Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Dedication of the Superior Person to the Way of the Sage-King

A superior person is dedicated to honoring their lineage. This lineage is twofold. One the superior person continues the lineage of the sage-kings of ancient times. The second lineage is their ancestral lineage. The former would entail studying the way of the ancient sage-kings and continuing their work as best as we can. The latter is very practical. We look to the generation before us, our parents, and honor them in our actions. Their lives are the foundation for our own. The superior person should maintain a sense of reverence to their parents. This does not mean blind obedience. It does, however, include a certain sense of decorum. If for example our parents are mistaken, we should gently correct them so as not to do them a disservice by allowing them to continue in a wrong way. If they continue to persist, the superior person maintains a sense of reverence without pushing the matter. Ancestral lineage would also entail work for the benefit of this generation, benefiting others so that we can open the way for the next generation. The superior person should help open the way for future generations to flourish while at the same time connecting ancient times to present day.
Dedication to the ancient sage-kings is, for the superior person, the inspiration for effective scholarship. ‘Confucianism’ in Chinese is actually “Scholar”-ism. This type of scholarship is not scholarship for scholarship's sake. It is to embody the way of the ancient sages who worked for good of all people, to benefit and harmonize society. The Way of the superior person emphasizes a deep reverence for the good, useful and harmonious aspects of the past. The superior person honors the work of those who came before by dedicating themselves to continuing that work, just as the bodhisattva seeks to continue the work of past Buddhas, seeking to benefit all living beings.

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