Rites according to Xunzi during the Era of the Warring States explored how ancient Kings avoided chaos

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Rites according to Xunzi during the Era of the Warring States explored how ancient Kings avoided chaos by establishing ceremonial rituals to curb people’s desires because rites adjusted and satisfied desires through the limitation of material goods. Ancient Kings who have the power is a symbol of the supremacy. Why can appear the scene of “the Son of Heaven alone performs the suburban sacrifice to Heaven”? Because rites make ancient kings are very different from common people. Ancient Kings divide people into different classes by rites so that people need to be “careful about the distinctions to be observed”.  In the Era of the Warring States, ancient Kings use money as tools, the distinction between rich and poor by rites, and the number of things as the distinction between rich and poor. Curbing people’s desires is base on the thought of evil human nature by Xunzi. For the Son of Heaven, rite is a best way to manage the country. Cause “man is born with desires”, although the human desire cannot be complete eliminated, they will be used ceremonial rituals to curb them. People have to “obey ritual principles and good order” so that they can’t do whatever they want and create chaos. If the Son of Heaven can curb the dukes’desire through rites, there will not be a situation where the dukes could not be satisfied and contend for the throne in the Era of the Warring States. Satisfying desires means gain something because ones really want to. For example, a gentleman knows by rites how ensure the desire of his safety satisfied, so “the horses which draw his great carriage must be of the utmost reliability and highly trained before he will consent to ride”. Moreover, “by his side are placed fragrant herbs “that is one of the ways to satisfied desires in one’s class. The Son of Heaven uses rites to regulate the range of different classes’ desires thus they are more easily satisfied his desires. This will prevent chaos situation among every classes in the Era of the Warring States.  Material goods are satisfied human what they want and purchase, such as food. Base on rites, “the Son of Heaven has his great carriage spread with soft mats to satisfy his body” so the son of heaven in the Era of the Warring States is a high position to enjoy the material goods what he want. However, base on “to spend and to supply what goods are needed is the way to satisfy their desire for wealth”, it reflects the reason why people’s pursuit of material things. In order to adjust the desire of people to supply their material requirements, Kings have to uses the best way to develop rites consistently. Therefore, people of all classes will not be like the Era of the Warring States due to the material desire not to be satisfied with the situation of instability.

4 objects :

Material good

Distinction

Satisfy desire/ provide order

Curb desires

Documents that used for quote:

. What is the origin of ritual? I reply: man is born with desires. If his desires are not satisfied

for him, he

cannot but seek some means to satisfy them himself

. If there are no limits

and degrees to his seeking, then he will inevitably fall to wrangling with other men. From

wrangling comes disorder and from disorder comes exhaustion. The ancient kings hated such

disorder, and therefore they

established ritual principles in order to curb it

, to train

men’s desires and to provide for their satisfaction. They saw to it that desires did not

overextend the means for their satisfaction, and

material goods did not fall short of what

was desired

. Thus both desires and goods were looked after and satisfied. This is the origin

of rites.

2. The gentleman, having provided a means for the satisfaction of desires, is also

careful about

the distinctions to be observed

. What do I mean by distinctions? Eminent and humble have

their respective stations, elder and younger their degrees, and rich and poor, important and

unimportant, their different places in society. Thus the Son of Heaven has his great carriage

spread with soft mats to satisfy his body. By his side are placed fragrant herbs to satisfy his

nose, and before him the carved carriage decorations to satisfy his eye. The sound of carriage

bells and the Wu and Hsiang music when he is proceeding slowly, the Shao and Hu music

when he is proceeding rapidly, give satisfaction to his ear. Nine dragon banners fly to satisfy

his desire for a symbol of trust. Paintings of a recumbent rhinoceros and a solitary tiger,

horse girths of water-dragon pattern, fine woven spreads, and dragonhead ornaments satisfy

his desire for awesome spectacle. And the horses which draw his great carriage must be of

the utmost reliability and highly trained before he will consent to ride. In this way he satisfies

his desire for safety.

3. [As for the king’s officials] let them understand clearly that to advance in the face of death

and to value honor is the way to satisfy their desire for life; to spend and to supply what

goods are needed is the way to satisfy their desire for wealth; to conduct themselves with

respect and humility is the way to satisfy their desire for safety; and to

obey ritual

principles and good order

in all things is the way to satisfy their emotions.

