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Analect Four - Daily Introspection


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#1 ChiDragon

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    Interested in finding and demystify ancient ambiguous ineffable concepts in correlation with modern scientific knowledge.

Posted 15 November 2012 - 02:03 PM

曾子曰:「吾日三省吾身─為人謀而不忠乎?與朋友交而不信乎?傳不習乎?」


曾子說“我每天多次自我反省:替別人謀划是否忠心?与朋友交往是否守信?學業是否時常溫習?”

曾子said: "I introspect myself many times a day: When I worked for others, was I loyal? When I associate with friends, was I trustworthy? Before I teach, did I prepare myself?"


Edited by ChiDragon, 15 November 2012 - 02:20 PM.

靜觀其變 以靜制動
Beware of the unexpected silently
Handle adversity with calmness

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#2 林愛偉

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 03:35 AM

It is always important that a cultivator of the way checks him/herself out daily. This kind of investigation allows one to cultivate honesty, humility and virtue. After knowing one's own faults, it is best to apply oneself in changing them. Thus, further refining to a more complete being.


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#3 manitou

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 01:26 PM

Was I judgmental today?  Was I arrogant?  Was I appreciative of nature and spirit manifesting around me?  Did I return unkindness with kindness?  Did I do everything with the most loving heart I could?  Did I keep my word, even in the smallest details?  Did I try to be impeccable in my thoughts, words, and actions?  Did I see all people as One and not place one over the other in my estimation?  Was I demonstrative of the Three Treasures possessed by the Sage?  Never be the first....never too much....Love  (Yutang translation)  Did I "let it be" when it was called for?  Was my ego tame today?  Was I tolerant of right wingers, lol?


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Joy is the Dao.

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#4 JustARandomPanda

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 07:36 PM

Master Zeng1 said: "I daily thrice examine myself. In counseling men, have I not been wholeheartedly sincere? In associating with friends, have I not been truthful to my word? In transmitting something, have I not been proficient?

 

1Zeng Shen: one of Master Kong's prominent disciples



#5 Turner

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Posted 01 October 2014 - 08:07 PM

This thread is over a year and a half old, but I'm curious to know more about this topic. 

 

Do any of you know of helpful exercises for this type of introspection or self-examination?  Are there any formal practices related to this in the Confucian tradition?  

 

Thanks!



#6 manitou

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Posted 02 October 2014 - 06:36 AM

Hi Turner - welcome to TTB's!

 

What the inner process develops is Self Awareness, which is necessary for any enlightenment.

 

Many get there through meditations and reflection on their character defects.  I think that meditating at the end of the day and looking for your part in any disagreement you may have had during the day would be a good place to start.  The important thing is to try and do this with what's known as a 'Christ consciousness', in other words - don't be defensive of yourself.  Step aside of yourself without emotion and look at it quite objectively.  Ask your higher self to remove this defect of character - I guarantee that it will be removed, but not by your higher self reaching down into your throat and removing the defect - but rather by leading you into situations where this defect will come into play time and time again until you get the message.

 

There are some of us who are recovering from some substance problems on this forum.  There was a fast and dirty way that us recover-ers have used to do this process - it's the 12 steps of recovery, which you can google easily.  Take a look specifically at step 4, 5, 8, and 9.  Step 4 will have you make a list of your personal defects - it's called a personal inventory, and it tells you to be 'fearless and thorough' while you're doing this.  Step 5 takes you into the humiliation of having to tell another person (a very trusted one, to be sure) of the nature of your wrongs. This is a precedent for the true humiliation of having to make amends to any person you have harmed in your life - which are reflected in steps 8 and 9.

 

This process strips you down to your core, and the end result of this, if thorough enough, is self realization after some years.  It's an ongoing process which continues to this day, in my case.  I'm always looking for my part in things and make apology immediately when the need arises, to prevent new karma from building.

 

There are more Buddha-oriented step programs out there too - someone on this forum recently posted the title of a book about this - if you can find the Healing Circle, click on that and then click on The Tao and the 12 Steps - I think it might have been CT who posted a similar but Buddhist-oriented book on 'steps' to go inside the self.

 

If you want to bounce any of these ideas or steps off me (I've been sponsoring people for over 30 years on this very thing) please feel free to send me a message via PM (Personal Message) - you can just click on my name and a 'Send Me a Message' box will pop up.  We can continue this discussion privately, if you wish.

 

The very best wishes to you, whichever inner journey you choose.  You are among a small number of people on this forum who understand the necessity for doing this, but the folks who have taken the time to do this are spectacular!


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Joy is the Dao.

