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唯聖心賢意，方比物類，為能實之。 夫論不留精澄意，苟以外效立事是非，信聞見於外，不詮訂於內，是用耳目論，不以心意議也。夫以耳目論，則以虛象為言，虛象效，則以實 事為非。是故是非者不徒耳目，必開心意。
魯人將以璵璠歛，孔子聞之，徑庭麗級而諫。夫徑庭麗級，非禮也，孔子為救患也。患之所由，常由有所貪。璵璠、寶物也， 魯人用歛，姦人（）〔間〕之，欲心生矣。姦人欲生，不畏罪法。不畏罪法，則丘墓（抽）〔抇〕矣。孔子睹微見著，故徑庭麗級，以救患直 諫。夫不明死人無知之義，而著丘墓必（抽）〔抇〕之諫，雖盡比干之執人，人必不聽。何則？諸侯財多不憂貧，威彊不懼（抽）〔抇〕。
Chapter XXXV. Simplicity of Funerals (Po-tsang).
Sages and Worthies all are agreed in advocating simplicity of funerals and economy of expenses, but the world sets high store on expensive funerals, and there are many that do amiss by their extravagance and lavishness. The reason is that the discussions of Confucianists on this subject are not clear, and that the arguments put forward by the Mêhists are wrong. As to the latter, the Mêhists contend that men, after their death become ghosts and spirits, possess knowledge, can assume a shape, and injure people. As instances they adduce Earl Tu and others. 1 The Confucianists do not agree with them, maintaining that the dead are unconscious, and cannot be changed into ghosts. 2 If they contribute to the sacrifices and prepare the other funeral requisites nevertheless, they desire to intimate that they are not ungrateful to the deceased, and therefore treat them as though they were alive.
Lu Chia speaks like the Confucianists and, whatever he says, avoids giving a distinct answer. Liu Tse Chêng wrote a memorial on the simplicity of funerals, pleading for economy, but he did not exhaust the subject.
Thus ordinary people, on the one side, have these very doubtful arguments, and, on the other, they hear of Earl Tu3 and the like, and note that the dead in their tombs arrise and have intercourse with sick people whose end is near. They, then, believe in this, and imagine that the dead are like the living. They commiserate them that in their graves they are so lonely, that their souls are so solitary and without companions, that their tombs and mounds are closed and devoid of grain and other things.
Therefore they make dummies to serve the corpses in their coffins, and fill the latter with eatables, to gratify the spirits. This custom has become so inveterate, and has gone to such lengths, that very often people will ruin their families and use up all their property for the coffins of the dead. 4 They even kill people to follow the deceased into their graves, 5 and all this out of regard for the prejudices of the living. They ignore that in reality it is of no use, but their extravagance is eagerly imitated by others. In their belief, the dead are conscious and do not distinguish themselves from the living.
Confucius condemned these practices, but could not establish the truth, and Lu Chia, in his essay, does not adopt either alternative. The memorial of Liu Tse Chêng does not do much to elucidate the assertion of the Confucianists that the dead are unconscious, or the arguments of the Mêhists to the effect that they are conscious. The subject not being borne out by proofs, and the question not being settled by evidence, there is nothing but empty words and futile talk, and even the views of the most honest people do not find credence. Therefore, the public remains wavering and ignorant, and those who believe in a lucky and unlucky destiny, dread the dead, but do not fear justice; make much of the departed, and do not care for the living. They clear their house of everything for the sake of a funeral procession.
Provided that the disputants and men of letters have proofs such as Earl Tu adduced by the Mêhists, then the truth that the dead are unconscious can be borne out, and the advice to be economical and not to squander too much money on burials, be substantiated. Now the Mêhists say that the Confucianists are wrong, and the Confucianists think the same of the Mêhists. Since they both have their different tenets, there is such a discrepancy of opinions, and a consensus so difficult to be attained.
In this dispute of the two schools, the problem of life and death has not yet been solved, nobody having ever been resuscitated by sacrifices. As a matter of fact, the dead are hidden from our view, being dissolved and belonging to another sphere than the living, and it is almost impossible to have a clear conception of them. Unless, however, their state of consciousness or unconsciousness be ascertained, the true nature of ghosts cannot be determined. Even men of great learning and able scholars may be unfit to discover the truth, though they avail themselves of all the old and modern literature, plunging into the works of the various schools of thought, and perusing them page after page and paragraph after paragraph.
To attain this aim there must first be a holy heart and a sage mind, and then experience and analogies are to be resorted to. If anybody in his reasoning does not use the greatest care and discernment, taking his evidence indiscriminately from without, and thus establishing right and wrong, he believes in what he has heard or seen from others, and does not test it in his mind. That would be reasoning with ears and eyes, and not with the heart and intellect. This reasoning with ears and eyes conduces to empty semblances, and if empty semblances be used as proofs, then real things pass for fictions. Ergo, right and wrong are independent of eyes and ears, and require the use of the intellect.
