What are the Key Components of Confucian (Ruist) Virtues?

by J.D. (“Joffre”) Meyer

First of all, Confucianism is a Western-imposed misnomer. We prefer to be called, “Ruists.” Let’s start with The Five Virtues as an introduction to the philosophy.

The Five Virtues are (1) humanity, (2) propriety, (3) appropriate-assertiveness, (4) wisdom, and (5) faith. Humanity (jen) is the first virtue, and its beginning is compassion. Mencius asserted that one would rescue a child that had fallen in a well out of compassion, not the desire to advance in society. The Chinese character for jen is a person standing next to the number two, symbolizing a person in society—a simple four stroke character. The last virtue is faith (hsin), meaning the completion of the other four virtues. The Chinese character is a person standing next to “word.”

The beginning of propriety (li) is deference. The beginning of appropriate-assertiveness (i) is shame. Through courage, we move from withdrawn shame to assertiveness. This concept is usually translated as “righteousness.” David Nivison introduced the more accurate translation as “appropriate-assertiveness.” The beginning of wisdom (chih) is distinguishing right from wrong.

Let’s examine propriety according to the concepts of pattern-principle and vital force. If we don’t exhibit enough pattern-principle in our expression of propriety, we are rude. On the other hand, if we don’t show enough vital force, then we’re boring. Through appropriate-assertiveness, we add to propriety.

Friday the 13th with SOL2015: Meet two Thai Hot Sauces__Sriracha & Chili Paste with Soya Bean Oil

I’m not waiting until the last minute today, regarding my midnight SOL of yesterday. Instead of my usual granola and soybean milk, I’ve gotten creative with toast, sauce, and fruit. I toasted a medium dark bolillo roll. Apple butter, Sriracha, and Chili Paste with Soya Oil are the sauces, but not at the same time. The fruits are watermelon chunks and blueberries donated to me by a couple of Stanley’s BBQ bartenders (bartendrettes?) Sriracha is an old favorite of mine, the squirt bottle legend.

Sriracha has brief list of ingredients: red jalapenos, sugar, and garlic mostly. For those of you used to Mexican hot sauces (like me), you’ll notice sugar instead of tomatoes in East Asian hot sauces. Sriracha was actually invented by a Vietnamese immigrant to California–the founder of Hu Fong Foods.

Chili Paste with Soya Oil is my new favorite, and its title doesn’t do it justice. Like the world-famous Sriracha, it’s a Thai sauce. The wild blend of spices will leave you stunned: fish sauce, tamarind ( a fruit), shrimp…sugar, shallots, garlic, coriander, and cumin–to name most of them. Last time, I fried firm tofu in the complicated sauce. This morning, I spread it on toast, following the suggestion of the Asian Emporium store-keeper.