Confucius on Self-Discipline, the 6 Steps to a Harmonious Society, and Why Democracy Begins in the Heart

2 and a half centuries before Leonard Cohen composed in his classic and tender ode to democracy that “the heart has got to open in a basic method,” the ancient Chinese theorist and statesman Confucius (551– 479 BCE) acknowledged the enduring link between personal and political morality, acknowledged that social compassion is the structure of social justice, acknowledged that democracy– a kind of government only just invented on the other side of the globe in ancient Greece, not to settle in his own culture for dates– starts in the heart.

Confucius. Centuries before the arrival of Christianity and its main tenet of the golden rule, the Chinese sage originated the principle of empathy as a moral directing concept– an ancient idea discreetly yet exceptionally different from compassion, which just entered the contemporary lexicon at the dawn of the twentieth century as a term for predicting oneself into a work of art. On his existential reading list of essential books for every phase of life, Tolstoy noted Confucius amongst the most fully grown reading.

Among them was the poet Ezra Pound (October 30, 1885– November 1, 1972)– a male of immense talent and enormous blind areas, of considerate idealisms and troubling sympathies– who set out to translate and put together the most long-lasting teachings of the great Chinese sage. The list below year, his translation was published in book kind as Confucius: The Unwobbling Pivot/ The Great Digest/ The Analects (public library).

In his prefatory note, Pound observed that China was unified and peaceful for as long as its rulers followed the mentors of Confucius, however dynasties collapsed into turmoil and social disaster as soon as these concepts were neglected. In a belief that applies as much to those ancient sociopolitical collapses regarding the perils of the present, he writes:

The proponents of a world order will overlook at their danger the research study of the only process that has repeatedly shown its effectiveness as a social coordinate.

That process, as Confucius conceived it, was one of treating public excellent as a matter of individual goodness, rooted in a purity of heart and a discipline of mind. Keeping in mind that “things have branches and roots” and that “if the root be in confusion, absolutely nothing will be well governed,” the ancient Chinese sage outlines the six actions to an unified society:

The [ancients], wishing to clarify and diffuse throughout the empire that light which originates from looking straight into the heart and after that acting, first established good government in their own states; desiring excellent government in their own states, they initially established order in their own households; desiring order in the house, they initially disciplined themselves; wanting self-discipline, they corrected their own hearts; and wanting to rectify their hearts, they sought precise spoken meanings of their inarticulate thoughts. Wishing to obtain accurate verbal meanings, they set to extend their knowledge to the utmost. This completion of knowledge is rooted in arranging things into natural classifications.

Confucius. When this work is complete, Confucius counsels, the procedure is folded over and the 6 steps are retraced back to the original goal of good federal government:

When things had been categorized in natural classifications, understanding approached fulfillment; given the extreme knowable points, the inarticulate thoughts were defined with precision … Having obtained this exact spoken definition, they then stabilized their hearts, they disciplined themselves; having actually achieved self-control, they set their own houses in order; having order in their own houses, they brought great government to their own states; and when their states were well governed, the empire was brought into balance.

Enhance with mathematician Lilian Lieber on how Euclid brightens the roots of democracy and social justice and the fantastic humanistic philosopher and psychologist Erich Fromm on what self-love actually indicates and how it anchors a sane society, then revisit Ursula K. Le Guins exceptional more-than-translation of Tao Te Ching and its ancient wisdom on the wellspring of political and personal power.

Centuries before the arrival of Christianity and its central tenet of the golden guideline, the Chinese sage pioneered the idea of empathy as a moral assisting principle– an ancient concept subtly yet exceptionally different from empathy, which just entered the contemporary lexicon at the dawn of the twentieth century as a term for predicting oneself into a work of art. That procedure, as Confucius developed it, was one of dealing with public great as a matter of personal goodness, rooted in a purity of heart and a discipline of mind. Noting that “things have roots and branches” and that “if the root be in confusion, absolutely nothing will be well governed,” the ancient Chinese sage outlines the six actions to an unified society:

, desiring to diffuse and clarify throughout the empire that light which comes from looking straight into the heart and then acting, first set up good government in their own states; desiring good federal government in their own states, they initially developed order in their own households; desiring order in the house, they first disciplined themselves; wanting self-discipline, they rectified their own hearts; and wanting to remedy their hearts, they sought exact verbal definitions of their inarticulate thoughts. When this work is total, Confucius counsels, the process is folded over and the six steps are backtracked back to the initial objective of excellent federal government: