Doctrine of the Mean - Center Unchangeable 中庸 Translation and Commentary 3
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Doctrine of the Mean 中庸
Zhong Yong - Center Unchangeable
Translation and Commentary - Part 3
(PD) Zhong Yong on Winter Forest
Photograph enhancements and wording by Larry Neal Gowdy
Copyright©2018 April 08, 2018
Translations and Comments
What Heaven confers is called "nature."
(tian ming zhi wei xing)
Normal: Heavens rule ~~ call nature.
Nature-based parallel: Heavens nascent, call Nature.
The word 天 (tian) — most often translated as 'heavens' — is not defined nor described. After over two-thousand years, philosophers are still debating what tian might mean.
The idea of 'heaven' is different for everyone, but as a general idea, most people view the 'heavens' as being a material place of gods and angels, while a small percentage of people think of 'heavens' as being the Source of Nature that gave to Nature all of Nature's laws and ways of creativity.
Humans are created things, and since a created thing cannot know that which created it, then there is no reason to pretend to know what tian might really be.
In my opinion, I feel that the Source of Nature is 'tian', but, the use of tian within 中庸 is most likely used to infer heavens being of material gods, material angels, souls of ancestors, principles, and fates.
Logically, it is not rational that the 'giver' of 'all that is under heaven' could be a material heavens, nor can a material heaven be the 'root of all material things under heaven'. I want to believe that the author did not write of material heavens, but I can find no evidence to support my wants.
The second word, 命, 'ming', implies 'life, command, fate, lot, order'. It would appear more rational to assume that the word ought to have been used to infer something like 'organize', 'create', 'nascent', or some other term that points to the Heavens having created the laws of Nature within Nature itself when Nature was created. Nevertheless, it was and still is common for people to think of the heavens as being human-like rulers of the fates of man and Nature.
It is interesting to pause and to silently search for a suitable English synonym of ming that might imply 'bestowing' or 'ordaining' without the synonym's attribute describing a thing that has already been created by tian. 'Energy' does not work because energy is an effect of three-dimensional Nature. 'Ordain' does not work because it is a three-dimensional concept of sequencing. All other known English words also carry with them definitions that only relate to things that have already been created, and the words do not point to the 'implanting' of Nature's laws within Nature. For myself, if I were to interpret the book to be Nature-based, I would favor 'nascent' simply because it hints of a thing that does not exist, but is coming into existence. Regardless of which word that I might prefer if I were the author, the author did choose ming, and it does appear that ming was likely used within a three-dimensional interpretation to infer 'give order' to Nature's order.
The many different known English translations have interpreted 'xing' to imply the inner nature of a person or thing — one's mind, spirit, personality, and attributes — which is likely the best choice.
If 中庸 had been written from a Nature-based opinion, then all things that were created by Nature must exist within Nature's laws, and the personality traits would be the expressions of the 'physics' of Nature and organic human life: xing would then be Nature instead of nature.
Within a Nature-based idea: 'tian ming wei xing — heavens nascent, call Nature'. Of the individuals who understand the concepts, the individuals' minds assemble the concepts and then reason how the concepts exist and influence the other. Merely stating 'tian ming' is sufficient enough to convey the processes that accompany all that exists within Nature.
Accordance with this nature is called the Way.
(shuai xing zhi wei dao)
Normal: Follow nature ~~ call way.
Nature-based parallel: Follow Nature, call way.
Within a way of life that accepts Nature as the way of this Reality, the word 'shuai' might imply 'observe and learn from'. The common English synonyms of 'accordance' and 'follow' are sort of okay within a very vague definition, but the synonyms point to 'follow without leading one's self', which is not a creative and harmonious behavior. If Zhong Yong is about 中 and ⦿, then the act of following is not applicable.
Nature does not follow, Nature creates, and if a man is to learn from Nature, then the man also ought not follow.
If the sentence's author were a master of the topic, then it is reasonable to expect shuai to point to heaven's way to be the way for one's self.
If the author had intended shuai to imply a following of a teaching, then the book's message is wrong and harmful. No man can become a master of his dao if he is always following. A dao that follows, is a changeable dao, and not a 中庸 center unchangeable.
