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To govern a country (the republic): the law is the foundation of a country; people (such as saints, sages, and gentlemen) are the origin, source of the law.
World peace (great comity): to treat/respect all countries, governments, races, and religions equally and in harmonious relations. King Tong ruled an area of 70 Li but had sovereignty over the whole continent; likewise, King Wen, with an area of 100 Li, reigned over the whole continent.
[Explanation] “To illuminate the clarity of virtues,” according to the Confucian classic of Da Xia (The Great Learning), is explaining the essence of the myriads of things in the universe. In the Buddhist terminology, it is the realization of the realm of absolute reality, the true and sameness of Self-Nature.
“Affinity to the people” is the manifest of ethics. According to Buddha-Dharma, it means to help all sentient beings to receive real benefits, with the greatest compassion and loving-kindness.
“To stop at the ultimate goodness” is the effect or function of “illuminating the clarity of virtues” and “affinity to the people.” It means to apply the supreme wisdom, the skillful and expedient to reach the goal of purity, equality, and enlightenment; which can be actualized through the sequence of the following eight stages:
1st stage: The eradication of materialistic desires: to eradicate the avarice for things; which means to let go, to let go of selfishness, self-interests, fame, reputation, riches, offerings; to let go of the five cravings and the six sensations; and to let go of greed, anger, stupidity, and pride.
2nd stage: To attain wisdom is
to avow that one will seek upwards the way to become a buddha and downwards the way to help and transform sentient beings;
to deeply believe that the Buddha-name recitation is the cause to enlightenment and the result is attaining Buddhahood;
to read and recite the Mahayana scriptures;
to advise all sentient beings, who have causal connections with us, and jointly proclaim the Bodhicitta;
to chant the name of Buddha Amitabha, and wish to reborn into His pure land, and to attain enlightenment through the supreme, perfect tradition.
3rd stage: Sincerity of the mind: According to Buddhist terminology, it means to be without attachments, without differentiations, without thoughts arising, without the heart stirring, in order to make one’s thoughts and motivations reach the state of sincerity and reverence, without falsehood.
4th stage: Correctness of the mind: in order to correct one’s mind, one must be benevolent, righteous, loyal, tolerant and forgiving, empathetic (to put oneself in other’s shoes), and to consider others while considering oneself.
5th state: Cultivation of the person: manifested and actualized in the five ethical relationships, the five constant morals, the four cardinal supports, the eight virtues, and the five precepts and ten virtuous karmas of Buddhism. These are the actual categories for self-cultivation.
6th stage: To rule/unify the family is to manage one’s family with mottos, family rules, family education, and family business.
7. To govern a country is to administer a country through consensus, harmony, and according to the law. Law is the foundation of the governance of a country. The saints, sages, and gentlemen are the roots and source of law.
8th stage: World peace: to have peace on earth (safe, prosperous, auspicious, and harmonious); to reach the state whereas the relationships between countries, political parties, ethnic groups, and religions are all harmonious; and all are equally treated.
(Benevolent) King: to be the (quasi) king of the world (not a ruler of a super country, or in terms of geographic area), from the Book of Mencius. King Tong ruled an area of 70 Li but could let the whole continent implement the benevolent way of his rule; his regime was a paradigm for the world. Likewise, King Wen ruled an area of 100 Li, but could let the whole continent implement his benevolent way of governance; and his regime was a paradigm for the world. It is all because they followed the principles of eradicating desires, attaining wisdom, correcting the mind, cultivating the person, unifying the clan, governing the country, therefore, peace on earth was achieved.
There is nothing more beneficial than sincerity for a gentleman’s cultivation of the mind. To attain sincerity means nothing more than the keeping of one’s benevolence; and nothing more than the practice of one’s righteousness. With a sincere heart and the upkeep of benevolence, all can be transformed; with a sincere heart and the practice of righteousness, all can be transcended. Such transformation and transcendence, replacing the old, manifest the virtue of Heaven. Without sincerity, things cannot be transformed; without sincerity, people cannot be inspired. Sincerity is a gentleman’s upkeep and the basis for (the administration of) governmental affairs. A gentleman is ashamed for his lack of self-cultivation and credibility. He is ashamed for the lack of such abilities (or virtues, characteristics), but not ashamed for his lack of regards or recommendations for employment. He will not be tempted by fame, nor afraid of slander; practice within the boundaries of the Way, pristinely correct himself; and never slide off because of material things; such is a gentleman.
