The Grand Harmony

posted by Kaihsu Tai on September 12th, 2012

By chance, a copy of Lee Teng-hui’s The Road to Democracy: Taiwan’s Pursuit of Identity (1999; ISBN 4569606512) came into my possession. In the book, a great deal is made of the former president’s being a Christian. From the Afterword:

… I was able to embrace Christianity because it allowed me to deal with the inner contradictions I had previously struggled in vain to resolve. The moment that is addressed by Christianity is what one might call “reversal of the order of the self and the other.” The most important aspect of this teaching is embracing the God within each of us. By recognizing the inner spirit of God that forgives others through profound love, our tendency to self-centeredness dissipates, and the spirit of love and care to others flourishes.

While I can agree with him on this, I disagree with him on another point. As Lee’s 1996 electoral rival Peng Ming-min put it: Those who risked their lives to cross the Formosa Strait from the continent in earlier centuries … did not do it to extend the territory of China, but to find a new way of life.

Regardless of these disputes, this is really an excuse to post the following ancient Chinese socialist classic, with which Sun Yat-sen and the gentlemen mentioned above could perhaps all agree. It is a text which many of my schoolmates would know by heart. From the Book of Rites at the chapter on ceremonial usages, English translation by James Legge:


When the Grand course was pursued, a public and common spirit ruled all under the sky; they chose men of talents, virtue, and ability; their words were sincere, and what they cultivated was harmony. Thus men did not love their parents only, nor treat as children only their own sons. A competent provision was secured for the aged till their death, employment for the able-bodied, and the means of growing up to the young. They showed kindness and compassion to widows, orphans, childless men, and those who were disabled by disease, so that they were all sufficiently maintained. Males had their proper work, and females had their homes. (They accumulated) articles (of value), disliking that they should be thrown away upon the ground, but not wishing to keep them for their own gratification. (They laboured) with their strength, disliking that it should not be exerted, but not exerting it (only) with a view to their own advantage. In this way (selfish) schemings were repressed and found no development. Robbers, filchers, and rebellious traitors did not show themselves, and hence the outer doors remained open, and were not shut. This was (the period of) what we call the Grand Union.

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Books, Catechism, China, Hagiography | on September 12th, 2012 | Permanent Link to “The Grand Harmony” | Comments Off on The Grand Harmony

Wisdom against waste

posted by Kaihsu Tai on October 22nd, 2009

貨惡其棄於地也,不必藏於己;力惡其不出於身也,不必為己。 – ‘Lǐ Yùn’ in The Classic of Rites, attributed to Confucius. Translation by James Legge: ‘(When the Grand course was pursued, they accumulated) articles (of value), disliking that they should be thrown away upon the ground, but not wishing to keep them for their own gratification. (They laboured) with their strength, disliking that it should not be exerted, but not exerting it (only) with a view to their own advantage.’

Whoever destroys anything that could be useful to others breaks the law of bal tashchit, “Do not waste.” – Babylonian Talmud, Kodashim 32a (second or third century), quoted in ‘Teachings on Creation through the Ages’, edited by J. Matthew Sleeth M.D., in The Green Bible (2008) San Francisco: HarperOne. ISBN 978-0-06-162799-6.

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Books, China, Environment | on October 22nd, 2009 | Permanent Link to “Wisdom against waste” | 1 Comment »

Couplet for Å“cumenism

posted by Kaihsu Tai on December 30th, 2008

Since the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity this year will coincide with the Lunar New Year season, I have this New Year couplet (春貼) to offer:


Tóngzhōu gòngjì, bǎiyòuyī dōng qí héhǎo;
tiānxià wéigōng, liǎngqiājiǔ chūn gèng héyī.

All in the same boat and helping each other, we have prayed for reconciliation for 101 winters;
the whole world but a single commonwealth, in spring 2009 we shall become more at one.

