Friday, August 20, 2010

Humanity and the Superior Person

From the Introduction to "Original Confucianism: An Introduction to the Superior Person:"

Understanding the key attributes of superior people transmits the value of simplicity in Confucius’ philosophy, a simplicity and practicality that avoids deviation and confusion. Confucianism has proven effective throughout Chinese history in reestablishing faith in the ability of humanity to “spiritualize the world,” to make the culture gentler, to open the Way for talented people to value and undertake a truly beneficial education, to enlarge the Tao. In learning and practicing the key values of Confucianism, generations of Chinese followed the model of the superior person in daily life, taking responsibility for manifesting the brightness of the metaphysical/Tao/Heaven in the phenomenal/Earth; this model can have similar effects in reinvigorating the introduction of Confucian philosophy to modernity.
The superior person—the one who values jen ()/”humanity” and i/”righteousness,” i.e., doing that which one should do in every situation—has a personality that can be contrasted with that of the inferior person (this includes an inordinate focus on material gain). As seen in the literature, the superior person opens up a path that encourages students to study for the sake of harmoniously benefitting humanity, rather than purely for the same of careerism or making a profit. Superior people also reintroduce the idea that the closest relationships, the simplest arenas—such as families—are the starting points for learning to integrate, synthesize, and harmonize life’s changes. The self-cultivation of such people (at this, the most fundamental, basic, and simple level) is the most enduring, grounded, and constant form of spiritual practice. The superior person—who promotes harmony and transcends selfishness, pettiness, individualistic desires, and complaints—once served as a model both for the individual to skillfully enhance and nourish their understanding in each moment of daily life by practicing righteousness to deal with change, and for true service to humanity in the broader public sphere.
The above selection from "Original Confucianism: An Introduction to the Superior Person" sets the foundation for ethics and spirituality in modern society.  The quality, ability and relationships of human beings are the fertile ground for spiritual transformation.  
The coming posts will further introduce Humanity as it is understood and cultivated in Confucianism and the righteousness ch'i, or spiritual power, that comes from practicing ethics in daily life.  Later we will examine how inner peace can indeed lead to outer peace. 

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