The Wisdom of Inclusiveness

November 16, 2010 at 1:07 am | Posted in Asia, Culture, Discussion, Life Lessons, Moments from History, Reflections, Stories from China | Leave a comment

By Zhizhen

(Clearwisdom.net) Sages and men of virtue throughout China’s history of numerous dynasties have honored the spirit of inclusiveness. There are good examples of it in traditional Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Lao Zi said that a person with great virtue is able to be all encompassing and is compatible with the “Great Way,” whereas the models of great virtue are “Tao.” Lao Zi also said that the reason why great rivers and oceans are broad and deep is that they seek the lowest level so as to take in all the water from streams and creeks. Confucius said, “If you are compassionate, you win people’s hearts.” There was a saying in the book of Shang, an ancient official book of history, “If there is a capacity, it’s called great.”

“Great” land, “great” mountain, “great” river, and “great “ocean–the word “great” in these instances conveys a quality of extreme depth and compatibility. There are the following sayings in Buddhism: “One thought changes the atmosphere,” “gratitude is always in the mind,” “solving problems with compassion,” and “the spirit of inclusiveness.” To include everything, one must have a compassionate mind. The more broadminded one is, the greater the world one encompasses.

To be all encompassing is a virtue. Humility is one aspect of it. Because of their different characters and personalities, people have different perspectives on things and judge things differently. Back in the old days, sages and men of virtue respected others’ perspectives. They thought of others first when they encountered anything, leaving respected role models for later generations.

Take the dynasty of Western Zhou, for instance. The Duke of Zhou, while assisting King Cheng of Western Zhou, exerted himself with vigorous effort to make the nation prosperous. Desperately seeking righteous intellectuals, many answered his call. He was so busy that he didn’t even have time to dry his long hair after washing it. He had to stop several times while dining so as to not ignore his guests. He often advised his son, Boqin, “King Cheng asked you administer the state of Lu, so you have to abide by the principles of humility and respect! You must know the principle of heaven that anyone with pride and prejudice will lose and that humble people will benefit. Everyone respects humility; nobody respects arrogance and prejudice!”

Take another example, like emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty who accepted advice with a humble attitude. He accepted advice with humility while seeking it broadly. He wasn’t satisfied until he heard about his wrongdoings. He collected wisdom from the world over, enabling him to succeed in what was called a “perfect government ” that ruled a strong and prosperous country.

Inclusiveness helps others with education and persuasion, a kind of “loving care and concern.” Take Yang Zhu of the Ming Dynasty, for instance. One night he dreamed that he was walking around in a garden and he casually picked two plums to eat from a tree. After waking up, he scolded himself, “It was because I didn’t understand enough about righteousness and profit that I stole the plums in the dream!” From then on, he focused more on cultivating his mind. Whenever it rained, one of his neighbors would channel dirty water from his own yard into Yang Zhu’s yard. When Yang Zhu’s family told him this, he advised his family members, “There are more sunny days than rainy days.” When his neighbor heard this, he was quite moved by Yang Zhu’s forbearance.

When Yang Zhu was the minister of the Protocol Department, three feet of his land was taken by his neighbor. His family quarreled with the neighbor about it and hoped that Yang Zhu would intervene, but Yang Zhu laughed it off and wrote a poem about it, “Do not fight for the small piece of land that I have; One wall can be shared by both families; all the land in society belongs to our King; I wouldn’t mind if you took another three feet.” Yang Zhu gave precedence to his neighbor out of courtesy, and his humility and demeanor helped to change his neighbor’s thinking. This led him to give up the fight and also to let go of three feet of his own property to make a six-foot alley possible. This story has been passed on from generation to generation in China.

Inclusiveness is an aspect of compassion, bringing people closer together and improving the relationships between them. There’s an old saying, “People with great morality (virtue) can carry a big mission and responsibility.” This is because such people are unselfish and reliable. In other words, the greater the moral value, the greater the power of inclusion will be, the more all encompassing. People with a high moral standard will not be influenced by desire for profit and are more willing to help and care for others because they are more compassionate and inclusive.

 

Posting date: 5/31/2010
Category: Traditional Culture
Chinese version available at http://minghui.ca/mh/articles/2010/5/4/222796.html

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