The Monistic Theory
by Nhân Tử Nguyễn Văn Thọ
Preface | Chapters:
10 11 12
Confucianism and the Monistic Theory
its name from Confucius (the Anglicized pronunciation of Kung-Fu-Tzu
which means "Kung the Teacher"). It was one of the great religions that
have dominated China, and its satellites, such as Japan, Korea,
Mongolia, and Vietnam, for more than two thousand years.
Confucius : The
Teacher-Standard of All Eternity (Wan-shih shih-piao :
萬 世 師 表)
Brevity shall be
the primary consideration in the life of Confucius. Suffice it to
mention that he lived from 551 to 479 B.C., almost at the same time as
Zoroaster in Iran, Ezekiel in Israel, Pythagoras in Greece, Lao-Tzu in
China, and Buddha in India.
" The Confucian
literature, as traditionally conceived, consists of the so-called Five
Classics and Four Books.
Classics: Book of Rites, Book of Change, Book of History, Book of
Poetry, and Spring and Autumn Annals- were, with one exception, in
existence before Confucius's time. But they were edited by him and his
followers, so that, in the form in which they appear, they definitely
reflect a Confucian perspective.
"The exception is
the Spring and Autumn Annals, a history of the Chou era from 721 to 481
B. C. which has traditionally been ascribed to Confucius himself.
"The Four Books
are the more distinctively Confucian sources. Foremost among them is the
Analects-disconnected sayings of Confucius that were preserved by his
"Then there are
the Golden Mean and the Great Learning- expanded chapters from the Book
of Rites, as interpreted by Confucius and refracted through the
understanding of his early followers.
"These two books
are collections of essays on basic Confucian themes, such as the
Superior Man, the Nature of true manhood, the significance of ritual, of
education and of music, the art of government, the moral order of the
"The last of the
Four Books is the Book of Mencius, containing the doctrines of a great
Confucian thinker who lived two centuries after Confucius. Mencius' work
comes closest, of these varied materials, to exemplifying what the West
would expect in a systematic moral and religious philosophy.
Confucianism and the Monistic Theory
according to his own words, did not create a new religion, but only
handed down the religion and the doctrines as practiced and taught in
the remote antiquity, by ancient Chinese Holy Sovereigns.
He did not create
a new line of politics but displayed only politics and regulations as
applied by the emperors of ancient times.
He did not create
any new convention and institution, but endeavored only to find out and
to conform to natural laws.
In other words,
he only fostered what is ideal, pertaining to religion, moral, and
politics, and promoted what is universal, eternal and natural.
It is said in the
Doctrine of the Mean: "Chung Ni handed down the doctrine of Yao and
Shun, as if they had been his ancestors, and elegantly displayed the
regulations of Wan and Woo, taking them as his models. Above, he
harmonizes with the lines of Heaven, and below he was conformed to the
water and land (Doctrine of the Mean, Chap. XX).
To find out the
religious life of the ancient China, we must therefore refer ourselves
to ancient Sovereigns of China, such as:
Iu (Đại Võ,
Wan (Văn Vương;
1258?- ? B.C.)
Woo (Võ Vương;
1122- 1115 B.C.)
We can say
ancient, if we figure that the Flood occurred, according to some
Christian books, at about 2400 B.C., that Abraham lived around 1800 and
Moses around 1200 B.C.
We must also
survey a historical period spanning over almost two thousand years
It points out
some very important religious features: Chinese people, then, believed
in God, considering Him as a creator, a judge and a sovereign who rules
the world through the agency of Holy Kings, named Sons of God. (Cf. Book
of Poetry, and Book of History).
God was in the
Heaven, but at the same time, He was very close to people, helping them,
protecting them, conducting them and chastening them if necessary. It is
said in the Book of Poetry:
the anger of God,
presume not to make sport or be idle.
the changing moods of God,
presume not to drive about (at your pleasure).
God is intelligent,
with you, in all your goings.
God is clear seeing,
And is with
you in your wanderings and indulgences."
We can also
illustrate this closeness of God with people, by two other historical
a). When King Woo
(Võ Vương) confronted the immense army of the tyrant Shou (Trụ Vương),
in the wilderness of Muh (Mục Dã), the slogan to raise his morale and
the morale of his soldiers, was "GOD IS WITH YOU, have no doubts in
b). After the
battle, Shou (Trụ Vương) fled to the "Stag Tower" (Lộc Đài) and burned
himself to death. In the mean time, Woo (Võ Vương), having received the
congratulations of the princes on his victory, pressed on after the
tyrant. On arriving at the capital, the people were waiting outside the
walls in anxious expectations, which the king relieved by sending his
officers among them with the words: "Supreme God is sending down
blessings". The multitude reverently saluted the king, who bowed to them
in return, and hurried onto the place where the dead body of Shou (Trụ)
Ancient Holy Sovereigns believed that God was really present in their
soul. For them, God was really their essential and true nature and their
changing phenomenal soul was only a veil or at most an expression of
God. It is said in the Shoo King:
human Self is restless and changing
divine Self is very recondite,
Stick to your Central Self."
Thus was the
profession of faith of the Holy Kings, two thousand years B. C.
changing garb of our human self, there is a Divine Self, recondite
indeed, but nevertheless real. It serves as our kernel, our ground, our
Central Self. Recognizing this essential and divine nature, we perfect
our self, purify our self, and realize oneness with this Central Self."
In other words,
man's ultimate goal is to become perfect, to be united to God, recondite
in his own soul, and to become an expression of God.
King Wan (Văn
Vương) was so called because he was so virtuous that he was in fact
considered as an expression of God. (The She King, Decade of King Wan,
Ode 1, 7, p. 431).
his life was endangered, when he was surrounded by the people of K'wang
(Khương), claimed also that his was really an expression of God, exactly
as King Wan. He said: "After the death of King Wan, was not the
expression (of God) conferred to me? If God has wished to let his
expression perish, then I should not have got such an honor. While God
does not let his expression perish, what can the people of K'wang do to
me?" (Analects, IX, 5).
Confucianism, Father Mateo Ricci, a Jesuit who came to China to preach
Gospel, at the XVIIth century, has written:
"I have noted
many passages (of their Scriptures) that are in favor of our faith, such
as the unity of God, the immortality of the soul, the glory of the
Blessed ones, etc".
(1655-1728) was more enthusiastic:
religion, seems to have conserved intact and pure, in the course of the
ages, the primary truths revealed by God to the first human being.
China, happier than any other country in the world, has drawn almost
from the fountain-head, the holy and primary truths of its ancient
emperors built temples to God and it is not a small glory to China for
having sacrificed to the Creator in the most ancient temple of the
world. The primary piety is conserved in the people thanks to the
Emperors who endeavored to maintain it, so that idolatry could not
penetrate in China."