The Mêhists, in their investigations, do not inquire into things with their mind, but thoughtlessly believe the reports of others. Consequently, they fail to find the truth in spite of the plainness of their proofs. An opinion incompatible with truth, however, is not apt to be imparted to others, for though they may have the sympathies of illiterate people, they do not find favour with the learned. It is owing to this that the maxim of the Mêhists that all expenses for the various things employed at funerals are unprofitable does not gain ground.
A man of Lu was going to put cat's-eyes 6 into a coffin. Confucius, upon hearing of it, went across the court-yard, passed over the steps (of the hall), and remonstrated; this was a breach of etiquette. The intention of Confucius was to avert a calamity. 7 Calamities very often originate from covetousness. Cat's-eyes are precious stones; when the man of Lu put them into the coffin, wicked people spied it out, and their greed was roused. The desires of wicked people having been excited, they do not fear laws or penalties, and break tombs open. Confucius, from some insignificant indications, foresaw this result, therefore he crossed the court, ascended the steps (of the hall), and, in order to avert this calamity, straightforth made his remonstrance. But since he did not show that the dead are deprived of consciousness, barely limiting himself to a remonstrance, on the ground that the grave might be violated, people would not have listened to him, even though he had possessed the same influence on mankind as Pi Kan. Why? Because the wealth of the feudatory lords was so great, that they were not apprehensive of poverty, 8 and their power so strong, that they did not fear a desecration of their graves.
Thus, the doubts concerning the dead were not solved, and for a dutiful son the best plan was to follow the advice imposing upon him the heaviest obligations. Had it been plainly shown that the dead have no knowledge, and that sumptuous burials are of no advantage, the discussion would have been closed, and the question settled, and after it had been made public, the custom of using cat's-eyes would have been abandoned, and there would have been no occasion for crossing the court-yard and remonstrating. Now, the problem was not solved, and barely a strong protest made. That is the reason why Confucius could not carry through his doctrine.
Confucius perfectly well understood the true condition of life and death, and his motive in not making a clear distinction is the same which appears from Lu Chia's words. If he had said that the dead are unconscious, sons and subjects might perhaps have violated their duties to their father and sovereign. Therefore they say that the ceremony of funeral sacrifices being abolished, the love of sons and subjects would decrease; if they had decreased, these persons would slight the dead and forget the deceased, and, under these circumstances, the cases of undutiful sons would multiply. Being afraid that he might open such a source of impiety, the Sage was reluctant to speak the truth about the unconsciousness of the dead.
However, different spheres must not be confounded. The care taken in abundantly providing for the wants of the living leads to moral perfection, but how does carelessness about the dead interfere with it? If the dead possess knowledge, then a disregard might have evil consequences, but if they are unconscious, a neglect cannot cause any injury. The conviction of their unconsciousness does not necessarily lead to an ill-treatment of the dead, whereas the ignorance of this fact involves the living in ruinous expense.
A dutiful son nursing a sick parent before his death, calls in the diviners and requests the services of physicians with the hope that the malady may be expelled, and the medicines prove efficacious. But, after the death of his parent, nobody---be he as wise as Wu Hsien,9 or as clever as Pien Ch`io---can bring him back to life again, well knowing that, when, by death, the vital fluid is destroyed, there is absolutely no help, and no treatment whatever would be of any benefit to the dead. Is there any great difference in an expensive funeral? By supineness with regard to the deceased, people fear to violate the moral laws, but would it not likewise be an impiety to dismiss the diviners and keep the physicians from the dead?
As long as a parent is alive, he takes an elevated seat in the hall, but, after death, when buried, stays under the yellow springs. 10 No human being lives under the yellow springs, yet those burying the dead have not the slightest scruples about it, because the dead inhabit quite a different region, and cannot live together with the living. If they were to be taken care of like living people, and supposed to take offence, they ought to be buried in their house and be close to the living. Those ignorant of the unconsciousness of the dead, are afraid that people might offend against their parents. They only know that, having been buried, they live under the yellow springs, but do not think of the separation from their ancestors. 11
When a parent is in jail, and his case still pending, a dutiful son hurries about, to rescue him from this danger, but after the case has been tried, and a penalty has been fixed, there is no escape left, and even a Tsêng Tse or a Min Tse Ch`ien12 could do nothing but sit down and weep. All schemes would be in vain and lead to useless trouble. Now, the souls of deceased parents decidedly have no consciousness, and are in a similar position to imprisoned parents who cannot be rescued from their punishment. Those who ignore the unconsciousness, apprehend lest people should show a disregard for their ancestors, but do not take exception that, when punishment is settled, parents are abandoned.
When a sage has established a law furthering progress, even if it be of no great consequence, it should not be neglected; but if something is not beneficial to the administration, it should not be made use of in spite of its grandeur. Now, how does all the care bestowed on the dead benefit mutual good feeling, and how could any disregard or neglect violate any law?