Wei dao — call way. Nature's way, is the way. Ideologies teach ways that do not agree with Nature's way, which renders the ideologies' teachings to be false. Within this Reality, the only dao worthy of applying within the body's self, is Nature's dao.
If xing implies one's own nature, then how can an individual follow their own nature? And of what benefit could it possibly be to merely 'do your own thing'? Is xing pointing at a concept of one's nature being as the 'physics' of life and mind? Or something else?
The more comfortable interpretation is that the 'follow' is merely pointing at 'heavens rule, call nature; follow the nature of heaven's rule, call way'.
A Nature-based idea would be 'observe and learn from Nature, call way', and the idea would be very logical, creative, and correct.
Cultivating the Way is called "education."
(xui dao zhi wei jiao)
Normal: Nurture way ~~ call instruction.
Nature-based parallel: Create way, call standard.
Xui implies 'create, build, embellish'. Xui fits the idea of Nature's dao being that of creativity. The common English translations' synonyms of 'cultivating' and 'nurturing' do not harmonize with creativity. Too, cultivating and nurturing insinuate that a thing can be bettered or worsened if not cultivated and nurtured, which also means that if a thing can be nurtured, then it cannot be the unchangeable dao.
Jiao as a verb implies 'teach, instruct', and as a noun it implies 'teaching'. All real things are actions (verbs), and any 'instruction' must be of an action. Nature does not, of course, consciously give instruction to people.
Placing a noun upon the action, 'education' and 'instruction' are directional, of information being transferred from one source to another. Neither the Source nor Nature are human teachers. Nature does not teach, but rather humans learn from observing Nature. Nature is as a 'teacher by example'.
Within conversational English and the way of academia, jiao works well enough for most people to grasp the general idea as 'instruction', but jiao is still favored to be the 'standard' that all things are learned through and judged by.
Dao is a way of life. Dao is not a thing to be taught, nor to be memorized. Jiao is as the standard for one's self to reason and to discover one's own dao. Nature is the standard, and the aim is for one's self to be correct relative to the standard that is Nature.
Nevertheless, considering humanity's past ideologies, and judging from the preponderance of the ideologies' teachings of 'cultivating' one's soul, then the common English translations are likely to be closer to what the sentence's author intended. The sentence's likely idea is 'practicing the way produces skill, the practice is as the teacher'.
That which is called Way cannot be separated from for an instant. What can be separated from is not the Way.
(dao ye zhe, bu ke xuyu li ye. ke li fei dao ye.)
Normal: Way ~~ ~~, not can moment leave ~~. Can leave not way ~~.
Nature-based parallel: Way, not can moment leave. Can leave, not way.
Legge did not translate the words, Legge merely invented fictional meanings by what Legge himself believed of his own culture. Asian cultures are not European cultures, nor are Asian languages European languages. Legge's translation might have been academically right within European universities, but the translation was incorrect.
Regardless of what might have been written and what might have been intended, a dao (way) of ⦿ (center) is permanent, the dao cannot change, and if any manner of way can be changed, then it is not the dao of ⦿. Center is center, ⦿, it cannot be changed, nor can it be left, abandoned, nor varied from.
The dao of Nature is unchangeable. The ⦿ and dao of Nature are the only known things that can agree with the ideas within 中庸 center unchangeable. The dao of Nature is always true, always correct, and always honest. No known (to me) ideology agrees with the dao of Nature.
No man can leave Nature, nor leave Nature's standards.
Any dao that can be changed, must be philosophical. A changeable dao might be culturally useful, but it is still changeable. If the book is pointing to an unchangeable ⦿ dao, then the book is not pointing to a philosophy.
If the book is pointing to a mentally-willed dao, then the dao is of a mental evaluation that can be changed, and the dao is not the 中庸 ⦿ center. And this is one of the reasons of why I had difficulty reading the book, because it repeatedly used terms and concepts that appear to conflict with the other. It is good and correct to speak of an unchangeable center, but it is not good for the book's words to turn and then speak of an alleged center that is nurtured to become a center.
Since the sentence changed mental patterning from the previous sentences, as well as contradicted the previous sentences, then it appears very plausible that the sentence might have been a quote from a different source.
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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