But the Roman
Catholic Church has condemned all these views.
emperors referred to, were:
Hwang Te (Hoàng
Đế; 2697-2597 B. C.)
Iu (Đại Võ,
Wan (Văn Vương;
Woo (Võ Vương;
It is worth to
note that these emperors lived before, or at least, at the period of the
Biblical Flood, and much longer before Abraham (1800).
metaphysical standpoint, Confucianism, through the agency of the I Ching
(D¡ch Kinh), sustained that everything is rooted in God and has sprung
out from God.
multifarious changes and mutations through time and space, after a long
dialectical and cyclical movement of expansion and contraction, of
extroversion and introversion aimed at its fulfillment, everything will
return to God as its original soul.
This is called
the theory of Cyclical change (Tian di xun huan zhong er fu shi: Thiên
Địa Tuần Hoàn, Chung Nhi Phục Thủy).
God is then the
quintessence of everything, and the unifying principle of the universe.
He is transcendent, at the same time immanent in everything. The
phenomenal world consequently is only various expressions of this
essential Being, exactly as the eight trigrams or the sixty four
hexagrams are various expressions of the Wu Chi (Vô Cực) or T'ai chi
God, and the perfection of God, is in the Center of everything. The aim
of our study is to find out this Center, this Kernel. It is said in the
beginning of the Great Learning: "What the Great Learning teaches is to
brighten the mirror of the Conscience; to renovate the people; and to
rest in the highest perfection. The point where to rest being known, the
object of the pursuit is then determined; and that being determined, a
calm unperturbedness may be attained to. To that calmness there will
succeed a tranquil repose. In that repose there may be careful
deliberation, and that deliberation will be followed by the attainment
of the desired end.
their roots and their branches. Affairs have their end and their
beginning. To know what is first and what is last will lead near to
"The ancients who
wished to let their Conscience shine throughout the kingdom, first
ordered well their own States. Wishing to order well their States, they
first regulate their families. Wishing to regulate their families, they
first cultivate their persons. Wishing to cultivate their persons, they
first rectify their hearts. Wishing to rectify their hearts, they first
sought to be sincere in their thoughts. Wishing to be sincere in their
thought, they first extended to the utmost their knowledge. Such
extension of knowledge lay in the Discovery of the Kernel of everything.
The Kernel of
everything being discovered, knowledge became complete. Their knowledge
being complete, their thoughts were sincere. There thoughts being
sincere, their hearts were then rectified. Their hearts being rectified,
their persons were cultivated. Their persons being cultivated, their
families were regulated. Their families being regulated, their States
were rightly governed. Their states being rightly regulated, the whole
kingdom was made tranquil and happy.
"From the Son of
God down to the mass of the people all must consider the cultivation of
the person the root of everything besides." (Cf. J. Legge, The Great
Learning, p. 358-359).
The Kernel of
everything is also called The Eternal Center (Trung Dung), The Center
and Equilibrium (Trung Chính), the Supreme Summit (Thái Cực), the One
(Nhất), or The Eternal Religion (Trung Đạo). Names can vary, but the
Idea remain the same.
This idea of God
as origin, sustainer and indweller of the universe and of the human soul
is similarly expressed many times in the Upanishads.
According to the
Indian Upanishads, The Great Self or Person is the eternal axis which
keeps the universe in being. He is God who controls the world from
within, the ground on which all existence is woven.
Applied to man,
this cosmic view helps to solve the enigma of the human sphinx.
Instead of being
composed of body and soul as sustained by Christian theology, man
according to Confucianism, is tripartite. He has: A divine Self (Sing,
Tính) or spiritual Self. A psychological or human Self (Sin, Tâm). A
corporeal or material self (K'io, Xác)
He is then a real
microcosm reflecting the macrocosm. This tripartite conception of man,
denied by Christian theology, is however amazingly contained in the Old,
as well as, in the New Testament.
In the Bible,
Spirit and Soul are referred to as two different entities. The Spirit is
designated by the term Ruah in Hebrew, Pneuma in Greek and Spiritus in
Latin. The Soul is designated by Nephesh in Hebrew, Psyche in Greek and
Anima in Latin.
conception of man is clearly referred to by St Paul in 1 Thessalonians,
5, 25. "May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your
spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of
our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Thess. 5, 23). In The Epistle to Hebrews, St
Paul considered Spirit and Soul as two different entities. He said: "For
the word of God is living and active, sharper than any edge sword,
piercing to the division of soul (Psyche) and Spirit (Pneuma). (Hebrews,
Freud, on his
own, has also recognized three factors in man behavior: The Id or the
animal self, The Ego, The Superego.
The Superego can
be compared with the Spirit. It is also what Carl Jung has called the
Collective Unconscious, and William James has called the Mystical or
Now, if we put
aside our corporeal body, that everyone can easily experience, we
realize that the master-key to unlock the mysteries not only of
Confucianism, but also of all great religion in the world, is the
"Spirit and Soul Theory".
a)- According to
Confucianism, the Spirit or our true nature (Sing; Tính), is in fact
divine. It is the "Divine Spark" (Ming te; Minh Đức) referred to in the
Great Learning; the Nature (Sing; Tính) referred to in the Doctrine of
the Mean. Mencius sustained therefore that this Nature is truly good.
It is also
nothing else than our Moral Conscience, where all the moral laws are
written by God.
The Book of
giving birth to the multitude of the people,
faculty and relationship annexed its law.
people possess this normal nature,
And they consequently love its normal
The Doctrine of
the Mean sustained that the model of perfection is not to be
far-fetched. It can be found in our own Spiritual Self.
"Therefore, the superior man governs
man according to their nature, with what is proper to them, and as soon
as they change what is wrong, he stops".
reminds us of one similar passage in the Deuteronomy, where God, after
giving the Ten Commandments to Israel, has said: "For these commandments
which I command you this day is not too hard for you, neither is it far
off. It is not in heaven, that you should say: Who will go up for us to
heaven, and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it? Neither it is
beyond the sea, that you should say: Who will go over the sea, for us
and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it? But the word is in
your mouth, and in your heart, so that you can do it!" (Deuteronomy, 30,
That also reminds
us of one passage of Jeremiah: "But this is the covenant which I will
make with the house of Israel after these days, says the Lord: I will
put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts..."
(Jeremiah, 31, 33)
b). On the other
hand, the soul or our Ego is human, and consequently imperfect. It
should be educated, chastened and harnessed to become perfect. Our soul
can be dissipated easily by external agents. This is what Confucianism
called the loss of the soul. Mencius complained that people are losing
their soul and do not know how to seek for it. He said: "When men's
fowls and dogs are lost, they know how to seek for them again, but they
lose their soul and don't know how to seek for it. The great end of
learning is nothing else but to seek for the lost soul. (Mencius, VI, I.
religion, for a Confucian, is then the quest for this Divine Self, the
gradual realization of this Divine Self. Mencius said: "All things are
already complete in us. A conversion inward for self-fulfillment will
give us a highest pleasure" (The work of Mencius, Book VII, Pt. I, Chap.
then man's turning back to his truest nature. Wang-Yang-Ming (Vương
Dương Minh), another Confucian philosopher of a later period (1472-1529)
sustained the same view. "Every man, said he, has an inborn Divine mind,
which is our Spiritual Self, namely our moral Conscience. The moral
Conscience is the same in the sage and in the fool. The difference
resides in that the sage keeps the conscience clear and fulfill himself
according to its directives, while the fool obscures it and neglects its
Theory can be proved by the teachings of any great religion.
