Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2010

An Old Battle-field

VAST, vast, -- a limitless extent of flat sand, without a human being in sight; girdled by a stream and dotted with hills; where in the dismal twilight the wind moans at the setting sun. Shrubs gone: grass withered: all chill as the hoar-frost of early morn. The birds of the air fly past: the beasts of the field shun the spot; for it is, as I was informed by the keeper, the site of an old battle-field.

Buddhism as a State Religion

Some religions are just not suitable to be state religion, if secularism is not adopted.

When Buddhism were prevailed in China, Emperor Wu Ti of the Liang dynasty devoted himself to the service of Buddha; at the sacrifices in his ancestral shrines no living victims were used; he daily took but one single meal, and that composed of fruits and vegetables. A king can be a vegetarian, but he couldn't simply give up sacrificial victims without the total abolishment of the sacrifices in ancestral shrines, while this means to complete overthrow of all those great principles upon which the old system is based, as it has been the case since the founding of People's Republic of China in 1949.

Long Live the Kings

Of old, Huang Ti sat on the throne one hundred years, dying at the age of one hundred and ten. Shao Hao sat on the throne eighty years and died at the age of a hundred. Chuan Hsu sat on the throne seventy-nine years and died at the age of ninety-eight. Ti Ku sat on the throne seventy years and died at the age of a hundred and fifty. The Emperor Yao sat on the throne ninety-eight years and died at the age of a hundred and eighteen; and the Emperors Shun and Yu both attained the age of one hundred years. At that epoch the Empire was tranquil, and the people happy in the attainment of old age.

Subsequently, the Emperor T'ang of the Yin dynasty reached the age of a hundred years ; his grandson T'ai Mou reigned for seventy-five years; and Wu Ting reigned for fifty-nine years. Their exact ages are not given in the annals, but at the lowest computation these can hardly have been less than a hundred years. Wen Wang of the Chou dynasty reached the age of ninety-seven, Wu Wang reached …

THE UNICORN

That the unicorn is a spiritual being is beyond all doubt. Hymned in the Odes, immortalised in Springs and Autumns, it has found a place in the writings of all ages. Women and children alike know that it is a portent of good.

Yet it is reared in no farmyard: it is rarely ever seen throughout the empire's breadth. It is classed under no species. It is not of normal growth like a horse, ox, dog, pig, panther, wolf, or deer. Even were one to appear now, it would not be recognised for what it is.

We see horns, and say, "That is an ox." We see a mane, and say, "That is a horse." And by a similar process we know dogs, pigs, panthers, and deer to be what they are. But the unicorn cannot be known. For Shu-sun to regard it as inauspicious, was therefore reasonable enough. On the other hand, for the unicorn to appear, there should be an All-wise in power: it is in token thereof that the unicorn does appear. Then the All-wise recognises the unicorn, and its manifestatio…

RECORD OF DRUNK-LAND

DRUNK-LAND lies at I cannot say how many thousand li from the Middle Kingdom. Its soil is uncultivated, and has no boundary. It has no hills nor dangerous cliffs. The climate is equable. Nowhere is there either darkness or light, cold or heat. Customs are everywhere the same. There are no towns; the inhabitants live scattered about. They are very refined; they neither love, nor hate, nor rejoice, nor give way to anger. They inhale the breeze, and drink the dew; they do not eat of the five cereals. Happy in their rest, dignified in their movements, they mingle freely with birds, beasts, fishes, and crustaceans. They have no chariots, nor boats, nor weapons of any kind.

Of old, the Yellow Emperor visited the capital of this country; and when he came back, in his confused state he lost his hold on the empire, all through trying to govern by a system of knotted cords. When the throne was handed on to Yao and Shun, there were sacrifices with a thousand goblets and a hundred flagons, the r…

Nirvana

All living creatures whatsoever, whether born from the egg, or from the womb, or from damp, or by metamorphosis, whether having form or not, whether possessed of intelligence or not, whether not possessed of intelligence or not not-possessed of intelligence -- all such I command to enter into the absolutely non-material state of Nirvana, and so by extinction, to obtain salvation.

Buddhist Trinity

The doctrine of the Trinity was a Buddhist dogma long before it was adopted by the Christian Church.

The man acts; the result belongs to the will of God

The epidendrum grows in the depth of the forest, but it is not wanting in fragrance because there is no one there to smell it; the superior man cultivates the doctrine of Eternal Right and exemplifies it in practice; but he does not give up his principles because he is reduced to extremities. The man acts ; the result, whether life or death, belongs to the will of God.

