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Here we listen to noted Chinese novelist, philosopher, translator and inventor a Chinese typewriter plus a toothpaste-dispensing toothbrush Lin Yutang as he reconciles his upbringing as the son of a Chinese Pastor with his learning in Chinese Classics and later return to Christianity.
I still have not made it very far in the book, but my inner Sinophile was amused to find him state how he had. His journey is instructive for not just understanding but feeling the worth of an Asian mindset and philosophy, and also for seeing how the Asian mind and soul can best find their answers in the person of Jesus.
Yutang describes his early inclinations towards faith as follows:. Yutang cites two Chinese intellectual figures as exerting a strong influence on him in his early days: Dr. Hu Shih offered a moderating, scholarly voice to offset that of Communists like Chen Tu-shiu who damned Confucian values such as chastity, widowhood and foot-binding.
His translation of three of the Confucian Four Books , as well as his own Discourses and Sayings of Confucius studded with references to Goethe, Schiller and Ruskin, were illuminating at a time when Chinese concepts such as ren benevolence, mercy, humanity , yi justice and li ritual, courtesy, social order were only vaguely understood The focus on Confucius, Laotse the founder of Taoism, and Buddha makes historical sense, as all were essentially contemporaries:.
Yutang follows these discussion by shorter chapters describing his journey back to Christian faith, titled Reason in Religion , The Challenge of Materialism and The Majesty of Light. A summary of each stage follows. The Philosopher F. Otherwise, Yutang lists a number of schools of thought which he does not address: Sophists, Logicians, Legalists, and Motians Motseans with their question-and-answer approach including asceticism and self-sacrifice based on the Fatherhood of God using the Chinese term for Heaven as a proxy for a monotheistic God and brotherhood of man.
Yutang illustrates the interplay of Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian sentiments with the story of Su Tungpo, a Confucian scholar and poet, and his love poems to his young Buddhist mistress after mourning the loss of his wife in A.
Confucius studied ancient works, giving us the Five Confucian Classics; in his moralizing and wisdom, Confucius can be compared to the likes of Samuel Johnson, Socrates and Jesus. Confucius was concerned primarily with two things: the problem of man and the problem of society.
Ren , or true manhood it is the symbol for man; also interpreted as kindness, humanity was the ideal towards which we should strive 79 ; a ren man, the human ideal, would be ren-ren. The universe is spiritual by nature, and by living in harmony with its moral law, man realizes his true self as well as finding harmony with the universe ; the chapter in which this is articulated, the Chung-yung , was so highly regarded and central that it formed one of the Four Books for Chinese schoolchildren.
The Chung-yung summarizes. Assuming a Taoist connection here, however, is premature. Later Confucian doctrine followed one of two schools: Hsuntse who emphasized the wickedness of human nature and the need for restraint, and Mencius — B. Whoever flouts these laws must perish soon, despite bayonets and prison walls. Confucian teaching centers on human relations jen-lun and the five basic ta-tuan relations, each with a particular moral quality attached:.
Even corrupted relations in China are attended by at least a veneer of good manners if not personal relation. The family system is the core of Confucian teaching, from which social action follows naturally. Confucianism gripped China for nearly years, forming the backbone of governmental and educational examination system, and creating an aristocracy of merit and virtue. Neo-Confucian transcendental idealism could be found in the teaching of Lu Chiu-yuan A.
Silent, all-pervasive, evasive, elusive unseen and invisible, all-powerful, the origin of all things and also the principle to which all manifested forms of life eventually return , the Tao is also known as The, the active principle of Tao virtue in a way when Tao manifests itself in the world as from the title Tao-teh-Ching.
Thus, Taotse states. A return to nature, to our original nature, lies behind the quiescent non-interference of Taoism:. Instead, Laotse began to a preach gentleness reminiscent of Jesus and the meek who would inherit the earth:. Chuangtse, a contemporary of Plato and Mencius I the 4 th century B. Chuangtse wrestled the problems of the soul, immortality, the nature of being, of knowledge and, as a metaphysical monist, anticipated Shan Zen Buddhism.
To pursue the infinite with our finite intelligence — alas! I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming that I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming that I am a man. There are manifest laws governing the four seasons without words.
There is an intrinsic principle in the created things which is not expressed. The Sage looks back to the beauty of the universe and penetrates into the intrinsic principle of created things. Therefore the perfect man does nothing, the great Sage takes no action. In doing this, he follows the pattern of the universe. The spirit of the universe is subtle and informs all life. In the opening of his Prologemena , Chuangtse outlines an important stream of Chinese philosophy:.
The source of both is the One [of the universe]. The ways of the wise and the sage are not understood, and Tao and Teh are taught in different ways… Without an adequate comprehension of he whole, these are but one-alley scholars … Alas, gone astray are th4 various schools of philosophy, unable to find their way back. They shall never find the truth.