Buddhism has the
Buddha-Nature (Dharmakaya) and the Illusory Ego.
The Quran accepts
also a threefold state of man: The Physical State or Nafs-Ammara. The
Moral State or Nafs-Lawwama. The Spiritual State or Nafs-Mutmainnah.
Taoism has the
Tao and the Human Soul.
St Paul referred
to a Psychical Body, and a Spiritual Body in his first Corinthians (I.
Cor. 12, 44).
philosophers distinguished the "Nus" or Divine Mind from the "Psyche" or
Hinduism has the
Atman and the Individual Soul theory. In the Chandogya Upanishad, The
Atman is referred to as "this Soul of mine within the heart is smaller
than a grain of rice, or a barley-corn, or a mustard-seed, or a grain of
millet, or the kernel of a grain of millet; this Soul of mine within the
heart is greater than the earth, greater than the atmosphere, greater
than the sky, greater than these worlds. Containing all worlds,
containing all desires, containing all odors, containing all tastes,
encompassing this whole world, the unspeaking, the unconcerned-this is
the Soul of mine within the heart, this is Brahma. Into him I shall
enter on departing hence. If one would believe this, he would have no
more doubt." (The Thirteen Principal Upanishads, Robert Ernest Hume,
I988, Printed in India, 3, 14.)
these two parts radically different but at the same time merged
together, Tagore resorts to "the dewdrop and the sun-ray" parable.
complains to the sun: "I am longing for you, but never I dare nourish
the hope to serve you. I am to little to attract you, O almighty God,
and in all my life I will be tearful! The sun replies: "I am
illuminating the immense sky, but I do take care of the small dew-drop.
I will be a light ray, and will overwhelm Thee, and thy life will be a
world of brightness. (Nguyễn Đăng Thục, Lịch Sử Triết Học Đông Phương,
III, p. 10)
We can sum up
these preceding ideas as follows:
God is not far
from man. He is very close to man, not only close, but resides in fact
in the innermost of the human soul.
The true human
nature partakes to the nature of God.
Human nature, as
well as human destiny, is then sublime.
The insight of
the relationship between God and man helps Confucius to understand the
true destiny of man.
Confucius, man should use his life for self-perfecting in order to reach
the highest state of perfection, rendering him worthy to be united to
God. At the same time, he should also help other people to cultivate
themselves and to perfect themselves.
the basic concern is no longer the struggle for life, for the precarious
requisites of continued physical existence, it is instead the quest for
the good life, for the finest moral and spiritual realization of which
man is capable under the complex condition that a civilized society
It is said in the
beginning of the Doctrine of the Mean:
God has conferred, is called the Nature,
realization of this Nature is called Religion.
illustration of this Religion, is called Instruction.
Religion may not be severed from us even for an instant.
could be severed, it would not be the Religion."
And a little bit
"Our Central Self
or Moral Being is the great basis of existence, and harmony or moral
order is the universal law in the world. When our true Central Self and
harmony are realized, the universe then become a cosmos and all things
attain their full growth and development."
Chu hsi (Chu Hi),
commenting on this first chapter of the Doctrine of the Mean, has said:
"This religion is to be traced to its origin, to God, and is
unchangeable, while the substance of it is provided in our self and may
not be departed from...The learner should direct his thoughts inward and
by searching in himself, there find these truths so that he might put
aside all outward temptations appealing to his selfishness, and fill up
the measure of the goodness which is natural to him ".
A true Confucian,
believing that God is immanent and present in his soul, will behave
himself always very properly. "Going out of home, he is reverent as if
he has to welcome a distinguished guest; in dealing with people he is
respectful as if he is performing a ritual ceremony."
Alone, he is furthermore careful and
reverent, venerating Him who is invisible, fearing Him who is inaudible,
but from Whose view nothing is left unsighted.
The quest for the
Divine is then at the same time, the quest for self-fulfillment.
immanent in our soul, the model of perfection is also contained in our
Great Learning consists of discovering this divine nature; the noblest
duty of man is to rekindle this Divine Spark latent in him.
self-fulfillment should be rooted in this transcendental discovery,
because only the discovery of one's own divine nature can truly help man
to transform himself and fulfill himself completely.
Christian language, it means that the Kingdom of God is not far, it is
already within us (Mat. 3,2.- Luke 17,21)
and this fulfillment begins from the innermost of an eminent man and
will irradiate and propagate themselves to other people, from the
family, to the nation, from the nation to the world, for the benefit of
the whole mankind.
rule of conduct of a superior man is the imitation of God. (The I Ching,
Chien hexagram, the Image.)
Now if perfection
is the lot of God; the attainment of perfection is the lot of man.
It is rather
amazing to note that five hundred years later, Jesus Christ has taught
to humanity the same lesson:
said he, must be perfect, as your heavenly father is perfect". (Mat. 4,
According to the
Doctrine of the Mean, Goodness, Knowledge and Energy are three cardinal
virtues leading to perfection.
It is said in the
Doctrine of the Mean:
"He who desires
to attain to perfection, is he who chooses what is good, and firmly
holds it fast.
" To this
attainment, there are requisite the extensive study of what is good,
accurate inquiry about it, careful reflection on it, the clear
discrimination of it, and the earnest practice of it.
man, while there is anything he has not studied or while in what he
studied there is anything he cannot understand, will not intermit his
"While there is
anything he has not inquired about, or anything in what he has inquired
about which he does not know, he will not intermit his labor.
"While there is
anything which he has not reflected on, or anything in what he has
reflected on, which he does not apprehend, he will not intermit his
"While there is
anything which he has not discriminated, or his discrimination is not
clear, he will not intermit his labor. if there is anything which he has
not practiced or his practice fails in earnestness, he will not intermit
"If another man
succeed by one effort, he will use a hundred efforts. If another man
succeed by ten efforts, he will use a thousand.
"Let a man
proceed in this way, and though dull, he will surely become intelligent,
though weak, he will surely become strong" .
We realize, then,
that to increase our goodness we should fulfill all our duties required
by our stations in life and apply the Golden Rule towards other people;
that to increase our intelligence, we should keep on inquiring,
studying, and thinking through all our life, and that to increase our
will power, we should have the sense of emulation and strain after a
life starts, then, from the reverent feeling of the presence of God in
man's soul, develops itself through the progressive blooming of all our
potentialities and ends in the complete union with God.