Jade: a symbol of the virtues

A disciple asked Confucius, saying, "Why, sir, does the superior man value jade much more highly than serpentine? Is it because jade is scarce and serpentine is abundant?" " It is not," replied Confucius; "but it is because the superior men of olden days regarded it as a symbol of the virtues. Its gentle, smooth, glossy appearance suggests charity of heart; its fine close texture and hardness suggest wisdom; it is firm and yet does not wound, suggesting duty to one's neighbour; it hangs down as though sinking, suggesting ceremony; struck, it gives a clear note, long drawn out, dying gradually away and suggesting music; its flaws do not hide its excellences, nor do its excellences hide its flaws, suggesting loyalty; it gains our confidence, suggesting truth; its spirituality is like the bright rainbow, suggesting the heavens above ; its energy is manifested in hill and stream, suggesting the earth below; as articles of regalia it suggests the exemplificatio…

AMBITION

MY younger brother used often to find fault with my indomitable ambition. He would say, " The man of letters requires food and clothing only. A modest carriage and a humble hack; some small official post in a quiet place, where he may win golden opinions from the surrounding villagers -- that should suffice. Why toil and strive for more? "

SELF-RECOMMENDATION

This is a well written self introduction for job application two thousands years ago by Tung Fang Suo. What job did he apply for? Well, see the job advertisement by His Majesty 'Wu Ti' of Han dynasty, His Majesty was looking for heroes to fit the vacancies in his royal court:

HEROES WANTED!
Exceptional work demands exceptional men. A bolting or a kicking horse may eventually become a most valuable animal. A man who is the object of the world's detestation may live to accomplish great things. As with the untractable horse, so with the infatuated man; -- it is simply a question of training.

We therefore command the various district officials to search for men of brilliant and exceptional talents, to be Our generals. Our ministers, and Our envoys to distant States.

TUNG-FANG SO, lived in 2nd Century b.c., has been popularly known as "The Wag." The following self-recommendation was forwarded by him in response to the job advertisement of the Emperor of Han , Wu Ti,…

Wayside Dog Restaurant

To some Chinamen, dogs fried in oil are also irresistible. In one untidy street, swarming with yellow-skinned humanity, we saw a kind of gipsy kettle hung over a wood fire. Within it was a stew of dog-meat. Upon a pole close by was hung a rump of uncooked dog, with the tail left on, to show the patrons of this open-air restaurant to what particular breed the animal had belonged. For it is said there is a great difference in the flesh of dogs. Bull-terriers, for exampic, would probably be considered tough. Around this kettle stood a group of coolies, each with a plate and spoon, devouring the canine stew as eagerly as travelers eat sandwiches at a railway restaurant after the warning bell has rung. Some hungry ones were looking on as wistfully as boys outside a bun-shop. One man had such a famished look that, through the medium of Ah Cum, I treated him at once. Moreover, hundreds of rats, dried and hung up by the tails, are exposed for sale in Canton streets, and shark's fins, anti…

Cat Restaurant

In one of Canton's streets, for example, I entered a cat-restaurant. Before the door was a notice which Ah Cum translated thus: "Two fine black cats to-day, ready soon." On stepping inside, I heard some pussies mewing piteously in bamboo cages. Hardly had I entered when a poor old woman brought the proprietor some kittens for sale. He felt of them to test their plumpness, as we might weigh spring chickens. Only a small price was offered, as they were very thin, but the bargain was soon concluded, the woman took her money, and the cadaverous kittens went to swell the chorus in the cages. Black cats, by the way, cost more in China than cats of any other color, for the Chinese believe that the flesh of dark-coated felines makes good blood.

CHINA, BY, JOHN L. STODDARD, THE TRAVEL SERIES No. 8, Published In December 13, 1897

THE BURIAL OF CONFUCIUS

A certain man travelled from afar to witness the funeral obsequies of Confucius. He stayed at the house of Tzu-hsia, who observed, " A sage conducting a funeral is one thing : a sage's funeral is another thing. What did you expect to see? Do you not remember that our Master once said, ' Some persons pile up earth into square, others into long-shaped tumuli. Some build spacious mausolea, others content themselves with small axe-shaped heaps. I prefer the heaps.' He meant what we call horse-neck heaps. So we have given him only a few handfuls of earth, and he is buried. Is not this as he would have wished it himself? "

Ancients did not lightly ask favours

KU-LIANG CH'IH (4th and 5th centuries b.c.), one of three major commentators for the Spring and Autumn Annals, said, "PRAYERS for rain should be offered up in spring and summer only; not in autumn and winter. Why not in autumn and winter? Because the moisture of growing things is not then exhausted; neither has man reached the limit of his skill. Why in spring and summer? Because time is then pressing, and man's skill is of no further avail. How so? Because without rain just then nothing could be made to grow ; the crops would fail, and famine ensue. But why wait until time is pressing, and man's skill of no further avail? Because prayers for rain are the same as asking a favour, and the ancients did not lightly ask favours. Why so? Because they held it more blessed to give than to receive; and as the latter excludes the former, the main object of man's life is taken away. How is praying for rain asking a favour? It is a request that God will do something for us. …

Tseng Guo-fan and his Family Mottos

TSENG KUO-FAN (曾国藩, A.D. 1811-1872) is the famous statesmzan and general who was chiefly responsible for the suppression of the T'ai P'ing rebellion, fighting strenously in the cause of the Manchus from 1853 to the fall of Nanking in 1864. Ennobled as Marquis and raised to the rank of Viceroy, he lived incorruptiye, and in spite of all the temptations to which a high Chinese official is exposed, died poor.

