Monday, February 22, 2016

On Practicing Virtue Outside of Cultivation

Note: the following is an excerpt from the chapter entitled "Spontaneous Gong Manifestation" in The Great Book of Yi Fa, a secret document for Level 3 Yi Fa Society students:

There are two key parts to the practicing of Virtue outside of cultivation. And as these also still apply to practitioner, it is useful to talk about them to Yi Fa students too. The first of these is what Confucius called “Ren”. This is a very difficult word to translate from Chinese to English; one way might be to just call it 'truth' but this definition is vague and incomplete. A better way might be to say it is “the true experiencing of reality”, but this is difficult to comprehend. So another way to define it, if a bit tautological, is that “Ren” means “the quality of experiencing Virtue”. That is, when you are engaging in practicing Virtue in your everyday life, it becomes an experience; you can feel the difference between when you are embodying Virtue and when you are not. That experience, that feeling, is “Ren”. Some of the same qualities Confucius defined as Ren were also present in the lay precepts laid down by the Buddha; in other words, this is the most basic and accessible type of Cultivation practice available even to people who for one reason or another cannot engage in a full cultivation practice.

Confucius said of Ren that “it is not very far-off; whoever seeks it can find it”. This is because Virtue is not just a human concept, it is a part of the nature of the Universe. Unity, Discipline, Harmony, and Truth are universal qualities; thus it is that human teachers discovered and taught these qualities in different times and places without ever having necessarily been connected to each other. This means that “Ren” is a natural state; and in fact it is the true natural state of human beings. Ren is “human-ness”, so anyone who seeks sincerely to be more naturally human will be able to find it.

What is the easiest way to find Ren? Confucius said “Ren is established when, seeking to establish yourself, you also seek to establish everyone else. When seeking to grow, you seek for everyone else to grow as well”. So the easiest way to find Ren, and to practice Virtue, is when you can break away from the self-referencing perspective, and make sure that Virtue is not 'about you'. It is about following the law of the universe.

The chief obstacle to this is the other key part of practicing Virtue outside of cultivation. And that is to be able to discern the difference between what Confucius called “Norm” and what he called “Justness”. “Norm” is what society deems appropriate. It is societal conditioning, a product of culture, and part of what makes up the Inferior Person. “Justness”, on the other hand, is not what society deems appropriate but what IS appropriate. It is that quality of what is correct regardless of what culture thinks. Confucius and all great teachers were very clear that while sometimes a norm may be identical to justness, there are also many times when norm and justness are not the same thing; where what society considers right is not what actually is right. Those rare individuals who are capable of generating Gong without cultivation all have in common that they come to learn how to tell the difference between norm and justness; and can thus engage in Ren without consideration of what society has told them is the way to behave.


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1 comment:

  1. 'Ren' is also the Name of the Soul in the Egyptian system