Teacher Tang Yuling will accompany you to read The Analects
8.Book 1 Xue Er (On Learning), Chapter 7
Highlights of this lecture include:
1. Who is Zi-Xia?
Zi-Xia was the courtesy name of Bu Shang. He was born in the state of Wei and 44 years younger than Confucius. When Confucius was about the ages of 30 to 50, many disciples of his included Zi-Xia came to the state of Lu to follow his Great Learning of “inner sagehood and kingly skills outside.” His disciple Zi-Zhang was from the state of Chen, Zai Wo was from Chi; and Zi-Gong was from Wei. At that time, long distant travels could never be easy. Ones had to go over mountains and valleys and to overcome hardships of the journeys that might put lives in danger. They were drawn by the Master’s rich knowledge and personality charm. This chapter is Zi-Xia’s remarks of what he’d learned from Confucius--a reflection of Confucius’ teachings.
2. This chapter is about the five traditional cardinal human relations. They are key to Chinese cultural studies
The study of five cardinal relations leads us both ways to the mastery of cultivating the skill of “being a sage inside, and a king outside.” The kingly skills include achievements in cultivating our bodily behaviors, maintaining familial harmony, and to further reaching out for well-governance of a nation and peace to the world. “Inner sagehood” consists of investigating and understanding of the nature of things, making the will sincere, and rectifying the mind. So we can say that five cardinal relations are core to Chinese thoughts and culture.
“If a man withdraws his mind from the love of beauty, and applies it as sincerely to the love of the virtuous.” The verse tells the true nature of the husband and wife relationship: virtues should weigh over beauty; greater respect should be given to virtuous wives. Father and son relationship focuses on serving ones’ parents to the utmost strenght, both physical and mental. At the same time, they set good example for children to follow. This is why Chinese extended families of three- or even five-generations can live together in harmony.
If, in serving his prince, he can devote his life; to serve to his utmost strength; and attains a harmonic relationship.
“If, in his intercourse with his friends, his words are sincere.” Relations with friends need to be honest and sincere in speech. By doing so, people will take our words sincerely, and are willing to communicate with us, learn together, and work together.
Although this chapter does not talk about relationship between siblings, it probably intrinsic to the abovementioned parental relationship. In Di Zi Gui (or Students’ Rules), “Only when I can maintain harmonious relationship with my siblings, then I am dutiful to my parents.” If brothers are close and live at peace, parents will be very happy. This is included as part of the concept related to filial piety. Therefore, even though this chapter is about four cardinal relationships, the fifth one is implied.
3. The five cardinal relationships are the substance of learning
Zi-Xia said: “... although men say that he has not learned, I will certainly say that he has.”
This means that this person is very humble to say that he did not learn. But Zi-Xia said that he must have learned. Otherwise, how did he understand these five cardinal relationships? Even if not going out to study, he must have a family ramification to have this good conduct.