On Innate Comprehension and Universal Aversion To Suffering

Lu Jiuyan taught that the mind is the universe, and the universe is the mind. Mencius taught that all things are complete in oneself.

There is a universal principle that suffering is not good.

It seems universally comprehended that the only suffering which is not bad is that which is inflicted for the purpose of preventing another and less desirable degree of suffering. Surgery for the purpose of preventing a painful or deadly disease comes to mind.

Our aversion to suffering is innate and instinctive. We are born with a natural aversion to discomfort, and we maintain that posture until we pass away. The innate and instinctive comprehension that suffering is bad allows for a spontaneous guide for self preservation and social conduct.

The innate comprehension of the universal aversion to suffering is indicative of Lu Jiuyan’s theory that the mind is the universe, and likewise the thoughts of Mencius that all things are complete in oneself.

Or so it seems to me.

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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.

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 Our Innate Qualities Of Social Behavior

I find the following two common philosophies among many Christians disturbing:

1. That every person is born in sin.
2. And/or that humans are somehow incapable of distinguishing right from wrong on our own, without some external aid from a celestial deity.

I find both premises lack merit, and quite frankly make no sense.

Every thing that exists has principle and function.

A rock has the natural qualities of a rock, and albeit its function may be dormant; nonetheless the rock provides a surface for things of different qualities to rest upon. To that end the rock is naturally equipped.

A tree has the natural qualities of a tree, and among its functions are those of being a source of feeding and shade. To those ends the tree is naturally equipped.

Water has the natural qualities of water, and it functions to provide sustenance and life for many beings; including our own species. To a variety of such ends, water is naturally equipped.

Humans have the natural qualities of humanness, and among our functions is that of social behavior. To that end we humans are naturally equipped.

To conclude otherwise would make no sense.

How is that, that of all the myriad of things in all the universe, we; who appear to be of the highest degree of level of communication, creativity, and compassion; are somehow incapable of one of our most basic functions, that of social behavior, without some external aid of an alleged celestial deity?

I maintain that everything that naturally exists, is naturally equipped with certain distinctive qualities to function so as to effect certain basic principles, which are unique to each such thing.

To conclude otherwise with reference to a mere one among the incalculable things in all the known universe, simply makes no sense to me.

Hence I conclude, that we humans are naturally equipped with all necessary qualities to distinguish right from wrong, which is of course a most basic aspect of proper social behavior.

And thus my personal perspective is, that the cultivation of my natural qualities of goodness, is both the most natural of all endeavors, and the most noble of all efforts.