Friday, May 13, 2011

Confucius/Old World (Modern Lovers)


Wu Daozi (680–740), Portrait of Confucius

        In 527 [BC] Cheng Tsai, the mother of Confucius, died and he had both his parents buried together in Fang, his father’s former house, under one tumulus.

        The Confucian Analects are not a systematic treatise on ethics, but have the appearance of mere anecdotes, being sayings of the master, mostly introduced by the simple words, “The Master said,” and sometimes mentioning the occasion on which certain sayings of his had been uttered.  Confucius was an extremely conservative man and his ideal lay in the past.  The great patterns of conduct were the sages of yore, and he selected from them as models of conduct the most famous rulers, such as Yao, Shun, the Duke of Chou, and King Wan.

Confucian Analects (Rongo Analects)

        Confucius is frequently represented as a rationalist, whose religion, if it may be called so, consisted purely of practical considerations of life.  But this is not quite true, for his belief in mysticism is fully demonstrated by his reverence for the Yih King, the canonical book of mystic lore of China, with reference to which he said in his advanced age:  “If some years could be added to my life, I would give fifty of them to the study of the Book of Changes, for then I would have avoided great errors.”

I Ching (Yih King): King Wen Arrangement

        Confucius is credibly believed to be the author of an appendix to the Yih King, the Book of Changes, called “The Ten Wings”, which proves that this ancient document was to him as enigmatical as it remained to all succeeding generations.

Confucius Meets Lao-Tze

        In order to study the archives of antiquity, Confucius went to the capital of the empire, the city of Lo, where the most famous thinker of the age, Lao Tan, better known under the title Lao Tze (i.e., “the old philosopher”) held the position of keeper of the archives.  The story has it that these two great representatives of a radically opposed conception of life met personally, but their interview was not satisfactory to either.  Lao-Tze insisted on simplicity of the heart and expected that manners and rituals would adjust themselves, while Confucius proposed to train mankind to genuine virtue and especially to filial piety by punctilious observance of the rules of propriety.  The interview is recorded by Ssu Ha Hsien, and had been retold with literary embellishments by the Taoist litterateur Chuang Tze.

Life and Works of Confucius, 1687

        Confucius taught the Golden Rule in these words:

"I so pu yu, mo shi yu jen."

“What ye will not have done to you, do ye not unto others.”

Well the old world may be dead --
Our parents can't understand.
But I still love my parents
And I still love the old world.
Oh, I had a New York girlfriend
And she couldn't understand

How I could --
Still love my parents --
And still love the old world.

So I told her:
I Want To Keep My Place In The Old World --
Keep My Place In The Arcane.
'Cause I still love my parents,
And I Still Love The Old World


  1. Great post. News to me about Confucius and I Ching.

    I will cast today in honor of this auspicious news.

  2. Thank you very much. Yes, indeed. More to come. Exhausting weekend. Hope I'm sufficiently prepared for the week. Situation hazy. As someone once said, the sky is blue but there are clouds in my head. Curtis