James Legge in
his commentaries of the Doctrine of the Mean, has written: "Between the
first and the last chapters, there is a correspondence, and each of them
may be considered as a summary of the whole treatise. The difference
between them is that in the first, a commandment is made with the
mention of God as the conferrer of man's nature; while in this the
progress of man in virtue is traced step by step till the last, it is
equal to that of God.
According to the
Great Learning, our life should be devoted to rekindle the divine spark
in our self, to renovate people and to tend towards the highest
excellence (The Great Learning, Chap. 1)
We are advised by
Confucius to study the Book of Poetry to know how to enjoy and
appreciate all the beauties revealed by nature and men.
We should study
the Rites, to know all the natural laws and good procedures embodied in
good manners and ceremonials.
We should study
Music so that we can harmonize ourselves with other people and with the
cosmos. (Confucian Analects, VIII, 9)
that though apparently petty and humble, man has in fact a very noble
destiny, that man can have a good life here and that God is always
present in the human soul to direct man through the voice of the
conscience, Confucius felt himself overwhelmed with joy. He said: "If
man in the morning hear the true religion, he may die in the evening
without regret." (Analects, IV, 8).
Fortified by his
faith, he could also say: "With coarse rice to eat, with water to drink,
and my bent arm for a pillow, I have still joy in the midst of these
things. Riches and honors acquired by unrighteousness are to me a
floating cloud." (Analects, VII, 15).
religious faith could explain why even being in the distress, in the
wilderness between Chan (Trần) and Ts'ai (Sái) regions, Confucius could
take his lute and sing to it (Lin Yutang, the Wisdom of Confucius, p.
81), and why he could spend many years in propagating the new faith
remind us of Romain Rolland's saying: "I feel in me a strong faith, I
should share this faith to whom in need. I will make a revelation to my
people, I will be a pioneer. No matter if the world will destroy me or
pierce me. May I only rekindle this faith in others and in me.
one's soul in order to be united to God is also the ultimate goal of all
goal can be forsaken by the followers of religions, but it is
nonetheless, treasured in their sacred Scriptures.
In John's Gospel,
Jesus Christ has prayed many times for this oneness with God not only
for him but for all.
It is said in the
Quran: "And if my servants ask thee concerning Me, tell them that I am
very near them. I listen to the supplications of supplicators, therefore
they ought to seek my union with prayers and believe in me, so that
proceeding aright they may arrive at fulfillment. "
"Verily we are God's and verily to Him shall we return."
Tagore has said:
"The Infinite for its self-expression comes down into the manifoldness
of the finite and the finite for its self-realization must rise into the
unity of the Infinite. Then only is the cycle of the truth complete.
The Buddha has
taught people how to forsake the illusory Ego and to realize the
Reality, how to sprung from the Temporal into the Eternal, from the
Phenomenal which is Samsara into the Noumenal which is Nirvana.
Buddhism too has
been a stumbling-block to Western religious thinkers; for Buddhism is
undoubtedly a religion, and in its primitive form it is undoubtedly
atheistic, at least in the sense that we normally understand the world.
But though the Buddhist Scriptures lay such tremendous emphasis on the
impermanence of all things, there are passages enough to show that over
against this ever-changing world the Buddha saw something that did not
change, over against Prakriti he saw Purusa though he would not have
formulated this thus.
He calls it
"deathlessness, peace, the unchanging state of Nirvana, or more clearly,
he says: "There is, monks, an unborn, not become, not made,
uncompounded. If there was not such a state of unborn, not become, not
made, uncompounded, no escape could be shown here, for what is born, has
become, is made, is compounded, therefore an escape can be shown for
what is born, has become, is made, is compounded."
Taoism has also
fostered this unitive life and sustained that the union with God was the
highest religious form in the Antiquity.
realizing this common aim of humanity, has exclaimed: "In nature, all
things return to their common source, and are distributing along
different paths; through one action, the fruit of a hundred thoughts are
In brief, for
Confucius,, our life should be ordained spiritually, morally,
physically, individually and socially so that we can realize human
For that, we
should have a sound idea about our true nature. We should be convinced
of our eminent destiny. We should be enthusiastic and persevering in our
quest for our self-fulfillment and the divine life. We should obey all
nature laws, and should develop all our potentialities. We should
cultivate not only our spirit and our soul but also our mind, our body,
our environment so that everything will become perfect.
We can never
emphasize enough that, for Confucianism, the norm of perfection is
already in the inmost of our soul. If we desire to work for our own
perfecting, we have only to act in conformity with this internal norm,
which is our moral conscience. According to Wang Yang Ming (1472-1529),
the Perfect Ones are perfect only because they obey this celestial norm
and get rid of all human passions.
Now if we desire
to imitate the Perfect Ones, we have only to eliminate all our selfish
passions and to maintain in us the celestial norm.
generations do not know that to become perfect, they have only to apply
themselves to this celestial norm. On the contrary, they seek perfection
only in knowledge and capacities, believing that the Perfect Ones know
everything, can do marvelous things, and that one should acquire each of
the numerous knowledges and capacities of the Perfect Ones. So one
forsakes the celestial norm, namely, the Moral conscience, one exhausts
oneself to investigate books, to scrutinize institutions, to compare the
vestiges of the Perfect Ones. As results, the more our knowledge becomes
widened, the more human desires are increased; the more our capacities
are increased, the more the celestial norm is obnubilated..."
recognizes two ideal types of man: The gentleman or superior man and the
The Superior Man
or the Gentleman is he who takes care of his spirit and his
soul.(Mencius, VI, Pt. I. Chapt. 15)
He knows his high
destiny. (Analects XX, 3)
He has high
aspirations. (Analects XIV, 24)
He endeavors to
cultivate himself. (Analects XV, 17, 20; Doctrine of the Mean chap. XIV
He likes to tread
on the path of virtue rather than on that of profit. (Analectd IV, 6 &
intelligent, adaptable, eager to learn. (Analects VI, 25 & IV 10.
Doctrine of the Mean, XX)
He prefers action
to words. (Analects XV, 23. V, 11- XII, 15)
He is always
composed, serene, and satisfied (Analects, IV, 1. VII, 36)
portrayed the Superior Man by these words: "To dwell in the wide house
of the world, to stand in the correct seat of the world and to walk in
the great path of the world; when he obtains his desire for office, to
practice his principles for the good of the people; and when that desire
is disappointed, to practice them alone; to be above the power of riches
and honors to make dissipated; of poverty and mean condition to make
swerve from principle; and of power and force to make bend: These
characteristics constitute the great man."
The Book of
Poetry has also praised the Superior Man as follows:
banks of the Ke,
these green bamboos,
our elegant prince,
the knife and the file,
the chisel and the polishes!
grave is he and dignified!
commanding and distinguished!
elegant and distinguished prince,
Never can be forgotten.
