In a recent interview with the media, Mr. Zhang Qianzhi, former president of Northwestern University, pointed out: Chinese civilization has a history of 5,000 years, and it is called the four oldest civilizations in the world along with the ancient Egyptian civilization, the Lianghe civilization and the Indian civilization.
Compared with these three ancient civilizations, we can clearly see the continuity of Chinese civilization.
Why is that? It is that in the process of long-term evolution, Chinese civilization constantly integrates and absorbs the beneficial elements of other civilizations, enriches its own connotation and constitutes its own characteristics.
First of all, reflected in the level of values, Chinese civilization has broken through the boundary of “distinction between Hua and Yi” as early as its own childhood, showing a kind of flexibility and magnanimity. For example, the state of Chu called itself barbarians, and then the civilization advanced day by day, and the princes of the Central Plains joined the alliance, they no longer regarded them as barbarians, while Zheng Guoben was regarded as Yi Di if his behavior was unjust and courteous. Therefore, in the process of long-term evolution, Chinese civilization has never rigidly adhered to an outdated value, but constantly absorbed foreign civilization and transformed it into its own components, which is one of the reasons for the longevity of Chinese civilization.
For another example, Hao Jing, a famous thinker, politician and litterateur in the early Yuan Dynasty and a representative figure in the literary minister group of the founding of the Yuan Dynasty, put forward the national thought that “if you can practice China, you will be the master of China”. It broke through the narrow national view of “Yan Xia Yi’s great defense”, and played a positive role in promoting the establishment of the orthodox status of the Yuan Dynasty and promoting the cultural integration of various ethnic groups in the north.
The contemporary embodiment of this great inclusiveness of Chinese civilization is the absorption of socialist core values to western civilization.
The 18th CPC National Congress proposed to advocate prosperity, democracy, civilization and harmony, freedom, equality, justice and the rule of law, patriotism, dedication, integrity and friendliness, and actively cultivate and practice socialist core values. Prosperity, democracy, civilization and harmony are the value goals at the national level, freedom, equality, justice and the rule of law are the value orientation at the social level, and patriotism, dedication, honesty and friendliness are the value criteria at the individual level of citizens. these 24 words are the basic contents of socialist core values.
Looking back, we can find that democracy, freedom, equality, justice and the rule of law in the core values of contemporary socialism obviously come from Western civilization– this is after the collision of modern Eastern and Western civilizations. the great achievements of Chinese civilization after absorbing western civilization. From this we can also see that Chinese civilization has never been resting on its laurels, conservative and xenophobic. On the contrary, in the process of civilization exchange and integration, Chinese civilization has a strong tolerance and is good at internalizing the beneficial factors of heterogeneous civilization into its own organic components.
Of course, from the value level, the specific implementation to the institutional level, this process is still quite a long time.
Secondly, from the religious level, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam have gradually changed in the collision and blending with Chinese civilization, and even become “Sinicized” religions.
Buddhism, which originated in India, began to be introduced into China in the tenth year of Emperor Han Ming (AD 67). Ten different sects gradually emerged in China, of which Gushe and Chengshi belong to Hinayana Buddhism, and the others are Mahayana. That is, the so-called eight groups: Tiantai sect, Huayan sect, Fa Xiang sect, three Theory sect, Law sect, Secret sect, Pure Land Buddhism and Zen Buddhism.
Rooftop, Huayan, Dharma and the four theories focus on the discussion of justice and principle, while legal Buddhism, esoteric Buddhism, Pure Land Buddhism and Zen Buddhism focus on personal practice.
Zen, the transliteration of Indian Zana (dhyana), refers to concentration and hierarchical meditation or meditation.
Dr. Daisuo Suzuki, a famous Japanese Zen master, said: “Zen is a school produced by Chinese Buddhism, which grafted Taoist (Lao, Zhuang) thought onto Indian thought.” Like the Zen we are talking about today, there is no Zen in India. The Chinese regard the interpretation of Zen as an epiphany, which is a kind of creativity. The practical imagination of the Chinese people has given them the greatest satisfaction in terms of religious feelings. “
Master Taixu said that the characteristic of Chinese Buddhism lies in Zen.
Catholic priest Billy also said: “Chinese Zen is the peak of the Asian spirit.”
Liang Qichao believes that when there were thousands of flames in history between the six dynasties, Sui and Tang dynasties, then Buddhism was also. During the hundred years of the six dynasties and the three Tang dynasties, the noble and knowledgeable people entered the scope of Buddhism.
