On The Horizontal Nature of Humility

“Humility in a person of high position sheds luster on that position. Humility in a person of lower position no person can exceed.
Thus humility is the ultimate goal of the noble person, regardless of one’s class status or social position in any given context.”

(My paraphrase of the T’uan commentary on the 15th hexagram of Ch’ien of The Book of Changes; aka “The I Ching”)

Humility and deference are often thought of as a “downwards up” perspective. In other words, those who are traditionally regarded as “subordinates” are conditioned to defer to their “superiors” with an attitude of humility and respect.

Such a perspective is quite common in the Western world, and is conditioned into the fiber of our very thinking from an early age onward. Western folk are conditioned to be humble and to defer to all forms of authority figures, commencing from childhood with reference to parents, and continuing throughout our adults lives with reference to any number of a variety of such symbols of superiority. Yet symbols of superiority are all that a person of elevated social position actually represent, for in truth no individual of any setting is superior to any other, regardless of the context.

The natural equitable status of all people being the reality of an unconditioned perspective, then humility should be universal, and respect should be reciprocal in all situations and settings.

In this regard, it has become my observation based upon decades of experience in “the working world” that harmony in such a setting is best accomplished when people of all levels of management and manufacturing share common respect one for another. If the burden of respect for one another is reciprocal, then management and manufacturers share common concerns and seek the common good. This is but one example of an area where universal humility can lead to ultimate harmony, yet such is a most practical place for the application of the process.

Regardless then of one’s “position” or one’s “status”, humility is the ultimate goal of any such person who seeks to be noble and decent.

On Ruism and Humanism

Confucianist Ruism and Secular Humanism share common ground in that each ideology maintains that the human being is naturally equipped with the capacity to be kind, courteous, caring and compassionate. In essence, the theory is that goodness is naturally developed from within rather than being driven into the person from without.

The Confucian Ruist then does not depend upon being motivated or moved by an exterior being, but rather trusts the natural inner feelings of compassion and concern for others as an effectual guide for establishing a personal code of ethics (Note: The very term “Ru” means softness).

I believe this quality is very well termed by the Asian Studies scholar Philip Ivanhoe when he describes Confucian ethics as “virtue ethics”. Indeed, Confucian Ruism is the theory that all people have within the natural virtues necessary to be humane and to live in peace and harmony.

And so the daily walk of the Confucian Ruist and the Secular Humanist is that of seeking to cultivate and develop our natural virtues from within as we socially engage and casually interact with others without.

For such is the good and natural way of the person who trusts our natural sensitivity and softness as a reliable and reasonable social guide.

The “Me Within Me”

The Confucian thinker Mencius said “All humanity has the mind which cannot bear to see the suffering of others”
(Mencius 2A.6)

My thoughts:

Introspection is the key,
To realize the “Me Within Me”
A common mind we all share,
Upright, sincere, and based on care.

This mind I often throw away,
And act contrary to the Way.
This mind distressed at the pain of another,
I cherish more than any other.

On The Root of Humaneness and The Rudiments of Harmony

The Confucian thinker Mencius maintained that “all things are complete in oneself”. Confucius himself said that “Humanity is born with uprightness”.

It seems to me that within each person is the root of humaneness and the rudiments of a peaceful and harmonious way. The cultivation of such qualities is a daily endeavor accompanied by a host of distractions and obstructions.

I sincerely maintain that the cultivation of our nobler qualities, which should be our primary effort according to Mencius, is the most natural of all experiences and the most necessary of personal endeavors.

A daily work in progress.

The Practical And Adaptive Nature of Confucian Humanism

Among the qualities of Confucianism which appeal to me are the personal and practical nature of its teachings, and the ease with which such may be adapted to any circumstance or situation.

Confucianism is the self awareness of our natural qualities; and the subsequent application of such in any and all settings. In fact, when one comprehends the reality that the Confucian way is merely adaptation to and abiding in accord with the nature of all reality, then we can understand that the Way is not only always with us; but that in fact the Way is within us.

As Confucius said, “Humanity is born with uprightness” (Analects 6.17). And as Mencius said “All things are complete in oneself” (Mencius 7A.4). Again, Mencius said that “All humanity has the mind which cannot bear to see the suffering of others” (Mencius 2A.6).

The fact that such qualities are natural to our very being, and the fact that “all things are complete in oneself” then it follows that the realization of such is based upon a deriving such from within, rather than having these qualities driven in from without. Hence; the 12th Century Confucian Lu Hsiang-Shan said “Principle is endowed in me by Nature, not drilled into me from outside”. Thus, the Confucian way is to “build up the nobler part of our nature” (Mencius 6A.15) by way of honest introspection and sincere application of such in any and all settings in our lives.