Superior Man is the Saint, the ideal man, the achieved type of
The Saint acts
always in conformity with his moral nature. His intelligence perceived
without effort the inmost cause of everything; he will experience no
difficulties at tending towards the goodness and at staying firmly in
the path of righteousness, order and duty. The Saint is in fact the
personification of God.
should develop all his potentialities. An individual cultivates himself
to become a superior man, and then a sage, and then a saint. A Saint
takes God as his model, a sage take a Saint as his model, a superior man
will imitate a sage, and an individual will imitate a superior man.
cultivation begins with learning. It is with good reason that the Lun Yu
(Luận Ngử) opens with the following saying of the Master: "To learn and
to relearn again, isn't it a great pleasure?" Reminiscing about his own
lifelong course of cultivation, Confucius identified the starting point
thus: "At 15, I set my heart on learning; at 30 I was firmly
established; at 40 I had no more doubts; at 50 I knew the will of God;
at 60 I was ready to listen to it; at 70 I could follow my heart's
desire without transgressing what was right. "Education, teachers, and
even books have always been accorded great respect and attention in
China. Confucius was the great professional teacher of China, and he is
revered as the "Supreme Sage and Foremost Teacher".
understood and pursued, however, learning goes hand in hand with
practice. The famous "golden rule" pronounced by Confucius came in
answer to an inquiry by a pupil concerning conduct. The dialogue runs as
Tzu Kung (Tử
Cống) asked: "Is there any one work that can serve as principle for the
conduct of life." Confucius said: "Perhaps the word 'reciprocity': "Do
not do to others what you would not want others to do to you." (Analects
In addition to
learning and practice, personal cultivation requires reflection, or
meditation. In the Lun Yu there is recorded the remark by one of
Confucius' immediate disciple, "I daily examine myself on three points"
(honesty in business transactions, sincerity in relations with friends
and mastery and practice of teachers' instructions). Later, Mencius
said: 'He who has exhaustively search his mind, knows his nature.
Knowing his nature, he knows God."
It would be a
failure on our part, if we would not deal with the Confucian political
theory, because Confucius has never rested only in the improvement of
"The kingdom of
world brought to a state of tranquillity was the great object which he
delighted to think of; that it might be brought about as easily as "one
can look upon the palm of his hand" was the dream which it pleased to
him to indulge.
"He held that
there was in men an adaptation and readiness to be governed which only
needed to be taken advantage of in the proper way. There must be right
administrators, but given those, and "the growth of government would be
rapid, just as vegetation is rapid in the earth..."
to be governed arose according to Confucius from the duties of universal
obligation, or those between sovereign and minister, between father and
son, between husband and wife, between elder brother and younger, and
those belonging to the intercourse of friends.
"Men as they are
born into the world, and grow up in it, find themselves existing in
those relations. They are the appointments of Heaven. And each relation
has its reciprocal obligations, the recognition of which is proper to
the Heaven-conferred nature. It only needs that the sacredness of the
relations be maintained, and the duties belonging to them faithfully
discharged, and the "happy tranquillity will prevail all under
"With these ideas of the relations of
society, Confucius dwelt much on the necessity of personal correctness
of characters on the part of those in authority, in order to secure the
right fulfillment of the duties implied in them. This is one grand
peculiarity of his teaching...
"To govern is to set things right. If you begin by setting yourself
right, who will dare to deviate from the right?" "Chi K'ang (Quí Khang
Tử) asked about government and Confucius replied: "To govern means to
rectify. If you lead on the people with correctness, who dares not to be
correct?" (Analects, XII, 17).
" Chi K'ang (Quí
Khang Tử) distressed about the number of thieves in the State, inquired
of Confucius about how to do away with them. Confucius said "If you,
Sir, were not covetous, though you should reward them to do it, they
would not steal." (Analects, XII, 18).
"Chi k'ang asked
about government, saying: "What do you say to killing of unprincipled
for the good of the principled? Confucius replied: "Sir, in carrying on
your government, why should you use killing at all? Let your evinced
desires be for what is good and the people will be good. (Analects, XII,
between superiors and inferiors is like that between the wind and the
grass. The grass must bend, when the wind blows across it." (Analects,
As to the
institutions of government, Confucius endeavored to foster the
Theocracy, promoted by the ancient Sovereigns.
Theocracy is an
ancient form of government in which God is supposed to rule over all the
people, through the agency of a Holy Sovereign, called Son of God. In
Theocracy, the king is God's vicar on earth; he is king at the same time
pontiff, and is the mediator between God and men.
He should be then
perfect, because he is really the Son of God, conducting people to
perfection by his teaching and his life.
He should select
wise, virtuous and capable ministers to help him governing people.
should aim to take care of all people, to foster prosperity and
happiness, to instruct people and LEAD THEM GRADUALLY TO A PERFECT AND
Political Charter of Ancient China, now three thousand years old, was
reported to be inspired by God, to the Great Iu (2205-2197).
It contains nine
chapters. We sum up them as follows:
1). The Ruler
should know the properties of the elements in order to help all the
people to live properly.
2). The Ruler
should know how to cultivate himself, to fulfill himself, to become
intelligent, competent, majestic, wise and saintly.
3). The Ruler
should know how to govern his subjects. For this purpose, he should
fulfill eight duties:
Provide food to people.
Secure commodities for people.
Foster religious duties of people.
Secure the comfort of people dwellings.
Teach people all their moral duties.
Deter them from evil by a good organization of Justice.
Regulate festive ceremonies and social intercourse for people.
Secure the well-being of the State by having an efficient army.
4). The Ruler
should be informed about the movement of the celestial bodies, the
rhythm of the seasons. He should establish an accurate calendar in order
to harmonize the works of his subjects with the cosmic and seasonal
5). The Ruler
should be a living example of perfection and a spiritual guide as well
as a temporal guide for all his people.
6). The Ruler
should govern with correctness and straightforwardness. But he should
also know how to rule or strongly or mildly according to circumstances,
7). If the Ruler
has doubts about any great matter, he must consult with his own
intelligence; consult with the nobles and officers; consult with God
through the agency of divination.
8). The Ruler
should consider all the natural calamities as warnings of God concerning
his defective behavior or his defective government and amend
9). The Ruler
should consider the happiness and extremities of the nation as
reflecting faithfully his own attainments and defects in reference to
people. In fact, a good government will result in prosperity,
healthiness and high moral standard in the nation. A bad government will
result in calamities, illness and high frequencies of delinquencies in
In brief, love,
cooperation, trustfulness, respect for human dignity are the framework
of this ideal Theocracy.
passage in the Li Chi (Lễ Ký), sometimes referred to as the Confucian
Utopia, begins with the following pronouncements: "When the age of the
Great Tao prevailed, the world was a community of all people. Men of
virtue and talent were upheld and mutual confidence and goodwill were
cultivated."(Li Chi - Lễ Ký, Li Yun - Lễ Vận)
James Legge has
summarized the ancient Chinese creed and the ancient Chinese Theocracy
"The name by
which God was designated was the Ruler, and the Supreme Ruler, denoting
emphatically his personality, supremacy, and unity... By God, kings were
supposed to reign, and princes were required to decree justice.
