Sources_vol_1_pp_271-278

Sources_vol_1_pp_271-278 - INTRODUCTION TO ASIAN...

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Unformatted text preview: INTRODUCTION TO ASIAN CIVILIZATIONS Sources of Korean Tradition VOLUME I Wm. Theodore de Bury, General Editor Sources of Iapanese Tradition W3) ’ — 7 7 Sources of Chinese Tradition (1960) Sources of Indian Tradition (1958, revisad 1988) From Early Times Through the Sixteenth Century Edited by Peter H. Lee and Wm. Theodore de Bary with Yongho Ch’oe and Hugh H. W. Kang COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS‘NEW YORK 270 - EARLYCHosoN - in its dealings with Ch’ing for a long period of time—at one time even scheming to undertake a military retaliation against the Manchu. Although the first half of the Chosen dynasty’s rule witnessed a number of domestic conflicts and external threats, the Chosen state overcame them and maintained a remarkably stable political and social system. During this period, the Chosen dynasty attained a number of achievements. Particularly noteworthy is the spectacular success of King Seiong’s rule; his successors, however, were unable to match the standard of rulership Seiong had set. Wfihmfillaual pursuits, althougthfisis wmlECEd on conformity than on heterogeneity, the early Choson dynasty nevertheless made significant advances in the scholarly pursuit of philosophical and metaphysical issues. In the arts and literature, a number of creative men and women have bequeathed us an array of impressive works. In the social and economic sectors, though the Choson dynasty never enioyed spectacular wealth, its people in general lived in reasonable security and comfort, with adequate supplies of daily necessities. These are no small achievements for any preindustrialized state. YC CHAPTI TEEN Founding the new dynasty of Choson~replacing the Koryr‘i dynasty that had ruled Korea for nearly five hundred years—was not an easy task for General Yi songgye. First he had to overcome the forces of opposition that had a vested interest in the Koryo court. This he accomplished with little blood- shed by means of a coup d’état. Imposing a new rule on the disaffected people, however, was an entirely different matter. Therefore, Yi Sbnggye had to rely upon the Neo—Confucian literati to organize‘a new government and set up a new code of regulations for his fledgling state. Fortunately for him, he was able to attract a number of capable and reform-minded scholar— officials who were willing to work with him. With their help, Yi Sénggye justified the inauguration of the new dynasty in the name of the Mandate of Heaven. Thus, the Choson state embarked on its course toward realizing a Neo- Confucian society while rejecting or suppressing deeply rooted Buddhist beliefs and native traditions. To start anew, the dynastic founder decided to shift the capital from Songdo (now Kaesong). After careful considerations of several alternative sites, Hanyang (present-day Seoul) was chosen as the new capital, which then was developed in accord with careful city planning. Upon his ascension to the throne on the seventeenth of the seventh month in 1392, King T'aeio issued decrees covering a variety of administra— 272 - EARLY cnosén tive issues, making appointments throughout the top bureaucracy, and re— porting the founding of the new dynasty to the Ming emperor. On the twenty-eighth, he issued what may be called his "founding edict,” asserting his legitimacy, claiming the loyalty of his officials, and setting forth the means and rationale for action in several key areas of government. DC King T’aejo: Founding Edict [From T’aejo sillok 1:43a-45a] The king issued the following edict to all the officials and the people: The king announces: It is Heaven which created all the people of the earth, Heaven which ordaines their rulers, Heaven which nurtured them to share life with each other, and Heaven which governed them so as to enjoy peace with one another. There have been both good and bad rulers, and there have been times when people followed their rulers willingly and other times when they turned against them. Some have been blessed with the Mandate of Heaven and others have lost it. This is a principle that has remained constant. 0n the sixteenth of the seventh month of the twenty—fifth year in the reign of the Hung-wu Emperor [1392], the Privy Council [Top’yongdisasa] and all ranks of officials together urged me to take the throne, saying: "After King Kongmin died leaving no legitimate heir the doom of the Koryo dynasty was sealed. Although King Kongyang [1389—1392] was empowered temporarily to take charge of state affairs, he was confused and broke the law, causing many people to rebel and even his own relatives to turn against him, and he was incapable of preserving and protecting the ancestral shrines and institutions. How could anyone restore what Heaven has abandoned? The ancestral shrines and institutions should only be entrusted to one who is worthy, and the throne must not be left vacant for long. People's minds are all looking up to your meritorious achievements and virtue, and you should accept the throne to rectify the situation, thereby satis— fying the people’s desire." Fearful that I lack both virtue and capacity to assume the awesome respon— sibilities, I declined the offer of the throne repeatedly. But I am told that the people’s wishes are such that Heaven’s will is clearly manifested in them and that no one should refuse the wishes of the people, 'for to do so is to act contrary to the will of Heaven. Because the people insisted so steadfastly, I yielded finally to their