The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Mencius, also known by his birth name Meng Ke or Ko, was born in the State of Zou, now forming the territory of the county-level city of Zoucheng (originally Zouxian), Shandong province, only thirty kilometers (eighteen miles) south of Qufu, Confucius' birthplace.
Like Confucius, according to legend, he travelled throughout China for forty years to offer advice to rulers for reform. During the Warring States period (403–221 BC), Mencius served as an official and scholar at the Jixia Academy in the State of Qi (1046 BC to 221 BC) from 319 to 312 BC.
He expressed his filial devotion when he took three years leave of absence from his official duties for Qi to mourn his mother's death. Disappointed at his failure to effect changes in his contemporary world, he retired from public life.
This saying refers to the legend that Mencius's mother moved house three times before finding a location that she felt was suitable for the child's upbringing.
As an expression, the idiom refers to the importance of finding the proper environment for raising children.
Mencius's father died when he was very young.
Therefore, the mother decided to move.
So the mother moved to a house next to a school.
As the story goes, once when Mencius was young, he was truant from school.
Time magazine reported Dr. Meng's age that year as 44. Dr. Meng died in Arizona in 1990 at the age of 90. North Carolina's Davidson College and Columbia University were his alma mater. He was attending a speech along with Confucius descendant H. H. Kung.
In the Republic of China there is an office called the "Sacrificial Official to Mencius" which is held by a descendant of Mencius, like the post of "Sacrificial Official to Zengzi" for a descendant of Zengzi, "Sacrificial Official to Yan Hui" for a descendant of Yan Hui, and the post of "Sacrificial Official to Confucius, held by a descendant of Confucius. Influence A Yuan Dynasty turtle with a stele honoring Mencius
On Human Nature
While Confucius himself did not explicitly focus on the subject of human nature, Mencius asserted the innate goodness of the individual, believing that it was society's influence – its lack of a positive cultivating influence – that caused bad moral character.
The Four Beginnings (or Sprouts)
To show innate goodness, Mencius used the example of a child falling down a well. Witnesses of this event immediately feel “ alarm and distress, not to gain friendship with the child's parents, nor to seek the praise of their neighbors and friends, nor because they dislike the reputation [of lack of humanity if they did not rescue the child]...
The feeling of commiseration is the beginning of humanity; the feeling of shame and dislike is the beginning of righteousness; the feeling of deference and compliance is the beginning of propriety; and the feeling of right or wrong is the beginning of wisdom.
Men have these Four Beginnings just as they have their four limbs.
Having these Four Beginnings, but saying that they cannot develop them is to destroy themselves.
This is why merely external controls always fail in improving society.
True improvement results from educational cultivation in favorable environments. Likewise, bad environments tend to corrupt the human will. This, however, is not proof of innate evil because a clear thinking person would avoid causing harm to others.
This position of Mencius puts him between Confucians such as Xunzi who thought people were innately bad, and Taoists who believed humans did not need cultivation, they just needed to accept their innate, natural, and effortless goodness.
The four beginnings/sprouts could grow and develop, or they could fail.
He denounced memorization and advocated active interrogation of the text, saying,
The proper path is one which is natural and unforced.
This path must also be maintained because, "Unused pathways are covered with weeds."
View on politics
This is because a ruler who does not rule justly is no longer a true ruler. Speaking of the overthrow of the wicked King Zhou of Shang, Mencius said, "I have merely heard of killing a villain Zhou, but I have not heard of murdering [him as] the ruler."
This saying should not be taken as an instigation to violence against authorities but as an application of Confucian philosophy to society. Confucianism requires a clarification of what may be reasonably expected in any given relationship. All relationships should be beneficial, but each has its own principle or inner logic.
A Ruler must justify his position by acting benevolently before he can expect reciprocation from the people. In this view, a King is like a steward. Although Confucius admired Kings of great accomplishment, Mencius is clarifying the proper hierarchy of human society.
Although a King has presumably higher status than a commoner, he is actually subordinate to the masses of people and the resources of society. Otherwise, there would be an implied disregard of the potential of human society heading into the future. One is significant only for what one gives, not for what one takes. Comparisons to contemporaries
This put him at odds with Mencius.