CHAPTER VII. CONFUCIANISM: THE RELIGION OF EDUCATED MEN
The Renaissance in the seventeenth century separated still more widely the gentry and the common people, for the samurai, adding letters to arms, made his superiority more unapproachable. The merchant, farmer, and artisan studied just enough to meet the simple requirements of their daily task and did not trouble themselves with literature but, to the samurai, letters became a lifelong pursuit. The mastery of the ideographs was an unending task, and to this were added philosophy, history, and ethics. In their own way many men were highly accomplished and, as no high duty laid upon them the teaching of their countrymen, to the pride of birth they joined the pride of scholarship. Their learning was of the old-fashioned sort, with tendencies to pedantry, and pedantic many of them became, talking an idiom more removed from common speech than was ever Johnsonese. Language, purpose, modes of life and thought, social position, separating them from their countrymen, only one other difference was possible, a difference of religion, and this came in time. It is true that the Tokugawa family was friendly to the Buddhists, the priests were befriended, the temples endowed, and the Christians extirpated. Yet soon Buddhism ceased to be the teacher of the nation. With peace came a revival of learning, and another great wave of foreign influence rolled across the people. This time it was the modern Chinese philosophy and ethics. Again the higher classes yielded and the lower resisted. Confucianism came to rule the intelligence of the nation and Buddhism became the religion of the lowly, relegated to the position it had given Shinto a thousand years before.
It was another Confucianism, not the ancient ally of Buddhism. It aimed no longer chiefly at polity, but sought to explain the deep problems of existence. It had become a philosophy, a religion, and its alliance with Buddhism and Taoism had given place to bitter antipathy and contempt.
It was in the eleventh century of our era that the new philosophy arose in China, when a group of schoolmen arose dissatisfied with the earlier unsystematic exposition of the Confucian ethics. They transformed the group of aphorisms and precepts into an ontological philosophy. As the schoolmen of Europe mingled elements drawn from Grecian and Oriental philosophy with the teaching of Christ and the apostles, so did these of China construct their system of heterogeneous material, Confucian, Buddhist, and Taoist. The last two, Buddhism and Taoism, were vehemently rejected as heretical, though the indebtedness to their mysticism, metaphysics, and cosmology was none the less real. As the school philosophy ruled European thought for centuries and the school theology was the medium through which the teaching of Christ was dimly seen, so did scholasticism rule in the Far East, becoming the orthodox philosophy and the orthodox interpretation of the words of Confucius. To disregard this scholasticism and to seek to understand the thought of the East from the texts of Confucius and Mencius is as if we should ignore the whole development of philosophy and theology in Europe and consider the synoptic gospels as having satisfied the West for eighteen hundred years.
This philosophy became authoritative in China and, in spite of protests and dissent, still maintains its ancient place. It only is orthodox. In Japan, too, it was adopted as authoritative and all other teaching was forbidden. The ages of Buddhist faith came to an end and intelligent men accepted the pantheistic doctrine which called itself by the name of China's ancient sage.
The problem of philosophy was to find the changeless in the midst of change. The impermanence of all things is the first of Buddhist truths, and as Confucius stood by the flowing river he, too, exclaimed: "All is like that. Day or night it ceases not!" Wind and sunshine, form and life, the matter and structure of the world itself, all pass away. The inner world, too, thought, feeling, love, hate, ambitions, hopes, our conscious selves, all are as the clouds which form and disappear. Push investigation never so far, ask how the worlds were made from that which does not appear, and to the farthest limit there is constant change. From chaos to cosmos and back to cosmos again, in never-ending circles is no abiding-place, but only transformations endless, with no place, or time, or thing, or being apart from it.
Does Buddhism then rightly teach that the world is all a deception, a mirage? Are sorrow and joy, truth and falsehood, good and evil inseparably joined, and is it the beginning of wisdom to learn that all is a dream, "without a world to dream of or a soul to dream"?