Excerpted from A Compendium of Books on the Essentials of Governing, vol. 38, “Sun Ching Zi.”
[Explanation] There is nothing more beneficial than sincerity for a gentleman’s cultivation of the mind. There is no other way to reach the state of ultimate sincerity except by believing and keeping the virtue of benevolence and practicing the righteous way. With an utmost sincere heart to keep the virtue of benevolence, one can educate and transform people; with an utmost sincere heart to practice the righteous way, one can change (nonvirtuous) mores, transform people’s bad habits, and inspire people to be good.
When kind and virtuous mores replaced the old, it can be said as to have the same virtue as Heaven. Without sincerity, things cannot be transformed; without sincerity, people cannot be inspired. Sincerity is a gentleman’s upkeep of his morals and the basis for governing a country. A gentleman is ashamed for not cultivating virtues, for his lack of honesty and credibility, and the abilities to be a sage, but not ashamed for being misunderstood or unemployed. Therefore, a gentleman will not be tempted by the illusions of esteem and thereby chasing fame; nor be afraid of slander by vile people. He will practice within the Way of righteousness, pristinely correct himself; and never vacillate by external temptations; such a person can be called a gentleman.
There had been tyrants while his country was not in chaos; there had been good rulers while his country was without good laws. The laws established by King Yu had not been abolished, yet his kingdom, the Shia Dynasty, was overthrown; while the laws established by King Wen and King Wu were still in existence, their empire, the Zhou Dynasty, already vanished. Therefore, the law is without independence, it survives with the administrator, without such a person, the law becomes obsolete.
The law is the beginning of governance; but the person (gentleman) is the source of governance. If there is a gentleman (ruler), even if the law is very simple, it will suffice to rule the world; without a gentleman (ruler), even if the law is comprehensive, it is enough to cause upheavals. Therefore, a sagacious ruler is desperate for the right people (to put his country in good hands), he can then be in leisure while his country operates smoothly. If a ruler loves his people, his country will be safe. If he honors the capable and virtuous, his country will be prosperous. If the public affairs are open and just, the backdoor shenanigans will be blocked. If the public laws are just and fair, underhanded dealings will stop. If men of rich virtues are put in high positions, the sycophants cannot exist with their flatteries. If people who have integrity (and cannot be bribed) are advanced, those greedy for profits have to retreat.
Excerpted from A Compendium of Books on the Essentials of Governing, vol. 38, “Sun Ching Zi.”
[Explanation] There had been tyrants while his country was not in chaos; there had been good rulers while his country was without good laws. The law established by King Yu, the first king of the Shia Dynasty, had not yet been abolished, his kingdom was already overthrown; it was because his descendants failed to followed his law so they could no longer be kings for generations to come. Likewise, the laws established by King Wen and King Wu were still in existence, yet their empire, the Zhou Dynasty, already vanished, because their descendants failed to obey their laws.
No matter how good the law is promulgated, it cannot exist alone. Only by teaching people to be sages and gentlemen, the law can be properly executed. Without sages and gentlemen, even good laws cannot be effectively administered in the world. The laws established by the saints are the inception of a good government, but the virtuous and capable people executing the law accordingly are the source of good governance.
To conclude, if there are saints, sages, and gentlemen (as administrators), even if the law is very simple, the country can be comprehensive (widely and capably) governed; without such excellent administrators, even if the law is comprehensive, the country can still be in upheavals. Therefore, the first priority of a sagacious ruler is to find saints, sages, and gentlemen who had received good education. If his country is in such capable hands, it will be peaceful and prosperous, accomplished in a myriad of great enterprises while he is in leisure and enjoys the reputation of a good king. In contrast, without the virtuous and talented people, if the country is ministered by vile people, the king will work till him drop, his country in chaos, nothing is accomplished, and his reputation in tatters.
Thus, a sagacious king puts great emphasis on talents; hence he can rule by laissez faire (his country is well governed without his involvement, his hands in it). A country that has a good administration is due to the benevolence of the king for his people. A country is prosperous is due to the honors the king granted to the capable and virtuous. In such a way, those who are dedicated to contribute their efforts to their country will be placed in high positions, those who only aim for private profits will not be hired. Those policies for public justice and welfare will be advocated and implemented; those who scheme for personal profits will vanish. Men of rich virtues are put in high places; those sycophants will disappear with their flatteries. If people who have integrity and cannot be bribed are highly praised and put in high ranking offices, those greedy government officials scheming for profits have to retreat (retire, quit).
