Four Things That Endanger a Society

September 30, 2013 at 10:00 am | Posted in Asia, Culture, Discoveries, Discussion, Good Advice, Moments from History, Reflections, Relevance to Today, Stories from China | Leave a comment
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September 18, 2013 | By Li Qing

Around 2,400 years ago, about 10 nations coexisted in China, and each had its own king. One day, King Hui of the Wei Nation invited the other kings to his magnificent palace for a feast. Among them was King Gong of the Lu Nation (the nation where Confucius was from). When King Hui proposed a toast, King Gong told a story about the factors that lead to a nation’s destruction:

“Yidi was good at making wine, and she once gave some to King Yu, who tasted it and liked it very much. Nonetheless, from then on, King Yu abstained from wine and distanced himself from Yidi. Yu said, ‘I know some kings in the future will ruin their nations for greed for good wine.’

“When King Huan of the Qi Nation felt hungry one night, renowned cook Yi Ya prepared a delicious meal for him. King Huan really liked it and ate a lot, which made it difficult for him to wake up the next morning. King Huan then said, ‘Some kings in the future will lose their nations over their fondness for delicious food.’

“After King Wen of the Jin Nation obtained the beautiful Nan Zhiwei, he indulged himself in sensuous pleasure for three days before returning to his work on national affairs. He thus sent Nan away and said, ‘Future kings will ruin their nations for over indulging sensuously in beauty.’

“When King Zhao went up a tower to view the scenery surrounding his kingdom, he was deeply impressed by the great mountains and rivers. He was so impressed that he almost forgot everything else. He thus promised to never again forget his duties and warned others: ‘Someone in the future will lose his nation after exerting too much effort in building grand structures and being too moved by beautiful scenes.’

King Gong then concluded that any one of the four indulgences from the story could lead a nation to destruction. During this feast, however, King Hui had gathered all four types of pleasure, which could be an alerting sign.

King Hui heard these words and wholeheartedly agreed with King Gong.

Using History as a Guide

The story offers insight into the many examples of this kind from history. The Zhou, Shang, Qin, and Sui Dynasties all came to an end as a result of over-indulgences by their rulers. When kings have recklessly sought for physiological or material pleasure, they’ve doomed themselves for destruction.

Similar things are also taking place in contemporary China. Especially over the past two decades, seeking material pleasure has become a stronger and more accepted trend. Government officials now go all out in the pursuit of self interest. Officials in all spheres of society openly accept bribes at the demise of society’s well-being. Mass food consumption and untended waste from public works projects are skyrocketing at unprecedented levels. Prostitution, including the exploitation of under-aged young girls, is now commonplace. Moral degeneration on the whole has reached an unprecedented level.

After recognizing the communist regime’s corruption and inevitable deterioration, especially through reading the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party nearly 140 million people have publicly declared their intentions to quit the Chinese Communist Party and its affiliated organizations. Such an occurrence is an encouraging sign for China and the rest of the world.

Chinese version available

CATEGORY: Traditional Art and Culture

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Sun Simiao and His Cultivation Theory Related to Health

August 25, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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January 16, 2010 | By Shanxing

( Sun Simiao, who is also called China’s King of Medicine and Heavenly Doctor Sun, was a famous doctor in Chinese history. He also practiced preserving health through qigong. Sun was born during the Western Wei Dynasty. Legend has it that he lived for 141 years. Sun decided to learn medicine because when he was young, he often got sick. He was versed in the Chinese classics and history, as well as the thoughts of a hundred schools. He could “memorize thousands of sentences each day” at age seven. For his skill of memorizing a daily article of over one thousand words, he was praised as a “sacred child.” At age 20 he could expertly discuss the theories of Lao Zi and Zhuang Zi, and was also good at the Buddhist classics. Sun refused to become a government official during the Sui and Tang Dynasties. Tang Dynasty Emperor Li Shimin personally visited him.

Sun Simiao made a name for himself for having summarized the clinical experiences and medical theories prior to the Tang Dynasty and compiled them into two renowned medical books, Qian Jin Yao Fang (Prescriptions Worth a Thousand Liang of Gold) and Qian Jin Yi Fang (Supplement to Prescriptions Worth a Thousand Liang of Gold).