will and ascended the throne. Now that we are at the threshold of a new beginning, I must show abundant grace, and I hereby announce the following policies for the benefit of the people. - Foundng the Chosdn Dynasty - 273 As for the civil and the military examinations, I will not abandon one in favor of the other. Let more students be chosen for the Royal Confucian Academy in the capital and the county schools in order to promote scholarship and train men of talent. The original purpose of the examination system was to recruit men of talent for the state. With the practice of calling the examiners "masters" and the candidates "disciples," the system of impartial selection has been replaced by a system of private favors. This does not accord with the original purpose of the law. From now on, the registrar of the Royal Confucian Academy in the capital and ’thegovernorfifmh Wme will select those studerit’s’ifimlfiiols who are bright in the classics and of good character; they will certify their age, clan, and three ancestors and record the classics they have mastered; and then they will send them to the director of the Royal Confucian Academy—The students will then be examined on their knowledge of the classics, and those who did well on the Four Books and the Five Classics as well as the Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Governance [Tzu-chih t'ung-chien] will be ranked according to the degree of their mastery. Those who pass this first stage of the examination will be sent to the Ministry of Rites for the second stage, where they will be tested on their ability to compose documentary prose [p’yo], memorials [Chang], and rhyme-prose [kobu]. They will then be examined at the final stage on problem essays [ch’aeng— mun]. Of those who are successful in all three stages of examination, thirty-three men will be selected. They will then be forwarded to‘the Ministry of Personnel for appointment to an office according to their abilities. The Military Training Administration will be in charge of instruction in military matters. Candidates will be instructed in the seven military classics as well as marksmanship and horsemanship, and they will then be ranked according to their mastery of the classics and their skill as marksmen and horsemen. Thirty-three finalists will be awarded the military degree in the manner of awarding the civil examination degree. Their names then will he sent to the Ministry of War for official appointment. The cardinal rituals of our state are the rites of capping, marriage, funerals, and ancestor worship. In order for human relations to be harmonized and customs to be rectified, let the Ministry of Rites carefully research the classics and codes, deliberate on past practices, and then establish regulations for the rituals. We cannot overemphasize the importance of the magistrates, whose duties involve direct dealing with the people. The Privy Council, the Censorate, and the Six Ministries will recommend those whom they know to be just, fair, upright, and capable of appointments as magistrates. After thirty months in office, those whose records are outstanding will be promoted. If any fail to live up to expecta- tions, those who recommended them will bear the blame. Because of the importance of morals and customs, we should encourage loyal 274 - EARLYCHOSON - ministers, filial sons, righteous husbands, and faithful wives. Let local officials seek out such people and recommend them for preferential treatment and further advancement and for memorial arches to commemorate their virtuous deeds. The king should place importance on extending sympathy and providing relief to aged widowers and widows, orphans, and the childless. All local officials should assist those who are hungry and destitute within their jurisdiction and should give them exemption from corvée duties. . Toward the end of Koryo, there was no unified system of criminal Justice. The Ministry of Punishments, the constabulary, arm Wdetention halls all meted out punishments on their own. These were not always appropriate. Henceforth the Ministry of Punishments will be in charge of the criminal code, litigation, and criminal investigations and punishments. The constabulary, on the other hand, will be in charge of patrolling, catching thieves, and maintaining order. At present, when the Ministry of Punishments renders judgmentin a case, the culprit is invariably stripped of his writ of appointment and forced to resign his post, even if the offense is only punishable by flogging, and guilt is attached to his descendants. This is not the way the sage-kings meant it to be. DC Admonition to the New King [From T’aejo sillok 1:40a—42b] The Office of the Inspector-General was one of two main bodies (the other was the Office of the Censor-General) whose functions included remonstrating with the king and pronouncing on morals in general and abuse of public office in particular. The inspector-general was a high- ranking official (Rank 2B), sometimes even a member of the State Coun— cil. This document is an admonition to the new king to avoid the evil practices of the past by setting up new procedures. A key element is the repeated concern over the appointment of good men to office, reflecting the early Chosen dynasty’s critiques of government in the late Kory?) period. Notable too are the numerous allusions to the Chinese classics, which give authority and legitimacy to the ideas being expressed. DC Once again the Inspector-General memorialized the throne: Your Majesty, responding to the call of Heaven, has accepted the mandate and has now ascended the throne. In the Book of Documents it is written: "God dwelling in the great heavens has changed his decree in favor of his eldest son and this great dynasty of Yin. Our king has received that decree. Unbounded is - Founding the Chosen Dynasty - 275 the happiness connected with it, and unbounded is the anxiety. 