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Let's Talk About Confucius on TV?

27 November 2006
 

Professor Yu Dan:
A scholar or a show-woman?

The Buddha never wrote a book, but gave many speeches to his followers over the time span of several decades, which after his nirvana were compiled into books by his disciples, and the books became known as Buddhist Scriptures.

The Master never wrote a book, but gave many speeches to his followers over the time span of several decades, which after his death were compiled into books by his disciples, and the books became known as Chinese Classics.

Chinese professor Yu Dan also gave many speeches on a controversial TV program to her audience about The Analects (《论语》) over the time span of seven days. The difference is after just one month the speeches were compiled into a book by herself, and the book became an instant sensation.

When the news that the copies of the book would hit the bookstore shelves at Zhongguancun near Tsinghua and Beijing universities on Sunday afternoon, November 26, at 2pm, was spread, a group of people, most were university students, began to line up in front of the store since 7:30 in the morning. By the lunchtime, the queue had extended from the fifth floor where the store was located all the way down to the ground level and out of the gate to the street, hindering the normal business operations of the neighbouring shops, causing much of grudge and complaints.

But the bookstore is surely very happy, which sold 12 thousand copied just on the first day since 2pm, shattering many previous book sales records.

And Yu Dan is surely a very popular writer. She signed 8,000 copies in 8 hours.

As for whether she is a good scholar on Confucius is another matter entirely. Many Chinese experts in the field say no, because her speech is riddled with errors and misinformation and vulgarity which renders her Confucius discussion like a cheap talkback show; but some say yes, because she has found a way to engage less educated in lofty classics.

The Analects is the most important work of Confucius, which speaks of its very fundamental message – the universal humanity (仁). For two thousand years, The Analects had been the centre of study for Chinese scholars. It is said that if one can apprehend just half of The Analects teaching, he would be well equipped to manage the affairs of the world. (半部论语治天下)

The basic works of the Classic Confucius include Four Books and Five Classics, which cover a whole range of fields, from literature, history, philosophy, politics, economy, education, ethics, justice, law, astronomy, geography, arts to science.

Four Books are:

  • The Analects (论语)

  • The Great Learning (大学)

  • The Middle Way (中庸)

  • Mencius (孟子)

Five Classics are:

  • The Book of Odes (classic poetry) (诗经)

  • The Book of Change (I Ching, the very foundation of the Chinese culture) (易经)

  • The Classic History (a collection of documents and speeches by important historical figures during the Zhou Dynasty, the classic era of China) (尚书)

  • The Rites (about how to observe appropriate social forms and ceremonies) (礼记)

  • The Spring and Autumn Annals (Critics of social ills) (春秋)

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