1. Sun Simiao’s books passed onto future generations

Sun Simiao authored over 80 books in his lifetime. Besides Qian Jin Yao Fang and Qian Jin Yi Fang (mentioned above), he also wrote Lao Zi Zhu (Notes to Lao Zi), Zhuang Zi Zhu (Notes to Zhuang Zi), one volume of Zhen Zhong Su Shu (Book on the Bed), one volume of Hui San Jiao Lun, three volumes of Fu Lu Lun (On Fortunes and Happiness), one volume of She Sheng Zhen Lun (Advice on Health Cultivation), one volume of Gui Jing (Canon of the Tortoise), and others.

Qian Jin Yao Fang consists of 30 volumes and covers 232 medical subjects. Sun Simiao believed: “A human life is extremely precious; more valuable than one thousand liang [an ancient Chinese unit of weight] of gold.” Because of this belief he titled his book with the two characters “Qian Jin,” which means one thousand liang of gold. The entire book collected 5,300 prescriptions, covering a wide range that is rich in content. It is a colossal work, representative of medical science during the Tang Dynasty. It had a great impact on and made significant contributions to medical developments, especially prescriptions for later generations. The scholarly text also made contributions to medical advancements in Japan and Korea.

Qian Jin Yi Fang also consists of 30 volumes. Sun Simiao wrote it in the later stages of his life. It is a comprehensive supplement to Qian Jin Yao Fang. He divided the entire book of Qian Jin Yi Fang into 189 subjects, covering over 2,900 prescriptions. It describes over 800 medicinal drugs and provides effective ways for treating especially febrile diseases, strokes, miscellaneous diseases, acne, and carbuncles.

2. Sun Simiao’s medical ethics and further contributions to medicine

Sun Simiao expressed his belief that medicine is an art of kindness. In his book Da Yi Jing Chen (Sincerity and Devotion of Great Doctors), he wrote: “When a great doctor treats a patient, he must concentrate himself, calm down, and be free of desires and pursuits. He first needs to have a compassionate heart to devote himself to freeing the patients from the suffering of illnesses. If patients come for treatment, whether they are of high or low social status, rich or poor, elderly or young, beautiful or ugly, enemies or relatives, the Han race or other ethic groups, intelligent or unintelligent, the doctor should treat them the same as if they were all the doctors’ dear ones…”

This short paragraph is a clear representation of Sun Simiao’s noble character as a doctor.

He adopted a holistic approach to treating illnesses. He believed that by skillful nursing and recuperating successfully, one can be free of illnesses. As long as “a good doctor treats the illnesses with prescriptions and acupuncture, the patient’s illness will be curable and disasterson the earthwill be avoidable.” He stressed medical ethics and treated all patients the same. As already stated above, he declared, “a human life is precious, and more valuable than one thousand liang of gold.”

Sun Simiao also paid great attention to gynecology and pediatrics. He authored three volumes of Fu Ren Fang (Gynecology) and two volumes of Shao Xiao Ying Ru Fang (Pediatrics), which were placed on top of Qian Jin Yao Fang.

Qian Jin Yao Fang is the earliest encyclopedia on medical subjects in China. It covers a broad range of categories–from basic medical theories to different clinical subjects, and from theories and methodologies to prescription formulas and drugs. The book covers materials from the classics in one segment, while another category includes the empirical formulas and prescriptions that were circulated among the populace. This book included the strong points of different schools and is suitable for people from different educational backgrounds. It is popular even today.

Much of the book’s content still plays a guiding role, making it of great scientific value. It is indeed an asset for traditional Chinese medicine.

As already stated, Qian Jin Yao Fang has made great contributions to the development of prescription formulas. By summarizing the clinical experiences from the era of Zhang Zhongjing [a famous doctor in the Han Dynasty] to that of Sun Simiao and the achievements in prescription formulas over the previous several hundred years, it demonstrated Sun Simiao’s profound medical knowledge and extraordinary medical skills. Future generations have called Qian Jin Fang–the two books of Qian Jin Yao Fang and Qian Jin Yi Fang–the ancestor of prescription formulas.

