(China-23) If you are interested to learn one early aspect of Chinese philosophy (a way of thinking), come to this mountain

xiqiao
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xiaqiao

SPECIAL NOTE: When I was in college, I studied Chinese or eastern philosophy. The problem for many people is the confusion between philosophy and religion. Some western scholars would like to think Confucianism is not eastern philosophy or Chinese philosophy but a religion. And the same is true for many westerners who are influenced to think of Buddhism as a religion. Both Confucianism and Buddhism are NOT RELIGIONS. For one simple reason, neither system of thinking teaches anything about god or heaven. That seems so obvious to me, at least. So to me as a Chinese, both “isms’ are isms, not a religion. Make sense to you? It is a terrible mistake to think Buddhism is a religion…it has nothing to do with heaven or hell or God. Buddhism talks about life and how to be a better person to escape the tragedies of life. Confucianism talks about life, basically about human relationships in the society,..Anyway,  in November 2017, more than 40 scholars from universities and research institutions from China and Taiwan gathered at a forum at the foot of Xiqiao Mountain, Guangdong Province, China,  to celebrate 500th anniversary of the site, which has become a hub for the study of Neo-Confucianism. Confucian thinking has shaped Chinese thinking since the time of Jesus Christ…Confucius was born before Jesus. For half a millennium, Xiqiao Mountain in Guangdong Province has been a key hub for learning the reformist philosophy of lixue or Neo-Confucianism. Even today, there are villages near the mountain with well preserved ancestral temples, with centuries of history, reflecting the ethics and social orders influenced by Neo-Confucianism. What the center is doing is to teach and spread the word that philosophy is not exclusive to academia but it has something for every one in the society today. It is a way of thinking about self and the world. And Confucius taught about the importance of human relationships…that people is the nation, the nation is the people. If people are well, the nation is well. This is Confucius’ biggest contribution to Chinese philosophy. To Confucius, the Rectification of Names is critical to how a society should be: that means a teacher should be a teacher, a mother should be a mother…and if everyone is true to the essence of his name, the society will be orderly and disciplined. Chaos comes when a doctor is not behaving like a doctor, or when Stupid Trump is behaving not like a president of USA! Get it? Thanks Confucius for the Rectification of Names, in his thinking. As a college professor, I had tried to encourage my students to use the word “philosophy” in their thinking…that each one has our own philosophy about life, career, destiny, et cetera. Share your philosophy of life… Happy Holidays, Steve December 8, 2017

Xiqiao Mountain: Hub for learning philosophy
By Wang Kaihao | China Daily | Updated: 2017-12-08

For half a millennium, Xiqiao Mountain in Guangdong province has been a key hub for learning the reformist philosophy of lixue, or Neo-Confucianism. Wang Kaihao reports.
There is an old saying in China: “No matter how high the mountain is, its name will spread far and wide if there is a fairy.” Xiqiao Mountain on the outskirts of Foshan, a city in southern Guangdong province, is perhaps one such example.

Rated as a national AAAAA-level tourist site, the highest ranking, and honored as one of the “four famous mountains of Guangdong”, Xiqiao Mountain, an extinct volcano, stands out not just for its natural beauty but also for the special place it holds in Chinese philosophy.

In late November, more than 40 scholars from universities and research institutions from both sides of the Taiwan Straits gathered at a forum at the foot of Xiqiao Mountain to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the site becoming a hub for the study of Neo-Confucianism.

After Zhan Ruoshui, an iconic figure in Neo-Confucianism during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), established the first private academy in Xiqiao in 1517, many more scholars gathered there over the following decades, and another three major academies were set up in the area.

Neo-Confucianism, commonly known in China as lixue, was prominent during the Song (960-1279) and Ming dynasties. It is a more secular and practical variety of Confucianism than previous schools, which often borrowed ideas from Taoism and Buddhism.

“Neo-Confucianism in the Song and Ming eras were closely connected with academies,” says Wen Chunlai, a history professor at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, Guangdong’s provincial capital. “When many academies were established in the Xiqiao Mountain, it naturally became an important location for the spread of the philosophy.”

