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"I have so much to do this weekend but I can't reisst!I wrote up a response to this interpretation last time Eric. But somehow it didn't register on the blog and I became too discouraged to write it up again. As I wrote then 2A2 is ambiguous in a number of different ways and your reading is certainly within the range of plausible ones (as is Brad's when read as a complement to yours). I appreciate it even more now that I see the insightful arguments you have mustered to your cause!I just have a couple of points for now.First it's not so far-fetched to think that people might try to hard to be good people and yet go about it in the wrong way. Remember that the virtues were widely understood as giving the virtuous a kind of power over their beneficiaries (in large part a power of indebtedness). Ambitious rulers even saw sage-like virtue as a likely qualification for anyone who wanted to unify the empire under his rule. One of Mengzi's thematic concerns is that people generally aim to become virtuous for the wrong reasons. In an article on the ""Paradox of Wuwei"" Nivison points out that this is a major preoccupation of a number of early Chinese thinkers. Virtues were generally understood as being good for the virtuous and yet one can't successfully cultivate the virtues out of self-interest. (Obviously this isn't a paradox in the strict sense but you get the picture.) So many of these early thinkers--especially the Confucians and Daoists--sought for ways if cultivating virtue ""indirectly "" just as the language in this passage suggests.Second I'm not entirely clear whether the key move you make--suggesting that it is ""steadfastness of character"" that one shouldn't rush--really runs against the grain of the Ivanhoe and Van Norden reading. It might but I suppose we should talk about it a bit to figure this out. Surely having the virtue of ""yi"" (rightness righteousness) requires steadfastness of character. And Mengzi does say that we shouldn't cultivate the flood-like qi through a ""seizure of righteousness."" However the Chinese in this sentence isn't perfectly clear and there might be a better translation of the character that Van Norden reads as ""seizure."" Perhaps ""ambush "" since it's really a kind of military term. But ""seizure"" sounds a bit more natural to the English-speaker's ear.Third Mengzi isn't condemning the performance good actions per say. He's just arguing that it isn't effective in cultivating virtue. So I don't think he would insist that a person's moral immaturity should to stop her from saving a drowning child simply because she's be rushing her moral cultivation. Similarly he wouldn't want a king's moral immaturity from stop him from instituting policies that would save his people from starvation (as per 1A3). Obviously some immediate moral imperatives are going to trump the demands of cultivating virtue in the right way for the right reasons.Finally I think you may be right that ""it"" doesn't refer to ""righteousness."" In the sentence that Van Norden translates as "" It is produced by accumulated righteousness "" ""it"" is clearly to be understood as flood-like qi. And the Chinese could just as well be translated as ""it is grown by accumulated righteousness "" a perfect analogue to the farmer's grain!"
Thanks for writing a long description. But I cannot get a real picture of the content. If you could say what you want in brief I will be able to answer. Anyway I wish you well-being happiness in the new year 2014. With Metta Bhante J
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Do not be angry to protect me
Monks, if others speak in disparagement of me, of the Dhamma or of the Sangha, you should not be angry, resentful or upset on that account. If you were to be angry or displeased at such disparagement, that would only be a hindrance to you.
If others disparage me, the Dhamma or the Sangha, then you must explain what is incorrect as being incorrect", saying: ‘That is incorrect, that is false, that is not our way, that is not found among us.’
Monks, if others speak in praise of me, of the Dhamma or of the Sangha, you should not on that account be pleased, happy or elated. If you were to be pleased, happy or elated at such praise, that would only be a hindrance to you." If others praise me, the Dhamma or the Sangha, you should acknowledge the truth of what is true, saying: ‘That is correct, that is right, that is our way, that is found among us’.
The Buddha (Brahmajala sutta - DN 01)