Nan Huai-Chin's "Youth in the 21st Century"
I have an unfinished translation in my hands of Master Nan’s "Youth in the 21st Century," which I wanted to one day publish as "Understanding this Chinese Generation." The problem is just that — the translation is unfinished. After thousands of dollars and 7+ years waiting, it looks like it will never get done, so what am I to do?
I can’t get any translator to finish it - most aren’t qualified because of the terms used, or are busy with other projects, or uninterested or too expensive. For his books, only a few translators in the world are ever qualified because they need to know classical Chinese, ancient Chinese, Buddhist Chinese and Taoist Chinese….all very different vocabulary sets. A regular Chinese book is easily translated, but not this type of work. I’ve used Chinese translators for years - Thomas Cleary, JC Cleary, Bill Brown, Doug Wile, Bill Porter (Red Pine) etc. etc. Go look up their books on amazon and then you’ll realize I know what I’m talking about and that if I say it’s not easy then it really isn’t that easy.
The budget is used up anyway, and since I’ve never yet recovered the costs of publishing any of his books or most of my own, it’s probably no use throwing more good money at this project. Which is, by the way, another reason why you’re lucky to have these cultivation and meditation materials available in the first place at all since you can’t find the contents elsewhere, they take an awful amount of time and money to produce, have the same production costs as normal books if not more other than the $1-2 it costs to print a paperback, and Top Shape Publishing doesn’t make $100K a year, or $50K, or $25K, or $12.5K or even half that again ($6K) on them, and of course that’s before labor costs. LOL!
You should make your own vows to use the information made available because it’s very, very hard to come upon the real dharma. Real cultivation dharma is practically non-existent in the world while unproven New Age psycho-babble garbage abounds, growing larger every year and collecting buckets of money by spouting nonsensical claims internationally on the definition of spirituality, the spiritual path and the way of personal cultivation. No one wants to talk about the real cultivation because it requires work and is just too hard; everyone wants to say they have it or are cultivating it. Well, each of us in life have our own vows, motives, purposes, needs and objectives. All I can tell you is beware of ignorance.
So what do I do about this book … an example of the thinking process of a traditionally trained Chinese scholar, expert in history, Zen master and esoteric master, with his own views on the world? Take a peek at some of these quotes:
Today, universal education and the boundaries of knowledge grow with each passing day at a rate unheard of more than thirty years ago. Yet, the dedication and spiritual “zeal” of our youth to the ideals of the “movement for national renaissance” cannot compare to that of the generation before them. As we pattern ourselves on the advances of material civilization, we trade in our inhibitions and self-control for the good life, seeking refuge in its promised future of comfort and security. Blindly pursuing the development of commerce and industry, each frantic moment of our precious time is devoted to the attainment of wealth, even as our love of learning and self-realization become impoverished. As a result, we have fostered a social milieu that slavishly stresses the potential of the natural sciences, but treats the exploration of humanist thought as a profligate squandering of time. We continue to avert our eyes from the tragic future certain to result from the grotesque juggernaut of natural science as it feeds off the remains of humanist culture, like a “parasite in the belly of a lion, consuming its mighty host.”
If we truly desire to chart a new ideological course for the nation and the world, we must first come to terms with the struggles of modern life and the realization that they are the symptoms of a cultural war. Whether we look to the regions of communist control or the Free World, the industrially advanced First World or the underdeveloped Third World, as in the past we remain lost between the goals of spiritual realization and the necessities of practical existence. In other words, our frustrations are a product of the competition between man’s quest for economic equality in the face of scarcity and his search for spiritual rebirth and peace of mind. In our struggle, two preliminary issues emerge: the unabashed borrowing of capitalist economic devices by modern communism, and our own wrongheaded worship at the altar of materialism. Therefore, other than the current focus of modern youth on learning the skills necessary for everyday life and the struggle for national renaissance, there are two important topics that urgently need to be addressed by the best of this generation:
