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THE CULTIVATION OF HUMANITIES (EXCERPT)
by Stanley Yen (1947 - )
English translation: Miao Guang

To cultivate a disposition of elegance, one must first learn how to attain a tranquil repose. In the Great Learning, what can be said to be the most penetrative insight is given:

Stopping allows for concentration,
which gives rise to tranquility.
From tranquility, peace arises,
which allows for careful reflection
that ultimately leads to attainment.

Nowadays, people attach too much importance to gaining immediate results, wanting to master the English language in seven days, or become a millionaire in half a year. Everything is about “the sooner, the better.”

How is it possible for us to nurture an eye for art, or an appreciation of beauty in the world within a short time? Zhu Guangqian once said, “The world of aesthetics is a purely abstract one. To appreciate art means to shift from a practical world to an ideal one.

In other words, into a world free of personal interests.

Indeed, how can you appreciate something with a calm mind when everything concerns personal interests? For this reason, every one of us should possess something within ourselves that transcends personal interests and expectations for something in return. In this way, we will be able to discover ourselves from a different perspective, and find ourselves in that of a tranquil repose.

── from Yu Feng Er Shang (Rising Above the Wind)