Doctrine of the Mean - Center Unchangeable 中庸 Translation and Commentary 8

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Doctrine of the Mean 中庸

Zhong Yong - Center Unchangeable

Translation and Commentary - Part 8

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 April 14, 2018

Translations and Commentary Continued


The Master said "Men all say: 'We are wise'; but being driven forward and taken in a net, a trap, or a pitfall, they know not how to escape. Men all say, 'We are wise'; but happening to choose the course of the Mean, they are not able to keep it for a round month."

Normal: Confucius said: Person all say: I know. Rush ~~ fall in net trap pitfall ~~ center, and not them know avoid ~~. Person all say: I know. Choose ~~ center stable and not able full month persevere ~~.

Concept: Confucius said: People all say, I know. The people rush, fall into the center of a net-trap-pitfall, a trap that they do not know how to avoid. People all say: I know. Choosing mind-body centeredness, the people cannot persevere within centeredness for a full month.

Nature-based parallel: People are anxious to follow a new way that promises personal profit, but without knowing what they are doing, the people cause themselves and everyone else harm.

A modern example is of a teaching for people to find happiness by meditating upon one's deepest desires. The teaching does not know that the meditating will heighten all desires, including the darkest, which are then brought to the surface, and acted upon other people. The people say 'I know', but they entrap themselves within an act that causes permanent harm to themselves and to everyone else.

The wording has several good and plausible different ways of being expressed while still retaining the same general theme. 'People rush and then fall into the center of an animal trap (pits that are covered with nets and disguised with leaves and debris)', or, 'People rush and then fall into pits, nets, and traps when running after zhong'. The concept remains: people rush with the anticipation of achieving , but the people cause themselves problems by believing that they already know the path.

Mind-body-centeredness requires conscious attention to one's self, but the attention must cease when an individual gives attention to one's job or social interactions. Except for the relatively few fortunate individuals who live within a peaceful environment, mind-body-centeredness is likely to be sporadic and brief.


The Master said "This was the manner of Hui:-he made choice of the Mean, and whenever he got hold of what was good, he clasped it firmly, as if wearing it on his breast, and did not lose it."

Normal: Confucius said: Hui ~~ ~~ person ~~, choose ~~ center harmony. Acquire one good, then fist fist take chest and not lose it.

Concept: Confucius said: Hui is a person who chose center harmony. Acquiring what was good, he held it close to his heart and did not lose it.

Nature-based parallel: Having attained an understanding of Nature's creativity, the understanding is held within the heart, and never let-go.

The quote's message appears to be simple enough: the double fist upon the chest is the body language of holding a thing dear to one's heart.

Within Nature's way, once an understanding has been gained, the understanding remains for the remainder of one's life, and the individual will not let it go in favor of appeasing man's beliefs.


The Master said, "The kingdom, its states, and its families, may be perfectly ruled; dignities and emoluments may be declined; naked weapons may be trampled under the feet; but the course of the Mean cannot be attained to."

Normal: Confucius said: heavens under nation can quality ~~. Rank emolument can remove. White blade can dao ~~. Center stable not ~~ achieve ~~.

Concept: Confucius said: Nation can be quality under heaven. Rank benefits can be removed. Weapon blade can be walked. Center harmony still not achieve.

Nature-based parallel: Though a nation might be the greatest on earth, and though the citizens are cared for above all else, and even if it were possible to walk upon sharp blades without harm, still mind-body-centeredness could not be achieved by the people.

Legge used the English word perfectly as a synonym of what some other translators have given as noble and superior within other quotes. The idea remains similar, but for my own preferences, I favor to use quality because it has meaning to me personally.

Laws, doctrines, regulations, teachings, and beliefs, none can change a man's inner self to become a junzi. The inner qualities must be made to be of quality first, and then the mind-body-centeredness occurs by itself.

A saying that is related to the topic of achieving awareness: 'It is the most difficult thing to achieve, but it arrives without effort'. Developing and becoming the quality traits can be extraordinarily difficult, but once the traits become one's own, then the man is aware without effort. Though a nation that might possess all ideal laws and customs, still no nation can instill mind-body-centeredness within its citizens. Mind-body-centeredness is earned and achieved, not received.


Tsze-lu asked about energy.

The Master said, "Do you mean the energy of the South, the energy of the North, or the energy which you should cultivate yourself?

"To show forbearance and gentleness in teaching others; and not to revenge unreasonable conduct:-this is the energy of southern regions, and the good man makes it his study.

"To lie under arms; and meet death without regret:-this is the energy of northern regions, and the forceful make it their study.

"Therefore, the superior man cultivates a friendly harmony, without being weak.-How firm is he in his energy! He stands erect in the middle, without inclining to either side.-How firm is he in his energy! When good principles prevail in the government of his country, he does not change from what he was in retirement. How firm is he in his energy! When bad principles prevail in the country, he maintains his course to death without changing.-How firm is he in his energy!"

Normal: Zi Lu ask strength.

Confucius said: South direction ~~ strength ~~, north direction ~~ strength, or your strength ~~?

Tolerance gentle commence teach, no avenge not dao; south direction ~~ strength ~~, quality person dwell ~~.

Sleeping-pad metal leather; die ~~ not regret; north direction ~~ strength ~~, ~~ strength dwell it.

Therefore quality person harmony ~~ not flow, strength ~~ straight! Center stand ~~ not lean, strength ~~ strait! Nation have dao, not change inward ~~, strength straight! Nation not dao, until die not change, strength straight!

Concept: Zi Lu asked about strength.

Confucius said: The south direction strength, the north direction strength, or your strength?

Tolerance and gentleness when teaching, do not avenge non-dao ways: south direction's strength, quality man dwells upon it.

Sleeping with armor; die and not regret; north direction strength, strong man dwells upon it.

Therefore the quality person is of harmony, not wavering, strength straight! Center stand, not lean, strength straight! When nation has dao, the quality person does not change inwardly, strength straight! When nation not have dao, the quality person not unto death will change, strength straight!

Nature-based parallel: The strength of understanding through firsthand experience, and the memories of the experiences, the conviction is true, and the individual does not waver regardless of circumstance. Regardless of society's politics and ideologies, the conviction does not move.

The pearl, when the moment of death approaches, there are no regrets, no concerns, nor desire of the self, only the presence of the pearl, and the last moments are happy, and fulfilled.

To have lain down, suffering from an illness that could not be cured, recognizing that it was one's last moments, and to give honor to one's pearl as the last words and thoughts of one's life, it proved that the pearl is worthy.

It is unknown which manner of mind-body-centeredness that Confucius spoke of, but it is true, that if a junzi is centered with inward qualities, he can meet death unafraid, and unchanged.

It is noteworthy to ponder the ways that many people end their lives; some are afraid, some are with tears, some see demons, some see angels, and most individuals wish to remain alive, but within at least one type of centeredness, the pearl is there, and the love for the pearl is the only thought, and the only emotion.

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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