-The mysterious dancer in the black cowboy hat-


#7 Turner

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Posted 02 October 2014 - 04:35 PM

Thanks for this wonderful reply, Manitou, and for the warm welcome to TTBs!

 

I am somewhat familiar with the personal inventory of the 12 steps, but hadn't even thought about it in these terms.  What a great insight.  I know that this is a very powerful process for a lot of people who are in recovery.  

 

I really like how you describe the purification process--very organic. And it is true to experience, I think.  It'd be nice if such defects were just removed magically, but they are probably more often slowly burned off... or gradually overcome by the small gains in strength or clarity that come from tiny victories.  

 

The list of questions you posted above (your Jan. 2013 message) is very helpful too.  I think it's good to set the bar high.  For example, you offer this question for introspection: "Did I do everything with the most loving heart I could?"  For me personally, this question is almost always answered in the negative... that's just me being honest.  But it is a high bar.  So, what is the best response?  Look for small entryways into growth? realistic improvements? focused and objective resolutions?  I don't think there is one correct answer there, but I do think that the goals should be reasonable and that one should have a healthy dose of forgiveness and grace ready for oneself.  Otherwise, it can become quite demoralizing!  

 

And totally agree with what you said about the need for objective investigation on these things.  If we're trying to be our own defense attorney, it seems like we're lacking the proper intention from the get-go.  

 

So many great things to think about here.  I may even post another reply later, as this one was a bit rushed.

 

One aside: Do you know much about jing zuo, or Confucian quiet sitting, and if it might at all relate to this?  I know this forum is primarily focused on the Taoist tradition, but I wonder if this Confucian (and somewhat Taoist and Buddhist) practice might be of practical use on this matter. 



#8 Zhongyongdaoist

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Posted 02 October 2014 - 05:05 PM

Welcome to the Tao Bums.

 

In regard to this:

 

One aside: Do you know much about jing zuo, or Confucian quiet sitting, and if it might at all relate to this?  I know this forum is primarily focused on the Taoist tradition, but I wonder if this Confucian (and somewhat Taoist and Buddhist) practice might be of practical use on this matter. 

 

You may find the discussion here of interest:

 

Confucian Qi Gong


Donald
aka Zhongyongdaoist


'It is better for us that there should be difference of judgment, if we keep charity: but it is most unmanly to quarrel because we differ'

'Nothing spoils human Nature more, than false Zeal ... because I may be Mistaken, I must not be dogmatical and confident, peremptory and imperious. I will not break the certain Laws of Charity, for a doubtful Doctrine or of uncertain Truth'

'... I oppose not rational to spiritual; for spiritual is most rational: But I contradistinquish rational to conceited, impotent , affected CANTING ...'

All by Benjamin Whichcote, 17th Century English Theologian, quoted from Ernst Cassirer's The Platonic Renaissance in England, a much neglected book of Wisdom.

All of that said it remains true that:

Only the man of virtue knows whom to love and whom to hate. Confucius, Analects 4.3

#9 Turner

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Posted 02 October 2014 - 05:12 PM

Hi Zhongyongdaoist!  I love that thread, and it's one of the main reasons I signed up for TTBs.

 

I'll give it another look right now.  Great to hear from you, and thanks for the reply message.



#10 manitou

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Posted 03 October 2014 - 05:53 AM

One more thing, Turner - consider making a list of every single character defect you can think of.  Then 'assume' that you have every single one of them, to some degree.  That's another way to start - by actually admitting to them first, before you even find it.  Takes the sting out of altogether - it just becomes a question of degree.


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Joy is the Dao.

-The mysterious dancer in the black cowboy hat-


#11 Zhongyongdaoist

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Posted 03 October 2014 - 12:24 PM

I have said elsewhere several times that I 'believe' that the most profound and useful form of introspection and self-inquiry is the inventory of beliefs. To take advantage of what Manitou has posted take an inventory of all the things that you do believe and then assume that you are wrong about them. Then take an inventory of everything that you don't believe and then assume that you are wrong about them. Then ask yourself why do I believe this, why don't I believe that.

It's no good saying that 'so and so', whether great mystic, prophet or teacher said it, because then you have to ask why do I believe what they said. You can't say that it is scientific, or 'church' doctrine because then you have to answer why do you believe that science or the 'church' can be considered authoritative. Eventually you come down to the decisions that you have made about what you believe and why you believe it.

Some people try to short circuit this process by saying "I don't believe it, I know it", but then the question is 'Why do you believe that you know it?' and what beliefs do you have about 'knowledge' that allows you to claim it?
 
I could go on, but I have said enough to get the general point across, however, I anticipate a criticism that such an inquiry is all about words and beliefs and I should get 'out of my head and into my heart and belly.'  Since I have recently had reason to mention General Semantics on the Tao Bums and have mentioned it elsewhere in the past, I will quote an interesting story told about its founder Alfred Korzybski:
 

One day, Korzybski was giving a lecture to a group of students, and he interrupted the lesson suddenly in order to retrieve a packet of biscuits, wrapped in white paper, from his briefcase. He muttered that he just had to eat something, and he asked the students on the seats in the front row if they would also like a biscuit. A few students took a biscuit. "Nice biscuit, don't you think," said Korzybski, while he took a second one. The students were chewing vigorously. Then he tore the white paper from the biscuits, in order to reveal the original packaging. On it was a big picture of a dog's head and the words "Dog Cookies." The students looked at the package, and were shocked. Two of them wanted to vomit, put their hands in front of their mouths, and ran out of the lecture hall to the toilet. "You see," Korzybski remarked, "I have just demonstrated that people don't just eat food, but also words, and that the taste of the former is often outdone by the taste of the latter.  (Wikipedia on Alfred Korzybski: Anecdotes)

 
We all 'ate' a lot of words growing up and a lot of them are there in our hearts and our bellies and the they determine who we think we are and how we act.  Maybe we should get to know what they are.
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Donald
aka Zhongyongdaoist


'It is better for us that there should be difference of judgment, if we keep charity: but it is most unmanly to quarrel because we differ'

'Nothing spoils human Nature more, than false Zeal ... because I may be Mistaken, I must not be dogmatical and confident, peremptory and imperious. I will not break the certain Laws of Charity, for a doubtful Doctrine or of uncertain Truth'

'... I oppose not rational to spiritual; for spiritual is most rational: But I contradistinquish rational to conceited, impotent , affected CANTING ...'

All by Benjamin Whichcote, 17th Century English Theologian, quoted from Ernst Cassirer's The Platonic Renaissance in England, a much neglected book of Wisdom.

All of that said it remains true that:

Only the man of virtue knows whom to love and whom to hate. Confucius, Analects 4.3

#12 Turner

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Posted 03 October 2014 - 09:45 PM

One more thing, Turner - consider making a list of every single character defect you can think of.  Then 'assume' that you have every single one of them, to some degree.  That's another way to start - by actually admitting to them first, before you even find it.  Takes the sting out of altogether - it just becomes a question of degree.

 

I have said elsewhere several times that I 'believe' that the most profound and useful form of introspection and self-inquiry is the inventory of beliefs. To take advantage of what Manitou has posted take an inventory of all the things that you do believe and then assume that you are wrong about them. Then take an inventory of everything that you don't believe and then assume that you are wrong about them. Then ask yourself why do I believe this, why don't I believe that.

 

Outstanding suggestions.  I love the "negative" starting point or assumption, a sort of radical skepticism with regard to either character traits (manitou's suggestion) or beliefs (Zhongyongdaoist's).  Seems like quite an unnerving, but potentially humbling and transformative, process.  

 

Reminds me of a passage in Mencius, which alludes to the removal of these defects but also the addition of virtue.  He mentions that the notice of vitue will bring joy, which seems like an especially natural response when one starts by assuming the worst as suggested here.  It also has some interesting suggestions about the connection between proper intention and natural advancement or cultivation/growth. 

 

孟子曰、「求則得之。舍則失之、是求有益於得也、求在我者也。求之有道、得之有命、是求無益於得也、求在外者也。」

 

[7A:3] Mencius said: “Search for it and you gain it. Ignore it and you lose it: this is the searching that has increase in its attainment, the seeking that adds to the self.”

 

“Search for it, keeping the Way, attain it, keeping with destiny. In this searching, there is no increase upon attainment. This is the searching through which you get rid of things.”

 

(13.4) 孟子曰、「萬物皆備於我矣。反身而誠、樂莫大焉。彊恕而行、求仁莫近焉。」

 

[7A:4] Mencius said: “All things are prepared within me. If I reflect on myself and find that I am sincere, shouldn't I be overjoyed? If I strive to conduct myself on the principle of reciprocity, will the Humaneness I seek not be close at hand?”

 

(13.5) 孟子曰、「行之而不著焉、習矣而不察焉、終身由之而不知其道者、衆也。」

 

[7A:5] Mencius said: “Acting without being clear, practicing without close observation: doing this to the end of their lives without ever understanding their own course. This is the way most people are.”