4. If a man concentrates upon fulfilling ritual principles, then he may satisfy both his human

desires and the demands of ritual; but if he concentrates only upon fulfilling his desires, then

he will end by satisfying neither

. The Confucians make it possible for a man to satisfy

both; the Mo-ists cause him to satisfy neither. This is the difference between the Confucians

and the Mo-ists.

5. Rites have three bases. Heaven and earth are the basis of life, the ancestors are the basis of

the family, and rulers and teachers are the basis of order. If there were no Heaven and earth,how could man be born? If there were no ancestors, how would the family come into being? If

there were no rulers and teachers, how would order be brought about? If even one of these

were lacking,

there would be no safety for man

. Therefore rites serve Heaven above and

earth below, honor the ancestors, and exalt rulers and teachers. These are the three bases of

rites. how could man be born? If there were no ancestors, how would the family come into being? If

there were no rulers and teachers, how would order be brought about? If even one of these

were lacking,

there would be no safety for man

. Therefore rites serve Heaven above and

earth below, honor the ancestors, and exalt rulers and teachers. These are the three bases of

rites.

6. The Son of Heaven alone

performs the suburban sacrifice to Heaven

; altars of the soil

may not be established by anyone lower than a feudal lord; but sacrifices such as the t’an may

be carried out by the officials and high ministers as well. In this way

rites distinguish and

make clear

that the exalted should serve the exalted and the humble serve the humble, that

great corresponds to great and small to small.

7. All rites begin in simplicity, are brought to fulfillment in elegant form, and end in joy. When

rites are performed in the highest manner, then

both the emotions and the forms

embodying them

are fully realized; in the next best manner, the emotional content and the

forms prevail by turns; in the poorest manner, everything reverts to emotion and finds unity

in that alone.

8. Through rites Heaven and earth join in harmony, the sun and moon shine, the four seasons

proceed in order, the stars and constellations march, the rivers flow, and all things flourish;

men’s likes and dislikes are regulated and their joys and hates made appropriate. Those

below are obedient, those above are enlightened; all things change but do not become

disordered;

only he who turns his back upon rites will be destroyed

.

9. He who dwells in ritual and can ponder it well may be said to know how to think; he who

dwells in ritual and does not change his ways may be said to be steadfast. He who knows how

to think and to be steadfast, and

in addition has a true love for ritual–

he is a sage.

Heaven is the acme of loftiness, earth the acme of depth, the boundless the acme of breadth,

and the sage the acme of the Way. Therefore

the scholar studies how to become a sage

;

he does not study merely to become one of the people without direction.

10. Rites are strictest

in their ordering of birth and death

. Birth is the beginning of man,

death his end. When both beginning and end are good, man’s way is complete. Therefore the

gentleman is reverent in his treatment of the beginning and

careful in his treatment of the

end

, regarding both with the same gravity. This is the way of the gentleman and

the highest

flowering of ritual principle

. To be generous in the treatment of the living but skimpy in

the treatment of the dead is to show reverence for a being who has consciousness and

contempt for one who has lost it. This is the way of an evil man and an offense against the

heart. The gentleman would be ashamed to treat even a lowly slave in a way that offends the

heart; how much more ashamed would he be to treat those whom he honors and loves in such

3

a way! The rites of the dead

can be performed only once for each individual

, and never

again. They are the last occasion upon which the subject may fully express respect for his

ruler, the son express respect for his parents.

11. It is said that human nature is the basis and raw material, and conscious activity is

responsible for what is adorned, ordered, and flourishing

. If there were no human

nature, there would be nothing for conscious activity to work upon, and if there were no

conscious activity, then human nature would have no way to beautify itself. Only when nature

and conscious activity combine does a true sage emerge and

perform the task of unifying

the world

. Hence it is said that when Heaven and earth combine, all things are born, when

the yin and yang act upon each other, all changes are produced, and when nature and

conscious activity join together,

the world is well ordered

. Heaven can give birth to

creatures but it cannot order them; earth can bear man up but it cannot govern him. All

creatures of the universe, all who belong to the species of man, must await the sage before

they can attain their proper places.

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