Essay, Research Paper: Mencius And Hsun-tzu About Heaven


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Mencius believes that it is our nature and mind that determine what we are. It
is our fate that governs our fortunes and determines our lease on life. Fate was
originally a patent to a fief-holder, given by the Son of Heaven as Heaven's
deputy to a feudatory. In extended usage it became our lot in life - the fate
ordained by heaven. While people guard their minds and determine their conduct,
they cannot determine their fate, which is in Heaven's hands. So, Mencius
believed that though all humans are innately good, the realization of that good
comes with self-cultivation and self-knowledge. Hsun-tzu could not accept
Mencius idealistic view of human nature, nor did he believe that Heaven was the
sole arbiter of human behavior. He believed that the importance of humankind in
the universe is equal to but different from the importance of Heaven and Earth:
"Heaven has its seasons, Earth has its riches and man has his culture. This
is what is meant by the Trinity." Humanity's function is to utilize the
resources of Heaven and Earth to create its own culture. This can be done
through the strength acquired from social organization. However, because the
social organization needs to be regulated, lest it break down, and because
"desires are many, but things are few", Hsun-tzu taught that people
need to be restricted and guided by rules and morality. In my view of these two
philosophers, I feel that Mencius' views are much more common in most religious
traditions today. Mencius beliefs are a lot like Christianity, which is the
religion that I am most familiar with. He believes that Heaven is a moral force
whose mandate is to be respected and followed by human beings. We follow
Heaven's mandate by knowing and nourishing our human nature. Our human nature is
good. When you look at the Doctrine of four beginnings, Jen, Yi, Li, and Chih,
when these are fully developed, you have a very wise and harmonious person. If
you have nature you have Heaven. If no nature, no Heaven. This is
self-cultivation. In my religious tradition if you do the will of God, you will
receive eternal life (Heaven).
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