TRUNG DUNG TÂN KHẢO
Nhân Tử Nguyễn Văn Thọ
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Glance on the New Essay of the Eternal Center
I am now going to give you a quick glance on my ‘New Essay on the
Eternal Center’ essay focused on the rehabilitation of the
‘Golden Mean’ of Tzeu-seu, grandson of Confucius.
I like to approach this philosophical problem with a poetical mind —
because I am not a philosopher — to repeat after Tzeu-seu his ideas, and
to present them to you, veiled in the starry and colorful apprearance of
modern language, perfumed and crowned with all my best feelings, as a
token of my admiration for you.
First of all I would like to change the ancient title ‘The Golden Mean’
into a more picturesque one: ‘The Eternal Center’.
I think this new title will correspond better to the etymological
meaning of the original title and will frame better the ideas of
You will see in few minutes that the ‘Tchoung-young’, the ‘Eternal
Center’ of Tzeu-seu can be considered as the Bhagavad-Gita of
In fact, while in the Book of Changes, the ancient philosophers made
their fictitious universe bloom on the petals of their odd and even
symbols, proceeded to the fairy creation of all beings by the binary
mitosis and inquired about all the laws of relativity that govern all
the couples of forces, of movements: ‘expansion-concentration,
dispersion-union, discharge-recharge, dissolution-cohesion,
expense-reserve’, that is to say, of all back and forth movements, of
all cycles, of all continuous and harmonious and reversible
transformations of an initial energy. In the Eternal Center the author
liked to trace us a divine way which leads us through all the
vicissitudes of a well conceived and harmonious life to the Eternal
Center, immutable Origin and ‘Telegoal’ of the man.
This book can be considered as the finest work of Confucianism, in which
the author had only in view the cream, the best elements of the school,
already very familiar with all the linguistical, philosophical and
metaphysical subtleties, whose energy has been canalized carefully into
the self-fulfillment, whose soul has been sensibilized to beauty,
refined and exalted by calligraphy, paintings and music.
Therefore, the style becomes so ethereal, so concise, so elaborate that
one is sweetly caressed by the delicacy of its suggestions and by the
soft murmur of its musical phrases.
The style is so sober, so tenuous in the beginning, swells more and
more, embraces periodical lengths, expands itself to espouse the
infinite and vanishes finally into the silence of the imponderable
perfection of God.
Everything is so well conceived, so well measured to be understood,
between the lines, only by men of high culture.
Therefore, the enclosure is transparent to one, obscure or opaque to
other at the point of becoming a scandal, a nonsense for the mass, a
sweet philosophy of nonchalance to many, but also and specially a hint
which teaches the way of perfection to some selected disciples.
The book begins very suggestively by ‘The Divine Will’ and ends
eloquently with the infinite silence of the imponderable perfection of
The book gives us then the A (Alpha) and the
(Omega) of the divine way considered as a perfect circle when the two
ends of perfection will rejoin each other after passing through all the
shades, the accents, the poetry, the music of a couple rotating in
perfect harmony, and through all the seasons of life, in turn active, in
turn, contemplative, according to the modulation of the law of changes
Let the author speak for one minute:
«The divine will is our Nature, to follow our Nature is the divine way;
to cultivate this divine way is called instruction. This divine way is
indissolubly linked to us; A separation - even for a twinkle - is a
nonsense, because then it does not deserve its denomination.
«Therefore, the religious man should fear the Invisible, should honour
the Imperceptible, because nothing is more patent than the Invisible,
more obvious than the Imperceptible. Therefore, the religious man should
be very cautious when he is alone.”
How these words are imbued of spirituality, of dignity, of devotion and
The ontological problem of human nature, of Man is condensed into this
charming equation: God’s Will (
) = Nature (
The Word of God is, therefore, the breath of life, is therefore the
original Nature of Humanity, nature of Perfection and of Purity without
blending, like a water of life of cristal color, just springing from the
divine source, each drop of which will be a seed of a future immortality
arbor, will become a model of perfection, a voice of a friendly
conscience which murmurs silently in the fathomless bottom of our soul
to teach us silently the poetry, the music, and all the secrets of the ‘Alchemy
of the Immortality’.
The Author aimed to advise us to go upstream back to this source, to
this original nature.
It is that divine expression, that divine perfection that Word without
words, that we should find out in our lifetime.
The Author suggests us to resort to instruction, to find this divine
He revealed us ingeniously that this divine way is attached to our feet.
What a paradox, what a humour, what an irony! We are tempted to say so.
But the paradox ceases as by incantation, if we refer to this verse of
the Book of Changes:
«The divine life has two phases: one phase of shadow (Inn) and one phase
of light (Yang). It would be nice that you will be engaged in this way,
but if you could go through this way, you would reach the perfection,
you would realize your Nature.» (Book of Changes, Appended judgment,
chap. IV, verse 2)
一 陰 一 陽 之 謂 道.
繼 之 者 善 也. 成 之 者 性 也.
If we consider the Eternal Center as the Light and the Spirit, the phase
of shadow would be the phase of the going away, of expansion, of
exteriorisation, of superficialisation, of opacification, of
materialisation, of extroversion, of alienation, of engagement -
engagement into the society, into the service of the temporal and of the
material, of the sensual, of the physical, intellectual and sentimental
blooming, the rambling phase to research distractions, adventures and
the terrestrial living.
