what is real within Nature's laws, and if 中庸's author was aware of his own I, and he was not a scholar, then the book's words will be worthy of being read. If the author did indeed intend for 中庸 to imply a mental evaluation that cannot be changed, then the book is merely philosophical, and of no value. If the book's concepts harmonize and reinforce rhythms of creativity within Nature, then the book will be remarkable.






The full list of available articles in this series can be found on the home page at Doctrine of the Mean 中庸 Zhong Yong Translation and Commentary.




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