Confucius further said that "spirit vessels" are not substantial, but merely symbolical and imaginary. Therefore puppets are made to resemble men, and effigies like living persons. In Lu they used dummies for burials. Confucius sighed, seeing in this custom an indication that living men would be interred together with the dead. 13 This sigh was an expression of grief, and if (at funerals) things had to be used as if for the living, he warned against an overstraining of this principle. Dummies being buried, it was to be feared that later on, living men might be forced to accompany the dead, 14 but why did Confucius not consider the possibility that for "spirit vessels," real vessels might be placed in the graves in future? 15 He obviated human sacrifices, but did nothing to prohibit the use of funeral gifts. He valued human life so much, that he was afraid of wasting it, and he felt pity for the individual but no sympathy for the State. 16 In this his reasoning was wrong.
In order to prevent the water from leaking out, one must stop all the holes, then the leakage ceases. Unless all the holes be stopped, the water finds an outlet, and having an outlet, it causes damage. Unless the discussion on death be exhaustive, these extravagant customs are not stopped, and while they are going on, all sorts of things are required for burials. These expenses impoverish the people, who by their lavishness bring themselves into the greatest straits.
When Su Ch`in was envoy of Yen, the people of Ch`i were in the habit of erecting enormous sepulchres, filled with heaps of valuables. Su Ch`in personally did nothing to incite them. When all their wealth was gone, and the people greedy for money, the exchequer empty, and the army good for nothing, the troops of Yen suddenly arrived. Ch`i was unable to stand its ground:---the State was ruined, the cities fell, the sovereign left his country, and his subjects dispersed. 17 Now, as long as people are in the dark, regarding the unconsciousness of the dead, they will spend all their money for the sumptuous burial of a parent, and be ruined in the same manner as Ch`i was by the cunning of Su Ch`in.
The device of the Mêhists is self-contradictory:---on the one side, they advocate a simple burial, and on the other, they honour ghosts. To justify this veneration, they refer to Earl Tu, who was a dead man. If Earl Tu be deemed a ghost, then all the dead really possess knowledge, and if they do, they would be incensed at the shabbiness of their burials.
There is a general craving for luxuriance and a strong aversion to paucity. What advantage, therefore, would the veneration of ghosts bring to those guilty of mean burials? Provided that ghosts be not dead men, then the belief in Earl Tu is preposterous, if, however, ghosts be dead men, then a mean burial would not be proper. Thus theory and practice of the Mêhists are inconsistent, head and tail do not agree, and it cannot but be wrong. But right and wrong not being understood, cannot be practised. Therefore the public should carefully consider what has been written, and having done so, they may bury their dead in a simple style. 18
1. These arguments of the Mêhists are refuted in Vol. I, chap. XV.
2. This is Wang Ch`ung's opinion at least.
3. Cf. Vol. I, p. 202, Note 2.
4. A practice still prevailing in our time.
6. . Ed. A writes .
7. We learn from the "Family Sayings" that, when a member of the Chi family had died, they were going to put cat's-eyes into his coffin, as is customary for princes, and to bestow pearls and jade upon him. Confucius, just then governor of Chung-tu, hearing of it, ascended the steps and interfered saying, "To inter a man with precious stones is like exposing a corpse in the open plain, and thus affording people an opportunity of gratifying their wicked designs." Chia-yü IX, 16r.On the old custom of filling the mouths of deceased princes with jade and other precious objects see De Groot, Religious System Vol. I, p. 269 seq.
8. They could afford to put precious things into the grave.
9. Or the diviner Hsien , who lived under the Yin dynasty and is mentioned in the Preface of the Shuking. Cf. Chavannes, Mêm. Hist. Vol. I, p. 191, Note 1.
10. In Hades.
11. Therefore they treat them, as if they were still alive and together with the living.
12. Two prominent disciples of Confucius.
13. Cf. Liki, T`an-kung p. 52r. (Legge, Sacred Books Vol. XXVII, p. 173.)
14. This was not likely, for, historically speaking, human sacrifices precede, but do not follow the use of dummies buried together with the dead.
15. Real vessels are, likewise, antecedent to the so called "spirit vessels," made of straw or clay, and merely symbolical and commemorative of an ancient custom that had fallen into desuetude.
16. The State became impoverished by extravagant funerals.
17. Cf. p. 47.
18. De Groot in his Religious System Vol. II, p. 659 speaks at great length of the reaction against expensive funerals, but does not mention Wang Ch`ung as an advocate of economy. He calls attention to two chapters of the Lü-shih-ch`un-ch`iu, recommending simplicity in burials, and to the disquisitions of Wang Fu of the 2nd cent. a.d. Later on, Chu Hsi was in favour of plain funerals, but the exaggerated ideas on filial piety have counteracted all reasonable arguments.
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|Published by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, © Copyright 2003 by Anne Kinney and the University of Virginia|