No, Buddhism is wrong. All does not pass away. From the beginning, from the limitless which preceded the ultimate limit, in all changes there has remained unchanged a "Way," a law, a truth, an order. It abides eternal. It does not become, it is. It is the true substance of all. To know it is wisdom, and to obey it virtue.
There is cosmic order, though all things change. Change itself submits to law. Even in chaos there is law, and so when the full time has come chaos turns slowly to cosmos, as cosmos, when its time has run away, returns to formlessness.
Logically law precedes change, for change itself follows law, but in time both are for ever. There is no change without law, and no law save in change. Neither precedes or outlasts the other. Law is immanent and never is by or of itself, for it is not an abstract, empty thought, but always is embodied- the two, the changing and the unchangeable, for ever knit in one.
There is no creation but an unending process. When the classics say that the Supreme Lord bestows, appoints, protects, creates, the meaning is simply that the unchanging law is thus and so. Yet is the universe instinct with life. Not matter but spirit is representative of the macrocosm. Whatever belongs to man's nature belongs to it. He is the "little heaven and earth," and so from him we come to know the "great heaven and earth."
The macrocosm responds to the microcosm. When man is righteous he communes with the good powers of nature, and they bless him, but when he does ill he is in sympathy with all evil forces, and they come to him. Throughout the universe is a golden thread of life and it vibrates to the same note in all its parts.
Law is righteousness and righteousness is law. The law is one in many manifestations: benevolence, uprightness, wisdom, sincerity, propriety, represent it. Law shows itself in the order of the heavens, in the ceaseless change of sun and moon and stars, unceasing in their changes but unfailing in their courses. So should the virtues show in the emotions, acts, and words of men.
Philosophy perceives this law, while unthinking men see only change. So it was with Buddha. He saw only the outer and failed to understand the inner, unchanging law. His system is popular with the crowd, but is a hindrance to virtue. For ethics applies philosophy to conduct. It sees the true, permanent element, and values that and seeks to realise the law in life. Based on a true philosophy, it knows that the essence of all things is one, that is, law, so that man should make righteousness supreme. Then is he at peace. Then is he in harmony with the eternal verities. Then has he long life though his days in the flesh are few.
As righteousness is order, evil is disorder. It comes from the ceaseless change whereby the eternal order is at times obscured. Earthquakes, destructive tempests, unseasonable frosts, rain, drought, obscure the decreed order and bring their host of evils. So in the State do mobs and tumults and crimes destroy harmony and peace, and in the individual unruly lusts bring man below the level of the brutes.
Let every one follow the law of his being. Let each man stand firm in the station in which he was born. Let the State hold fast to its order established by the Sages; the key to philosophy, ethics, polity, is in their books. Intuitively the Sage knows the truth, and perfectly he practises it. For other men's sake he has written down the "Way." So study is for us a necessity like food; but true learning is humble, and perceives the true self. Not knowing the true self, we are blind of heart, study we never so much. Without true discernment study is like Sekko's love for dragons. He painted them and spent days and nights in admiration of his work. A living dragon thought, "If Sekko so fancies painted dragons how great will be his love for me!" but when he put his head through Sekko's window the artist was panic-struck and fled.
We are to examine self as we read, testing the doctrine of obedience. Thus shall we comprehend. When by study, obedience, and reflection we learn our oneness with unchanging law and when we find in all things the same eternal truth we attain true life and immortality. We are content, though we die at night. The essential nature is not destroyed, but at death returns to the primal element as a drop of water to the sea. At one with the imperishable principles, man in his law outlasts the universe. He who has learned this knows the truth and rests in perfect peace.
This philosophy proclaimed itself the absolute truth. It is the eternal "Way" of Heaven and Earth. Should Sages again appear they would recognise it as their own. It could accept no compromise but in ontology, and ethics asked implicit faith and obedience.
