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The discovery of true shame removes the root of all conflicts

Today, first guided class of qìgōng 氣功 at Meimen, focused on the píngshuǎi 平甩 exercise, followed by a meditation. Wonderful people and warm atmosphere. After spending some time sipping their special tea in the tea house, went to their restaurant called Meimen Tea Pavillion (Méimén shuǎichálǔ 梅門甩茶滷), which promotes the ideal of “nourrishing one’s life [energy] with strong tastes” (yǎngshēng lǔwèi 養生滷味). The dining hall is a reconstituted ancient school, displaying traditional mottos on the wall under the portrait of Sun Yat-sen. Here is a picture:

Inside the Meimen Tea Pavillion

For a better definition, see here:  http://www.smugmug.com/photos/i-CvGHkrH/0/L/i-CvGHkrH-L.jpg Now, curiosity demanded to transcribe these characters and to seek their meaning.

The translation below has been adjusted thanks to several readers’ comments but I would appreciate further suggestions for improvement.

禮尚往來 lǐ shàng wǎnglái

義在合宜 yì zài héyí

廉得其情 lián de qíqíng

恥化干戈 chǐ huà gāngē

Courtesy calls for reciprocity

Righteousness derives from what is appropriate

Thorough purity and lucidity leads to obtaining such sensibility

The discovery of true shame removes the root of all conflicts.

The first sentence can easily be traced back to the Book of Rites (Lǐjì 禮記), and I believe it has a lot to do with the current importance given to preserving one’s “face” or reputation (miànzi 面子) by reciprocating gifts or favors. The last sentence, however, is the one that struck a nerve, especially given recent events. The Confucian exemplary person (jūnzǐ 君子) radiates power and virtue that originate from a profound awareness of his or her own limitation, so profound that it leads to what I have translated as “true shame,” an indirect way to indicate realization. The presence of such persons will lead those who surround them to cease conflict and drop all weapons. Furthermore, the microcosm interacts with the macrocosm and, by extension, a realized person will contribute to make warmongers and trigger-happy folks realize their foolishness and help them realize that violence toward others is harming themselves.

Aside from the Confucian classics emphasizing the importance of this deep self-awareness, Chan recorded saying also include the telling example of the Linji master Wǔzǔ Fǎyǎn 五祖法演 (1024?–1104) who expressed his deepest insight by modestly saying he had “discovered true shame” (zhīxiū 知羞).