1. How to shape a new economic philosophy for the benefit of mankind
2. How to synergistically unite and harmonize the cultures of materialism and spirituality.
In the process of working towards this goal, we must proceed with the understanding that our endeavor is an outgrowth of the humanist ideal and a challenge worthy of the best among us, requiring deep reflection, a love of learning, and an inductive approach. Our task is not one of hasty plans and hurried work. While it may be true that there is an ocean of difference between our quixotic goals and the reality of the world around us, “diligent study ultimately leads to success.” Applying this wisdom to the honorable pursuit of humanist ideals will lead us to the inner realm of self-understanding. If, however, we limit our strategies to the goals of personal success and the necessities of individual life, then the historic opportunities now within our reach will be lost. We must seize our present situation and exchange it for an everlasting reality, grab hold of our individuality and transform it into an historical destiny. If we do see to it that these notions take on a renewed sense of worth in the minds of our young, we run the risk of becoming the laughingstock of future generations as we leave a legacy of blank pages to the next sixty years of scholarship.
This actually touches upon one of my own goals in life, which is to provide the materials to help forge this union. No one else seems to be doing it with REAL self-cultivation as the basis. That’s why I talk about both cultivation AND real life integration with wisdom knowing and action.
You need cultivation, and you need real world knowledge - science, medicine, technology, economics and so forth. I’ve already written about the five great fields you need to master to become a Bodhisattva - just studying cultivation is not enough.
A Benjamin Franklin may exhibit the best of humanistic self-cultivation, but is missing the stages of spiritual ascent. A Hinayana meditation master may have the spiritual stages, but is missing the humanistic involvement with society. Society - regular people - need a means / system of guidance in their busy lives that incorporates how to mix self-improvement, personal accomplishment/achievement and personal excellence, self-perfection, compassionate / charitable societal involvement to make the world a better place with culture, business, technology usage, economic survival, AND spiritual cultivation.
So I’ve done my duty and written a variety of books along these lines to plug in the patches and link things. White Fat Cow is one such book. Socrates is another. Kuan Tzu is another. The USP book is another. Insider Guide is another. The STAGES material and MEASURING are others. Upcoming books (if I ever get the time) on entrepreneurship/business purpose, educating children, lessons of history and governance, supercycle investing across the generations, Christian cultivation, and so forth will fill other gaps. But who has time to write since people don’t read anymore and the books don’t make money? …LOL. Even this blog post took more than five hours of writing and editing, doesn’t make money and can’t be outsourced — what am I thinking????
Every now and then I write something as my own personal vow to help my own country or the world, like my books on Antibiotic Alternatives or What to Do Healthwise if a Dirty Bomb Ever Hits. Antibiotics are no longer working which is an issue of national security, as is agirculture but I don’t have time to go into that. There are natural antibiotic alternatives that work (H2O2, real colloidal silver, blood electrification, immune boosters,…), but pharma firms will not investigate these other paradigms/methods unless there is monopolistic money to be made via patents … and it’s not to be made with what does work. So I have to write it. Who else will do it?
As to helping the nation with the Radiation book, I’m sure someone somewhere has already somehow twisted the contribution as making me a threat rather than as someone who has spent the time providing the only public resource out there on what to do if an atomic bomb ever explodes in a city, what to do in an emergency if you’re left on your own even though the government hasn’t produced anything onthis topic other than "take potassium iodide." Go check — I’m the only one who’s put anything together for the nation after spending several years scouring the literature for whatever I can find reported that worked at Chernobyl, Nagasaki, etc. so folks can use it in an emergency - www.RadiationDetox.com .
Strange thinking to vilify the extremely good guys, but I guarantee you it’s done all the time. Strange. And the highlights for your benefit just in case: stay away from sugar and grains during a recovery period, eat lots of kelp and seaweeds, sodium alginate, other heavy metal chelators and products like "Modifilan." There … now you have most of it in a nutshell other than the immune boosting and blood building protocols for those exposed to extreme radiation exposure, and a few other things.