Naturally it excited opposition, but it triumphed over its foes. Buddhism indeed made slight resistance and was pushed ignominiously aside. Later, in the eighteenth century, Shinto revived and attacked philosophy as false and foreign. But the chief foes were of its own household- rival exponents of the Confucian ethics.
There were pure idealists, who found all truth in their own minds and rejected the distinction of change and law. There were positivists, who cast aside ontology and were content with phenomena. And there were critics, who charged the scholastics with corrupting the truth and raised the cry, "Back to Confucius!" But against them all, the orthodox system held its own and remained the accepted doctrine until the advent of modern science in our day. Then at last the restrictions were removed and it appeared that hostile criticism had shaken faith. Few indeed held to the true ontological creed. The hostile attack had done its work. It had prepared for new philosophy and for new science the Spirit of Old Japan.
This philosophy is the mature expression of the Chinese mind. It sufficiently explains familiar facts; it satisfies the philosophic mind as it looks beneath phenomena to the unchanging reality; it affords a sure basis for the traditional polity and ethics. It contains no prophecy and has no vision of a new Jerusalem descending out of heaven. That which hath been ever shall be, and to preserve the unchanging order is its chief end. There shall be a new heaven and a new earth in a new cosmic cycle, but they can only repeat the same history and do over again what we do now. The soul's one faith is this: though confusion seem to endure for a night, order will reappear with dawn. But the Buddhist pessimism is shaken off, that ultimate despair of the world and life. If life is not loved, neither is it hated. All is good in its time. "There is a time to be born and a time to die; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to love and a time to hate; a time of war and a time of peace -to everything a season and a time to every purpose"; and all in its season and time are good. So, too, all out of time and season are bad. The fundamental law of nature, of the State, and of the soul is one.
It is illustrated most clearly in the State, where we see it writ large, and whence we may learn, in Plato's mode, what is that which is "good." Confucius and Mencius and their chief expositors have been statesmen. In the Far East the State rests on ethics and the moralist is the ruler. The Empire is a pantheocracy, with the eternal laws of nature as set down by the Sages as constitution and supreme source of right. On this law rests the throne of the king. His ministers are teachers in ethics, and an examination in moral philosophy is the test for office. Public and private morality are one, and the personal virtue of the ruler is the one condition of the welfare of the body politic.
In the Golden Age in China long ago, the Sage was on the throne, the "superior man" was minister, and all in authority were wise, rank being given by worthiness. There was no evil man, though the common folk were ignorant, for each was in his rightful place. The Sage ruled by doing naught. Like the eternal law, it was enough that he exist. As men see his righteousness and come in contact with his truth they naturally obey. As the wind moves the blades of grass innumerable in the broad field, not all at once but on from blade to blade, so his influence at last touches and bows each unit in his vast domain.
But never since the Golden Age has there been a Sage upon the throne. The divine order has not obtained. At best there has been only an approximation. Sometimes it has been wholly lost when an unworthy ruler has taken the Empire for his own and used it for the gratification of his lusts. Such a ruler is no king and against him rebellion is a duty. For the people are the "Heaven" of the king, the reason for his being. Duty is his divine right. If he disregard it, ipso facto, he is no king. Never was a king driven from his throne, but many a "fellow" has been stripped of royal robes.
So first of all the king must rule himself. Laws, even the inspired philosophy, are nothing if the ruler does not embody truth. "Teach by example and men follow; by words, and they accuse." "Government is by the man. With him it is complete: when he is destroyed it ceases." So when thieves abounded Confucius said to the ruler, "If you do not covet they will not steal, though theft be praised." That a ruler may cause strife to cease, he himself must be unselfish and cease to strive. Therefore when evils come the ruler examines self. He is a link joining man and nature. Calamities on earth and portents in the sky are signals of his unworthiness.
As the king obeys Heaven, so do the officials obey the king. Were the Sage on the throne, absolute obedience and silent submission would be required; but besides the Sage no man is without error and sin. The minister who stands next his lord must advise, must, if need be, remonstrate, though such remonstrance be more dangerous than the position of the foremost spear in battle. But the minister must not count life dear.