Sun Simiao valued preserving health and actively practiced it. Because he was good at the art of cultivating health, he lived to over 100 and still enjoyed good vision and hearing when he was old. He combined ideas on the preservation of health from Confucianism and Taoism, as well as from ancient India, with those of traditional Chinese medicine. He proposed many practical and effective ways to cultivate good health, which, even now, guide people’s daily lives. For example: “One should keep a balanced mindset and not solely pursue recognition and self-interest. Be constrained in food intake, and do not eat or drink too much. Pay attention to the circulation of Qi and blood and do not be lazy and motionless. Live a regular daily life and do not violate the law of the nature…”

Sun Simiao was also the first to invent a urethral catheter. According to historical records, one of his patients could not pass urine. Seeing that the patient was in extreme pain, Sun thought, “It is already too late to treat him with medicine. If there was a way to insert a tube into his urethra, the urine could perhaps flow out naturally.” He saw a neighbor’s child at play blowing on a green onion stem. The green onion stem was very thin, long, and soft. Sun decided to use such a tube and gave it a try. Having chosen a suitable green onion stem, he charred it gently, cut the sharp end off, and then carefully inserted it into the patient’s urethra. He then blew into the tube once. As expected, the urine flowed out of the tube. The patient’s bloated abdomen gradually became smaller, and the patient’s illness was also cured.

By cultivating morality and the body with virtue and by having both virtue and talent, Sun Simiao became a great figure whom common people and medical professionals for several generations have highly respected.

December 24, 2009

Honor Heaven and Understand One’s Responsibility, Follow the Dao That Guides One’s Behavior

August 5, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Posted in Children's Stories, Discussion, Good Advice, Life Lessons, Moments from History, Reflections, Relevance to Today, Stories from China | Leave a comment
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( The ancient Chinese honored and respected heaven’s will. They believed that when one is attuned to heaven’s will one can understand human affairs and act righteously. The ancients observed, studied, and hypothesized about the movement, changes, and rules that govern the universe and nature. The findings allowed them to understand the ever-evolving human society and the rules that govern mankind’s existence. Based on that, they deduced that the principles of moral conduct should harmonize with heaven and earth and prevent one from deviating from the righteous path.

According to Shi Ji (Records of the Grand Historian), there lived a virtuous court official, Sima Jizhu, in the kingdom of Chu. He studied in Chang An, an ancient capital of China during the Han, Sui, and Tang dynasties and now called Xi’an. He was well versed in The Book of Changes and the teachings of the Yellow Emperor and Lao Zi. Besides that, he was highly educated and had great foresight. One time, court officials Song Zhong and Jia Yi paid a visit to Sima Jizhu to ask his thoughts on human affairs. At the time, Sima Jizhu was having a discussion with three students. When they noticed Song Zhong and Jia Yi, they invited them to join the discussion. Song Zhong and Jia Yi responded that they only wished to listen. Sima Jizhu continued to talk about the movements of heaven and earth, the sun and the moon, and their relationship to benevolence and righteousness, as well as the good and the bad omens. Everything was explained in an organized and logical manner. Song Zhong and Jia Yi both listened attentively and with great respect.

Sima Jizhu continued, “A gentleman is straightforward when offering good advice and does not expect to be repaid when giving praise. He kindly and honestly points out other’s mistakes, keeping the nation’s and people’s well-being in mind. A genuinely virtuous person will not accept a government position if he does not think he can it perform well, nor will he take a salary that exceeds his efforts. He is not ecstatic when offered a position, nor is he worried about losing his job; the key is that he does things conscientiously. On the other hand, a wicked person who is hungry for power uses his authority to threaten others. He uses the law as a tool to force out the righteous person and exploits the common people. He will do anything for personal gain, and that is despicable. A wicked official does not enforce the law to prevent robberies, does not take care of and reform the neighboring tribes when they do not surrender, and doesn’t stop other wicked ones from uprising and obstructing the path of the sages. All kinds of disasters occur as a result of degenerated moral values.”

Song Zhong and Jia Yi were impressed and humbled by Sima Jizhu’s speech and commented, “It is true that good moral values lead to peace, whereas power and force lead to danger. One should learn and follow the laws of heaven in one’s activities, and become a righteous instead of a wicked person who caters to the powerful.”