#13 manitou

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Posted 04 October 2014 - 07:18 AM

ZYD said:  ".....take an inventory of all the things that you do believe and then assume that you are wrong about them"

                   ".....take an inventory of everything you don't believe and assume that you are wrong about them"

 

 

I remember one day when I first walked into Alcoholics Anonymous and laughed out loud when I had the realization "Everything I've come to believe to this point in my life is Wrong!"  It was actually funny.  Liberatingly funny.

 

I would add something else to this - once you've seen the areas in your life that you've gone wrong, said something wrong, did something hurtful - write down this information so that your brain doesn't conveniently forget it.  Remember who is was that you wronged.  Because in order to set yourself right, you will need to do the right thing - which is to try and rectify the situation, even if it's by an apology to someone from years ago.

 

Just a glimpse into my own personal story (which is the story of another life altogether, I am no longer this person) - when I was on the police department, I had a way of sleeping with just about every male partner I ever worked with.  The real truth of the matter was that I didn't know how to say No to any man because I had no self esteem whatsoever.

 

Well, upon becoming sober, I suddenly realized just how many countless wives I had 'hurt' by sleeping with their husbands.  There was no way for me to actually make amends to these people, obviously - most didn't know this had happened.  But my form of amend was to say to myself Never Again!  Never Again sleep with anybody's husband!  This seems to have worked to alleviate the guilt I could have borne.  But I have changed my thoughts, my actions, my insides, and am no longer that poor wretch any longer.

 

The hardest apologies yield the most inner mileage.  Even if somebody else had started the dynamic, the only side of the street we're interested in sweeping off is our own.  It doesn't matter whether the other person accepts the apology, or whether they're still angry about it.  More often than not, I've found that most people don't even remember what you're talking about, lol!  But this is a clearing out process so dynamic and so thorough that it will change your karma immediately, change your life immediately.

 

The hard part is the beginning.  Those are the most glaring discoveries, the most painful to realize, the hardest to apologize for.  But the liberation received is beyond words.  As the years go on, my Aha!'s aren't as big and frequent as they used to be, but they do come once in a while.  I've been doing the inner tracking for 32 years (A Castaneda expression, but the same thing)

 

I think it's just about being the best person we can be.


Joy is the Dao.

-The mysterious dancer in the black cowboy hat-


#14 Turner

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Posted 04 October 2014 - 12:19 PM

The hardest apologies yield the most inner mileage.  Even if somebody else had started the dynamic, the only side of the street we're interested in sweeping off is our own.  It doesn't matter whether the other person accepts the apology, or whether they're still angry about it.  More often than not, I've found that most people don't even remember what you're talking about, lol!  But this is a clearing out process so dynamic and so thorough that it will change your karma immediately, change your life immediately.

 

I love the objectivity of your approach, and I totally agree.  When it comes to apologies, I'm not sure if the other person's offense or recollection are even important.  That might be putting it a bit too strongly, but if I do/say something that is objectively offensive or hurtful to someone, then I should apologize whether or not they are subjectively offended or hurt, or whether they remember being offended or hurt.  I'm sure we've all had experiences where apologies are given and the other person says (or maybe we're the one saying) that it's no big deal and no apology is needed.  I like that and I think it's a thoughtful response, or maybe just an accurate expression of that person's lack of offense.  But I don't think it matters: if I've objectively done wrong, then I ought to repent or apologize. 

 

Example: a guy is rude to his girlfriend, but she doesn't mind it.  Should he still apologize?  Clear answer is yes, I think.  Even if for no one else but himself.  And like you said, manitou, that's the only side of the street he can control or should worry about maintaining.  

 

And yes, I do think that the girlfriend (or boyfriend) who "doesn't mind" probably does mind in some way or manner, even if they're not fully aware of it--that's a whole different discussion though.  But I was thinking of the (however unlikely) hypothetical where the significant other truly doesn't mind at all.

 

Maybe in instances such as those, a case could be made that we ought to apologize to ourselves and/or something Higher.  But I think if we do wrong to another, they do deserve an apology too.  Even if it's ancient history.  :)


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#15 woodcarver

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Posted 04 October 2014 - 06:33 PM

Turner: There's a story in the analects where somebody goes up to confucius and says "before I do/say anything, I first think about it 10 times" and confucius says something like "silence, fool! 2-3 is enough" ;)

 

You're doing fine


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#16 Turner

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Posted 04 October 2014 - 07:35 PM

Thanks woodcarver.  I definitely think one needs a balance.  You can either be the person who thinks ten times before even saying "hello" to someone, or the one who never thinks about anything at all and lives the entirely unexamined life.  Of course the mean lies somewhere between those two extremes.  But if we look at the verse this thread is devoted to, we can see that even that mean is a pretty demanding one: "I introspect myself many times a day..."  :)


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