Doctrine of the Mean - Center Unchangeable 中庸 Translation and Commentary 7
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Doctrine of the Mean 中庸
Zhong Yong - Center Unchangeable
Translation and Commentary - Part 7
(PD) Zhong Yong on Winter Forest
Photograph enhancements and wording by Larry Neal Gowdy
Copyright©2018 April 14, 2018
Translations and Commentary Continued
The Master said, "Perfect is the virtue which is according to the Mean! Rare have they long been among the people, who could practice it!
Normal: Confucius said: Center always (中庸) ~~ perfect, people few can long ~~.
Concept: Confucius said: Center always is perfect, few people can long do it.
Nature-based parallel: Achieving a radiant mind-body-centeredness within Nature's creative way, it is very wonderful to experience, but very few individuals can maintain the centeredness for long.
The word virtue is not ideal because it has no uniform meaning within the English language, and, therefore, the use of virtue in Legge's translation merely confused the topic further.
Some forms of centeredness are not much difficult, and they can be retained for as long as the individual retains his focus without permitting himself to become embroiled within man's world of materialist values. Other forms of centeredness are more fragile, some of which require a peaceful environment that would not disturb the centeredness. Yet other forms of centeredness require Nature's way of creativity, of reciprocation of harmony between two individuals.
Each form of centeredness has its own beauty, but each is different, and each exists within different intensities and quantities of qualities and histories that formed the present centeredness. To my own knowledge, the Nature-based way of reciprocative creativity is (so far) the most beautiful of all (to me), but, of course, high quality reciprocation is almost impossible within man's societies.
The centeredness within 中庸 appears to point to the easier form, of retaining focus, of letting-go of the negatives, and centering the mind-body within a state that is then self-observed to be quiet, mindful, soft, and of quality harmony with its own self. Similar to parallel forms of centeredness, it is not the individual's will to choose centeredness, but rather the centeredness nascents when the individual first possesses the quality attributes that harmonize and create the centeredness.
A tea cup cannot will itself to become a kettle. A dog cannot will itself to become a man. A man cannot will himself to become a junzi. The preexisting quality inward attributes are what create the outside.
The Master said, "I know how it is that the path of the Mean is not walked in: The knowing go beyond it, and the stupid do not come up to it. I know how it is that the path of the Mean is not understood: The men of talents and virtue go beyond it, and the worthless do not come up to it.
Normal: Confucius said: Way ~~ not go ~~, I know it ~~: know ~~ exceed it, foolish ~~ not reach ~~. Way ~~ not understand ~~, I know it ~~. Virtuous ~~ exceed it, not virtuous ~~ not reach ~~.
Concept: Confucius said: The dao, of why the dao is not followed, I know it: those of knowing exceed the dao, and the ignorant do not reach it. The dao, of why it is not understood, I know it: the virtuous man exceeds it, and the non-virtuous man does not reach it.
Nature-based parallel: The dao of mind-body-centeredness, of why the dao is not followed, is because masters of understanding progress beyond the mind-body-centeredness, and the men of no understanding and/or no potential never approach mind-body-centeredness. The centeredness of virtuous individuals (virtue here implies quality creative inward traits) exceeds the mind-body-centeredness, and the way of non-virtuous individuals never approaches close to a mind-body-centeredness.
The mind-body-centeredness that the quote appears to be pointing to is a very good and worthy center, but as an individual's inward qualities mature, the individual may choose to go beyond the mind-body-centeredness. To me, I find value within Confucius' idea that it would be a good thing if societies were to aim for the mind-body-centeredness, which would permit most of the society to be bettered while not ignoring the preexisting necessities of defensive militaries, governments, and trade. If mankind could someday achieve junzi, then at that time the militaries and governments could be permitted to expire, because they would no longer have a purpose for existence.
Confucius pointed well at the virtuous individuals going beyond mind-body-centeredness. To me, Confucius' pointing at higher centerednesses, it gives to me the thought that he recognized why his dao was reasoned to be the better choice. To me, his reasoning — regardless of it being right or wrong — infers that he actually thought thoughts, which is rather rare, and reason enough to hold his ideas with the respect of honoring his ideas as worthy of being considered.
"There is no body but eats and drinks. But they are few who can distinguish flavors."
Normal: Person not not drink eat ~~, few can know taste ~~.
Concept: No person does not drink and eat, but few are aware of the taste.
Nature-based parallel: All people drink and eat, but very few individuals are mentally aware of the tastes.
The quote's topic parallels the SQ tests: over 99.5% of all tested individuals could not usefully describe any sensory perception, including taste. Some sensory perceptions are received and stored subconsciously, and can verified by asking specific questions that rely upon the firsthand knowledge of having sensorially perceived a thing, but the main point is that most people are not conscious of any but the most base of sensory perceptions.
The numbness of sensory perception is very much normal within humans, and there is no known solution beyond each individual choosing for themselves to give mental attention to their own lives.
Within the type of mind-body-centeredness as what the book appears to point to, it appears likely that the junzi's state of mindfulness would permit a mindful attention to tastes and other sensory perceptions, because, mind-body centeredness is accompanied with consciousness.
Since some forms of taught 'awareness enlightenment' disregard awareness of sensory perceptions, then Confucius' centeredness would be the more useful and beneficial.
The Master said, "Alas! How is the path of the Mean untrodden!"
Normal: Confucius said: Way ~~ not go ~~ alas.
Concept: Way, not trodden, alas.
Nature-based parallel: Nature's way, ignored, alas.
Modern man prides himself with the reciting of the name that man believes is the one and only true truth — science — and science is supposed to be the study and discovery of how Nature's way works, but still, even when man's science knows what is creative and what is destructive, still man ignores Nature's way. Alas!
The Master said, "There was Shun:-He indeed was greatly wise! Shun loved to question others, and to study their words, though they might be shallow. He concealed what was bad in them and displayed what was good. He took hold of their two extremes, determined the Mean, and employed it in his government of the people. It was by this that he was Shun!"
Normal: Confucius said: Shun ~~ great wisdom ~~ indeed. Shun emphasize ask and emphasize examine common language. Conceal fault ~~ publicize merit. Take the two extreme, use the center toward people. ~~ this ~~ ~~ Shun indeed.
Concept: Confucius said: Shun was of great wisdom indeed. Shun's emphases were to ask of and to examine common language. He concealed faults, but publicized merit. He took the two extremes, and used the center towards the people. This behavior is Shun indeed.
Nature-based parallel: Study the way of Nature, learn of how Nature expresses itself, recognize that harmful words are disharmonious and cause harmful emotions to the speaker as well as the victim, find fault where there is fault, find good where there is good, and judge to choose kind words when possible. Nature's way is creative, kind words are creative.
Shun is reported to have been a legendary (mythological?) emperor of China during about 2200 BC, whose virtue and wisdom were exemplary. Regardless of the accuracy of Shun's history, the name did carry with it the idea of being as a role model.
Today's politicians' harmful words do not follow Nature's way. Scientists do not follow Nature's way. Scholars do not follow Nature's way. Ideologies do not follow Nature's way. Alas!
I personally felt a little kinship with the idea of studying words, because that is as what I have done for over thirty years, to study different group's beliefs, and try to find a common thread that might be used to convey Nature's way and the other good things to man. It is easy to find faults, but it is rare to find good things that stand out as exemplary, and as such, the good things deserve to be praised because they are role models for other people to see and to possibly accept as goals within their own lives.
The use of 中 'balance' within the quote appears to suggest a happy compromise that is balanced upon scales of values whose aims are to create a creative society by retaining harmony amongst the people.
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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