Another thing the world needs … even the elites always talk about a universal spiritual harmony and understanding, a unity of religions, yada yada. Nonsense, because what they actually want is THEIR religion to prevail, or they want a boiled down pablum version of things that doesn’t amount to anything and actually leads nowhere. But basically, each envisions something under THEIR umbrella. The Christian Armageddon-Rapture crowd is already operating with a subconscious blueprint in their mind guiding their decisions along the lines of "I’m a good Christian destined for heaven and the Rapture take-away, and want Jesus to come, so let’s make this happen." Other groups are encouraging this because it prompts the US to make big policy mistakes in THEIR interest. As Master Nan often pointed out from surveying world history, whenever people in power operate government affairs according to religious notions, they typically weaken the country and usually destroy it.
Reiteration: do not make national security, military, and strategic policy decisions etc. based on theology.
If you carefully look at the materials on the MeditationExpert.com website, you’ll see they reveal the only universal framework for this stated goal without all the gobbely-gook because what’s revealed actually IS the common non-sectarian framework beneath everything. It’s not my framework — it’s the framework beneath all the genuine spiritual paths that work. The true dharma actually does link all these schools in just the way people claim they want and the world needs — spiritual cultivation and personal cultivation - but people don’t actually want the true dharma. It’s also true because it’s what works (rather than just blind faith and belief, worship, religious memorization, and following special religious rules and injunctions). The sticky problem is that it involves effort. LOL! It involves recognizing or understanding that:
* the spiritual path involves meditation and other commonly used mental/concentration practices to silence/empty/calm/detach from thoughts; religions commonly use one or another of these commonly shared techniques which depend upon the same fundamental principles of mental training to ultimately free one from thoughts - cessation-contemplation
* various clear / high/ refined spiritual mental states will be produced from success in these practices
* the best of these states are the samadhi - dhyana mental absorptions, which are what make someone a guru, saint, prophet, etc.
* these samadhi-dhyana states are non-denominational and the SAME spiritual states mentioned/taught/shared by religious saints and sages across the world
* there are stages to these states, and some saints do achieve higher stages than others, plain and simple; the highest in self-realization usually provide teachings that become religions with few problems, the lowest provide teachings that become religions with lots of problems
* physical gong-fu transformative changes are involved with achieving progress along these lines, as are psychic and paranormal abilities (abilities to perform "miracles")
* the samadhi and gong-fu are just the signposts of progress whereas realizing the Tao (the stage of selflessness, realizing non-ego, totally abandoning thoughts so you are one with the original nature without anything small self-created) is the real target of all spiritual practice — enlightenment, self-realization, liberation
* virtue, ethics, self-improvement, compassion and charity are necessary components of this path
* there are lots of spiritual beings throughout the universe (including unseen ones in this world) above the level of the human being, and an infinite number of populated worlds of all types with ours by no means the highest, and none of these higher beings/gods/deities is the ultimate since they’re all cultivating to reach the Tao through methods appropriate to their conditions
* the teachings of various religions are given expedientally/skillfully/according tot he situation by spiritual masters who’ve reached various stages of realization, which accounts for their differences in excellence and completion … over time other non-spiritual teachings get added into the fray and the original message twisted, lost or misconstrued as happens with everything
* there is an ultimate Tao-God-Allah-original nature-Brahman-fundamental being-Buddhanature-dharmakaya behind everything but it is NOT a person, being, entity, deity, life as people assume making images int heir minds … you cannot say the original nature is real or non-real, existent or non-existent but you can realize it by cultivating and letting go of everything mental that stands in the way of its realization (i.e. thoughts)
* the stage of selflessness or non-ego is the stage that realizes this state
* karma or interdependent origination of cause and effect links everything together in this conventional realm of unreality
Of course these principles — while the basis of Advaita (Vedanta), Sikkhism, Buddhism, Taoism, real Christianity, Sufism, etc. – go against the fact that Christians want Jesus to reign supreme, the Jews want their religion to reign supreme, Moslems want their interpretation of Allah to reign supreme. Yet these are the fundamental, common, non-denominational principles — and if you search the accounts of various saints, sages, and religious greats you’ll see it. The key is to cultivate yourself to PROVE IT FOR YOURSELF,as that’s all that matters rather than intellectual acceptance.
