Party-line agenda

No real post here, but I’m still kickin’.

“Heaven’s decree is not the same for all… the gentleman understands this and does not try to force it [i.e., conformity to a specific norm or model]. In regard to perfecting their own talents, even the sages did not achieve complete success, and therefore they did not try to force it on others. Consequently, the idea that all men can achieve sagehood is false, and so is the idea that men’s natures can be changed.” –Ogyu Sorai; Gakusoku

And then…

“A person who can both understand and practice rites is a sage. Without rites, people would not know what to do with their hands and feet, or what they should look at or listen to…
…Rites do not distort feeling, nor do they simply embellish appearances; instead they promote natural regulation (shizen no setsu). Rites are thus the Way from which we cannot depart. The sagely Confucian teachings consist simply of rites and music.” –Yamaga Soko, Seiko Yoroku

Sounds exciting, but unless you’re a political despot, it’s not that helpful compared to the following:

“Whether sitting for long periods without lying down, or whether engaged in walking practices throughout the six divisions of the day, the vital breath (ki) must always be made to fill the cakra sphere (seirin), the lower field of cinnabar (tanden), between the navel and the loins. Even though one may be hemmed in by worldly cares or tied down by guests who require elaborate attention, the source of strength two inches below the navel must naturally be filled with the vital breath, and at no time may it be allowed to disperse. This area should be pendulous and well-rounded, somewhat like a new ball that has yet to be used. If a person is able to acquire this kind of breath concentration he can sit in meditation all day long without its ever tiring; he can recite the scriptures from morning to night without becoming worn out; he can write all day long without any trouble; he can talk all day without collapsing from fatigue. Even if he practices good works day after day, there will still be no indications of flagging; in fact, the capacity of his mind will gradually grow larger, and his vitality will always be strong. ”
–Hakuin, Orategama

Yet I wonder if Hakuin actually differs that much in belief and understanding from what the other dudes say. But then I always have to wonder whether religious people believe their own professed agendas or if they’re just saying it to soothe over people’s doubts, or maybe even for other malicious reasons.

And then you could ask the same of all political advisors, like the above guys, who probably had a lot of religious experience despite little positive attention to it in their writings, or Machiavelli — who didn’t actually try to rule people but gave ruthless tyrannical advice. Eventually you get around to thinking everyone has an ulterior motive and agenda and you become a conspiracy theorist.

Of course, by “you” I mean “me”.


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