Liu Yuan, a Confucian scholar, educator, healer, an exemplary son and a model parent, lived at the end of the 18th and first half of the 19th centuries in Sichuan, China. Liu believed in bridging gaps between religions and people. He expounded on the common goodness possessed innately by all people and the need to rediscover it when obscured. His life synopsis follows this compilation.
Amongst many of Liu Yuan’s works, this compilation brings forth several exemplary titles at the heart of his teachings, including a doctrine which campaigns for his belief in an innate goodness in people, later named the Huai Xuan doctrine.
The task of translating texts from a different time and place requires bridging not only language and culture, but even more so, transporting an old mindset into a modern one. In many cases, respected customs of earlier times are not respected anymore, linguistic craft unique to one language sounds awkward in another. This, naturally, poses a challenge to the translator and the reader. The Huai Xuan doctrine promotes innate goodness of the person; the human. It transcends geographical borders and cultural differences as it brings together all humanity. However, to teach goodness it refers to the current culture and common customs, simple words and accepted ideas. Thus, rather than only to a selected few, it reaches to every person living in those times and that culture.
Connecting past and present, the idea behind this common human phenomenon shines through when cultural and linguistic differences are overcome and the essence sought. It depicts the way that the full human life is lived in realms both material and spiritual, visible and invisible. In its core, there is ‘finding center’, the daily practice which may lead to a long and healthy life while spreading harmony everywhere.
Finding center and properness, with time, yields boundless energy flowing from a universal center, bypassing and minimizing the obstruction caused by own heart’s selfish tendency and boundless material desires. This, when successful, results in a person propagating goodness in the world effortlessly. The force to propagate such goodness stems from a quality termed ‘heaven nature’, an infinite source of power unleashing ‘heart goodness’ and collectively named by Liu Yuan ‘Heaven Nature Heart Goodness’.
In return for spreading such goodness, having a big heart and selflessly caring for others, this compilation of translations for the modern times of the teachings of the Huai Xuan is dedicated to Liu Baigu, Liu Yuan’s great grandson.
Putting in words the Huai Xuan heart is not an everyday task, therefore all omissions and errors in translation or interpretation are entirely due to the translator’s shortcomings. One can only hope to accomplish something good!
In Connecticut the summer of 2016