I am now in my forties, and my teacher is still alive, so I am still a late student. When I was a graduate student, my teacher said to me, "You are not good at Chinese studies, so I got angry and read everything from the Four Books to Er Cheng and Zhu Zi. I started reading from novels, then the Four Books; I started as a youth, then as a student. I think there is something wrong with such an order. In spite of this, there are still some odd feelings when reading ancient books that are worth cherishing. After reading the "Analects of Confucius" and thinking about it with closed eyes, I think Confucius often said some big truths in a serious way, is a pretty cute old naive. The students themselves are always hanging on the mouth, saying that this can do what, that can do what, like an old lady counting her grandchildren, very kind. The old gentleman sometimes also ghostly head, that is, "son see south son" that time. After coming out, he shouted, saying that he did not "commit sex". In general, I like him, and if I had been born in Chunqiu, I would have gone to his school because there was a "Pickwick Club" atmosphere. As for his opinions, they were average, nothing particularly admirable. As for his special emphasis on etiquette, I thought it was similar to the rituals of the "Cultural Revolution", such as the early request for instructions and the late report, which I had experienced, but it was not very meaningful. It may be essential for childish people, but it is a burden for educated adults. However, I went to Confucius' school because of the atmosphere, and I didn't want to learn anything there.
I have also read Mencius, and I think that Mencius is very paranoid and outwardly decent, but in fact there is an evil fire at the bottom of his heart. For example, when he mentioned Mozi and Yang Zhu, he said, "If you do not have a ruler or a father, you are a beast". As for his thoughts, I don't agree with them at all. Some commentators say that he was a meticulous thinker, but my opinion is just the opposite. His basic method is to extend himself to others, and sometimes when he cannot reach others, he calls them beasts and villains; this fierce and vicious energy is really unpleasant. When it comes to rhetoric, I admit he is a good hand, but nothing else. I don't like him at all, if I was born in the spring and autumn, I wouldn't shake hands with him when I met him. I read Confucius and Mencius in this way, and in the words of my teacher, it was like "a spring breeze passing through the ears of a donkey". These sentiments of mine only made my teacher angry, so I was a late student.
If someone says that I am pandering to foreigners and lacking in national feelings by making such a statement, I cannot admit it. But I admit that I admire Faraday, because give me two coils an iron rod, let me to discover electromagnetic induction, I can not find out. Newton, Leibniz, and especially Einstein, you can't help but admire, because what people come up with is completely outside of your ability. These people had an astounding ability to think that was not found in Confucius and Mencius. According to modern standards, the "benevolence" and "righteousness" and "the middle way" that Confucius and Mencius spoke of are good words, but they seem to come out without any special thinking ability, and they are a little bit too much to think about. There is an example of this: I can't remember which course in the second course, once staring at the newly fledged duck chicks to look hard. When he was asked what he was looking at, he said that seeing the fluffy ducklings made him realize the true meaning of "benevolence" as described by the sage. There is something touching in this idea, but on closer examination, there is nothing remarkable in it. Although a fluffy duck looks good, it is still a duck. Besides, the sage proposed "benevolence", but the descendants had to look at the duck to understand it, or at least the words did not reach the meaning. Although I think so, I do not lack national feelings. Although I do not admire Confucius and Mencius, I admire the working people of ancient China. The working people invented making tofu, which I can't imagine.
I also read Zhu Xi's books, because I studied science and technology as an undergraduate, so I read his treatise on "materialism" very carefully. Zhu Zi can use the five elements of yin and yang to grasp all the things in the world, although the five elements of yin and yang is all-encompassing, is a valuable heritage of the nation, I still think more or less lost in simplicity. For example, Zhu Zi said that when you look down the well, you can see a cloud of white gas. His old man explained that there is yang in the yin and yin in the yang (this is the image of the taiji diagram), and it is normal to see a cloud of yang at the bottom of the well. I believe that you look into the well, not only can see a white gas, you can also see a human head, that is, you yourself (I am very sure of this point, I think there is no need to do experiments). For some reason, this point he did not mention. It may not have been observed carefully, or it may have been out of sight, which is inexcusable for a scholar. It is also possible that the well was too deep, but I don't believe there were no shallower wells in the Song Dynasty. It is unlikely that the doctrine of yin and yang can be used to explain this phenomenon, so perhaps geometric optics must be used. Although it is not right to ask Zhu Zi to launch the whole optical system at once, that thing is too complicated, it is better to take a step in that direction. But he simply refused to do so. If we say that Zhu Zi was a philosopher and an ethicist, we cannot use the standard of natural scientists to demand, I agree. But the strange thing is, our country's thousands of years of civilization history, just can not produce natural scientists.
Now I can say that I have read Confucius, Mencius, Cheng and Zhu. Although not very drill in, but I am also afraid to drill in and can not climb out. If this is the main part of Chinese cultural heritage, then I would say that this is too little, and it is just a little bit about human relations, plus the five elements of yin and yang later. It is too much for so many readers to study for 2,000 years. We know that in the old days, the readers were able to memorize the Four Books and Five Classics, and just point out two words to know where it is in the book. While this spirit of research is admirable, this practice is completely psychotic. Obviously, if you can recite Einstein's original works, you can't become a physicist; because the real learning is not in the words, but in the ideas. Even if the liberal arts are a bit special and require memorization, it is not to this extent. Because I also memorized Chairman Mao's quotations during the Cultural Revolution, I thought that I understood this tone - it is not too much to say that it is chanting scriptures and reciting mantras.
During World War II, an American general was deep behind enemy lines and was unfortunately blocked by the enemy in a cellar, while the enemy was rummaging over his head, one of his entourage coughed. The general gave his attendant a piece of gum to chew as a way to suppress the cough. But the attendant chewed it for a while and then reached out for it again, reasoning that the piece was too tasteless. The general said, "It's not surprising that it's tasteless, I've been chewing it for two hours before I gave it to you! I cite this example to illustrate that the Four Books and Five Classics, no matter how good, can not be read for thousands of years; just as chewing gum, no matter how delicious, can not be chewed by another person. Of course, I have not read the Four Books in this way and do not know the benefits. Some people say that modern science, culture, all kinds of things, all in the Confucian canon, as long as you carefully study. I believe this, and I also believe that if you chew that piece of gum again, you can still chew the taste of beef jerky, as long as you keep chewing it. I personally believe that the most significant cultural tradition of our nation is not Confucius and Mencius, but this spirit of research. In the past, we studied the Four Books and Five Classics, but now we study the Dream of the Red Chamber. I admit that we are very far behind in this area, but it is not a bad thing. Whether it is the Four Books or the Dream of the Red Chamber, it is just a few books, but the whole big world is forced to be stuffed into them. I believe the world will not benefit from this, but suffer from it.
Any study, even if the content is limited and no longer worth studying, but you drill it very deep and thorough, you can hold it to your own weight, in other words, so that everyone admires you; after that, if another person wants to hold this study to their own weight, you must drill deeper and more thorough. This kind of learning by countless people have been so drill, what will become, it is difficult to imagine. Those who drill into what will become a look, it is difficult to imagine. The old house is haunted, the old tree has become a spirit, and a discipline of learning may eventually become a kind of demon. It is said that it is all-encompassing and can save the world today, although I would like to believe it, but I still doubt it.