The Vital Force of the Plum Flower and the Spirit of Jade
(Clearwisdom.net) Passed down from gods to humans, Chinese culture is profound and has a very long history. It represents the harmony between nature and mankind. It also highlights the harmony between heaven and earth, with regard to the understanding of the universe, life and morality. Therefore, Chinese people have worshiped heaven and have paid attention to virtue throughout history. They emphasize moral and ethical standards, as seen from various aspects of traditional Chinese culture. People often use such metaphors as the lotus flower for purity--"grown out of mud yet not polluted"--bamboo for integrity, the plum flower for dignity, and jade for the noble inner character of a gentleman. These reflect people's admiration of high virtue, as well as the hope for perfect human character.
In the freezing winter, the plum blossom, which has been praised by people throughout history, foretells the coming of spring. It is elegant, pure, and charming. The far-reaching scent is pleasant, lofty, and respected. Its perseverance and vital force amidst rain and snow also motivate people to strive forward. The plum blossom is the most beautiful in winter, which gives people hope for the wonderfulness of spring.
Many virtuous people of high caliber throughout Chinese history had characters similar to the plum flower. For example, Tao Yuanming preserved his dignity and did not bow to fame and personal interests. Zhuge Liang remained clear-minded and had great aspirations. Liu Yuxi held the entire world in his mind although he resided in a simple, crude den. Lu You was demoted several times, but was always loyal to the nation. In addition, throughout his life, Lu You loved and praised the plum flower, considering himself as having the character of the plum flower.
The attributes of of jade make it a valuable component of traditional Chinese culture. Part moral concept and part etiquette, jade represents Chinese traditional spirit and values. The quality of jade was used as a metaphor for the virtue of a gentleman. In Confucianism, the meaning of jade was well explained. Confucius once said, "A gentleman treasures virtue just like jade," and "A gentleman always carries jade with him." The connection between jade and a gentleman was stated in this way, and was used to discipline scholars and officials. It is said that jade has five characteristics: Jade is smooth and glossy, which represents benevolence. Jade has edges but will not hurt others, which represents righteousness. When jade is hung as a pendant, it represents proper etiquette. Jade is thoroughly solid and dense, which represents wisdom. Jade is colorful and yet clear inside and out, which represents honesty. Therefore, jade has the characteristics of benevolence, righteousness, etiquette, wisdom, and honesty.
The color of jade is transparent to opaque, just like that of the sky, and it represents a gentleman's noble, pure, and peaceful character. The blemishes are also easy to see, just like a gentleman's candor in not hiding his shortcomings. In addition, the beauty of jade can be seen from any angle. It is just like a gentleman's integrity and consistence in virtue--no cheating even when he is alone. Not only does the color of jade match the sky, its meaning is also consistent with the heavenly way. In addition, the spirit of jade can be seen in the mountains and rivers. It was said that, "The presence of jade will make rivers more beautiful and mountains more gorgeous." In other words, jade can help harmonize many things, just like a gentleman's virtue can help everyone around him. Everyone likes beautiful jade, because high virtue represents the Tao and is respected everywhere.
Throughout history, sages and men of virtue have followed the heavenly way and used it to educate people. Confucius spent his entire life teaching people to be benevolent, and persevered in spite of hardship. Mengzi proposed that, "A benevolent person has no enemies." Emperor Taizong in the Tang Dynasty had compassion towards people and created a prosperous era, establishing an example for his offspring.
Nowadays, the level of morality has dropped significantly. How many people can still keep their good nature?
Falun Dafa has spread throughout the world, bringing people hope and a good future. At this critical moment, many people follow the principles of "Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance" to purify their minds. They also spread the truth to more people to awaken them. Just like the vital force of the plum flower and the spirit of jade, these people have determined faith and are courageous in defending truth.
May 14, 2008