A stroll in the Garden

From the perspective of Chinese gardening,the basic method is piling stones and digging ponds,then to establish the pavilions and plant flowers and trees. Let’s talk about the stones,if I put a statue of David next to the Big Rockery which is a famous attraction in Yu Garden,you may know what I want to say. The Greeks said my goddess is in this stone. In the Greek mythology,a sculptor even fell in love with the statue of the goddess he carved. This reflects their pursuit of pure beauty in the mind,and it is also a manifestation of the will of men. Westerners shape the society and the world that we take for granted up to  their own will. and they even want to change human beings,for example,to modify genes. In the process of creating,The Greeks were in pursuit of the perfect world,Plato said The human world and human is the imperfect reflection of the gods and their world,so human must pursue the perfection of the gods and theirs world. In the bible the first script saying God created the heaven and the earth.  Mankind is always passionate for the power of changing and creating the world,even life,like God.

The ancient Chinese sages were working in the opposite direction. They piled stones to make mountains looking for the spirit of likeness. They believed that nature is perfect and pursued an indescribable Tao (the way). Their understanding of nature is very profound. The most profound one is  “everything is done without being done”by Laozi or known as inaction which does not mean that you do nothing,but after you understand the law of nature,change yourself to conform to its law. Because in addition to respect for the  mysterious Tao,they take the Tao or nature as a heritage of their ancestors. The Chinese myth of creation,Pangu separated the heaven and the earth from chaos,standing between heaven and earth,his bones turned into mountains and rocks,blood became rivers and seas,muscles turned into the land and hairs became flowers and trees,Chinese has advocated filial piety like forever,and the tradition of worshiping the ancestors has affected every aspects of their daily life. When one drinks water,one must not forget where it comes from. Though there is something to be done,they should be done towards the direction of the original way. Therefore,Chinese strictly  compliance to the classics which  are the teachings of their forefather. When they create a new word they always consult  the old ones trying to extend or to borrow from them. Confucius has been reviving the etiquette of West Zhou dynasty throughout his life.

Western civilization is around the Mediterranean,China is in the easternmost part of the Asia,one is the commercial civilization of the ocean,another is the agricultural civilization of the mainland,Confucius said men of intellectual character delight in water scenery;men of moral character delight in mountain scenery. They are like honest peasants and resourceful businessmen.  Peasants are steadily cultivating on a piece of land like a mountain. They are the cornerstones of the stability of the society. If there is a war,they can become a militia and protect the country. Merchants are completely different. The merchants themselves do not produce any goods. They exchange the goods to make a living. They speculate and earn the extra value. If warfare happens,they will pack up and go away. So no matter From a social point of view or an emotional point of view, the traditional social class (administrator, peasant, craftsman and merchant)and policies to put  agriculture at the first place and restrain the trade has been very practical.

Chinese had been living under the guidance of the ancestors and living a good life is where all the meaning lies. This is also the saying that Confucius said that a wise man sees what is right, a fool, what is advantageous to himself, the meaning of living is to live, that is all about life, and when the fools  do somethings, they have other purposes.

There are many beautiful places in Yuyuan. I love two places most,one is the Toasting Pavilion,the other is the Happy Fish Pavillion,sitting in the Toasting pavilion,it makes me associate the literati’s gathering along the stream. Wine,Poem …… Romance of Wei and Jin dynasty is the beacon of the literati,Wang Xizhi no.1 calligrapher in Chinese history. His son Wang Huizhi,was famous for his personality. One day he cruised in the boat and met Huan. Both of them were people of fame at the time. Huan was in the carriage. Wang asked servant to invite Huan to come in the boat and play flute. Huan played the flute in the boat then returned to the carriage. During the period,the two did not say a word. Only the music was played communicating between them. Even the act itself was the best expression. The metaphysical talk at that time was very popular. It has been pushed to the realm of nothing,to speak without words is fully expressed. Another time,Wang suddenly wanted to visit a friend and took a boat overnight. When he arrived,he did not knock on the door and went back directly. Someone asked him why. He said,“The desire of seeing my friend is gone so there is no need to meet each other.” It is so capricious! Most people don’t understand their behavior. But if you put their stories in the historical background of Wei and Jin,then it makes certain sense. Since Dong Zhongshu made Confucianism orthodox,he thought that the ideal Confucius  world is going to last forever,but it only lasted over 100 years and the West Han was usurped by Wang and restored by Liu Family for another 100 years. China turned to chaos again,then through the Three Kingdom ended with Wei Jin Dynasty. People asked does the Confucius and Mencius teaching work? The Jin Dynasty was also stolen from the Wei Dynasty. In less than 30 years,there were 8 emperors. You can image the situation of the political environment of the Jin Dynasty. And there was Huns the nomadic people plundering at the border,internal and external troubles,There was a saying I take off my shoes and socks today,I don’t know if I wear them tomorrow,so the metaphysics was popular.

The Roman Empire appeared almost at the same time with the Han Dynasty.  At the end of the Roman Empire,the ruling class was also trapped with the  internal and external difficulties. The gap between the rich and the poor made the class conflicts extremely sharp. the policy of bread and show has been over used. there are Goths,Vandals etc. the Romans were also under great pressure and desperate. They also live in the present, they gathered together to feast, make love, turn men into women. Even the city of Rome was burned.

In troubled times, the East and the West finally found the answer. The scholars of Wei and Jin Dynasties looked for immortality, learning to forget, following Lao Zhuang, to find the Tao (the way),the meaning of life is nothing, but it is not to eat, drink, and die. To be detached from the world, to be enlighten, to be in harmony with the Tao. The Westerners understood that all of this was God’s will. The Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and used the power of religion to reunite the divided empire. The nobles believed in Christianity. Although the answer is different,they share a lot in common. Yang Zhu said that there is nothing more important than live for your life. Laozi said that Tao is unspeakable. Zhuangzi advocates detachment and to look at everything from a higher perspective. Jesus prayed in accordance with the will of God give us our daily bread, how similar these three points are. Look at the other two philosophers who have far-reaching influence on China. Mozi talks about love and has universal and indifferent love. When Jesus talked about how to enter heaven,he also said love,to love the others,and to distribute money to the poor. Confucius is the most sincere one in Chinese history. He said that people have a heart of love, which is not universal love. He said that he loves his family more than he loves his neighbors,loves the people in his hometown more than he loves his own country. Go and practice heart of love,from loving parents,which is the filial piety. At the beginning of the formation of society,there is no political,economic,legal or culture,there are only relationships among people so he said that the relationship is the most important. He said, do to others as you would have others do to you. Jesus said the same thing in the bible.

© 2019, Chris. All rights reserved.

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