The noble respects his ministers and entrusts the administration to them; he nourishes his men-at-arms: he cherishes the people. The man-at-arms is single-hearted in loyalty to the lord and country; the peasant obeys the laws, pays his tax, and diligently follows his trade. The highest in the State is nearest Heaven, he is most completely under law and every action is by rule. Only the common folk have liberty, for industry and peace only may be asked of them. The nation is a family, and the differences in rank are decreed by Heaven. What matters the position any one may occupy? Let each stand firm in his lot. To every one are duties to superior and inferior, and before Heaven there is no difference.
When the "fellow" is on the throne he selects his ministers by his fancies. Philosophers are in obscurity. The officials are pedants bound fast by rules and usages, or profligates mercenary and merciless. The people are uneasy, avaricious, fond of gross pleasure, full of crime, and, at last, rebellious. Change has possession of the State and order disappears.
The family is the State in miniature and has its decreed order, whose preservation is virtue. The first duty is to parents: to them we are indebted for life and all things, and no service can be excessive. They educate the child and lead him in the "Way" lest the family be destroyed. The wife must reverence and obey her husband's parents and himself; and he is to love her, but not overmuch or to the neglect of parents. The younger brother reverences and obeys the elder and the elder befriends the younger.
The individual is of importance only as he fulfils the duty of his place. To forsake that place is crime. The wise man cares not for the things which change; only the law, the order which abides has value in his eyes. He is pure when ruled by law; he is outcast when ruled by lust. The common man cannot discern the truth, and his safety is in being under some wise man's rule. But the wise man discerns. He knows himself and perceives his unity with the everlasting law. His immortality is to lose himself in that shining sea.
With modifications Japan accepted this philosophy. It made no theoretical amendments, and even its hostile criticism was reproduction of Chinese attacks, excepting as Shinto revived. Native ethics and polity there were none. Individual, State, and family were formed upon the Chinese model when peace gave leisure for theory to form. The Chinese scholastic philosophy, the Confucian ethics, the polity of Mencius, ruled thought and life. Yet there were unconscious amendment and adaptation.
In China the civil mandarins were supreme, and the arts and offices of war despised, but in Japan arms and the pen were as the two wings of a bird. Yet was the sword in greater honour. In China the Emperor ruled, but in Japan he was in strict retirement, while the Shogun ruled and the whole organisation was military. In China the central rule was all, but in Japan virile feudalism held the government of the Shogun in check. In China each subject was equal to every other before the law; in Japan rank was hereditary and decreed by Heaven. In China filial obedience held first place; in Japan, feudal loyalty. China was the embodiment of peace; Japan a highly organised camp. In China war has ever been an episode; in Japan peace was an armed truce. Loyalty, obedience, self-sacrifice, the virtues of the soldier, these were the highest manifestations of the Spirit of Old Japan.
A writer of the seventeenth century, Kyuso Muro, already quoted, tells us how the deeper problems of life and death were solved by a philosopher of unshaken faith.
"Returning from exercise, some young men stopped one day and their teacher said to them: 'As your profession is that of arms constant drill is necessary; but good fortune is more important than skill since without it skill avails not. Mori Musashi no Kami was called the demon of Musashi, so skilful and strong was he; but at Nagakute he was killed instantly by a bullet, and what benefit was there in his skill and courage? Skill rests on fortune; so study this most earnestly. Your instructors teach you arms, but they know not the study of fortune. Such as I can teach you that!'