0h! How can he be other than reverent?"1 Reverence is the heart’s controlling force and the basis of all things. Thus, whether on such important occasions as serving and offering sacrifices to Heaven or in such small matters as rising, dwelling, eating, and resting, one should never turn away from piety for even a moment. Thus it is our earnest wish that Your Majesty think constantly as if you were with the Lord of Heaven and act as if the Lord of Heaven were present, even in moments of idleness. In dealing with * *matterrofistate; you should be even more prudfitfn your thinking. If you do this, the reverence in your heart will be sufficient to move Heaven, and you will be able to realize the ideal rule. With this memorial we undertake respectfully to enumerate certain things you should do. We sincerely hope that you will adopt and implement them so that the model of this generation can be emulated by myriad generations. First, establish rules and laws. One who wishes to rule his state well should not be concerned about safety and peril; rather, he should be concerned with whether the rules and laws are properly established. Second is an unambiguous system of rewards and punishments. Thirdis the cleaving to superior men and distancing yourself from inferior men. Truly it is necessary to distinguish between superior men and inferior men. The superior man is one who is honest and holds to principle, not relying on others; who knows how to act with utmost loyalty when in office and how to counsel the sovereign in his weakness when not in office; who is open and fair-minded; who is concerned about the ancestral shrines and institutions and not about himself. The inferior man is one who is wicked and sycophantic; who curries favor to gain acceptance; who usurps authority and abuses it; who claims credit for the accomplishments of others and ingratiates himself with servile flattery; who is concerned solely with his selfish interests without heedingothers’ opinions. Superior men are hard to find and easy to lose, inferior men are easy to find and hard to get rid of. Fourth is the willingness to accept remonstrance. The sovereign’s majesty is like thunder; his power is as weighty as iron. Is it an easy thing for the minister to brave the thunder and bear the heavy weight to offer his sovereign words as if to cure his ailments? And yet the difference between accepting and rejecting such advice can mean the difference between good fortune and disaster, between profit and loss for the state. Fifth is rooting out slanderous talk. Sixth is to beware of indolence and dissoluteness. The desire to be in repose in the palace; to feast on fine food; to enjoy the ministrations of your queen and palace women, the pleasures of the 276 - EARLchosoN . hunt, raising dogs and horses; and to amuse yourself with flowers and plants: all these things harm men’s disposition and dissipate their will. Therefore, one must exercise caution. For indeed, the Mandate of Heaven is a transient thing. Seventh is respect for frugality and economy. Eighth is the shunning of eunuchs. The problem of eunuchs is an old one. Ninth is the weeding out of unqualified Buddhist clergy. They mingle with ordinary people, using high—sounding words and professing high ideals, bedaz— zling even scholars and intimidating simple folk with talk of retribution for sin, fostering wasteful habits among the people and encouraging them to foifike their proper occupations. Indeed, nothing is more likely to destroy the state and sicken the people than this. We beseech Your Majesty to round up these Buddhist clerics and‘examine them carefully on their doctrine and practice. Those who truly know the doctrine and truly practice virtue should be allowed to teach: all the others should be made to let their hair grow out and return to their former occupations. Tenth is the regulation of access to the palace. The establishment of the palace is meant to enhance the sovereign’s power and to define clearly the boundary between the inner and outer courts. We beseech Your Majesty to order the gate guards to prohibit the unauthorized entry of anyone without official position, and especially to spurn shamans who practice women’s magic and those who cunningly flatter. Your ministers believe that trust is the sovereign’s greatest asset—for the state is protected by the people, and the people are protected by trust. For this reason, the sage would sooner have done without an army and food to eat than to have done without trust, and that is a profound lesson for later generations and our time as well. If you do not‘act with trust in attracting superior men and spurning inferior men, the superior will easily become estranged from you, and the inferior will easily find their way into your company. If you do not act with trust in hearing remonstrance and in trying to root out slander, you will find that good advice seems unpleasant to the ear while flattering words will come to influence your decisions. We beseech Your Majesty to keep this trust unwaveringly and firmly, to enforce these points as faithfully as the seasons follow one another, never forsaking the mandate granted you by Heaven above to help you, nor the desires of the officials and the people to have you lead them as their king, so that unbounded peace will prevail for myriad