ASIA212Varley

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Unformatted text preview: a period;8 and, as we will see in the next chapter, it also facilitated the development of other, heterodox lines of intellectual inquiry. Whereas the objective course to the clarification of one’s r i was fully within the Confucian tradition, the subjective course appeared to have been taken almost directly from Buddhism, and in particular Zen. It was the course of “preserving one’s heart by holding fast to seriousness,” which called for the clarification of r i by means remarkably similar to Zen meditation. This does not mean, of course, that Neo-Confucianism and Zen were in any true sense the same. Whereas Zen and Buddhism in general urged individuals to renounce this world of suffering and perpetual flux and to seek entry to a transcendent realm of bliss (in the case of Zen, through satori or “enlightenment”), Neo-Confucianism held that the physical world was based on an inherently perfect moral order that could be known through the illumination of r i writ small and the supreme ultimate writ large. In short, whereas Buddhism aspired to perfection in another world, Neo-Confucianism sought it in this world. Neo-Confucianism’s focus on this world harked back to the most fundamental teaching of Confucius himself, which was his humanism. And from this standpoint Neo-Confucianism, in keeping with all other Confucian schools, was primarily concerned with the conduct and affairs of people in the here and now. Social order demanded a strict hierarchical structuring of the classes and conformity by all people with the obligations imposed by the five primary human relationships: the relationships between father and son, ruler and subject, husband and wife, older and younger brothers, and two friends. It can readily be imagined how appealing the rulers of Tokugawa Japan found these highly conservative social strictures that called upon people everywhere to accept without question their lots in life and to place highest value in the performance of such duties as filial piety to their parents and loyalty to their overlords. Tokugawa social hierarchy (based on samurai as rulers, and peasants, artisans, and merchants as ruled) had, in fact, emerged from medieval feudalism. Neo-Confucia...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.

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