My Journey Towards Ru

April 23, 2019

Jason Liu ’21

Where shall I begin my journey? I was a relatively bad student in Chinese class when I was in primary school. Not because I was lazy or stupid, but I just could not finish the test correctly. What do I mean here? Well, when you write about your opinion toward an article or event, you will need a special formula to write it, and I did not get it. So, my grade in Chinese class devastated my Chinese teacher’s confidence in me. I can still remember some scenes where she showed her disbelief of my ability to learned Chinese. Once I finished my homework with all correct answers (I did not do that normally), but she insisted that I had copied the answers from another.

So in order to improve my score on my Chinese exams, my parents sent me to a professor who taught Chinese in a university. If someone were to interview my mother to ask which decision she made for me that benefited me the most, she will probably choose the decision to send me to United States to study. However, in my opinion, her decision that sent me to the Chinese professor is what changed me forever and benefited me the most.

Her last name was Yin, so I called her Mrs. Yin. She was different. I noticed this when I saw her the first time at her house. How can I describe her? She was kind and–shall I say–a stereotypical professor. The place that we studied at was constructed with many different types of wood: the wooden book shelf with many history books, the wooden table carried lots of papers and textbooks, and so on (wooden furniture is not popular in a Chinese house; only the elderly or someone who is really passionate about Chinese history would buy it). Obviously, Mrs. Yin was the latter. In addition, she gave me a feeling that she differs from the teachers I had met before. However, the very thing that I discovered which surprised me the most was that I could not feel any resistance to studying when she taught me. This is because she was not simply teaching me Chinese, but also the core of Chinese religion and the reason how China survived those five thousand years: Ru, or Confucianism.

I loved to learn history that time, and I already had an idea of Ru before Mrs. Yin taught me about it. However, I did not know how important Ru is in Chinese history and in world religions. Mrs. Yin rectified some of my opinions toward Ru. She let me know that “Analects of Confucius” contained not just a book of what Confucius said, but the spirit of the Chinese. In fact, Confucius did not create Ru; he taught Ru. Before him, Ru was taught only to the nobility. However, Confucius decided to spread Ru throughout the whole country, so that anyone in any class can study Ru.

The most important fact of Ru that I learned from Mrs. Yin was that Ru is a religion. How can you define the word “religion”? In my opinion (it is also Mrs. Yin’s opinion), religion is not a belief in gods or a God; it is a power to make people pursue humanity. Ru believes that human beings have an instinct to pursue humanity. Although this instinct may be ignored because of desires, Ru does not oppose them. It asserts that if people can be fully aware and follow the instincts of humanity, they will not be tempted or led by desires. To build this awareness, Mrs. Yin gave me lots of “homework.” For example, I needed to write in a diary every day. What did I write in it? I wrote whether or not I had been following my instincts of humanity, like: if I played video games for a very long time instead of doing my homework, I wrote that “I did not follow my instincts because I played game for a whole day when I supposed to finish my homework.”

Because of various reasons, Ru is not “popular” in China. Many Chinese only know there is a genre called Ru, but they do not know how important it is to the ancient Chinese. It is like many Americans who do not know all aspects of Christianity. So, I sometimes helped Mrs. Yin and other teachers of Ru to spread the idea of Ru. (In fact, I just helped them prepare the stage or the equipment.) Although I could not keep doing this because I came to the United States, I can still help them in another way; I established the Chinese History Club during the winter term of 2019. If teaching Ru in China awakens the spirit of Chinese people, spreading the idea of Ru in the United States will fill up the great “blank space” in Americans’ knowledge of the Chinese civilization.   

That is my journey toward Ru, a great journey that develops me into a new person whose goal of life is neither power nor money but the great humanity that all human beings have the instinct to pursue. Ru gives me the confidence which I lost in primary school; it tells me that the ancient Chinese were not famous regarding “the Four Great Inventions” but the great achievement of humans’ belief; and, finally but most importantly, it makes me proud of Chinese history and the great stories and spirit included in it.

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    Jessica Wang ’20