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The ancient kings made use of the stalks and the tortoise-shell; arranged their sacrifices; buried their offerings of silk; recited their words of supplication and benediction; and made their statutes and measures. In this way arose the ceremonial usages of the states, the official departments with their administrators, each separate business with its own duties, and the rules of ceremony in their orderly arrangements.
Thus it was that the ancient kings were troubled lest the ceremonial usages should not be generally understood by all below them. They therefore sacrificed to God in the suburb (of the capital), and thus the place of heaven was established. They sacrificed at the altar of the earth inside the capital, and thus they intimated the benefits derived from the earth. Their sacrifices in the ancestral temple gave their fundamental place to the sentiments of humanity. Those at the altars of the hills and streams served to mark their intercourse with the spirits breathing (in nature). Their five sacrifices (of the house) were a recognition of the various business which was to be done.For the same reason, there are the officers of prayer in the ancestral temple; the three ducal ministers in the court; and the three classes of old men in the college. In front of the king there were the sorcerers, and behind him the recorders; the diviners by the tortoise-shell and by the stalks, the blind musicians and their helpers were all on his left and right. He himself was in the centre. His mind had nothing to do, but to maintain what was entirely correct.
By means of the ceremonies performed in the suburb, all the spirits receive their offices. By means of those performed at the altar of the earth, all the things yielded (by the earth) receive their fullest development. By means of those in the ancestral temple, the services of filial duty and of kindly affection come to be discharged. By means of those at the five sacrifices of the house, the laws and rules of life are correctly exhibited. Hence when the ideas in these sacrifices in the suburb, at the altar of the earth, in the ancestral temple, at the altars of the hills and streams, and of the five sacrifices of the house are fully apprehended, the ceremonies used are found to be lodged in them 1.
From all this it follows that rules of ceremony must be traced to their origin in the Grand Unity 2. This separated and became heaven and earth. It revolved and became the dual force (in nature).It changed and became the four seasons. It was distributed and became the breathings (thrilling in the universal frame). Its (lessons) transmitted (to men) are called its orders; the law and authority of them is in Heaven.
While the rules of ceremony have their origin in heaven, the movement of them reaches to earth. The distribution of them extends to all the business (of life). They change with the seasons; they agree in reference to the (variations of) lot and condition. In regard to man, they serve to nurture (his nature). They are practised by means of offerings, acts of strength, words and postures of courtesy, in eating and drinking, in the observances of capping, marriage, mourning, sacrificing, archery, chariot-driving, audiences, and friendly missions.
Thus propriety and righteousness are the great elements for man's (character); it is by means of them that his speech is the expression of truth and his intercourse (with others) the promotion of harmony; they are (like) the union of the cuticle and cutis, and the binding together of the muscles and bones in strengthening (the body). They constitute the great methods by which we nourish the living, bury the dead, and serve the spirits of the departed. They supply the channels by which we can apprehend the ways of Heaven and act as the feelings of men require. It was on this account that the sages knew that the rules of ceremony could not be dispensed with, while the ruin of states, the destruction of families, and the perishing of individuals are always preceded by their abandonment of the rules of propriety,
Therefore the rules of propriety are for man what the yeast is for liquor 3. The superior man by (his use of them) becomes better and greater. The small man by his neglect of them becomes meaner and worse.
Therefore the sage kings cultivated and fashioned the lever of righteousness and the ordering of ceremonial usages, in order to regulate the feelings of men. Those feelings were the field (to be cultivated by) the sage kings. They fashioned the rules of ceremony to plough it. They set forth the principles of righteousness with which to plant it. They instituted the lessons of the school to weed it. They made love the fundamental subject by which to gather all its fruits, and they employed the training in music to give repose (to the minds of learners).
Thus, rules of ceremony are the embodied expression of what is right. If an observance stand the test of being judged by the standard of what is right, although it may not have been among the usages of the ancient kings, it may be adopted on the ground of its being right.
(The idea of) right makes the distinction between things, and serves to regulate (the manifestation of) humanity. When it is found in anything and its relation to humanity has been discussed, the possessor of it will be strong.