After the fall of the Qin Dynasty, the Marquis of Dongling was relegated to the level of a common person. One day he visited Sima Jizhu to talk about his future. Sima Jizhu asked, “What do you want to know about your future?” Marquis of Dongling replied, “I’ve heard that when a bothersome smell becomes strong, it needs to be aired; when the temperature gets too hot, the wind will blow; and what is congested needs to be aired. From winter to spring, what is curled up will be extended. Things rise and fall, and they come and go. However, I still have doubts and would like to hear your advice.” Sima Jizhu said, “You seem to understand the principles, then why do you need me to talk about your future?” Marquis of Dongling replied, “I don’t seem to thoroughly understand the profound meanings of what I have heard and hope you can guide me.” Sima Jizhu responded, “Who does the heavenly law favor? It favors those who are virtuous. When a virtuous person conducts himself according to heavenly law and does things to benefit the common people, the gods will help him. From dusk till dawn, flowers wilt and bloom; winter leaves and spring arrives; all things wane and will be reborn. There is always a calm and deep pool at the end of the rapid river water. There must be a deep canyon underneath the high mountain ridge. There is cause and effect, and all matters are predestined. When a person cultivates to become virtuous, good manners and etiquette will follow.”

Ancient Chinese have believed and followed the principle of “man and heaven are one.” They knew that there was a direct relationship between cosmic changes and changes in human affairs, and that good deeds will be rewarded and bad deeds will receive retribution. Therefore, they placed great importance on elevating their moral standards. However, the Chinese Communist Party has acted against heaven’s will and done things that are against the laws of heaven and earth, morality, and the cosmic law, thus, creating countless tragedies. Their actions will not be tolerated by the heavenly principles.


Gao-yao’s Idea of Nine Virtues

July 14, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Posted in Children's Stories, Culture, Discussion, Good Advice, Life Lessons, Moments from History, Reflections, Relevance to Today, Stories from China | 1 Comment
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( Confucius once said: “When Shun was the emperor, he selected Gao-yao to serve a very important position, and the evil people stayed far away.” (Analects of Confucius. “Duke Wen of Teng,” part I). According to history books, Gao-yao was in charge of the judicial system in Shun’s time. He enforced the law with fairness and care. As a result, there were no unjust cases. He paid great attention to enlightenment and education and established rules for ceremonies and music.

Gao-yao was born in Gao Cheng (Liu’an City, Anhui Province). He was the official who oversaw the judicial system. Together with Emperors Yao, Shun and Yu, he is considered one of the “Four Sages of Ancient China.” Gao-yao believed that heaven created everything on earth and gave people benevolent and virtuous characteristics. Therefore, people need to follow heaven’s arrangements. It’s a person’s sacred duty to maintain benevolent characteristics. He also proposed the ideas of “Heaven graciously distinguishes the virtuous. Heaven punishes the guilty. Sages display nine virtues in their conduct.”

Gao-yao’s idea of nine virtues includes the following character traits: broadminded and prudent; mild-tempered and has own opinion; modest and serious; capable and cautious; good at listening to others’ opinions and decisive; upright and gentle; direct and detail-oriented; conscientious and down-to-earth; strong and righteous.

Additionally, Gao-yao suggested to Emperor Yu a strategy of how to manage a country well. The emperor should be strict with himself in personal cultivation. The emperor serves as a role model and thus people will follow and respect the emperor. If the emperor cannot act with kindness and righteousness, people will not abide by the laws and rules, even if a country has them. The emperor should know how to choose the right officials. Only after he places the right people in each position, can those officials serve the people well. The emperor should respect his people and provide safety and prosperity for them. People’s stability and prosperity reflect an emperor’s kindness.

(From Minghui Weekly Overseas Version)


Ancient Chinese Parenting Philosophy: Emphasis on Virtue and Moral Behavior

May 4, 2012 at 12:50 am | Posted in Good Advice, Life Lessons, Moments from History, Reflections, Relevance to Today, Stories from China | Leave a comment
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( Ancient Chinese people placed great emphasis on family manners and the cultivation of discipline and virtue. Following the principles of Benevolence, Righteousness, Courtesy, Wisdom, and Credit, the basic values in ancient Chinese culture, ancient Chinese people cherished the philosophy of cultivation of virtue and moral behavior in their parenting ways, and regarded it as the dogma of family discipline. Ancient saints and sages showed great compassion and care for their children, but they were very strict with their children too. In this way, they educated their children to follow good advice from others and thus lead a righteous life without regret. The ancient Chinese parenting method is of great value to us today. The following are some examples.