This first phase is the childhood and the youth of life which
corresponds to the initial current, expansive and prolific of the nature
where the Spring and the Summer decorate themselves with buds, foliage
and flowers and which dictates to birds of the sky to leave their nests
to fly away sallying, feeding themselves, enjoying themselves in some
unknown corners of the sky...
But gradually shadow gives up the path to light -- gradually, insensibly
the Autumn of the life vibrates its harp of wind and of birds, and we
enter into the second phase of the life in changing our plans, our
views, our delectation, our direction.
We will sing the same melody but backward and on a higher gamut; It is
something like changing the keyboard and the rythm to avoid the monotony
of the song - now it is time to go back home, now it is the phase of
interiorisation, of progressive concentration, of introversion, of
deepening, of progressive recollection, the phase of spiritual
recuperation after the prodigality of the youth, phase of ‘The
research of the lost time of Proust’ which could be done thanks to
all the diastases of our past experiences, of our meditations, of our
reflections, thanks to the ethics, the aesthetics, thanks to the final
touch of a divine spark, we can go back to our original perfection, to
become again the expression of God, the symbol of God.
While the first phase was characterized by men attracted out of them,
the second phase should be conceived as a spiritual coiling back. It
will be a phase of disengagement, of liberation from links, chains and
burden which become more and more strangling, more and more crushing, to
consecrate himself to his own spiritual realization. The life so
conceived will be a perpetual change to find out the final
identification with the Being, an existence always on the quest of the
Life, of the total and eternal Life.
Such a life would be a Gerundive instead of a Participle, a ‘to be
done’, not ‘done’ one, a recreation, a continuous expansion
and not a chlorosis, a decay, a pining away of life.
The ‘My will be done’ will be echoed by the ‘Thy will has been
done’ in the indicible hapiness of the reunion, in a cadre of
immaculate snow glittering proudly somewhere in the sensible world still
drowsy from the recent hibernation, among the music of buds which begin
to sing the renovation on branches still stiff from the cold, and among
the warbling of birds which are now palpitating of Spring and of the new
The initial contrast - caused by the initial misunderstanding, aggraved
by the progressive distance on the first phase of life, but more and
more decreased and gradually changed into a harmonious cooperation in
the second phase of the temporal life, is now melted into the final
melody, the final synthesis and symbiosis for Eternity.
The tears at birth day give place to the smile at death time. And the
curtains of our eyelids drop for ever, yielding the mundane scences to
other actors, still stiff and unnatural in their manner, and in their
To refind this center of Perfection, there is taught elsewhere in the
High Study, that we should make efforts of concentration, of meditation,
that we should go from simplification to simplification to reach the
final sublimation, that is, goining up through the chain of causes to
the First Cause which can only be Spirit and Light.
Reaching this final step, we can put our finger on the ‘Spiritual
Form’ of things which was before mobile, diffused, unknown,
unrecognizable, through the enchantment of refractions, diffractions,
dispersions, deformations and interferences which happen through many
layers of space and time, we then realize the mystery of
Latence-Manifestation, of Silence-Word, of Supreme Being and his
expression the Thought, of Supreme Being and Symbols, of Thought and
Word, of Word and Words, of the One an the Manifold.
Then, in admiration, in love, and in veneration, these Chinese authors
seek to realize themselves to aim to the union with the One, the
So, in the philosophical standpoint, Confucianism tried to detect the
One behind the Multiple, to find the Total through the details, the
Reality behind symbols, the Absolute behind the relativities, the
Immutabilitiy behind all the variations, the Word behind words, phrases,
books and collections of books, the Person out of persons, Life behind
all its manifestations, the true identity of Man after all the possible
Equipped with faith and knowledge, these rare Chinese philosophers
walked in the path of God. They sought and found God and the Kingdom of
God hidden in their soul. Therefore, they are very confident, very happy
in spite of their material poverty.
Upward, they climed the Holy Hill, beginning their way by clumsy steps;
then more and more alert, more and more living, they became expert in
climbing. They were so convinced that with energy, study and action
combined, they could compete with their masters.
It is also remarkable that in the Book of Eternal Center the
author described eloquently all the blessings that God reserves to his
Chosens almost as in the Bible.
It is very impressive when we consider that in this period of history,
no communication was possible and the secrets of each nation were well
kept by many barriers of mountains, of seas, and of languages.
In studying all the great Chinese thinkers, I was struck by their faith
and their spirituality as if the divine presence transpirates through
their expression, through their thoughts and their scriptures, and by
realizing that they used the same mystical language as other mystics of
all ages and nations.
How beatiful it is to consider after them, the life as a grandiose
melody beginning and finishing with one Note of perfection after passing
through all the richness of voices, movements, rhythms, and poetry.
The book of Eternal Center recalls me the music in the Poems of Kabir of
Tagore, the living words of Ramakrishna, the warmness of Bodhidharma,
the melody of the Bhagavad-Gita.
It recalls me also the song of the Psalmist:
O Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle
Who shall dwell in thy holy hill?
He that walketh uprightly and worketh righteousness
And speaketh the truth in his heart.
And the beautiful words of Paul:
For God, who commanded the light to shine
out of darkness, hath shined in our heart...
(Corinthians, II 4-6)
beautiful and consolatory it will be if we can find our center of
gravity in these times of storm and war. And in summary, I would wish
that every man will cooperate to exalt all the moral and spiritual
values and that every man will build on this Eternal Center and this
Socle of Perfection all his buildings to the happiness of the Humanity.
Dành cho các thính giả người Anh, hôm Phát Giải
Thưởng Văn Chương Tinh Việt Văn Đoàn Lecomte du Noüy.
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