Wen is the executive director of the research institute of Lingnan culture at the university, which launched the forum. Lingnan (which means “south of the mountains”) is a cultural term used mainly to describe geographic regions of today’s Guangdong, Hainan provinces and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

“When we revive the best of traditional culture, we can find many elements in lixue that echo with the core values of modern China,” he explains.
For half a millennium, Xiqiao Mountain in Guangdong province has been a key hub for learning the reformist philosophy of lixue, or Neo-Confucianism. Wang Kaihao reports.
There is an old saying in China: “No matter how high the mountain is, its name will spread far and wide if there is a fairy.” Xiqiao Mountain on the outskirts of Foshan, a city in southern Guangdong province, is perhaps one such example.

Rated as a national AAAAA-level tourist site, the highest ranking, and honored as one of the “four famous mountains of Guangdong”, Xiqiao Mountain, an extinct volcano, stands out not just for its natural beauty but also for the special place it holds in Chinese philosophy.

In late November, more than 40 scholars from universities and research institutions from both sides of the Taiwan Straits gathered at a forum at the foot of Xiqiao Mountain to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the site becoming a hub for the study of Neo-Confucianism.

After Zhan Ruoshui, an iconic figure in Neo-Confucianism during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), established the first private academy in Xiqiao in 1517, many more scholars gathered there over the following decades, and another three major academies were set up in the area.

Neo-Confucianism, commonly known in China as lixue, was prominent during the Song (960-1279) and Ming dynasties. It is a more secular and practical variety of Confucianism than previous schools, which often borrowed ideas from Taoism and Buddhism.

“Neo-Confucianism in the Song and Ming eras were closely connected with academies,” says Wen Chunlai, a history professor at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, Guangdong’s provincial capital. “When many academies were established in the Xiqiao Mountain, it naturally became an important location for the spread of the philosophy.”

Wen is the executive director of the research institute of Lingnan culture at the university, which launched the forum. Lingnan (which means “south of the mountains”) is a cultural term used mainly to describe geographic regions of today’s Guangdong, Hainan provinces and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

“When we revive the best of traditional culture, we can find many elements in lixue that echo with the core values of modern China,” he explains.
“We want to take this opportunity to tell people: Philosophy is not exclusive to academia, but it also has something for people at the grassroots.”

According to Ren Jianmin, an associate researcher at Wen’s institute, lixue was only popular among scholars before the mid-Ming Dynasty, but pioneers like Zhan unlocked its gates to the general public.

“For example, academies in Xiqiao began to accept a wider range of people if they were interested,” Ren says. “The lectures here once attracted people like street vendors and woodcutters. Zhan told people everyone can be a sage.”

Ren attributed the change to the fast growing economy of Guangdong at that time, which made scholars step out of their studies and make contact with a broader section of society.

Even today, there are villages near Xiqiao Mountain with centuries of history. They still have well preserved ancestral temples, reflecting the ethics and social orders greatly influenced by Neo-Confucianism.

Private academies on Xiqiao Mountain faded away from the early 17th century, but the spirit of their teachings has lived on.

“People here were nurtured to be inclusive and open-minded toward different ideologies,” Ren says. “And, they were also taught to be patriotic.”

Kang Youwei, a native of Xiqiao, is an example of a famous political reformer from the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). In 1898, he played a crucial role as a member of a think tank for Emperor Guangxu’s short-lived reforms during a period of deep social crisis in China.

“He trained at the academy and studied traditional Chinese philosophies before later absorbing Western thinking in Hong Kong,” Ren explains.

After the Sun Yat-sen University established the research institute on Xiqiao Mountain in 2011, the glory of the past appears to have returned. The academy where Kang once studied has been rebuilt and the architectural remnants of an academy from the Ming Dynasty have been listed as items of key cultural heritage.

Ren introduces weekly lectures promoting traditional culture at the academy to tourists visiting Xiqiao Mountain and local elementary and high school students. His institute plans to publish more easy-to-read textbooks on lixue, in a bid to revive the tradition.

“It’s just like the time of Zhan,” Ren says. “It’s a good thing for kids to become exposed to traditional Chinese culture in the early stages of their education.”

“No matter where you walk on the streets of Beijing, Guangzhou, Taipei, Tokyo or Seoul, you will find that the interests of young people today are fundamentally similar,” says Huang Yi-long, a history professor from Taiwan Tsinghua University.

“However, when the notion of traditional culture is revived among them, differences do become apparent.”

Huang praises the boom on the Chinese mainland for the revival of interest in the philosophy, especially at a time when education authorities in Taiwan have been cutting texts about traditional Chinese culture from school syllabuses.

“Academic institutions, colleges and governments need to better cooperate and offer guidance to the public,” he says. “There have been some good attempts at this at Xiqiao.”

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