01 May 2018

Mindfulness and The Book of Great Learning

The mindfulness practice can be found in the Confucianism Book of the Great Learning. The steps are discussed here.
How does one develop one's character to be mature? I have always thought that just by learning, memorizing and then practicing over time. Recently, the word, "mindfulness" becomes very popular.  It is being popularized by the positive psychologists and medical doctors. But its actual origin dates back to the ancient world of the Buddhism, Daoism, and Christianity. Some call it meditation. Christians call it Quiet-Time with prayers and worship.

The Book of Great Learning 大学 begins with:



The above translation, using the perspective of mindfulness, is slightly different from the usual translation of the book. That is likely due to the text itself was too brief. But I find the above translation more practical and meaningful, given the present advances of the neuro and brain sciences.

Daily Practices and Not Annual Resolutions

The growth occurs daily and not annually. If we want our annual resolutions to really work, we have to do that every day and not once in a year.

Consider Zeng Zi (a disciple of Confucius) recorded in Analect Chapter 1v4
曾子曰:“吾日三省吾身:为人谋而不忠乎?与朋友交而不信乎?传不习乎?”
Zeng Zi said, "I daily reflect on my life on the following three things: have I been faithful in my work for others? Have I been trustworthy with friends? Have I practiced what I teach others?"

In the Bible, we find Daniel 10:6b Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before

Leading Others begins with Leading Ourselves from Within

The top step of the 8-steps is ruling the world with peace.  But the first step is about observation and the study of things. Chinese philosophies have always been teaching leadership begins with self. If we can't rule ourselves, how can we rule others? Zhuang Zi uses the phrase 内圣外王 ruling outward as a king from the inside as a saint. Mencius uses 内修外治 internal development enables management of the external affairs. 

Ruling ourselves begin with the daily practice of being mindful and aware of what we have done, how we are feeling and thinking now, and our plan for the day. It is becoming an observer of ourselves and be a manager of our behavior following the virtues that we so desire to have.

See also:Character Development, Modern Science and Mindfulness Practices

Lim Liat (c) 1 May 2018

For more see Understanding The Great Learning DaXue in One Minute
and even more, see Confucius and the Ru School
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