Saturday, August 21, 2010

Harmony: From Inner Peace to Outer Peace

The following post begins with a quote from "The Great Learning":

The ancients wished to manifest clear virtue in throughout the world, by governing their country. Wishing to govern their country, they first regulated their families. Wishing to regulate their families, they first cultivated themselves. Wishing to cultivate themselves, they first made their minds correct (rectified their minds). Wishing to rectify their minds, they first made their thought sincere. Wishing to make their thought sincere, they first extended their knowledge. Wishing to extend their knowledge, they first investigated things. They investigated things and then their knowledge was extended. Their knowledge extended and then their thought was sincere. Their thought was sincere and then their mind was rectified. Their mind was rectified and then their selves were cultivated. Their selves were cultivated and then their families were regulated. Their families were regulated and then their country was governed. Their country was governed and then the whole world was peaceful. (Wu 2002, Great Learning Ch. 1, 28, 29)

Commentary: In the Great Learning we find that there is little distinction between the deepest most personal thoughts and governing the country or harmonizing the world. The connection between the individual and the entire planet is clear. The only way to achieve outer harmony is to achieve inner harmony. This self-cultivation starts with investigating things. One cannot understand their nature or the nature of all things without investigating. Through investigation the same source and different paths become clear. Uncovering the metaphysical principle of each thing, shows the unique path of development and distinct characteristics. Understanding the origin, path and characteristics of all things is extending one’s knowledge, extending one’s knowledge to understand the very essence of all things, contemplating all the world around and distinguishing the unique characteristics and functions of each thing. Truly understanding things in this way gives us a sincere connection a familial feeling with all things. Our thought and concern for all things becomes sincere because of connection. Superior people wish for all things to flourish in their function and achieve their potential, their Heaven’s destiny. This sincere connection, permeating every thought shows that the mind is truly correct.
With a rectified mind, superior people cultivate every aspect of their lives to better honor and benefit all things. Superior people use the self to protect and manifest their understanding. Superior people do not live carelessly. They live inspired to benefit all things and to continue the original harmony. They live to nourish their mind and to act to the great benefit of the world. The first training ground for relating to people and sanctuary to nourish the body and mind is the home and family. Maintaining harmony and propriety in one’s family and working to establish a society in which all people can have good family lives, is the root of superior people’s action in the world. Superior people value and cultivate humanity. The family is the place where each of us can learn the way of humanity, human relationships and work to the great benefit of others: our siblings, spouses, parents, and children. When all people have good and nourishing families, the country will be well governed. When the country is well governed, it will function as a beacon of peace to the entire world.

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