Humanity is the root of right, and the embodying of deferential consideration. The possessor of it is honoured.
Therefore to govern a state without the rules of propriety would be to plough a field without a share. To make those rules without laying their foundation in right would be to plough the ground and not sow the seed. To think to practise the right without enforcing it in the school would be to sow the seed and not weed the plants. To enforce the lessons in the schools, and insist on their agreement with humanity, would be to weed and not to reap. To insist on the agreement of the lessons with humanity, and not give repose to (the minds of) the learners by music, would be to reap, and not eat (the product). To supply the repose of music and not proceed to the result of deferential consideration would be to eat the product and get no fattening from it.
When the four limbs are all well proportioned, and the skin is smooth and full, the individual is in good condition. When there is generous affection between father and son, harmony between brothers, and happy union between husband and wife, the family is in good condition. When the great ministers are observant of the laws, the smaller ministers pure, officers and their duties kept in their regular relations and the ruler and his ministers are correctly helpful to one another, the state is in good condition. When the son of Heaven moves in his virtue as a chariot, with music as his driver, while all the princes conduct their mutual intercourse according to the rules of propriety, the Great officers maintain the order between them according to the laws, inferior officers complete one another by their good faith, and the common people guard one another with a spirit of harmony, all under the sky is in good condition. All this produces what we call (the state of) great mutual consideration (and harmony).
This great mutual consideration and harmony would ensure the constant nourishment of the living, the burial of the dead, and the service of the spirits (of the departed). However greatly things might accumulate, there would be no entanglement among them. They would move on together without error, and the smallest matters would proceed without failure. However deep some might be, they would be comprehended. However thick and close their array, there would be spaces between them. They would follow one another without coming into contact. They would move about without doing any hurt to one another. This would be the perfection of such a state of mutual harmony.
Therefore the clear understanding of this state will lead to the securing of safety in the midst of danger. Hence the different usages of ceremony, and the maintenance of them in their relative proportions as many or few, are means of keeping hold of the feelings of men, and of uniting (high and low, and saving them from) peril.
The sage kings showed their sense of this state of harmony in the following way:--They did not make the occupants of the hills (remove and) live by the streams, nor the occupants of the islands (remove and live) in the plains; and thus the (people) complained of no hardship. They used water, fire, metal, wood, and the different articles of food and drink, each in its proper season. They promoted the marriages of men and women, and distributed rank and office, according to the years and virtues of the parties. They employed the people with due regard to their duties and wishes. Thus it was that there were no plagues of flood, drought, or insects, and the people did not suffer from bad grass or famine, from untimely deaths or irregular births. On account of all this heaven did not grudge its methods; earth did not grudge its treasures; men did not grudge (the regulation of) their feelings. Heaven sent down its fattening dews 4; earth sent forth its springs of sweet wine 5; hills produced implements and chariots 6; the Ho sent forth the horse with the map (on, his back) 7. Phoenixes and Khî-lins were among the trees of the suburbs, tortoises and dragons in the ponds of the palaces, while the other birds and beasts could be seen at a glance in their nests and breeding places. All this resulted from no other cause but that the ancient kings were able to fashion their ceremonial usages so as to convey the underlying ideas of right, and embody their truthfulness so as to secure the universal and mutual harmony. This was the realisation of it.
1. Kang explains 'all the spirits' in the first sentence of this paragraph by 'all the constellations.' Khung agrees with him. Khan Hâo (Yüan dynasty) explains it of 'wind, rain, cold, and heat.' The Khien-lung editors say that the two explanations must be united. But why are these phenomena described as all or 'the hundred spirits?' Is it by personification? or a kind of pantheism?
