|early, late earth?|
i'd like to stress the importance of li in relation with shu & try to problematize the quadrant of prudence (yan ren) with decisiveness (ming). the answer is zhong-yong. the right balance that best reflects t'ien. as it turns, the only way to achieve zhong-yong is practicing it.
this reflects the chun-tzu. one can read zhong-yong with aristotle glasses:
in everything that is continuous and divisible it is possible to take more, less, or an equal amount, and that either in terms of the thing itself or relatively to us; and the equal is an intermediate between excess and defect (ethica eudemia, 1106, a 2629)intermediate between excess and defect, which is why zhu xi, the neo-confucianist master would advise,
"a friend should neither be too close or too remote." (a deep thought)
this middle is zhong-yong. one more thing. zhong-yong has two sides: xing is the internal (thought-driven), while li is external, (behavior-oriented). the problem of unifying the li and xing is exactly the problem of combining and unifying the internal and the external. zhong-yong can be seen as a balance between internal(self)/external(others)-axis intersecting a consensus/community axis. according to confucius, this is how we become political & social individuals. there is no possibility of jen (virtue) without a community.
what we learn from confucianism concerning li is that as society, we face a disorientation. rituals have become fetishized. there's a fresh, redeeming possibility for genuine exchange, but it takes to turn the present value of the ritual upside down.
perhaps in the face of fetishized and stereotyped rituals we have the imperative to create our own li from scratch. decisiveness is critical to find transcultural lost symbols, reinscribing them into new contexts. there is always room for transformation and novelty. our generation is in need of material and spiritual actions-and-reactions. we could help replenish our community with a renewed sense of purpose. in the end this yajna, only a bit different. an offering to our possible best selves.
we have speculated in class whether we still have time to change things in the world. what if that vision needs to be revised? look at the astronomy and geology of things. the process at work, the flow that moves through things. the history of the world is a history of ghosts: people, traces, remnants scattered, dispersed into geological & historical time. the world is in constant flow. why fighting that? is a doomed planet in the distant future that unpalatable?
oh, but that's far away.
our task is the present. our deeds belong in this instantg, our future is NOW, this dharma. this defective, but always perfectible world.
our battle is in this generation!
i am closing this post next wednesday 11pm.