Shu and Jen

June 18, 2011

Jean Renoir said,”The hell of life is that everybody has their reasons.”

We do. We come at each each other as if every star in the universe revolved around us. We structure our political systems in light of this truth of human nature; each has its reasons for it excesses.  Even our religions fall under the spell of me-first, excluding the members of other sects as infidels. 

In light of this and our grave problems at the biginning of the 21st century religion professor Rodney Taylor writes of the Confucian ideas of shu and jen —reciprocity and goodness:

“So across the ethical dilemmas of our high tech society, from the frontiers of science to the technological applications we consider so fundamental to our daily lives, the Confucian poses the question of whether such development can be cast as a fulfillment of “goodness” toward others.”

“The Confucian operates with this same basic religious dichotomy (of other religions): The “is” is the world of selfishness, profit, aggression and heinous crimes committed in their propagation; the “ought” is the world taught through the sages of antiquity — the harmony of T’ien, Heaven, manifested in T’ien Tao, the Way of Heaven.”

Whether we are capable of embracing the freedom to reciprocate personally and globally, or have the will to, is the fulcrum on which the globe teeters.

Shu and Jen

Goodness came like two hearts
and sat beside me. My name is
, said she

In the window two birds flew
The window was open when,
pointing, Shu said, Jen

The two hearts of Shu said,
What can we do for you?

The two birds of Jen crowed,
Looks like you need a friend.

The world is split in two,
and you are too,
said Shu

See the birds of Jen, she said?
They feed each other and
so are free in T’ien

Think of me, said Shu
and you may be free too

by Jim Culleny, 6/18/11


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