"All were under
law to Him; and bound to obey His will. Even on the inferior people, He
has conferred a moral sense, compliance with which would show their
nature invariably right. All powers that be are from Him. He raises one
to the throne and put down another. The business of Kings is to rule in
righteousness and benevolence, so that the people may be happy and good.
They are to be an example to all in authority, and to the multitudes
under them. Their highest achievement is to cause the people
tranquillity to pursue the course which their moral nature would
indicate and approve.
When they are
doing wrong, God admonishes them by judgments, storms, famine, and other
calamities. If they persist in evil, sentence goes for against them. The
dominion is taken from them, and given to others more worthy of it."
Thorton in his
History of China, observes: "In my excited surprise and probably
incredulity, to state that the Golden Rule of our Savior: "Do unto
others as you would that they should do unto you", which Mr. Locke
designates as "the most unshaken rule of morality, and foundation of all
social virtue" had been inculcated by Confucius, almost in the same
words, four centuries before."
I quote again
James Legge : "But I must now leave the sages. I hope I have not done
him injustice. The more I have studied his characters and opinions, the
more highly have I come to regard him. He was a very great man, and his
influence has been on the whole a great benefit to the Chinese, while
his teachings suggest important lessons to ourselves who profess to
belong to the school of Christ."
Up to now, no one
has talked about Confucian mysticism. Confucius can be called a mystic,
but when he speak about himself, he is very brief, and use very humble
Confucian mystics, mentioned by Confucius and Mencius, were Yao (Nghiêu;
2357-2255 BC), Shun (Thuấn; 2255-2205 BC), Iu (Đại Võ; 2205-2197), King
Wan (Văn Vương; 1258-? BC), and Woo (Võ Vương; 1122-1115 BC). (The works
of Mencius VII, part 2, 38)
The life of these
Holy Sovereigns is described in the Shoo King, or the Book of Historical
Documents (Kinh Thư, and in the She King, or the Book of Poetry (Kinh
We know that in
these ancient times, people endeavored to become perfect and to be
united to God, and believed that God was very close to everyone.
In the Great
battle in the wilderness on Muh, that confronted the troops of Woo, and
those of the tyrant Show, to galvanize the faith of the King in God, the
Grand Master Shang Foo (Trọng Phụ) thus said to King Wu (Võ Vương):
troops of Yin-Shang (Ân Thương)
collected like a forest,
marshalled in the wilderness of Muh.
[to the crisis];-
WITH YOU,' [said Shang-Foo to the King],
DOUBTS IN YOUR HEART.'
wilderness of Muh (Mục Dã spread out extensive;
shone the chariot of sandal;
teams of bays, black-maned and white-bellied, galloped along;
grand-master Shang-fu (Trọng Phụ)
an eagle on the wing,
Assisting King Woo (Võ Vương),
one onset smote the great Shang (Thương).
That morning's encounter was followed
by a clear bright [day].
At this ancient
time, people believed that God illumined their heart, to show them the
way of wisdom, so that they could have the same virtue of God. It is
said in the She king:
illustration of illustrious [virtue] is required below,
And the dread majesty is on high.
At this period,
The Holy Sovereigns believes that God descends in their heart.
Therefore, they never relaxed in the maintenance of their virtues. It is
said in the She King:
harmony was he in his palace;
reverence in his ancestral temple.
sight he still felt as under inspection,
Unweariedly he maintained [his virtue].
King Wan has
attained a high degree of perfection, and became an expression of God,
therefore he was named King Wan. Wan means in fact expression. It is
written in the She king:
doings of High heaven,
neither sound nor smell,
your pattern from King Wan,
And the myriad regions will repose
confidence in you.'
At this time,
people believed that following the way of their ancestors was following
the true religion of God, and the true filial piety.
written in the She King:
think of your ancestor,
Cultivating your virtue,
striving to accord with the will [of Heaven].
you be seeking for much happiness.
Yin lost the multitudes,
kings] were the assessors of God.
Yin as a beacon,
The great appointment is not easily
It is said also:
Watchfully and reverently,
entire intelligence served God,
secured the great blessing.
virtue was without deflection;
And in consequence he received [the
allegiance of] The States from all quarters.
At this time,
all the great people liked to live in conformity to God's will. This is
called leading a holy life. In brief, at this time, people understand
already what is mysticism, and what does it mean by Union with God.
Confucius rarely says that he is a mystic, that he has realized Union
with God, except only one time, when his life was endangered, when he
was surrounded by the people of K'wang. Then he declared himself an
expression of God, exactly as King Wan. He said: "After the death of
King Wan, was not the expression [of God] conferred to me? If God had
wished to led his expression perish, then I should not have such an
honor. While God does not let his expression perish, what can the people
of K'wang do to me?"
mystics men who practiced the Doctrine of the Mean, that I have
retranslated as The Eternal Center. In this book, Confucianists pretend
that mystics followed the natural path of perfection, written by God in
the hearts of all people. Mencius added that only in about 500 years,
can one find a Mystic. He gave us also a list of Chinese Mystics in the
last chapter of his book. (J. Legge, The Works of Mencius, pp. 501-502)
To become a
mystic, we must believe that the nature of man is good. The Goodness of
man is proclaimed by Confucius, and especially by Mencius.
In the beginning
of the Doctrine of the Mean, It is said: "What God has ordered us to
realize is called The Nature. An accordance with the Nature is called
Religion. The regulation of this Religion is called Instruction. The
Religion cannot be left even for an instant. If it could be left, it
would not be the Religion." So the true Religion is to follow our own
Nature, and the injunctions of our nature are written in our conscience.
the true religion springs forth from the inmost of our heart. It is said
in the Doctrine of the Mean: "The religion of the superior man is rooted
in himself, and sufficient attestation of it is given by the masses of
the people. He examines them by comparison with those of the three
kings, and finds them without mistake. He sets them up before heaven and
earth, and finds nothing in them contrary to their mode of operation. He
presents himself with them before spiritual beings, and no doubt about
them arise. He is prepared to wait for the rise of a sage a hundred ages
after, and has no misgivings..." (Doctrine of the Mean, Chap. XXX, 3).
categorical in affirming that the nature of man is good. "The tendency
of man's nature to good is like the tendency of water to flow downwards.
There are none but have this tendency to good, just as all water flows
downwards." (J. Legge, The works of Mencius, Book VI, Part I, 2, p.
