“The Three Character Classic” – Unit 19

Zheng Jian Editing Group for Chinese Culture Teaching Materials

PureInsight | July 19, 2011


Unit 19

我(wǒ) 周(zhōu) 公(gōng),作(zuò) 周(zhōu) 禮(lǐ),
著(zhù) 六(liù) 官(guān),存(cún) 治(zhì) 體(tǐ)。
大(dà) 小(xiǎo) 戴(dài),註(zhù) 禮(lǐ) 記(jì),
述(shù) 聖(shèng) 言(yán),禮(lǐ) 樂(yuè) 備(bèi)。

(1)周公(zhōu gōng):the fourth son of Emperor Wen of the Zhou Dynasty, named Ji Dan, with manor in Zhou, thus named the Duke of Zhou
(2)周禮(zhōu lǐ):The Rites of Zhou, written by the Duke of Zhou
(3)著(zhù):write, compose
(4)六官(liù guān):six government offices of the Zhou Dynasty: Offices of Heaven, Offices of Earth, Offices of Spring, Offices of Summer, Offices of Autumn, and Offices of Winter
(5)存(cún):exist, bring into existence
(6)治體(zhì tǐ):the official system to govern a nation or a state
(7)大小戴(dà xiǎo dài):two scholars of the Western Han Dynasty, Dai De and Dai Sheng. They were uncle and nephew, thus referred to as Old Dai and Young Dai.
(9)述(shù):elaborate, elucidate
(10)聖言(shèng yán):remarks of saints and sages
(11)禮樂(lǐ yuè):all kinds of rituals and related music systems

Text Explanation
The Duke of Zhou composed The Rites of Zhou, which records six kinds of government offices of the Zhou Dynasty and preserves the state-ruling system. Two scholars of the Western Han Dynasty, Dai De and Dai Sheng, annotated The Classic of Rites to elaborate saints and sages’ remarks and complete all kinds of rituals and related musical systems.

Discussion Questions
1. The Duke of Zhou established six official sections of government in order to set up a system that the ruler and the ministers could follow and thus take their own responsibility not to overstep the state rituals. Do you agree that it is important to fulfill one’s own responsibility? What will a class be like if some classmates do not do their share or take their responsibility seriously?

2. In our daily lives, what are some basic rituals or courtesies we should not overlook? For example, when attending to daily routines, or attending a wedding or a funeral, what should we pay attention to?


Zeng Zi Changed the Bamboo Mat

Zeng Zi, who had a serious illness, lay down on a bed. His disciples, Yue Zheng and Zi Chun sat beside his bed, and his sons, Zeng Yuan and Zeng Shen, sat at the foot of his bed. A young boy sat in the corner, holding a candle.

The young boy accidentally discovered that under Zeng Zi’s body was a gorgeous clear bamboo mat that only a high-ranking official was supposed to use. He thus uttered some compliments about it; Zi Chun stopped him from talking at once. Hearing this, Zeng Zi said alarmingly, “Ah! Yes. It is a gift from Ji Sun. I had not changed it. Yuan, hold me up and change the bamboo mat.”

Zeng Yuan replied, “You are suffering from serious illness. It is better not to move your body now. Let’s wait till dawn. I will definitely change it as requested.” Zeng Zi said, “You love me no more than the young boy. A gentleman loves people with virtue, but a villain loves people with appeasement and indulgence. What else can I ask for? I will be satisfied if I can die following the correct path.”
Zheng Zi’s disciples and sons hurried to replace the mat. Zeng Zi passed away as he lay down calmly on the bed.

Writing Reflection
1. Why did Zeng Zi insist on changing the mat?
2. Do you think moral standards change with time?

Simplified Chinese: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2007/4/3/43090.html


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