Zen Buddhism believes that our hearts are nothing special, they are ordinary, as long as they are spotless, they are no different from the hearts of the Buddha.
Luo Chin-tang, a professor at the University of Hawaii in the United States, believes that Zen is an inherent product of China, and there has been a sprout of Zen as early as Zhuangzi. He summed up the various characteristics of the Zen masters of the so-called five sects and seven schools in the Tang and Song dynasties, which were different from traditional Buddhism, into three points: not meditating, not worshiping Buddha, and not reading sutras, which is the maverick thinking and way of Zen Buddhism in China.
Luo Jintang further pointed out that Zen has also developed the source of wisdom for Chinese literature, and opened up a brand-new road in the creation of literati, so Yan Yu’s “Canglang Poetry” said: Zen is in the wonderful enlightenment, and the poetic way is also in the wonderful enlightenment. He concluded in one sentence: Buddhism (that is, Buddha education) is mainly about the relationship between people and sentient beings in the Dharma world.
Buddhist thought has been integrated into an organic part of Chinese civilization.
Christianity is the important spiritual foundation of western civilization. Christianity put forward the supremacy of human life, freedom and dignity, which led to the emergence of civilized law with life, freedom and dignity as the primary value pursuit. Christianity calls for equality for all. Christianity is the first in the world to put forward the idea of sacred marriage, giving divine brilliance to marriage and family: Christianity puts forward the concept of equality between men and women for the first time in the world. Christianity opened the first hospital, orphanage, nursing home and charity, which promoted the establishment of social welfare system and labor security system. Christianity was the first patient service institution in the world-the hospital (at the end of the 4th century). Christianity established the world’s first mental patient medical institution (AD 321). Christianity opened the world’s first mental and psychological medical institution (14th century). Christianity invented and took the lead in establishing the “sister nursing council”. The name “nurse” is the invention of Christianity, which is the first nursing institution in the world. Christianity founded the “Red Cross”, which dyed the red cross and became the exalted humanitarian symbol of redeeming the opposing sides in killing each other. Christianity put forward “universal education” for the first time in the world, that is, anyone has the right to education; Christianity put forward “gender equality education” for the first time in the world– how similar it is to Confucius’ idea of “education without discrimination”!
The doctrine of Christianity can be summed up in two words-fraternity, while fraternity refers to loving different people or things at the same time. It is a kind of ethical theory advocated by Mozi during the Spring and Autumn period and the warring States period. These two thoughts of the East and the West have great overlap in connotation.
The entry of Christianity into China began with the Western missionaries in the Ming and Qing dynasties. After hundreds of years of integration, the thought, spirit, culture and system of Christianity have also been integrated into the body of Chinese civilization and become an organic part of Chinese civilization.
The Christian idea of fraternity has also been internalized into one of the characteristics of Chinese civilization.
Islam was introduced into China from West Asia and the Middle East in the middle of the 7th century.
As early as the Tang and Song dynasties, the Chinese government designated a safe place to live for Muslim expatriates, called “Fan Fang”; in order to inherit their culture, they established “Fan Studies” and, more importantly, designated knowledgeable people in Fan Fang to be chief executives and civil judges, called “Ka Ji”, and inside Fan Fang they were called “Si Ismail”, that is, Islamic elders. During the Tang and Song dynasties, as long as there were Muslim-inhabited areas, there was “Gazuo”, which was equivalent to the Muslim Executive Yuan. “Gazi” in various places use Islamic laws and regulations to manage visits, mediate civil lawsuits and preside over weddings and funerals, which is no different from the situation in Islamic countries. “Fan Fang” implements a high degree of autonomy, enjoys generous treatment from the government, and freely performs its religious and social duties. It is precisely because of such a wise move that Chinese Muslims not only grow up, but also regard China as their home, their motherland and their native land.
The Islamic classic Koran calls on people to think about all the mysteries of themselves and the universe. The Koran praises knowledge and scholars, refuses to talk casually without evidence, and opposes subjective conjecture. Through these principles and teachings, Islam creates a spiritual and social atmosphere for academic and scientific prosperity, and provides a free space for scientists to explore.
