Friday, May 29, 2009

Simple thoughts on duty, loyalty, and justice (2)

When we are young, we may not be too concerned about the differences between the terms: duty (qin wu / yi wu), loyalty (zhong xin), and justice (yi).

The young like to have fun, more fun, if you will, than older folks. But as we grow older, we may want to know what these terms really mean either for self cultivation or for discourses with likeminded friends. In that we are going in deeper to learn Chinese culture as well as learning to differentiate between right and wrong, and therefore it may lead to the beginning of wisdom.

In the 1980s, my father and I were having a discussion on the Romance of the Three Kingdoms when he asked if I knew what the God of War was famous for.

Trying to impress him, I said that Guan Yu or Guan Yunchang was known as the God of War because of his various exploits in wars such as solitarily killing six captains/generals at five passes.

He was known to have performed his duty well as a general defending against the enemy, and was very loyal to his sworn brothers – Liu Bei and Zhang Fei. He could not be bought over by Cao Cao who had offered him many valuable gifts including the famous Red Hare, and hand maidens, with a hope that Guan Yu would join his forces. But Guan Yu left all these behind and fled riding on Red Hare when he heard that both his sworn brothers were still alive, killing the six captains who tried to stop him at the passes.

My father corrected me by saying:

Guan Gong no doubt was famous for all that, but his real fame was because of his righteousness/ justice (yi).

To be continued.

1 comment:

ngchuanling said...