Confucius Teaching His Son to Learn Book of Songs and Classic of Rites

Teacher Confucius’s Profile while Teaching (By Wu Daozi/Tang Dynasty)

Confucius was a great thinker and educator. It is said that he had more than 3,000 students. In Lunyu, there is a story about one of his students Chen Kang and his son Kong Li. Kang asked Li: “Have you heard special things from Teacher?” Li said: “No. Once, Father was standing in the yard alone. I walked to him. He asked me: ‘Have you studied Book of Songs yet?’ I replied: ‘No.’ So he said: ‘You have no grounds to say anything if you haven’t studied it yet.’ Therefore, I hurried back to study it. Another time, I met Father. He was standing alone. I walked to him. He asked me: ‘Have you studied Classic of Rites yet?’ I replied: ‘No.’ So he said to me: ‘You have no ground to stand on if you haven’t studied it yet.’ So I hurried back to study it. I have only heard these two things. Nothing else special.” After hearing this, Kang was very happy. He said: “I only asked one question, but I have learned three things. I know the importance of studying Book of Songs and Classic of Rites, and I learned that Teacher treats everyone the same.”

Indeed, Book of Songs and Classic of Rites are among the fundamentals of Confucius’s teachings. Confucius said: “Poetry can express one’s thoughts, poems can express one’s ambition and songs can chant one’s words.” He believed that using art and literature as vivid teaching materials was more effective than preaching. It is said that Book of Songs has 305 pieces in total, which were all compiled and edited by Confucius. Most of the pieces are about cultivation, following good ethics, and the will of Heaven, with which Confucius believed that the cultivation of one’s morality should start and which could build one’s insight. In addition, one can learn a lot about history, nature and sociology through reading them. He said: “Prosperous from Book of Songs, sustaining from Classic of Rites, and successful from Classic of Music.” When he talked about rites, he actually meant moral behavior and virtue. Education starts from teaching students moral behavior and virtue. From practice, one can cultivate morality and discipline. Therefore, it can lay the foundation for one’s future development.

Confucius treated his son in the same way he treated his other students in terms of studying Book of Songs and Classic of Rites. He used the same standard and never lowered the bar for his son, Kong Li, from which we can see he treated everyone equally and had high expectations for his son and his other students. Intellectuals from Confucius’s time always regarded his parenting method of Book of Songs and Classic of Rites as family legacy.

Yan Zhitui and “The Principles of Yan’s Family”


“The Principles of Yan’s Family”

Yan Zhitui was a scholar and educator in the Northern and Southern Dynasties. He was born into gentry and was influenced by the Confucian ethical code of etiquette. He believed in divine beings and in cause and effect. “The Principles of the Yan Family” is a summary of his life and scholarly pursuits and advice to his sons. The book was later regarded as a guide for family education, and became very influential. There are twenty chapters in this work, each covering a wide range of content with an emphasis on cultivating moral character and virtue. It promotes traditional Confucian aspects of education, placing emphasis on sincerity, a righteous heart, self-cultivation, regulating the family, on up to sound advice on ruling the country. This work is strongly influenced by Buddhist thinking and contains rich cultural connotations. Yan stated that when educating future generations, one needs to help them establish lofty aspirations and goals, follow the principles of morality and virtue, endure any suffering, and pay attention to cultivating integrity. Yan Zhitui said, “If one has goals, one will be able to endure and overcome challenges and eventually accomplish those goals.”

Yan Zhitui believed that the main purpose of education is to broaden one’s heart, cultivate virtue, and do good deeds to benefit society. First, he said, the motivation needs to be righteous. The education of an individual must include the study of noble and excellent books, and cultivating moral character. The student must concentrate, work hard, and exchange experiences with others. Yan emphasized the importance of early education for children, the earlier the better. His own three children started reading and memorizing classical poetry and literature when they were three years old. When the children asked, “We know we should read, but why do we need to read so early?” Yan Zhitui told the children, “The earlier you read the classic books, the better. When you are young, you have a great memory. The books you memorize now will stay with you for your entire life.” Yan Zhitui also taught his children that they must keep studying and learning throughout their entire lifetimes and stay diligent, regardless war or other tribulations. He encouraged his children to study history. Yan Zhitui said, “Reading books and understanding principles is important. [Then] at any time, especially at critical moments, one will know what to do.” His children were all highly accomplished, with a strong sense of duty.

Chinese version available

Category: Traditional Art and Culture


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