"Then one replied: 'I do not understand this study of martial fortune. Surely it is beyond man's control. Could it be acquired by study all the world would learn!' He shook his head: 'Yes, there is such study.''Tell us of it then,' the students said; and he went on:
"'Consider, all of you! Whence is fortune? From Heaven! Even the world says, "Fortune is in Heaven." So then there is no resource save prayer to Heaven. Let us then ask: What does Heaven hate and what does Heaven love? It loves benevolence and hates malevolence. It loves truth and hates untruth. Its heart is this, that it forms all things and unceasingly begets men. Even when in autumn and winter it seems the spirit of death it is not so, but the root, the spirit of birth is gaining strength. So does the Book of Changes declare: "Birth is called change," and again: "The great virtue of Heaven and Earth is called birth." That which in Heaven begets all things in man is called love. So doubt not that Heaven loves benevolence and hates its opposite.
"After a little some one said: 'I am much impressed with this new study of martial fortune, but still have my doubts. Do not humane and true men meet misfortune while the wicked prosper? Yen Hui, the beloved disciple of Confucius, died young and poor while Che, the robber, who ate men, was long-lived and rich. How do you explain such facts?' The teacher replied:
"'So, too, with truth. For countless ages sun and moon and stars constantly revolve and we make calendars without mistake. Nothing is more certain! It is the very truth of the universe! When man leaves all else and is humane and true he accords with Heaven, it surely cherishes and embraces him. But with mere temporary virtue comes no such revelation. We must always obey, being ever benevolent and injuring no one, being ever true and deceiving no one. As the days and months pass such truth appeals to Heaven, and Heaven helps so that even in battle we meet no misfortune nor strike against bullet or spear. This is the study of martial fortune. Do not think it an old man's foolish talk.'
"'The good are happy and the wicked miserable. This is the certainly determined and just law. But happiness and misery are not thus foreordained. They depend on circumstances. The Sages speak of the true law and not of the undetermined circumstances. If we would live long we abstain from drink and lust that the body may be strong. If in service we seek promotion we are diligent in duty. But some men who are careful of their health die young and some careless men live long. Yet surely, care is not in vain! So, too, some diligent men through misfortune gain no promotion and negligent men by chance have been advanced. Yet surely, diligence is not in vain! Were we to think care of the body useless we should spend days and nights in drinking and lust until at last we should be diseased and die. And were we to think diligence in vain we so frequently should neglect our duty that punishment and degradation would be ours. Care of the body is the "way" of long life, as is diligence of promotion. These laws are unchangeable. Again consider! When we make plans, do we leave all to chance or determine first the principles of our action? Of course the latter, and then we do not repent even though we are unfortunate. We cannot arrange for chance. But to leave all to chance and fail, that leads to repentance. Sin is the source of pain and righteousness of happiness.
This is the settled law. The teaching of the Sages and the conduct of superior men is determined by principles and the result is left to Heaven. Still, we do not obey in the hope of happiness, nor do we forbear to sin from fear. Not with this meaning did Confucius and Mencius teach that happiness is in virtue and pain in sin. But the "Way" is the law of man. It is said: "The 'Way' of Heaven blesses virtue and curses sin." That is intended for the ignorant multitude. Yet it is not like the Buddhist parables, for it is the determined truth."Matsunaga thus sings of the morning-glory:
"' Yen Hui died young, Che lived long, for Heaven's decree was not yet formed. But now as we study the decree: Yen Hui indeed lived poverty-stricken and in obscurity, but his name lasts thousands of years with the sun and moon. Che had a thousand followers and walked in pride, but when he died his name perished before his body was cold while his shame lasts an hundred generations, the memorial of many evil deeds. Was, then, Yen Hui's reward from Heaven small, and Che's great?" And there is a deeper truth: the wise man does not labour for himself at all. If he can help reveal the "Way," though never so little, even when dead he lives, his bones do not decay. He does not seek himself at all.
"'The morning-glory of an hour, Differs not in heart from the pine of a thousand years.'What profundity! Many have sung of the morning-glory, of its short life, of autumn loneliness and the vanity of the world.
