Discussions On “Time” from the Past

July 8, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Posted in Culture, Discussion, Good Advice, Moments from History, Reflections, Relevance to Today | 2 Comments
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(Clearwisdom.net) An old saying about the preciousness of time goes like this, “A sage would not care for a foot-long piece of jade, but would value an inch of time.” One’s life is composed of countless moments. One moment is short, but moments add up to eternity. It was said in New Account of Tales: Public Affairs that even a sage like Da Yu valued every moment of time, and thus an ordinary person should value time even more.

Confucius said, “If one hears the Tao in the morning, he can die in the evening with no regret.” If one lives his entire life not knowing what he is doing and does not hear the truth, then he would waste an entire lifetime. On the other hand, if one continues to seek the truth and eventually hears the Tao, then he would not regret it even if he dies. This is saying that one should feel the urgency of pursuing the truth. If one stops learning and thinking, and stops pursuing the truth, then his life would become meaningless. The value of one’s life is to study the Tao and pursue the truth. Confucius also said, “Without recognizing the ordinances of Heaven, it is impossible to be a superior man. Without an acquaintance with manners, it is impossible for the character to be established. Without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know men.”

There are so many things that one needs to learn. One should know the Tao of the heavens, humans, and the world; one should know how to settle down to take care of self and family; one should know the proper conduct and the rules, understand the world, and correctly analyze and follow nature’s rules and the ways of the world. Only by doing so could one become a person of good personality, high ambition, and optimistic attitude toward life. If he is poor, he can still insist on his moral character, and if he is rich, then he will share it and help the rest of the world.

In order to cultivate one’s moral character and bear great responsibilities, one must be diligent in studying and treasure the time for it. Confucius said as he was standing by the water, “It (time) passes just like this (the flow of water), day and night.” This has become a famous saying because so many people feel the same way. Confucius himself really valued time. He was always learning, and sometimes even forgot to sleep or eat. He said, “Studying is like chasing something and one would be afraid of not being able to get it; but once gotten, he would be afraid of losing it.” “One studies so hard that he would forget to eat; one is happy about learning that he doesn’t even realize that he is aging.”

Xun Zi said, “There is never an end to learning.” “I used to think all day, but what I gained was less than what I could learn in an instant if I studied; I used to stand on my toes to look far away, but what I saw was far less than if I was standing in an elevated place.” “If one doesn’t take steps, there is no way he will reach 1000 miles; if there are no small streams, then big rivers and oceans would not be accumulated [from them].” Xun Zi believed that for one’s spiritual cultivation, there is nothing better than being influenced by great moral characters. If one doesn’t have a selfish mind when confronted with a stronger force, doesn’t get swayed just because one side has a lot of people, and nothing can shake his belief, then this is a person with virtue and ethics. A noble man should not stop pursuing the Tao of the sages, and learning needs to be accumulated over time. Zhuang Zi has also said, “There will be an end to my life, but there is no end to learning.” There is always more to learn.

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