The Koran also requires that the knowledge and science must be used for the cause of bringing benefits to mankind, rather than for the destruction of lives and dehumanization (such as Japan’s aggression and massacre of Asian countries in World War II, the atomic bomb dropped by the United States on Japan, which killed 300000 people, and so on). This unique view of culture and science makes the Muslim scientific culture not only stand alone in the Middle Ages, but also radiate to various disciplines with faith as the center, thus surpassing the scientific movement in the general sense.
The Koran holds that “the pursuit of knowledge is the main order of every Muslim”, but it does not limit the “pursuit of knowledge” to religious knowledge, but includes all knowledge beneficial to human society, and natural science is of course included.
No wonder contemporary Islamic thinker Yusuf Gerdawi said: “in the eyes of Muslims, religion is science, and science is religion.” French philosopher Dostave Reuben said: “it is the Arabs who have taught the world how to unify the freedom of thought with the piety of religion.”
The middle way thought is an important thought of Islam, which requires people to be impartial and appropriate in religious practice, moral cultivation, social life and interpersonal relations.
Islam advocates impartiality in social life. There are many verses and biographies in the Koran and hadith that teach people not to overeat, not to spend too much money, to oppose hedonism, and to oppose asceticism.
Dualistic loyalty means that they are loyal not only to the Allah they believe in, but also to the country and government in which they live, and the two are not contrary to each other. On this point, China’s Muslim scholars have followed a right path.
In history, Chinese Muslims have further expanded the meaning and scope of obedience according to the contents of the scriptures and training that they love the land where they grow and obey the officials in power. As early as the Yuan Dynasty, Muslims in Xinjiang began to make “du’a” (prayer) to their officials during weekly ceremonies; in the Ming Dynasty, Muslim scholars formed a theory. This dual loyalty thought actually absorbed the concept of monarchs and ministers in ancient China, thus solved the problem of Chinese Muslims’ attitude towards non-Muslim monarchs, and reconciled the relationship between Islam and national politics. it is of vital importance to the spread and development of Islam in China. Today, this dual loyalty has evolved into a modern idea of “patriotism and religion”. It seeks a upright way between patriotism and religion, which is the extension of the orthodox thought of Islam– the crystallization of the wisdom of Chinese Muslim scholars.
The middle way of Islam is embodied in all aspects, and the “harmony but difference” of pluralistic civilization is the core embodiment of the middle way of Islam.
The Doctrine of the mean, which refers to the attitude of impartiality and compromise, comes from the Analects of Confucius and is one of the quintessence of Confucian culture.
The “Doctrine of the mean” of Islam is very similar to the Confucian “Doctrine of the mean”.
China has introduced the Chinese concept of “gentlemen are harmonious but different, villains are not harmonious” into the field of international diplomacy, advocating that the diversity of civilizations should be maintained rather than the oneness of globalization. this is a wise response to the thoughts and behaviors of “cultural centralism”, “western supremacy”, “extremism”, “fundamentalism” and “cultural Americanization”. This is similar to the meaning of the above text in the Koran.
Today’s Chinese Muslims have become the backbone of national unity and progress.
There are many examples of Chinese civilization absorbing foreign civilizations and “Sinicizing” them.
It can be said that non-stop, continuous absorption and inclusiveness are the fundamental reasons for the continuity of Chinese civilization.
For thousands of years, the accumulation and precipitation of the cultural essence of the East and the West, the infiltration and nourishment of local and heterogeneous civilizations, the convergence of the Central Plains civilization in the mainland, the northern grassland civilization and the western foreign civilization, and the generation, radiation and agitation of different civilizations, so that the Chinese civilization has formed an introverted but not autistic, extension but not alienation with a strong self-supporting civilization system, so that it has an extremely strong vitality! Until today, Chinese civilization is constantly enriching its own connotation in the process of never-ending absorption of different civilizations.
As Mr. Zhang Qizhi pointed out: some excellent cultural spirit of Chinese civilization transcends time and space, transcends the country, is full of eternal charm, and has contemporary value, which requires us to activate its vitality with the spirit of the times. The historical wisdom and ideas in Chinese civilization can provide ideological nourishment for the construction of a community with a shared future for mankind. for example, the thoughts of “harmony with all nations” and “great harmony under the world” provide a historical mirror, the thoughts of “harmony in the middle” and “permitting to uphold them” provide a methodological basis, and the thoughts of “establishing oneself and reaching others” and “helping the world at the same time” provide an important spiritual source, which provides an important spiritual source for solving the common problems faced by mankind. Shu Ji can contribute to “Chinese wisdom”.