It is said in the
Human Self is restless and changing,
Divine Self is very recondite.
purity, Realize Oneness,
your Central Self.
(J. Legge, The
Shoo King, The Counsels of the Great Wu, 15 p. 61. Translation of the
In that case, man
has two hearts, or two minds: A Carnal mind or Human self, full of
passions, and a Divine Self, or a Spiritual Mind very simple, and pure.
It is our Central Self, which gears us in our way to perfection.
To find out this
Central Self in our self is the beginning of our Mystical way. It can be
also called Illumination, or Conversion, or rebirth of the Spirit. To
orient our self from our Carnal mind to our Spiritual mind is to tread
on the Celestial pathway.
To get rid our
self of our Carnal Mind, is to become a Saint.
The whole human
pathway is then cyclical, half of it is called Human life; another half
is termed Divine Life. The first half is dominated by extroversion, the
second half is dominated by introversion or introspection. The middle of
our life is then around 35, or 36 years.
It is said in the
I Ching: "One Yin and One Yang is called Religion, if you can follow
this path, it is good. If you can follow this path up to its end, you
will realize your Nature. (The I Ching, The Great Treatise I, chapter 5,
said: "My religion is that of an all-pervading unity... Tsang (Trang Tử)
said: The religion of our master is to realize perfection in our heart,
and to render other people similar to us" (Analects, Book IV, 15)
Confucius has get
rid of his carnal mind. It is said in the Analects: "There were four
things from which the Master was entirely free: He has no foregone
conclusions, no arbitrary predetermination, no obstinacy and no egoism.
(J. Legge, Analects, Book IX, 4, p. 217)
We must repeat
that the Doctrine of the Mean is the book that teaches people the
Mystical Way. In its first chapter, a commencement is made with the
mention of God as the conferror of man's nature, while in its last
chapter, the progress of man in virtue is traced, step by step, till at
last it is equal to that of God. "A Saint, or Confucius, can be compared
to heaven and earth, in their supporting and containing, their
overshadowing and curtaining all things; he may be compared to the four
seasons in their alternating progress, and to the sun and moon in their
We finds also
that in the period of Sung (960-1279), there is a philosopher, called Lu
chiu Yuan (Lục Tượng Sơn; 1139-1192) who taught a monistic system of the
mind which was the legislator of the universe. He was also a mystic.
"Truth is nothing other than the mind and the mind nothing other than
the truth" and that "the Six Classics are but footnotes of my mind," Lu
chiu Yuan did not emphasize book learning and did not write a single
book himself. Condemning the method of extension of knowledge through
investigation of things, he believed that spiritual cultivation
consisted of contemplation - looking inward into one's own mind - and
Confucianism, I try to give all its main characteristics, but I can not
be exhaustive. I didn't give the lectors its evolution through the ages,
because I realize that people don't understand Confucius' ideas yet, so
I endeavor to emphasize some aspects of Confucianism, such as its
relationship to God, its way of understanding man, its way to govern
man, so that man can have a virtuous life.
Confucianism because it does not have an organized body of clergy.
man can find God inside himself, and needs no help from any clergy.
It does not have
any external cult for God, and tries only to live according to the
injunctions of the moral conscience. (J. Legge, The Doctrine of the
Mean, Chap. I, 2,3. Analects XII, 4)
In our study, I
have lead you in the profundity of the mind, pretending that only there,
you can find the source of your life, and the mainstream of all your
energy. God is there, and all the highest motivation of men spring forth
also from there.
In my study of
Confucianism, I have devised two diagrams, one depicting the soul of an
ordinary man, and the other depicting the soul of a saint.
In the first
diagram, The Xing (Tính Đạo Tâm) of man, or the Divine Self of man is
represented by the Sun. It is perfect in itself and contains in
perfection all the four cardinal virtues: The Principle of Benevolence
(Nhân), the Principle of Righteousness (Nghĩa), the Principle of
Propriety (Lễ), and the Principle of Knowledge (Trí).
The Xin (Nhân
Tâm) or the Human Self, is represented by the Moon. It has in itself the
Feeling of commiseration (Trắc Ẩn) derived from the principle of
Benevolence, the Feeling of Shame and Dislike (Tư Ố), derived from the
principle of Righteousness, the Feeling of Modesty and Complaisance (Từ
Nhượng), derived from the principle of Propriety, the Feeling of
Approving and Disapproving (Thị Phi) derived from the principle of
Knowledge. Exactly as the moon receives its rays from the sun, The Xin
(Tâm) receives all their feelings from the Xing (Tính). These feelings
are then imperfect and inadequate.
Self and The Human Self
Đạo Tâm: Divine Self
Nhân: Principle of
Lễ: Principle of Propriety
Nghĩa: Principle of
Trí: Principle of Knowledge
Nhân Tâm: Human Self
Trắc Ẩn: Feeling of
Tư Ố: Feeling of Shame and
Từ Nhượng: Feeling of Modesty
Thị Phi: Feeling of Approving
Physical Duty, Psychological Duty and
Trung Dung Chi Đạo:
The Religion of The
Principle of the Mean
Đạo Tâm :
Chí Thành, Chí Thiện:
Driving up to
Nature, Divine Self
Suất Tính (Theo tiếng Lương
To follow our own
Nature or Conscience
Khử Nhân Dục:
Conquer our passions
Principle of Knowledge
In reverence to the
Godhead within us
To keep our mind clean
Tồn Thiên Lý:
To keep all the
Now if we go to
the second diagram, we see immediately that we must change the direction
of our lives. We must go now from our Xin back to our Xing, to realize
our Divine Self. We must then make a Conversion. This Conversion can be
called also the Rebirth of the Spirit. This change in the sense of our
life can be also called the Introversion Way or the Instrospective Way.
We can see now that the way of a plain man is diametrically opposed to
that of a saint. The one is extrovert, the other is introvert. We can
say that all saints are introvert. (J. Legge, The Works of Mencius, Book
II, chap. 6, pp. 201- 205)
We learn also
from Confucius a great lesson that, without effort, we cannot realize
anything good. Furthermore, being a human being, and living in this
immense and beautiful world, we cannot lead a lazy life, but we should
strive to something more beautiful, and more useful
We should find
out in our self our divine nature, and try to realize it in our life.
This Divine Nature is the Tai Chi (Thái Cực), or the Ens Realissimum or
The Xing (Tính).
We should find
out all the natural laws that govern all the aspect of our life,
physically, physiologically, mentally, spiritually (J. Legge, the She
King, Decade of Tang, Ching min, p. 541.)
We should obey
all the natural laws that help us to bloom all our potentialities. (J.
Legge, The She King, Odes of Pin, Fah ko, p. 240)
We should become
poets, always living with nice ideas, with nice dispositions of our
soul, knowing how to find out and to enjoy all the natural beauties.
We must know how
to live in harmony with the cosmos, with every man, and everything.
