Professor of Peking University

release time:

2022-11-09 14:23

Original text:
Zengzi said, "It is prudent to follow the long road after the end, and the people's morality will be thick."
"Caution" means prudence and sincerity.
"The end" refers to the death of a person, but it is different from "death". Those who die of old age are called "Zhong". In addition, the death of a gentleman is called "end", and the death of a villain is called "death".
"Be cautious about ending", here refers to mourning the people who have just passed away with great sincerity and caution.
"Chase" means to trace back.
"Far" means far away.
"Chasing the Far" refers to our relatives and ancestors who have passed away. No matter how long they have passed away or whether they have been gone for a long time, we should timely chase them.
"People" refers to the people and the masses.
"Virtue" refers to people's most fundamental, primitive and inborn nature or nature, which is exactly what we call "virtue". Of course, this refers to the kind of
The nature or nature of "good", because Confucianism is the main "good" said.
"Return" refers to returning to the original place.
"Thick" means big.
"People's virtue returns to virtue" means that people's nature returns to virtue.
The above is a literal description of the meaning of this sentence in the Analects of Confucius. It is necessary to make further explanation below.
"Shen Zhong" emphasizes that people should pay attention to conform to the rules of etiquette when conducting funeral ceremonies and other subsequent events for their deceased relatives. Because people usually feel sad and miss their loved ones when they die, but just because they are immersed in such sorrow, they often neglect to follow the rules and etiquette, so they should pay attention to "be cautious about ending".
"Chasing Yuan" emphasizes that when we hold a memorial ceremony for our long dead relatives, we are usually full of respect, but we often lack the kind of yearning and admiration full of family affection and feelings when the deceased was alive or just died, so we should pay attention to "chasing Yuan".
But why did Zengzi go on to say that "people's morality should return to virtue" after he emphasized "caution after caution"? It was obvious that Zengzi was not talking to ordinary people. Since they are not ordinary people, who did Zengzi tell them?
In the Spring and Autumn Period, due to the unstable political situation and social unrest, the rulers were busy with various political struggles and neglected to guide and educate themselves and their people in virtue. As a result, the whole ethical code declined and was virtually non-existent. Influenced by the rulers, people's feelings towards their relatives also tended to weaken. In this case, Zengzi proposed to the rulers at that time that if you could build a temple and offer sacrifices to your ancestors on time, the common people would be effective and the people's morality would naturally be pure.
Zengzi said, "We should be sincere and cautious in mourning for those who have just died, and we should remember and miss those who have died. If people in the upper class can do this, then the people will be educated and their virtue will naturally be pure and thick."

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