When it comes to culture, we often say that "China culture has a long history" and feel gratified and proud of it.
But when it comes to what this culture brings us, I’m afraid it’s not easy to make it clear.
Culture is a gift left to us by our ancestors. There are too many and too many gifts, so it takes some time to distinguish and choose.
So before discussing Chinese studies, we might as well talk about the word "culture" first.
Culture is a unique phenomenon of human beings, which means that only human beings can have culture. From this, we can define four characteristics of culture:
First, it is different from nature.
In the Book of Changes, Kun Gua represents the land where all things are born and raised, and the words of Liu Er began with the word "straight".
"Straight" means that everything is directly produced by the earth, while "Wen" created by human beings means staggered use.
In a forest, if two trees "cross" into a table, it means that humans have lived here.
Second, form a tradition.
Tradition is accumulated in the process of time, and its purpose is to make its people live safely and happily.
Every culture affirms its central position, that is, in its primitive myth, it will explain how ancestors came from the transcendental gods, which is a nation specially cared for by the gods.
Our ancestors called their country "China", and the word "China" was an pictograph, which took its image from the flag.
In the tribal times, the chieftain’s residence was marked with a flag, indicating that it was the center, and it was divided into four directions: southeast, northwest and northwest.
Therefore, "China" affirmed the core position of this nation.; Other nationalities have similar self-centered beliefs.
Fourth, prosperity and decline.
Culture is created by human beings, and all ethnic groups in the world compete with each other, so culture also seems to have life, and there are cases of prosperity and decline.
In fact, most cultures have become historical relics since ancient times.
Therefore, the important question is, what are the factors that distinguish the prosperity and decline of culture?
To answer this question, we must further explain the three levels of culture.
Culture is made by people, and people’s life has three levels: body, mind and spirit, so culture also has three corresponding levels, namely, objects, systems and ideas.
First, the level of implements.Meet the specific needs of human life, such as food, clothing, shelter, transportation and so on.
Second, the system level.From customs and taboos to laws and regulations, it belongs to this category.
A society composed of people needs a system, because individuals always think for themselves, and in the end, it is inevitable to abuse power for personal gain and harm the public with personal gain.
Today, the common goal of everyone is freedom, equality, democracy and the rule of law, and the fundamental desire of humanity for "benevolence and justice" should be realized by the system.
Third, the concept level.Ideas mainly describe people’s ideals and concepts, form specific values, and make people judge the meaning and purpose of life accordingly.
Ideas are mainly manifested in literature, art, religion and philosophy.
Literature expresses true feelings, which often resonates with the masses; Art uses vivid symbols to respond to the demands of the collective subconscious;
Religion establishes the relationship between man and transcendence with its beliefs, so that believers can be fundamentally settled; Philosophy understands the real world with a rational attitude, and then constructs a possible ideal realm.
Today, when we talk about culture, we should cherish and maintain the level of implements and learn from the level of systems, but what we really need to study and carry forward is the level of ideas.
The concept of China culture is preserved in the so-called "national studies".
Broadly speaking, the written materials left in ancient times belong to the category of Chinese studies, but just as the Yellow River is laden with sediment, there are many things that are floating, copied and wasted paper.
Therefore, when talking about Chinese studies, our eyes naturally turn to classics.
But even classics, such as the "subset of classics and history" listed in Sikuquanshu, are too large.
Our time and strength are limited, and what we can read, understand and apply is even more limited. So how to choose?
First of all, since we are concerned about ideas, we must recognize "what ideas are complete and fundamental".
If the concept is not complete enough, it is like discussing life problems and only paying attention to the juvenile or old age, only seeing the bright side or dark side of life.
If the concept is not profound enough, it will be hard to let go of "birth, aging, illness and death", unable to resolve "emotions and sorrows" for unknown so, and helpless to "joys and sorrows".
The ideas displayed by literature and art often have such problems. As for religion, it involves the opportunity and choice of whether an individual believes in it or not, and the ideas displayed in its teachings are inevitably arbitrary and there is no room for speculation and discussion.
Therefore, philosophy is the main idea worth considering.
The word "philosophy" is translated from the west, and its original meaning is "philosophy", that is, exploring the fundamental truth of the universe and life with reason.
In the history of China, there is a special period, that is, the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period around 500 AD.
Why is this period special?
Before it was a feudal system, rituals, music, politics and punishment were on the track, so there was no need to seriously think about the meaning of life;
After it, the emperor Qin Shihuang was autocratic, and from then on, he respected the monarch and humbled the ministers, exploited the people, and was not allowed to think freely about these issues.
In this short period of 500 years, a hundred schools of thought contend, and various schools of thought have their own opinions and new theories.
However, there are not many people who can "make sense and hold on to it for a reason".
It was not until Sima Tan’s "On the Essentials of Six Schools" in the Western Han Dynasty that six systematic schools were identified, namely, "Confucianism, Taoism, Mohism, Legalism, Famous Scholars and Yin and Yang Schools".
Of these six schools, each has its own advantages and disadvantages on the surface, but only Confucianism and Taoism are in strict philosophical names.
Therefore,On Chinese studies, Confucianism should be given priority, supplemented by Taoism.
It is a historical fact that Confucianism is dominant.
For example, Sima Qian said in Historical Records of Confucius’ Family that "China’s speech of six arts (six classics) was compromised by Confucius", and autocratic emperors of past dynasties did use Confucianism to educate the people.
However, what needs special vigilance is that it is this kind of imperial autocracy that distorts the original ideal of pre-Qin Confucianism.
As for Taoism, with its broad vision, it provides an infinite space for the harmony between mind and Tao;
However, it is also misunderstood and misused by future generations, which makes it look blurred.
Therefore, if we want to explore the inspiration of Chinese studies on life, the first thing to do is to get to the root of the problem;
To face a huge challenge, it is to cross the autocratic monarchy for more than 2,100 years and return to Confucianism and Taoism in the pre-Qin period.
In short, when we talk about Chinese studies today, we should focus on its inspiration to life, and it is a positive and positive inspiration.