(Analects VIII, 9)
We should be
responsible for everything good or bad, happening in our life, and in
the life of our nation. If all of us live properly, and cooperate with
each other, our political and economical life will be prosperous; if
not, we will live miserably.
us that we have three kinds of duty:
1). Physical duty
(Địa Đạo, Vật Đạo): We must improve our environment, our material life.
duty (ren tao, Nhân Đạo): We should live properly, and behave properly
with each other.
duty (Tian dao, Thiên Đạo): We should cultivate our spirit, progressing
to perfection, and live in union with God. (R. Wilhelm, the Yi Jing, Ta
Chuan, The Great Treatise, Chapter X, 1, pp. 351-322
But now, as
people do not yet evolve enough to follow the spiritual duties,
therefore Confucius is very brief about it. (Analects III, 12)
In short, we
don't find in Confucianism, any superstition. It teaches us only what is
natural, what is true. (J. Legge, the Doctrine of the Mean, Chap. XI).
Since the XVIIth
century, Confucianism has been attacked, by Catholic missionaries who
tried to present it as atheistic, and recently by Mao-tse-Tung who likes
to supplant it.
in China at the beginning of the XVIIth century, and were full of
prejudices against Chinese people. They regarded them contemptuously,
and considered them an inferior race.
missionaries) despite the "yellow races" of the Orient; tried to convert
these inferior beings and, at the same time, told each other, in print,
and even told them to their face, that they were so brutish, so
contemptible, that they were hardly worth converting. "Chinese
civilization" wrote a distinguished missionary priest in the middle of
the 19th century, "is a monstrosity, not only anti-Christian, but
anti-human..." The religions of the Chinese are monstrous, absurd, the
most ridiculous in the world. "One does not find humanity, he concluded,
among the people of the Orient, but only "monkeydom."
being by nature inferior to the European, will always be inferior as a
missionaries will love the Chinese for the love of God and for the sake
of their soul; we will devote our self to them, on supernatural
principles; but friendship!; that is impossible."
sustained that Confucianism is atheistic, that Confucius himself was
damned, with all other Chinese ancestors who were all atheists and
"In his twenty
first question, Navarette asked if Gentiles, i.e. non Christian Chinese
who live a respectable life (non nimis laxe, sed aliqualiter modeste
viventes) could be saved?
missionaries" he said, meaning the Jesuits, have denied this
proposition". The Holy Office replied: "Those who teach that these
Gentiles are not punished with eternal suffering contradict the Holy
Scriptures". Answering the 22th question, the Holy Office affirmed that
Infidels dying without baptism, or without having had a real desire for
baptism, were damned".
"The priest of the Foreign Missionary
Society announced that "Confucius was damned to eternal flames." The
Holy Office replied: "Allowing for what has been said, it is forbidden
to say that Confucius is saved."...
however, reinforced in his opinions by these decisions, declared, five
years later, that since "Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Pliny, Seneca, etc,
were irretrievably damned, how much more Confucius, who was not worthy
to kiss their feet."
In sum, the
missionaries' strategy can be resumed as follows:
a). Admission of
some compromise, showing some respect to Confucian morale, agreeing that
T'i, or Shang T'i. or T'ien means God, accepting the ancestral cults of
Chinese people. This is the way of Jesuits but is rejected by the Roman
b). No compromise
at all. Destroy Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, as perverting religions
and promulgate the Catholic faith. This is the policy of all the other
missionaries. The Roman Catholic Church follows this view.
Mao-Tse-Toung, he taxed Confucianism of feudalism, and tried to supplant
it in China.
"The victory of
Communism in 1949 and the Cultural Revolution of 1966, have meant a
break with tradition that is far more profound than anything that has
happened in China since the unification by the Ch'in (Tan) dynasty in
221 BC. Confucianism, whether as a state cult or as an organized system
of belief, is now a thing of the past in its homeland, though it still
has professed adherents in the latter sense on Taiwan and elsewhere
outside the Chinese People Republic (e.g. among Chinese living in
Southern Asia and North America.)
Communist rule in
China has put an end to all free inquiry and established Karl Marx's
system of dialectical materialism as the state philosophy.
Today, most of us
have a more enlightened view of China, and yet some misconceptions
remain. The key to understand China lies in the ability to focus on key
problems rather than in the memorization of endless data.
Chinese studies are pursued by many students in many universities in the
West. The cultural interest behind this development may be traced to
such modern philosophers as John Dewey and Bertrand Russell, Ernest
Francisco Fenelossa (an American Orientalist), and Esra Pound, poet and
translator of Confucian Classics.
Classics are translated in French and English by many scholars such as
P. Regis, Zottoli, Leon Wieger, Seraphin Couvreur, J. Legge, Richard
Wilhelm. Such interest means that Confucianism can never be destroyed,
because it tries to discover all the natural laws or Li that are behind
all human behaviour.
Cf. James Legge, The Shoo King, The Counsels of the Great Wu, 15.
Gaubil says:- 'The heart of man is full of shoals (ecueils); the heart
of Taou is simple and thin '; and adds in a note:'The heart of man is
here opposed to that of Tao. The discourse is of two hearts,- one
engaged in passions, the other simple and very pure. Tao express the
right reason. It is very natural to think that the ideas of a God, pure,
simple and Lord of men, is the source of these worlds.'
Translated from French, Henri Bernard Maitre, Sagesse Chinoise et
Philosophie Chretienne, p. 133. Nouveaux memoires du P. Lecomte,
parus en 1696.
Quran, Al-Baqara, verse 187.
80-81, ibidem p. 95: apud R. C. Zaehner, Mysticism Sacred and Profane,
Le Nirvana et le Samsara sont aussi l'un a l'autre, comme l'eau et les
vagues. Nirvana c'est l'etre (et la buddheite) dans l'etat de
permanence. Samsara c'est l'etre (et la buddheite) dans l'état
d'impermanence. Le Nirvana c'est l'eau; le Samsara c'est la houle. Le
Nie-p'an c'est l'etre absolu le reste Cheng-Seu est l'apparence. Dans
l'ocean du Nie-p'an permanent, nous sommes des rides impermanentes.
Sortir de l'impermanence pour entrer dans la permanence, c'est
Kie-t'ouo, la delivrance.
The Great Learning, III, 4
Thọ Văn Nguyễn, The Doctrine of the Mean, p. 165, note 1.
Les Jesuites avaient entrepris cette Evangelisation sur une échelle
cyclopedienne et s'étaient dressés contre les autres missions
catholiques, franciscaines, capucines et dominicaines, qui toutes
croyaient en la politique de la table rase cad en l'absence totale de
compromis avec les cultures et modes de pensées de l'étranger. Selon
cette doctrine opposée à celle des Jésuites, les missions chrétiennes
devaient tenter de convertir les masses et détruire de fond en comble
les civilisations paiennes...
Preface | Chapters:
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