It surely does not follow the meter, and especially in bad form as the first four syllables of each singlet are a cliché.

Well, what is the line going across on the top doorframe (橫批)? Of course, it has to be the four Greek syllables οἰ-κου-μέ-νη, written à la sini Arabic or quốc ngữ.

(Image of Saint Peter to the left.) (Image of Saint Paul to the right.) And instead of the pair of mythical door guards, certainly Peter and Paul should have the honour of place, upholding the church.

If you implement this at your church, I would appreciate that you taking a photograph and leaving a message here to let me know. I might make a mock up image when I have time.

Happy new year!

posted by Kaihsu Tai in China, Creative Resistance, Itinerant Communicant, Prayer | on December 30th, 2008 | Permanent Link to “Couplet for Å“cumenism” | Comments Off on Couplet for Å“cumenism

Religious figures address the European Parliament

posted by Kaihsu Tai on December 7th, 2008

I mentioned in these pages that the “green” Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, His All Holiness Bartholomew I, addressed the European Parliament earlier this year. This was as part of a series during the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. The other speakers were His Eminence Sheikh Ahmad Badr El Din El Hassoun, Grand Mufti of Syria; Sir Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth; and most recently His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Thanks to the intervention by the Liberals and the Greens, Dr Asma Jahangir, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, were also invited to speak. (Sophia in ’t Veld: “I would like to know why the Conference of Presidents has chosen to interpret intercultural dialogue exclusively as an interreligious monologue and whether it feels a part-session is an appropriate platform for religious messages.” and Sarah Ludford: “it seems that you [the President(s)] have made the Grand Mufti comparable to the Pope and the UK Chief Rabbi as a European representative of his particular religion.”)

Here are some highlights from each the speakers, with links to their texts for the gentle readers’ perusal over Christmastime: Read the rest of this entry »

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Catechism, China, Christmas, Green Party, Heresy, New Left Review, Orthodoxy, The Papacy | on December 7th, 2008 | Permanent Link to “Religious figures address the European Parliament” | Comments Off on Religious figures address the European Parliament

New Englanders march for an end to Darfur genocide

posted by Mike on May 21st, 2008

img_0033Ten New Englanders travelled to Washington, DC for a march yesterday against China’s support for the government of Sudan’s genocidal practices in the Darfur region.

The group included one person who had been to Darfur and four who had been arrested for protesting the violence in Darfur with nonviolent civil disobedience.

The day before this march, Human Rights Watch issued a press release saying, “Darfur: ‘Scorched Earth’ Tactics Warrant UN Sanctions.”

The march began at the Chinese Embassy’s “Economic and Commercial Counselor’s Office,” which seemed to be in some sort of mall/office complex. We handed out a few fliers and had many honks of support from cars driving by.

Read the rest of this entry »

Day of prayer for the Church in China

posted by Kaihsu Tai on May 20th, 2008

Recall that a year ago, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI wrote to Catholics in the People’s Republic of China, saying, “the date 24 May could in the future become an occasion for the Catholics of the whole world to be united in prayer with the Church which is in China.” Let’s join in such prayer.

posted by Kaihsu Tai in China, The Papacy | on May 20th, 2008 | Permanent Link to “Day of prayer for the Church in China” | Comments Off on Day of prayer for the Church in China

A letter to the ambassador and staff of the Chinese Embassy

posted by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy on May 15th, 2008

This letter was faxed to the embassy today, in anticipation of a protest next week.

Dear Sirs and Madams,

As a peace activist who has witnessed the tragedy of avoidable loss of life in war zones, I offer you and your people my heartfelt condolence for the suffering caused by the recent earthquake in your country. As a parent, I am especially sympathetic to all those Chinese parents whose children were injured or killed.

