The Ancient World (HUM 124 - UNC Asheville)/Texts/Analects/Ritual

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Definitions[edit | edit source]

Dictionary definition:[edit | edit source]

  • a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order
  • relating to or done as a religious or solemn rite.

Working definitions developed in class:[edit | edit source]

  • Ritual: setting and understanding your boundaries.
  • Ritual is the key to positive qualities.
  • Life without ritual is inefficient and disadvantageous.
  • Rituals are demonstrated in one's actions by upholding practices of respect and propriety in order to achieve the 'ideal society.'
  • Ritual is way of a civil lifestyle and a mindset that invokes harmony.
  • Rituals are a feature of human society that create bonds between a group of people and are typically seen as a ceremony
  • Rituals are typically a form of religious practice or relate to a religious belief.

Definition of ritual in Confucius:[edit | edit source]

  • rituals in Confucius consist of a combination of elaborate ceremonies and unwritten rules of behavior that govern smooth social interactions. The term has also been translated as “rites”, “rules”, “rules of proprietary”, “rules of behavior”, “courtesy”, “manners”, “etiquette” or “ethics”.

Mention/Examples of Rituals in Confucius[edit | edit source]

  1. After the opening libation has been performed at the sacrifice to the great imperial ancestor "The Master said:' At the di sacrifice' I do not wish to witness what comes after the libation.” ( Book 3 Number 10)
  2. Master you said: 'In the practice of the rite harmony is regarded as the most valuable thing, and in the ways of the ancient kings this is regarded as the most beautiful thing. It is adopted in all matters, both small and great. But sometimes it does not work. If you behave harmoniously because you understand harmony, but do not regulate your conduct with ritual, surely that cannot be made to work. ( Book 1 Number 12)
  3. Master you said: 'When good faith is close to righteousness, one's words may be fulfilled. When courtesy is close to rites, one keeps shame and dishonor at a distance. If in marriage one does not bring loss to one's relatives, one is surely it to be honored as head of the clan. (Book 1 Number 13)
  4. The Master said: 'If you lead them by means of government and keep order among them by means of punishments, the people are without conscience in evading them. If you lead them by means of ritual, they have a conscience and moreover will submit. (Book 2 Number 3).
  5. Zizhang asked whether ten generations hence could be known about. The Master said: 'The Yin based itself on the Xia ritual and what they subtracted or added may be known. The Zhou based itself on the Yin ritual and what they subtracted or added may be known. The Zhou's possible successors even in a hundred generations may be known about. (Book 2 Number 23)
  6. “The Master said: If one is courteous but does without ritual, then one dissipates one's energies; if one is cautious but does without ritual, then one becomes timid; if one is bold but does without ritual, then one becomes reckless; if one is forthright but does without ritual, then one becomes rude. When gentlemen deal sincerely with their kinsfolk, then the people are stimulated towards humaneness. When old friends are not neglected, then the people will not behave irresponsibly.” (Book 8 Number 2)
  7. "The Master said, 'At fifteen I set my heart upon learning. At thirty, I had planted my feet firm upon the ground. At forty, I no longer suffered from complexities. At fifty, I knew what were the biddings of Heaven. At sixty, I heard them with docile ear. At seventy, I could follow the dictates of my own heart; for what I desired no longer overstepped the boundaries of right.'" (Book 2 Number 4)
  8. "when he held the jade tablet, he gathered himself in as if he could not cope with it. At the highest he held it as if he were bowing, and at the lowest as if he were making a presentation." (Book 10 Number 4)
  9. "Although normally he wore poor garments, he displayed the utmost elegance in his sacrificial robes and headdress." (Book 8 Number 21)
  10. "On the first day of the month he always puts on court dress and goes to court. When he is purifying himself, he always wears a spirit robe made of cotton." (Book 10 Number 5)
  11. "When the villagers were exorcising evil spirits, he put on his court robes and stood on the eastern steps." (Book 10 Number 8)
  12. "When the ruler bestowed food upon him, he always adjusted his mat and then was the first to taste it. When the ruler bestowed uncooked food upon him, he always offered it up after it had been cooked. If the ruler bestowed on him something alive, he always reared it. when he was in attendance at a feast given by the ruler, the ruler sacrificed and then started on the rice." (Book 10 Number 12)
  13. "When a friend died, if there was nowhere to restore him to, he said: 'it is up to me to organize the funeral.' Before a gift from a friend, even if it were a carriage or horses, he did not make obeisance as he would have done if it had been sacrificial meat." (Book 10 Number 16)
  14. "When he met anyone wearing mourning garb, even if he was on familiar terms with him, he always changed countenance, If he met someone wearing a ceremonial cap or a blind person, even if he was in informal attire, he always adopted the appropriate demeanor. Anyone wearing mourning attire he would bow to, touching the front bar of his carriage, and he would do the same to anyone carrying tablets. Whenever sumptuous delicacies appeared, he always changed countenance and stood up. When there was a sudden clap of thunder or the wind turned violent, he always changed countenance." ( Book 10 Number 18)
  15. "If a gentleman is reverent and avoids error, if he is courteous in his dealings, with others and observes the obligations of ritual, then all within the four seas are his brothers." (Book 12 Number 5)

Modern Day Rituals and Relevancy[edit | edit source]

Rituals have come a long way and while they may not be as extreme or drastic, rituals are still extremely relevant in today's world and can be seen everywhere. Rituals are apart of daily life still today even if we don't always see or acknowledge them they offer a since of belonging for many. The act of rituals in modern times have been seen through ethnicity, religion, and culture. It can be used to motivate and move us and as well as acting as a bond to create ties of kinship between each other. Some examples of modern day rituals are: weddings, praying, shaking hands, yoga, they Burning Man Festival, and so much more. while we may not always see rituals they are everywhere even today.

Worldviews in Confucius[edit | edit source]

  • The first worldview I noticed in Confucius is that we have to have an understanding of how one’s life and well-being is tied to others. One becomes self-developed through cultivating virtues and fulfilling one’s social role. This can be seen through use of rituals and self-awareness throughout the book.
  • The second worldview I noticed is that Rituals were primarily focused on gifts, sacrifices, and ceremonies. In todays world rituals may be something as simple as waking up at the same time everyday and going to sleep at the same time everyday.
  • The third worldview I noticed is that the focus is on ethical conduct and the proper way to live in the present world which while still present today we do not live to the extreme worldviews relayed in the text.

References[edit | edit source]

Hagop Sarkissian, "Ritual and Rightness in the Analects." In A. Olberding (ed.), Dao Companion to the Analects, 95-116. Dao Companions to Chinese Philosophy 4. Dordrecht: Springer, 2014. (online copy)