The scholars of posterity, unfortunately, shall not be able to see the original simplicity of the universe and the main foundation of thought of the ancients. Philosophy is thus cut up and falls apart. Chaungtse eschews simple, incomplete ideologies, holding out for the permanence found by true philosophy:. What are life and death?
Am I one with the universe? Where do the spirits move? The creation lies before me, but in none of these can be found the true source. Chuang Chou heard of such teachings and loved them. Above, his spirit wanders with the Creator, and below he makes friends with those who transcend life and death and beginning and end.
The foundation of his thought is big and wide, deep and unconfined. The core of his teaching can encompass all phenomena and reach up to the divine order. Is this not a great cause for sorrow? Is human life indeed such a puzzle? But our whole groundwork cracks, and the earth opens to abysses.
A perfect argument does not employ words … Who knows the argument which can be argued without words, and the Tao which does not declare itself as Tao? He who knows this may be said to have entered the realm of spirit. For it is to judgment that perception belongs, as science belongs to intellect.
Intuition is the part of judgment, mathematics of intellect. To make light of philosophy is to be a true philosopher. Granting that you and I argue … are we both partly right and partly wrong? Or are we both wholly right and wholly wrong. Since you and I cannot know, we all live in darkness … if we wish to reach the absolute, we must harmonize them [arguments] by means of the unity of God … but what is it to harmonize them by means of the unity of God?
It is this. The right may not really be right … Take no heed of time nor of right and wrong. Passing into the realm of the Infinite, take your final rest therein. As Chaungtse states,. These are levelled together by the Tao. Division is the same as creation; creation is the same as destruction. There is no such thing as creation or destruction, for these conditions are again levelled together into One.
Only the truly intelligent understand this principle of the levelling of all things into the One. Possibility arises from impossibility … affirmation is based upon denial, and vice versa … This being the case, the true Sage rejects all distinctions and takes his refuge in Heaven.
For one may base it on this, yet this is also that and that is also this. This also has its right and wrong, and that also has its right and wrong. Does then the distinction between this and that really exist at all? Hence it is said that there is nothing like using the Light. All things proceed from the Nothing, and are borne towards the Infinite. Who will follow these marvelous processes? The Author of these wonders understands them. None other can do so… The nature of our existence hides from us the knowledge of first beginnings, which re born of Nothing; and the littleness of our being conceals from us the sight of the Infinite.
Chuangtse essentially anticipates Zen Buddhism when he offers an escape from flux and uncertainty by the act of silence upon encountering the Tao:. From this wholeness, one comprehends, and from comprehension, one comes near to Tao. There one stops. To stop without knowing how one stops — this is Tao.
Finally, Chaungtse offered a philosophy of life and death as companions to each other, which nearly sounds like the Apostle Paul:. Therefore all things are one. What we love is this mysterious life. What we hate is corruption in death. But this corruptible in its turn becomes mysterious life, and this mysterious life once more becomes corruptible. Taoist priests nowadays are mostly useful for the exorcising of demons.
Popular imagination always created the necessary gods if the philosopher refused to do. The most persistent strain of native Chinese thought was belief in the yin and the yang and the five cosmic elements metal, wood, water, fire, and earth and their mutual attraction and repulsion.
It offers not just a system of virtues, such as kindness, mercy, selflessness, suppression of sinful desires, self-conquest and self-discipline, but also the trappings of religion. Taoism came to offer many of these, including some Hindu deities, but the more philosophical and systematized Buddhism gained the respect of Chinese scholars which, owing to Confucius, were so prominent in China.
What happened was that Gautama had ruthlessly carried out the examination of consciousness and reality where Descartes and Kant later stopped.
From [Confucian/Taoist] Pagan to Christian: Story of Philosopher Lin Yutang
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FROM PAGAN TO CHRISTIAN
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From Pagan to Christian Lin Yutang
This is the thoughtful analysis of a philosopher's passage from Christianity- in which he was raised as a boy- to the This is the thoughtful analysis of a philosopher's passage from Christianity- in which he was raised as a boy- to the Eastern heritage of Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, the three great spiritual forces in the Orient- and back to Christianity, Lin Yutang has captured the essential problem confronting thinking people everywhere. Actually, he sees the various systems are rarely mutually exclusive, and in presenting them successively, he has conveyed the essence of each. Confucius the man and the teacher viewed the problem of man and the problem of society as a silent revolution-social reform to be based on individual reform Laotse and Chuangtse felt a great active principle -- Tao- behind all phenomena, and not the degeneration to the occultism of ""popular"" Taoism Buddhism- he claims- is the only foreign intellectual influence on Chinese thought in ancient China, a freedom from mental bondage to sentiment existence. European philosophies and doctrinal forms brought materialism into focus, and Lin Yutang proclaims himself against any religion submerged in other worldliness and feels the tools of reasoning irrelevant in the moral realm, despite Descartes and the scholastics.