And so it is that the Confucian way is merely self awareness of our natural humane qualities; and sincere application of such in our everyday lives.

The Confucian way then is applicable in any situation, and is adaptable to any setting.

Hence, when one looks within, and realizes our natural sensitivity for the feelings of all beings, and responds accordingly, then we are better people for the experience.

Confucianism is about human relations, regardless of the setting.

Confucianism is about self cultivation, and subsequent social engagement based upon a natural kindness and courtesy which is natural to our being.

The Confucian way is to be the best family member, citizen, employee, supervisor, neighbor, and friend; not due to rules and regulations, but rather based upon the realization that such is natural to our very being.

It is my personal view then that self cultivation is the most natural of all experiences, and the most noble of all endeavors.

And such is the Confucian way.

“If you can renovate yourself one day, then you can do so every day, and keep doing so day after day” (King T’ang of the Shang Dynasty)

On The Mind Which Cannot Bear The Suffering of Others (Mencius 2A.6)

From the moment of my birth I have been sensitive to discomfort of any degree, and have from that very moment asserted my will to seek comfort as my preferred state of being.

From an early age I was sensitive to the suffering of other sentient beings. The cry of a stray dog in pain or suffering would have been such a discomfort to my inner being, that my own comfort would have depended upon the comfort of that dog.

I aspire to never lose my original mind which has always had such an aversion to discomfort that my own comfort depends upon the comfort of others.

I cannot help but believe that everyone is born with this same natural aversion to discomfort of any degree for self and others, yet I can only speak for myself in so affirming that such was the case for me.

In the words of the Confucian scholar Mencius (371-289BCE):

“All people have the mind which cannot bear to see the suffering of others”

“The good person is the one who does not lose his originally good child’s heart”

On Peaceful Demonstrations

Bullies with badges and guns;
In Baton Rouge were dressed to fight.
They antagonized and intimidated the people;
It was such a frightful sight.

Peace Officers in Inglewood, California;
Simply allowed the people to have their say.
It was a Black Lives Matter demonstration;
And it was such a peaceful day.

A lesson to be learned;
Regarding public demonstrations.
There can be peace in the streets;
When there is collective communication.

Too Much Hate

Too much Donald Trump;
Too little Muhammad Ali;
Too much hate;
Not enough sincere humanity.

They say guns don’t kill,
Figure that out for yourself.
But hate surely does,
And I tell you something else.

It was hate that killed,
Unarmed men, women, and kids.
At Wounded Knee and My Lai,
These things white Americans did.

And it was hate that killed,
Unarmed people in Orlando,
And hate will likely kill again,
And so it sadly goes.

Would that hate were buried,
At Wounded Knee.
Instead of the massacred people,
Who through the ice and snow did flee.

Would that hate faded away,
In that Vietnamese village in 1968.
Instead of long gone peace movements,
Whose revival would surely be great.

The tally of hate,
Four dead in Ohio.
Tally 50 more,
Down in Orlando.

Too much Donald Trump;
Too little Muhammad Ali;
Too much hate;
Not enough sincere humanity.

In Memory of Muhammad Ali

He floated like a butterfly,
He stung like a bee.
But there was more than boxing,
To Muhammad Ali.

He had the courage of his convictions,
And he thought for himself.
Rather than merely doing what he was told,
Like most everyone else.

According to George Foreman,
Muhammad was the greatest human being he knew.
And coming from a great human being himself,
That gives Ali his just dues.

Though it costs Ali his title,
And midst intense racist slurs.
He refused to fight and murder others,
Such conviction rarely occurs.

Among the bravest words,
Are those of Muhammad Ali.
In the quote immediately following,
This poem in his memory.

I watched Ali box when I was a teen,
And have grown to respect him as an adult.
He was an outspoken social activist,
I believe that goodness was the result.

Thank you Muhammad Ali,
May your cause live on,
Thanks for being truly human,
Farewell, and so long.

Dave Henderson
Denison, Texas

June 4, 2016

In memory of Muhammad Ali (January 17, 1942-June 3, 2016)

“My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape or kill my mother and father…. How can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail.”

Damned To Pay Our Dues

Those who are born wealthy,
Use their money to stay wealthy.
Those who are born poor,
Work for money to be healthy.

A ceaseless quest,
To exploit Mother Earth.
Manufacture money from trees.
Then pretend there is a worth.

To a rectangular shred,
Manufactured and stamped.
To symbolize some value,
To we the living damned.

Damned to pay our dues,
For exploiting her so.
Damned to become earthworm feed,
And to help her flowers grow.