Teacher Tang Yuling will accompany you to read The Analects
52. Book 3 Ba Yi (The Eight-row Dance), Chapter 11
Some one asked the meaning of the great sacrifice. The Master said, “I do not know. He who knew its meaning would find it as easy to govern the kingdom as to look on this” - pointing to his palm.
Highlights of this lecture include:
1. Does Confucius really not understand the meaning of the “di禘” or great sacrifice?
Confucius was well-learned and had profound knowledge about propriety and ceremonies. He answered that he could not explain the rite of di to the one with a question. Actually, he wanted to avoid addressing the fault of the then Duke of Lu—the willful fault of reverse the zhao昭and mu穆 ordering of the spirit tablets the that abuse the honor of seniority and the rites of propriety. That's why Confucius replied he did not know was to prevent the fault making known to public.
2. Confucius’s unspoken implication
And then Confucius said whoever knew the meaning of the di sacrificial ritual would deal with all the difficult affairs under heaven as clearly as lines on his palm he was pointing. Confucius’s unspoken implication was that he knew and could explain the meaning of the di sacrifice; and anyone who really understand the meaning of the great sacrifice would deal with all difficult affairs such as politics.
3. The meaning of the di sacrifice
Throughout the magnificent ceremonies of the di rite of ancestral worship, a solemn atmosphere was created to express participants’ gratitude. In order to allow the ceremonies to move on smoothly, orders of priorities in respect to status and seniority were followed. Every step and conduct was proceeded in accordance to right and rank. Eventually, food of sacrifice and offerings were shared among familial member-participants as a form and symbol of conferring blessings on each and every one of them. They toasted and drank wine becomingly with mutual respects and courtesy. A right apprehension of the rites also made government easy. As these qualities of propriety were the true meanings behind the great di sacrifice which could help to found a successful governance of a polity.