古典翻译

Bringing out the profundity of the Chinese language into English is challenging to say the least, but 15 years of study, application and thus familiarity, have aided me in producing three partial translations of three classical Chinese texts.  Click on the images to view the translations.

In this old and reverent sketch of Confucius, notice the Latin “gymnasium” under the Chinese character for “learning” or 學. Etymonline.com has this about “gymnasium”: “A feature of all ancient Greek communities, at first it was merely an open space, later with extensive facilities and including training for the mind as well as the body. Hence its use in German from 15c. as a name for “high school” (more or less paralleling a sense also in Latin).” My emphasis added.

Click on the image above to see the translation of the first part of The Analects. Attributed to Confucius, this classic of Confucian philosophical dialogues includes questions and answers from students of Confucius, yet their ideas stem largely from their teacher. With that said, Confucius himself was transmitting and teaching ideas of other ancient Chinese classics and ancient sage-kings long before his own time.

A notable theme and ideal within Confucian thought, and that of The Analects, is what I translate as virtuoso. The Chinese 君子 (jun zi) has often been translated as “noble man” or “superior man”, and while these still have their place as a viable translation, I fortuitously came upon the word of origin of virtuoso, that led me to use it as the translation. From my commentary of the translation:

“君子: Virtuoso.  This translation of the Confucian model of high virtue, humaneness and wisdom is used instead of “noble man,” or “superior man.”  The etymology of the word “virtuoso” makes it a serendipitous and apt fit for a Confucian text such as The Analects.  It’s use within the context of The Analects also raises awareness of the vital position of morality and virtue in humanity, in philosophy, and, where the use of “virtuoso” usually finds itself isolated in, the arts. 

Virtuos comes from the Late Latin virtuosus, meaning “good, virtuous” and finds its own origins in the Latin virtus meaning “moral strength, high character, goodness, manliness, valor, bravery, courage (in war), excellence, worth.”  Virtus in turn comes from vir, or “man.” 

One of the fundamental factors that contribute to the woeful state of modern humanity, is the reduction bordering elimination of the learning, practice and application of virtue by men.  For the “ancients” of China, including demonstrably those of pre-Confucian times, the expression and fulfillment of virtue through Propriety, was an intricate and exact science, as well as an art.  For those who could become so learned in the science of Confucian Propriety so as to bring it into the realm of mastery, could thus be called a virtuoso. 

This is a new English translation of the Great Learning and a rarely seen commentary of this Chinese and Confucian classic.  The new translation of the classic, the commentary and its translation are based on ancient Chinese teachings on the nature and realization of humanity’s fundamental nature.  These teachings were central to the Great Learning but fell into obscurity in China for 2,000 years due to imperial book burnings.

Resurrected in the mid-20th century in the form of a commentary, these core teachings of Confucianism also weave through Daoism and Buddhism, uniting the three in the purpose of spiritually awakening humanity in this era of materialism and high-technology.

The new translation of the classic’s text aims for brevity, simplicity and clarity for ease of pedagogic memorization, without losing the profundity.  The commentary translation aims to bring out clearly to readers Confucianism’s vision and step by step process of realizing widespread harmony that must begin, first, and always, from the internal harmony of the individual.

This is a translation of part of the second classic, Doctrine of the Mean, included in the commentary Great Learning and Doctrine of the Mean—A New Simplified Commentary.  It follows the translation of part of the first classic in the commentary, Great Learning, which is ideally meant to be read first before this translation.

In Confucianism, Great Learning is said to be the entry way into the study and practice of virtue and is traditionally followed, in the orderly fashion of Confucians, by the study and practice of the Doctrine of the MeanThis order is emphasized so that the learner is guided toward a masterful level of virtuosity—a virtuosity replete with its etymological root and meaning of virtue.  This leads to a revelation of a virtue beyond virtue, or as the Great Learning calls it, enlightened virtue. 

Enlightened virtue is the fundamental nature of humanity, the spirit, or as it is translated within this work, the True Self, a translation that coincides with the cosmology of pre-Confucian Chinese philosophy.  In the mid-20th century, those privy to this philosophy, and its presumably lost core teachings that also threaded themselves through early Confucianism, were the recipients of this commentary as a teaching and guide to the practice and propagation of both ancient classics within the commentary.

Great Learning explains the why and the how to learning, realizing and propagating those core teachings unto the realization of the True Self upon the spiritual path of virtue.  Following mastery of virtue that leads to insight into the True Self, Doctrine of the Mean teaches the subsequent step of how to tread the spiritual path of the True Self in human life that is inextricably influenced by change and the binary forces of Yin and Yang.  As Yin (0) and Yang (1) are the most fundamental binary of temporal life, the Doctrine of the Mean teaches how to live within the binary interplay of “a Yin and a Yang,” of “0’s” and “1’s,” without losing connection with their source, the True Self, and its source, the ultimate “0,” or Dao.  Due to ancient imperial book burnings, that forced these core teachings into obscurity for over 2,000 years, this commentary and translation provide a refreshing of vital teachings that thread themselves through the foundation of these two Confucian classics, Confucianism’s philosophy and history, as well as through a lineage of transmission known as the Golden Thread.

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