But enough of that. I just always wanted to give you a short synopsis of some of the main principles of the path. Continuing …
Here’s another quote from Understanding this Chinese Generation I particularly like, and it concerns Master Nan Huai-chin’s constant dealings with University professors, especially non-Chinese with worldviews that just don’t get it. Suffice it to say, most university trained Americans and British really do NOT understand the Chinese and China, the power that’s becoming the next world giant:
Four years ago, a certain American professor of sociology on summer vacation was visiting the Orient. Because he had read an English translation of my book The Unique Problem of Chinese Society, he made special arrangements to have an interview with me.
At one point during our conversation, he commented, "Throughout history, China has gone through many periods of near national destruction. However, not only were her people and culture not destroyed, but instead, after each historical disaster, she has returned more resilient and radiant than ever. I don’t believe there is a similar example of this in Western history; what is the source of this strength?" Offering a clear and concise answer, I replied, "It is the power of cultural unity."
Although his pen did not once stop as he listened to my reply, his expression seemed full of doubt. Not waiting for the next question, I stated, "During the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods, we were actually just like Europe, with numerous feudal states of all sizes, each with its own written and spoken languages, economies, and forms of exchange. However, with the implementation of the ’standardization of language and transportation’ during the Chin and Han periods, not only was the political system integrated, but also in the process Chinese culture itself was unified. Of course, over the next two millennia, isolated by great distances, her regional dialects, customs, and habits were able to develop and maintain their own individual linguistic characteristics. However, China’s written language and cultural ideology have remained entirely consistent, even becoming widely adopted in Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. So, while China has endured generation after generation of political upheaval, the unity of her national culture even in the face of historic change has remained irreversible. If in its classical period, the written language and culture of Western Europe had been integrated, then it would resemble China, and the West and its history would not be what they are today. It can also be concluded that it is precisely this different cultural and historical background, with its diversity of viewpoints, which led to the advances of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and the eventual rise of modern American power. The cultural tradition of our spiritual, Confucian, and Taoist ideologies, however, all demand unity and order."
Eventually he touched on the concept of "the great unity" as detailed in the chapter on the "The Evolution of Rites" in the Confucian classic, The Book of Rites, asking, "Isn’t it actually true that this traditional Chinese political ideology has much in common with the social ideals of communism?" Hearing this I broke out into uncontrollable laughter, laughing so hard in fact that his expression began to appear very uneasy. After regaining my composure, I said, "I am so sorry. I was really out of line, but your question made me think of your country’s so-called China experts. Doesn’t it seem reasonable to assume that they hold the same mistaken notions you do?" He said, "I don’t know whether the notion is mistaken or not, but it is our opinion and most people agree with it." I then said, "This notion is not only a mistake, but a quite serious one at that. The individual awareness of our humanity is at the core of the sociopolitical ideals contained in "The Evolution of Rites". As each of us individually seeks to elevate the morality of his own character, these ideals hold that the perfection of the collective morality of society will naturally follow. The way of the enlightened monarch detailed in The Spring And Autumn Annals, the so-called three ages of peace, order, and prosperity spoken of in The Kung-yang Commentary to the Spring And Autumn Annals, and the Taoist prescription patterned on natural ‘non-action’ all emerge from this same cultural tradition. As for the ideals of communism, they are simply a means of obtaining the political power necessary for the construction of a communist social system. In a word, this system which demands total acquiescence to the exercise of its power is not only completely devoid of any genuine freedom, but also ignores the cultivation of human virtue. When you equate the ideology of ‘the great unity’ with communism, your view is not only flawed, but actually misses the world of difference that exists between the two."
Four years back I had a series of conversations with an American graduate student studying in China. Our discussions, which he transcribed and planned on translating into English, focused on issues relating to Western and Chinese culture. On one occasion, when the issue of freedom and democracy came up, I remarked, "In our modern era America alone carries the flag of Western cultural glory, championing democracy and freedom. But what Americans like to call democracy and freedom is actually the ‘American style of democracy and freedom.’ Although this style is by no means suitable for most other people and places, it is especially inappropriate for the five thousand year old culture of China. However, not only do Americans not understand this fact, but you also refuse to even consider its possibility. So your good intentions and American style of democracy and freedom are matched by an equally powerful response of antipathy wherever they turn up."