It is my desire to spare other parents this same agony that inspires me to write to you today. In December 2004, as a member of a Catholic Worker Peace Team, I visited Darfur, Sudan where I witnessed enormous harm inflicted on hundreds of thousands of civilians by the Sudanese army and its militias. We delivered food to many in pitiful camps for internally displaced people, but realized that only an end to the Sudanese government’s genocidal campaign against its African citizens could truly restore those victims to health and safety. When we asked Sudanese human rights activists what was the most effective nonviolent action we could take to end genocide in Darfur, we were told to protest at the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, DC. We have done this several times since then, but have become increasingly aware that diplomatic efforts to end the genocide have been frustrated by the continued economic, military, and political support being given to the Sudanese government by the government of China.
Read the rest of this entry »

May 20: Tell China to Stop Supporting Genocide in Darfur

posted by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy on April 30th, 2008

Dave MaciewskiJoin a nonviolent march, in Washington, DC, from the Chinese to the Sudanese Embassy on Tuesday, May 20th from 9 AM – noon. Despite international criticism, China remains the largest economic and military supporter of the government of Sudan which is widely held as responsible for the deaths or displacement of over a million civilians in Darfur. Because of China’s purchases of Sudanese oil and through China’s sales of arms to the Sudanese government, international efforts to end the bloodshed in Darfur and establish security for its people have largely failed. So long as the Sudanese regime is propped up by China, the killing in Darfur will continue.

Please gather with us at midday at the Chinese Embassy, 2201 Wisconsin Ave., NW, to hold signs which say, “China’s Support for Sudan is an Olympic Mistake” and “STOP THE GENOCIDE IN DARFUR NOW.” Some of these signs have enlarged photos of victims in Darfur. We will have a limited number of t-shirts available with the same message for those who wish to join the rally and 1.3 mile march to the Sudanese Embassy at 2210 Massachusetts Ave. NW.

Please contact us now for details and for information about rides from Massachusetts (leaving at noon on May 19th), as well as about lodging in Washington, DC for the night of the 19th. With the Olympics less than 100 days away, the media and Chinese government are paying greater attention to the Darfur issue. For the sake of those Darfurians whose lives are still risk, please consider spending a half a day in the nation’s capital. RSVP ASAP!

Scott Schaeffer-Duffy
Saints Francis & Therese Catholic Worker
52 Mason Street, Worcester, MA 01610
508 753-3588

Zhèng Bǎnqiáo (1693/1765), eco-socialist

posted by Kaihsu Tai on June 27th, 2007

Zhèng Xiè 鄭燮, commonly known as Zhèng BÇŽnqiáo 鄭板橋, was a Chinese scholar of the QÄ«ng Dynasty who fluorished during the reign of the Qiánlóng Emperor. His “Letter to younger brother Zhèng Mò” 寄弟墨書, which I translate below, was included in my textbook for classical Chinese when I was in high school in Taiwan(!). Rumour has it that the famous Lin Yutang had also translated the same letter into English, which I fear is still in copyright. In any case, I loosely translate/paraphrase here, with the benefit of having read some Karl Marx, John Seymour, and Derek Wall. It is an essay that affirms the primacy of primary production (agriculture) for self-sufficiency and food sovereignty, equitable land management, and indigenous eco-socialism in China.

Dear Mò,

I am very glad to read, in your letter of the 26th day of the tenth month, that our newly-bought field yielded 25 tonnes of grain in the autumn. Now we can be farmers until we leave this world.

I think that farmers, the primary producers, are first-class people between the heaven and the earth. In contrast, we scholar-bureaucrats should be the last among the four classes, ranking after farmers, craftsmen, and merchants. Read the rest of this entry »

Shaming China on Darfur

posted by Brenna Cussen on February 23rd, 2007

Eric Reeves:

The full-scale launch of a large, organized campaign to highlight China’s complicity in the Darfur genocide appears likely to begin soon.

This campaign has to spread.

posted by Brenna Cussen in China, Darfur | on February 23rd, 2007 | Permanent Link to “Shaming China on Darfur” | 1 Comment »