2. Medhurst translated this name by 'the Supreme
One;' Callery, as I do, by 'la Grande Unité,' adding in parentheses, 'principe
de toutes choses.' Does the name denote what we are to consider an Immaterial
Being, acting with wisdom, intention, and goodness? Medhurst came to this
conclusion. He says:--'Thâi Yî (太一) must mean the Supreme One, or
the infinitely great and undivided one. Bearing in mind also that this
paragraph follows another in which Tî (帝), the ruling Power, is honoured
with the highest adoration, and that this ruling Power is the same with the
being here called the Supreme One, there can be no doubt that the reference in
the whole passage is to the Almighty One who rules over all things'
(Dissertation on the Theology of the Chinese, p. 85). He goes on to say that
'the Critical Commentary makes this still more plain by saying that this
Supreme One is the source of all others, and that he existed before the powers
of nature were divided, and before the myriad things were produced, the one
only being. The operations ascribed to him of dividing heaven and earth, of
revolving light and darkness, of changing the four seasons, and of appointing
the various Kwei Shins to their several offices, are all indicative of that
omnipotent power which must be ascribed to him alone.' But the operations
referred to in this last sentence are mentioned in the text, not as performed
by the Supreme One, but as undergone by the Grand Unity. And, moreover, 'the
Critical Commentary' yields a testimony different from what Dr. Medhurst
supposed. Khung Ying-tâ says:--'The name Thâi Yî means the original vapoury
matter of chaos, before the separation of heaven and earth (
and there is nothing in any of the other commentators contrary to this. But the
concluding sentence of the paragraph, that 'The law and authority (of all the
lessons in the rules of ceremony) is in Heaven,' seems to me to imply 'a
recognition (indistinct it may be) of a Power or Being anterior to and
independent of the Grand Unity.' Wû Khang says:--'The character Thien (Heaven)
is used to cover the five things--the Grand Unity, heaven and earth, the (dual
force of) Yin and Yang, the four seasons, and the Kwei Shan.' The attempt,
apparent in the whole treatise, to give Tâoistic views a place in the old
philosophy of the nation, is prominent here. Medhurst is not correct in saying
that the Tî (帝) in paragraph 2 is the same as the Thâi Yî in this
paragraph, but It, or rather He, is the same as the Thien (天) with which
it concludes. The earliest Chinese adopted Thien or Heaven as the name for the
supreme Power, which arose in their minds on the contemplation of the order of
nature, and the principles of love and righteousness developed in the
constitution of man and the course of providence, and proceeded to devise the
personal name of Tî or God, as the appellation of this; and neither Tâoism, nor
any other form of materialistic philosophising, has succeeded in eradicating
the precious inheritance of those two terms from the mind of peasant or
Callery has misconstrued the paragraph by
making 'Les Rites,' or the 'toutes choses' of his gloss, the subject of all the
predicates in it:--'Les rites ont pour origine essentielle la Grande Unité
(principe de toutes choses). Ils se divisent ensuite, les uns pour le Ciel, les
autres pour la Terre,' &c.
Callery has misconstrued the paragraph by making 'Les Rites,' or the 'toutes choses' of his gloss, the subject of all the predicates in it:--'Les rites ont pour origine essentielle la Grande Unité (principe de toutes choses). Ils se divisent ensuite, les uns pour le Ciel, les autres pour la Terre,' &c.
3. On this comparison Callery says:--'Ce que les Chinois appellent du vin (酒) n'étant une autre chose qu'une eau de vie de grains obtenue par la distillation, plus il y a de ferment dans la macération primitive, plus la fermentation vineuse est forte, et plus il y a d'alcool quand on la passe par l'alambic. De là cette comparaison entre le degré d'urbanité chez le sage et le degré de force dans le vin.'
4. Kâo Yî in his Filial Miscellanies, Book III, art. 9, contends that these are only different names for the same phenomenon. Few readers will agree with him, though the language means no more than that 'the dews were abundant, and the water of the springs delicious.'
5. Kâo Yî in his Filial Miscellanies, Book III, art. 9, contends that these are only different names for the same phenomenon. Few readers will agree with him, though the language means no more than that 'the dews were abundant, and the water of the springs delicious.'
6. There must have been some legend which would have explained this language, but I have not succeeded in finding any trace of it.
7. The famous 'River Map' from which, it has been fabled, Fû-hsî fashioned his eight trigrams. See vol. xvi, pp. 14-16.
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