A friendly study of the world's religions is a sacred duty
. -Mahatma Gandhi

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The rhythm

On the lonely side of Mount T'ai, Confucius heard the mourning wail of a woman. Asked why she wept she replied, "My husband's father was killed here by a tiger, my husband also, and now my son as met the same fate." "Then why do you dwell in such a dreadful place?" Confucius asked. "Because here there is no oppressive ruler," the woman replied. "Never forget, scholars," said Confucius to his disciples, "that an oppressive ruler is more cruel than a tiger." -The World's Religions, Huston Smith, page 177.

Confucius was indeed an enlightened storyteller. His stories, idioms, parables, teachings, wisdoms and ideas are an integral part of China. Confucius is not alone, however, in deeply influencing Chinese culture and society -- he is as essential as Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism.

In this week's prompt, we're asked to discuss the most important aspects of Confucianism and Taoism, then write about how believers of either one could adhere to both.

Confucius taught that "you are never alone when you act" because everything you do affects someone else in one way or another. He taught that all relationships (his Five Constant Relationships: parent/child, husband/wife, elder/younger sibling, elder/junior friend and ruler/subject) must be correctly upheld and doing well, or happy, or good. If all of these relationships reach perfection, so will society's health as a whole. In Taoism, one sense of Tao is the "way of the universe", the rhythm; it is the soul of the universe and it endlessly continues with determination and purpose. Would it not benefit the Tao of the universe to make sure all of your relationships were rightly upheld? It would contribute to the healthy flow of the universe and strengthen it's Tao. Hence, the two philosophies cooperate and compliment each other.

Another very important Confucius teaching is that of Li -- it's first meaning is propriety, or adhering to established terms of refinement or correct manners. Confucius wanted to have certain models of society so that the general public could look to them and learn. You might say he valued a knowledgeable society, one that sought great examples and followed them. In Philosophical Taoism, also known as "School Taoism" in China, knowledge follows philosophy. Knowledge is wisdom and when you are wise, in Taoist belief, you are better able to conserve "life's vitality" or energy, it's ch'i. One who studies both Confucianism and Taoism could pattern his or her life after some who is intelligent, wise, calm and proper, and in doing so would be an All-Confucianist and All-Taoist at the same time and wouldn't break the rhythm of either religion.

No comments:

Post a Comment