In his family letter(dated 11th year of Hsien Feng (1861)), he set out family rules which has been handed down from his grandfather, those were "Eight Character Family Motto" and "Three Disbelieves":

Eight Character Motto are 考宝早扫; 书蔬鱼猪,literally means "Examine, value, early, sweep, books, vegetables, fish, pork." These are typical traditional Chinese thoughts of "Cultivation and Reading" or "Farming and Reading to Bequeath Family Ideal." The First two character Kao actually means Sacrificing to ancestor, and Bao means "…

A LETTER TO QUEEN VICTORIA

LIN TSE-HSU.

A.D. 1785-1850

[The famous Imperial Commissioner and Viceroy of Hupeh and Hpnan, who seized and destroyed some ten million dollars' worth of foreign-owned opium and brought on war with Great Britain. For this he was recalled and disgraced, being subsequently banished to Hi. In 1845 he was restored to office, and once again rose to high rank. He was a fine scholar, a just and merciful official, and a true patriot. As "Commissioner Lin" he appeared for a time in Mme. Tussaud's collection of celebrities.]

A LETTER TO QUEEN VICTORIA.

THE ways of God are without partiality; it is not permissible to injure another in order to profit oneself. The feelings of mankind are not diverse; for is there any one "who does not hate slaughter and love life? In your honourable nation, which lies 20,000 li away, separated by several oceans, these ways of God and feelings of mankind are the same; there is no one who does not understand the distinctions between death,…

Matteo Ricci first Introduced European perspective to Chinese Painters

This is a writing of CHANG KENG, found in the book Gems of Chinese literature by H. A Giles.

Chang Kêng lived in 18th century a.d. He was the author of the Kwo hua ch'eng lu, published in 1739, a collection of short biographies of one hundred and thirty artists, exclusive of nine Buddhist priests, one Taoist priest, and ten women, followed by a supplement containing lives of seventy-two more artists, exclusive of six Buddhist priests and twelve women. The "Chiao," mentioned below, is Chiao Ping-chen, who painted "according to the method of western foreigners," and reproduced, with improved perspective, the pictures entitled "Agriculture and Weaving," by Liu Sung-nien (a.d. 1195- 1224)

PERSPECTIVE

UNDER the Ming dynasty there was Li Ma-tou (Matteo Ricci), a native of Europe, who, being able to speak Chinese, came to the southern capital (Nanking) and lived in the western camp at the Cheng-yang gate. He painted a picture of the Pope, and depicted a wom…

Obtaining the water they become supernatural

Kwan-tsze (管子) said, " Crocodiles and dragons,  when they get into the water,  become supernatural, and can work wonders ; tigers and leopards,  when they get upon the mountains,  assume a dignified appearance, and can accomplish great things.'





Go back to yourself and the place where you belong.

The beauty of discussion

The 七啟 Tseih-k'he is again quoted, as follows : " The beauty of discussion is, that it can cause living streams to spring up in a dry pool, and blossoms to shoot out from a dead tree ; argument may perhaps 感靈 move invisible, and 激神 influence spiritual beings, how much more may it affect human passions, which are so near to us."

How to promote one's spirituality

Dwelt Alone

In the account of Tsaou-pe (曹毘), met with in the books of Tsin ( 晉書), we read as follows: " Yu-kung (虞公) dwelt alone, on a lofty precipice, in order to promote his spirituality (頤神); while Leang-sang (梁生) went away to the southern regions, in order to maintain his abstractedness (保真)."

Silent Meditation
Also in the writings of Foo-heen (傅咸), we read, " It is said that you ought by silent meditation to promote your spirituality, and whenever you meet with any great gain or loss, you should lay fast hold on this principle."

Do Nothing
In the account of Tsuy-haou (崔浩), found in the books of Wei (魏書), Haou addressing the emperor said, "Your Majesty should saunter about, without anything to do, and thus nourish your animal spirits, and promote your longevity."

Wine confuses the spirit

Xun Zi (荀子) says, "The drunken man attempts to Step over a ditch a hundred paces broad, thinking it only a puddle of a foot wide ; he also stoops when entering a city gate, as if he were going through the small door of the harem ; for wine has confused his spirit."

Dream

In his heart there was something that glowed like a gypsy's fire seen across the hills and mists of night, burning in a wild land.

These are the gems of the human soul, the rubies and pearls of a lovesick eye, the countless gold of the aching heart, the martyr's groan, and the lovers' sigh.

I want to reach for something precious, to make whatever sacrifice that requires.

It's all so vague and grandiose.

Purity of heart.

Poetry and daydreams.

It not a corporal dream of deeds or position or possessions. But a dream of the soul. Of the Spirit.


- Wild Animus, by Rich Shapero

Bamboo

楊萬里 (1127 - 1206 AD, South Song dynasty) Yang Wan-li, celebrating the bamboo in his verse, says: "Suppose we had never been favoured with 文與可 Wen Yu-ke, to delineate the bamboo; we should still have had the moon 傳神 to express the very spirit of its shadow."

This thought is not unworthy of commendation; the idea is, that had painters never lived to throw the image of the waving bamboo on their canvass, the moon would have accomplished the same for us, by shadowing it on our floors.