"'After a thousand years the pine decays; The flower has its glory in blooming for a day.'That is pretty, but it merely makes bloom and decay one. The ignorant think it profound, but it is very superficial, like Buddhism and Taoism. Matsunaga's verse has other meaning, has it not? I think it means, 'He who in the morning hears the "Way" may die content at night.' To blossom early, wait for the rising sun, and die, such is the morning-glory's nature received from Heaven. It does not forget its own nature and envy the pine its thousand years. So every morning splendidly it blooms, waits for the rising sun, and dies. Thus it fulfils its destiny. How can we despise this truth the flower reveals? The pine differs not, but we learn the lesson best from the short-lived flower. The pine's heart is not of a thousand years nor the morning-glory's of an hour, but only that they may fulfil their destiny.
"The glory of the thousand years, the evanescence of the single hour, are not in pine or flower but in our thought. So is it with unfeeling things, but man has feeling and is the head of all. Yet is he deceived by things and does not attain to this unless he knows the 'Way.' To know the 'Way' is not the mysterious contemplation of which Buddhism speaks. The 'Way' is so adjusted to all things that even miserable men and women may know and do it. And only as we truly know it can we truly do it. Otherwise even with practice we do not know, and even in doing it we find no profit. Though we are in the 'Way' until death we do not understand. Truly to know and act is to be like fish in water and bird in forest.
"Reason should be our life. Never should we separate from it. While we live we obey, and 'Way' and body together come to death. Long shall we be at peace. To live a day is to obey a day, and then to die; to live a year is to obey a year and then to die. If thus in the morning we hear and die at night there is no regret. So the morning-glory lives a day, blooms wholly as it had received, and without resentment dies. How greatly differ the thousand years of the pine in length, yet both fulfil their destiny and both are equally content. Thus
"'The morning-glory of an hour, Differs not in heart from the pine of a thousand years.'As Matsunaga shows his aspirations in his verse so I in imitation:
"'By the truth received from Heaven and Earth, The morning-glory blooms and fades.'The verses are wretched as you see. But never mind their form, take their truth."
"'Regret not what you see: Decay and bloom alike are morning-glory's truth.'
"'Hurting not, lusting not, This is the morning-glory's heart, Not different from the pine's.'
Man is never alone. There are streams of tendency which make for righteousness and for evil. They respond to him, and as his heart is so do gods or devils commune with him. Only the true in heart can know God.
"In the oldest commentary on Confucius's history it is said, 'God is pure intelligence and justice.' Now all know that God is just, but do not know that he is intelligent. But there is no such intelligence elsewhere as God's. Man hears by the ear, and where the ear is not he hears not, though never so quick to hear; and man sees with his eyes, and where they are not he sees not, though never so quick to see; and with his heart man thinks, and the swiftest thought takes time. But God uses neither ear nor eye, nor does he pass over in thought. Directly he feels, and directly does he respond. This then we should know is not two or three but just the virtue received from the one truth. Thus, in heaven and earth is a being of quickest eye and ear, separated from no time or place, now in this manner, communicating instantaneously, embodied in all things, filling the universe. Having, of course, neither form nor voice it is not seen nor heard by men. When there is truth it feels, and when it feels it responds. When there is no truth it feels not, and when it feels not there is no response. Responding at once it is; not responding it naturally is not. Is not this the Divinity of heaven and earth? So the Doctrine of the Mean says: 'Looked for it cannot be seen, listened to it cannot be heard. It enters into all things! There is nothing without it.'
"It is like Priest Saigyō's verse at the Shrines in Ise:
"'Though not knowing what it is, Grateful tears he weeps.'"Are not his tears from his perception of truth? Before the shrine he stands, single-hearted, direct, with truth; and to his truth God also comes and they commune, and so it is he weeps.
"As the reflection in the clear water answers to the moon, and together moon and pool increase the light, so if continually in the one truth they are dissolved we cannot distinguish God and man, even as sky and water, water and sky unite in one. 'Everywhere, everywhere, on the right He seems and on the left.' This is the revealing of God, the truth not to be concealed. Think not God is distant, but seek Him in the heart, for the heart is the House of God. Where there is no obstacle of lust, of one spirit with the God of heaven and earth there is this communion. But except by this communion there is not such a thing. Saigyō did not weep before he went to the shrine and by this we know God came.
