Tuesday, March 6, 2007
How to achieve "jen"
According to Confucius, “shu” is the right method to achieve jen. It contains important virtues that can help in the process. They are respectfulness (gong), reverence (jing), leniency (kuan), beneficence (hui), being quick in action (ming), reliability in words (xin) and cultivating slowness to speak (yan ren). “Gong” can be best explained as self-respect, self-worth. The Confucian self needs to be cultivated holistically (the mind is as important as the body). Next there is jing, or reverence, which is a public virtue. Perhaps a better term is estimation. How can one esteem something or someone? When one avoid the short-sightedness of the moment and ponders the far reaching implication of our actions seen within the context of the bigger society. One becomes socially productive when one leaves pettiness and jealousies behind. Quan is also known as Principle of Charity (it means magnanimity) i.e, being able to be thorough with oneself and others, but suspending judgment until one has all the possible evidence (Quan doesn’t rule out criticism, but presupposes self-awareness). Hui is also a public virtue which brings forth the notion of utility. It means that we can be beneficial instruments. Why? Because it’s good for society. According to Confucius, by doing good service to society, one brings good to oneself. Xin relates to the idea of using the proper words. It brings forth a coherence between intentions and words, which amounts to transparency (honesty). One is reliable if one is trustworthy. Finally, Yan ren amounts to taking one are time before talking, something very close to our idea of prudence. Prudence is akin to the idea of foresight and sagacity. Some scholars link yan ren to modesty.