All the Buddhas teach people to adhere to the precepts, cultivate a meditative mind, and attain (recover) innate wisdom; the so-called “to attain Samadhi through precepts, to reveal innate wisdom through meditation.” Precepts mean rules and disciplines; as said in the adage “without the tools of rulers and protractors, one cannot draw a square or a circle.” An adherent of the precepts must lay a foundation first with the standards set in Di Zi Gui, then, the Chapters on Responses and Retributions, followed by the Sutra of the Ten Virtuous Karmas, and finally, the Precepts and Rituals for the Novice Monks in such an order. Then, he should dedicate two years’ time to learn and memorize 200 essays written in the old texts, in order to get the golden key to the Chinese classics. Thereafter, he should study the Emperor’s Treasured Library of the Four Branches of Knowledge; understand the Tripitaka so he can be an erudite Buddhist scholar. Finally, he can choose one book, one sutra, or one treatise from Confucianism, Taoism, or Buddhism in order “to penetrate through one door, and to cultivate for ten years.”
[Explanation] All the Buddhas teach people to adhere to the precepts, cultivate a meditative mind, and attain (recover) innate wisdom. This is the so-called “to attain Samadhi through precepts, to reveal innate wisdom through meditation.” Precepts mean rules and disciplines; as said in the adage “without the tools of rulers and protractors, one cannot draw a square or a circle.”
Therefore, an adherent of the precepts must lay a foundation for becoming a Buddha, a saint, or a sage by first learning Di Zi Gui, then, the Chapters on Responses and Retributions, followed by the Sutra of the Ten Virtuous Karmas, and finally, the Precepts and Rituals for the Novice Monks. Secondly, he should use two years time to dedicate his efforts to memorize and recite 200 essays written in the old texts in order to get the golden key to the Chinese classics. Thereafter, he should study the Emperor’s Treasured Library of the Four Branches of Knowledge; understand the Tripitaka of the sutras, the precepts, and the treatises, so as to be an erudite Buddhist scholar. Finally, he can choose one book, one sutra, or one treatise from Confucianism, Taoism, or Buddhism in order “to penetrate through one door, and to cultivate for ten years.”
“The best way to teach is to emphasize on specialization.” To dedicate ten years to study only one sutra is adhering to the precepts. Ordinary people can reach the state of Samadhi (meditation) within three to four years, and if he cannot be totally enlightened within six to seven years, he can reach the state of being awakened (innate wisdom). After he is awakened, he can then cultivate. Confucian disciples should cultivate to become saints and sages; Buddhist students should cultivate to become Bodhisattvas, or Buddhas; and the Taoist practitioners should cultivate to become celestial beings, or gods. This is the most important thing in life and its realistic, attainable causes and conditions. Wish all the success to those who have such aspirations.
[Explanation] “The best way to teach is to emphasize on specialization.” To dedicate ten years to study only one sutra is adhering to the precepts. Ordinary people can reach the state of Samadhi (meditation) within three to four years, and if he cannot be totally enlightened within six to seven years, he can reach the state of being awakened (innate wisdom).
After he is awakened, he can start to cultivate. Confucian disciples should cultivate to become saints and sages; Buddhist students should cultivate to become Bodhisattvas, or Buddhas; and the Taoist practitioners should cultivate to become celestial beings, or gods. To read cannons, to cultivate, and to attain innate wisdom are the most important things in life and their realistic, attainable causes and conditions are as outlined. Wish all the success to those who have such aspirations.
The Diamond Sutra stated: “if there are virtuous men or women who read, recite, and abide by this Sutra, and were humiliated by others, due to their crimes and evil karmas from past lives, which would have made them fall straight to the horrible planes of existences; because of such humiliation in this life, their crimes and evil karmas from past lives, are immediately eradiated; and they will attain Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi.”
選自《金剛經》。Excerpted from The Diamond Sutra.
[Explanation] The Diamond Sutra stated that if there are virtuous men or women who read, recite, and abide by this Sutra, instead of being honored, they were humiliated (looked down upon, demeaned, or even slandered, ridiculed, vilified) by others. This is due to their heavy crimes and evil karmas from past lives, which should have made them fall straight to the three evil planes of existences (of hell, hungry ghosts, and animals) to suffer a myriad of tortures. Because they were humiliated in this life, their crimes and evil karmas from past lives are immediately eradiated; and they will attain the supreme, perfect, wisdom of Buddhahood. (The Sanskrit word “Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi” was translated into Chinese as the supreme, correct, enlightenment, which is a Buddha.
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