"And now for the application. Examine yourselves, make the truth of the heart the foundation, increase in learning, and at last you will attain. Then you will know the truth of what I speak.
"As thus he spoke all were silent, impressed by the great thoughts of the aged philosopher. They, too, shed grateful tears like the priest before the shrine."
The word translated "God" is without indication of number, and our translation gives too monotheistic an impression. Perhaps it would be better to substitute "divinities" or "divinity," for there is probably no implication of personality.
Thus, too, can we explain devils and things of evil. The gods are the good powers of heaven and earth and are the normal working of the spiritual universe. But the universe knows change, and there arise unexpected winds, heat, cold, and storms. So are there naturally evil spirits which respond to evil men. When we feel with pure spirit the pure spirit responds to us, but when we feel with an evil spirit the devils respond. And there is no place in heaven or earth where these spirits good and evil are not. But when our own spirits are strong the evil affects us not, but when we are weak and lustful then through our undetermined and sinful feelings the evil spirits find a way and affright us; with portents, dreams, and lying wonders, they lure us to death. But evil melts before the righteous man like ice before the sun.
For the philosopher death has no alarms, and the soul content with life and submissive to destiny calmly awaits its approach:
"Swiftly the days and months pass by. Day by day increases the disease, old age, and labour is of no avail. It is the seventy-fifth year, and not so long had the teacher hoped to live with the billows of old age rolling on. He was paralysed too, so that hand and foot were not easily moved, and with difficulty could he get up or down. For three years the spring beauty of the garden had not been seen, but the voice of the bird from the tree-top came to his bed awakening him from his lingering dreams. Patiently did he remember the past as the perfume of the plum blossoms visited his pillow.
"How blessed was he then, that from his youth he had seen through the windows of philosophy the value of the passing years; that he had followed Shu-Hi and sought the manners of the Sages; that he had admired true literary style and had learned to walk haltingly the 'Way.' What consolation was this for his aged wakefulness! Through so many months and years well had he considered the passing, changing world, with its alternating adversity and prosperity, its bloom and decay. Are they all dreams and visions, 'the clouds that float above the earth'? Fortune and misfortune are twisted together like the strands of a rope.
"Among all only the 'Way' of the Sages stands with Heaven and Earth. Past and present it only changes not. Men should wonder at it and praise. But the world knows it not. Men are in darkness as to righteousness, though wise in gain and lust. The 'Way' is forsaken and customs deteriorate. Alas! alas! but my low rank and feeble powers could not reform the customs or restore the doctrine; as well might a gnat move a tree or one dip out the ocean with a shell. Yet is it our duty as scholars to grieve over the world and reform the people. We cannot give this task to others. Why should aged teachers and men who are accounted scholars desire false doctrines, mix them with the truth, and thus transform the 'Way' of righteousness and virtue?
"I cannot agree to that. They Work and argue, please the vulgar, and go with the times. Deplorable! As has been said of old, - 'A corrupt learning that flatters the world.' Let it be so! Let customs change! I alone will follow the 'Way' of benevolence and righteousness nor lose the pattern I have learned! This is the sign of the scholar who honours the 'Way.' In the New Year when men bless themselves with good wishes for a thousand worlds, I will set my heart on the 'Way' of the five virtues only and will change not. This I think the rightful cause for congratulations. So I write:
"'This spring too I go unchanged, Five times more than seventy seeking the 'Way.'"This year I have been busy, from spring to autumn, collecting and writing my various talks with my disciples. I finished it in the autumn, and though it is as worthless as the refuse left by fishermen, yet if transmitted to our company it may be one-ten-thousandth help to those who study themselves. So at the end I wrote my New Year's verse, ending yet beginning, and thus reveal an endless heart."