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« What is Zhuangzi asking of us? | Main | That's What Sun Tzu Said »

April 28, 2009

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Sam,

First, if Shun (or the sage) truly "transforms the whole universe" (as in the Zhongyong), then given that elephants are a part of universe I can see how they'd give him a hand with his plowing. :)

Second, let's push this point further. I agree that there's certainly more to xiao, say, than obedience (it's a shame that it is often seen as simply this, however). So I agree that a necessary part of xiao is having the promotion of the Humanity of one's parents as one's aim (this is not necessarily a part of mere obedience, and as you note can conflict with it, as in the case of Shun's marriage).

But what if the son _fails_? Let's say that a son/daughter works ceaselessly at developing and cultivating the Humanity of his/her parent, but is a total failure in practice -- the parents remain non-transformed, and just "don't get it".

Can we say that the son/daughter exemplifies xiao?

Sam,

Nice to see somebody writing about Mencius on the web. I'm a psychotherapist and on my search for finding the root cause of the problems that my clients suffered, I came across the translation of Mencius that said,

"Pity the man who has lost his path and does not follow it, and has lost his heart and does not go out and recover it. When a man's dogs and chicks are lost he goes out and looks for them, but when a man's heart (or original nature) are lost, he does not go out and look for them. The principle of self-cultivation consists in nothing but trying to find the lost heart."

This passage sent me on a journey that is resulting in my book, "Finding the Lost Heart," which synthesizes Mencian thought with other wisdom traditions, the symbolic insights of fairy tales, contemporary psychological theory and my client's stories.

On this post, as therapists a truism we say is that its funny how our parents change when we go into therapy. In order to heal the family, we need to heal ourselves.

I look forward to following your blog.

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