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Tag Archives: kongzi

In his book Soul of a Citizen, Paul Rogat Loeb, points out that many developmental psychologists believe individual growth is possible only through the interaction with the human and natural world, and through experiences that challenge us. A number of Chinese philosophers suggest an alternative. The state of Wu Shin (or Mu Shin no Shin) is a state of natural thinking without the presence of ego. More literally, no-mindedness. This concept is paired with Wu Wei, a sort of instinctual action. Bruce Lee was an avid follower of these ancient concepts. Essentially, Wu Shin suggests an ability to improve yourself without anything or the presence of higher thought commanding you to. To understand this better I suggest reading passages by Bruce Lee.

Another example that pits psychology against Chinese philosophy: M. Scott Peck says spiritual healing is “an ongoing process of becoming increasingly conscious.” Ancient Chinese philosophy tends to put more emphasis on simplicity. Again, the concepts of Wu Shin and Wu Wei are important in this way of thinking. Also, the idea of Yin and Yang —a sort of oneness of the world. The most famous of these philosophers is of course Confucius (Kongzi). Others include one of the followers of his ideals, Mencius (Mengzi).

It is only mere assumption to classify Confucius (Kongzi)¬†as a supporter of free-markets, socialism, or other economic foundations. However, Kongzi clearly recognized the inequality of different materials. He stated how something made of silk material inherently has a different worth than the same thing made of another material. This is a strong basis of the free-market/Capitalism system. But there is another side to the coin. Kongzi also promoted ideals of oneness. According to my readings (Books such as River Town by Peter Hessler), many citizens believe that by working hard for China they are in fact working hard for themselves — a result of the ideal of oneness. This is a basis of Socialism and Communism.

I picked up an intriguing book while browsing Barnes & Nobles entitled Confucius Lives Next Door: What Living in the East Tells us About Living in the West. Recently I have found myself addicted to Chinese philosophy and so the name of Confucius drew my attention. Then I read the back. It is a book about living in East Asia mostly from the perspective of living in Japan. Yes, Japan is in East Asia, but Confucius was not Japanese so the title was misleading. Okay, that’s fine, the book the still seems like it might be a good read. However, using Japan to generalize the lifestyle of East Asia is like using Germany to generalize the lifestyle of Western Europe. There are many similiarities to the way they think and conduct everyday life amongst the different countries, but also many, many differences. Perhaps the book should be entitled A Samurai Lives Next Door because Japanese thought is far more influenced by Samurai customs than by Confucius (or Kongzi). A most important difference between the most identifiable nations in East Asia, Japan and China, is that Japan has been much more influenced by western customs than has China. This is very significant when an author tries to write about a region. Perhaps the book is good, and perhaps the author does take these ideas into account – I have yet to read the book and may soon do so.