generations. DC . Founding the Chosén Dynasty - 277 Moving to the New Capital [From T'aejo sillok 6:113—13a] Choosing a new location for the capital was an important symbolic step for the new dynasty. The decadence of the final years of Koryé encouraged thoughts of a fresh start in a new city, despite the great effort and inconve- nience that would attend such a move. Many things had to be taken into account in siting the new city. It had to be defensible, for example, yet accessible 'brwate'r and road so that offifils’ WIWI'and taxable ’ commodities could be carried in and out. The lay of the land was im— portant, too, though T’aejo’s officials differed in their respect for the laws of geomancy. The Chinese classics had to be consulted in order to determine precedents for moving the capital. And beneath it all were the practical considerations of officials who apparently did not want to leave Songdo, the metropolitan center of Korea, for the undeveloped valley of Hanyang (present-day Seoul). DC In considering whether to establish the capital here, he had first ordered his officials to scout out the area. The Director of Treasury Chong Tojon said: "Since the Three Kingdoms period in our country, our capitals have been Kyerim [Kyongju] in the east, Wansan [Chénju] in the south, and P’yongyang in the north, while in the center there is Songgyong [Songdo or Kaesong]. Kyerim and Wansan are located in isolated corners of the country, in places too remote for the effective conduct of royal business. P'yongyang is too near the northern frontier, and your minister believes it, too, is unsuitable for a capital. "Your Majesty’s rule follows that of the collapsed former dynasty. Because the people’s livelihood has not yet recovered and the foundation of the state has not yet been consolidated, it would be better that you first pacify the people and allow them to rest so that they can regain strength. You should select a suitable site for the capital in accordance with the heavenly signs and people’s wishes and should wait for a proper time to move. In this way, all will be safe while your dynasty’s rule over Chosén will be everlasting along with the descendants of your ministers. "Those who discuss geomancy nowadays are drawing on the experiences of earlier people rather than on their own, justras your minister's words are based on the experiences of earlier people. How, then, can one believe in geomancers and reject the wisdom of Confucian scholars? Your minister’s fervent hope is that 278 - EARLY cnoséN Your Majesty will deeply ponder this problem, put the people’s welfare first, and only then try divination to determine a new capital, so as to avoid misfortunes." The next day the king inspected the ancient palace sites of the southern capital and observed the configurations of the mountains. He then asked Yun Sindal and his other companions: "What about this place?” Yun replied: "Within the borders of our land, Songdo is the best spot of all, but this is next best. However, it has one regrettable feature: the northwest ’corrreristorrtowsothesspring waterdriesruprtoo 'readily;" The king was pleased and said: "How can there be no deficiencies even in Songdo? As I see the terrain of this place, it seems like a fit location for a royal capital. What is more, it is accessible by water, it is centrally located, and it will also be a convenient place for the people." The king then spoke to the Royal Preceptor Chach’o, asking: "What do you think?" Chach’o answered: "There are heights and scenic beauty on all sides here, and the center is level. It is a good place for fortifications and also for a capital. Still, you should consider the opinions of many people before you decide.” The king then ordered his ministers to discuss it, and they returned with a consensus: "If you are determined to move the capital, then this is a good place to move it to.” Ha Yun [1347—1416] alone dissented, saying: "The mountains seem well configured, but from the standpoint of geomancy it cannot be considered good." Then the king, acting on the advice of his ministers, decided on Hanyang as the capital. D0 » CHAPT TEEN Political Thought in Early Choson The founders of Choson were fully committed to Sung NCO-Confucianism as their guiding creed and endeavored to transform Korea into a Confucian state in which the Ch’eng—Chu tradition would be properly preserved. For the scholar-officials of early Chosen, Nee-Confucianism was above all a political philosophy that, grounded in the sociopolitical models ‘of China's antiquity, provided them with reliable and efficient patterns for reforming state and society. They spoke of Neo—Confiicianism as “substantial learning” (sirhak) that provided not only a new political vision but also answers to the most pressing problems of their time. Korean Nee-Confucianism recognized the Great Learning (To hsiieh)— the small treatise that Chu Hsi (1130—1200) had selected as one of the Four Books—as the basic text that outlined a systematic and pragmatic program for moral education as well as political action. The fundamental purpose of scholarship now was to re-create the ideal political order as exemplified by China’s sage-rulers, Yao and Shun, and the founders of the Hsia, Shang, and Chou. This connection between scholarship and good rule developed in the course of time into an idealistic imperative of great intensity that ran like a thread through all political thought of early Choson. MD ...
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Sources_vol_1_pp_271-278 - INTRODUCTION TO ASIAN...

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