"What exactly do you mean when you say the American style of democracy and freedom," he asked. I replied, "The answer requires quite a complex discussion of two hundred years of contributing factors, from the founding of your country to the present. To summarize though, from the eighteenth century to the present, as America’s forefathers flocked to the New World, they carried with them the culture of the European industrial revolution. However, coming from many different countries such as England, France, Germany, and Austria they carried with them the unique cultural perspectives of their individual ethnic backgrounds. These perspectives, combined with an ideological inclination toward the promotion of the general welfare, helped form the spiritual foundation of your nation - ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people.’ However, regardless of what shape it assumes, hiding in the framework of liberalism and democracy has been the secret ingredient of the market forces that drive industry and commerce. This was true at the birth of your nation, and after two hundred years remains true to this very day. To be honest, the behind-the-scenes bosses who actually manage your democratic politics are inseparable from the capitalist and commercial industrial complex which surrounds them. Yes its true! Even today, America’s territorial ambitions abroad have been quite limited. However, the same thing cannot be said of your desire to occupy foreign markets. This hidden agenda, when added to the tangle of your democratic politics and an unsophisticated provincial populace, has resulted in hesitation, inconsistency, and fence-sitting on the international scene. If you really want to live up to your superpower status, you must combine your international political experience with an in-depth study of the Chinese classic The Spring And Autumn Annals. Only then will you grasp the righteous principle of ‘restoring the nation and insuring its posterity." Having returned home, today this American colleague has begun teaching The Spring and Autumn Annals and its related commentaries at Harvard University.
His stance on society today, and what we must do to shape it, is summarized in this interesting quote (this is how a traditional Chinese scholar thinks and writes, which reveals a literary style largely unknown in the West):
In his Spring and Autumn Annals, Confucius, China’s most universally recognized sage, placed responsibility and blame on the elites who had the power and position to influence national policy. The pros and cons of this thesis involve historical and philosophical issues that we will put aside for now. However, at the very least it should be understood that during the Spring and Autumn period education and learning were not widespread. Because of this, the elite feudal literati did indeed have an inescapable obligation to society at large.
During the same period, the Indian sage Shakyamuni, who founded Buddhism and spread the Buddhadharma, considered social turmoil to be the result of the collective karma of humankind and all living things. Like a fiery wheel spinning out of control, once the momentum of this shared karma was set in motion no hand could stay its course; any attempt to halt it merely feeds its power and leads to greater chaos.
At the heart of Confucian philosophy lies the principle of "seeing the world in terms of man," hence the Spring and Autumn Annals take the feudal literati to task for the ills of the day. Shakyamuni’s reasoning, however, similar to Lao Tzu’s concepts of "non-action" and "cause and effect," "sees man in terms of the world." Therefore, the tone of the Buddhadharma is one of sad lament for the intractable collective karma of the mass of living beings.
If we analyze Shakyamuni’s theory of history from the point of view of "seeing man in terms of the world," then we do indeed find his philosophy well founded. However, the natural outcome of this logic is for one to stand paralyzed by the sidelines with hands in pockets, mourning the sad fate of all living things! If, however, like Confucius we "see the world in terms of man," then we must conclude, "the rise and fall of nations rests in the hands of men."
As heirs to the past, if we are to pass on our legacy and forge ahead into the future, meeting our responsibility in a time of dramatic historical change head-on, then we must approach the ideological and psychological issues of today’s youth through deep soul searching and develop a new path forward. In the process of analyzing the morbidity afflicting the thoughts and psyche of modern youth, we must also trace its root causes within the course of historical and cultural evolution. We can then focus our efforts on the search for a prescription to treat this morbidity.
So what do I do with this unfinished manuscript? I think I’ll give it away for a short while. You’ve put up with me for awhile, so if you’d like to download it, here it is: Master Nan Huai Chin’s Unfinished Translation of Youth in the 21st Century. Hurry before I change my mind — I have been known to do that.
And by the way, what are you doing to forge the new path that links spiritual practice with humanism and the modern struggle for existence and achievement? It’s not my job. As I always point out, the effort is up to you.