Tuesday, November 2, 2010

子曰:君子和而不同 Confucius Said: The Exemplary Person pursues Harmony, Not Sameness


《吕氏春秋》对烹饪艺术如此描述: ‘调和之事,必以甘酸苦辛咸,先後多少,其齐甚微,皆有自起。鼎中之变,精妙微纤,口弗能言,志弗能喻,若射御之微,阴阳之化,四时之数。’


The Chinese one-world world view means there is a direct and immediate affinity between the human being and the natural world and the purpose of human experience is to get the most harmony out of the various ingredients that constitute the world.
Harmony and cultivation of harmony therefore occupy a prominent position in Chinese ancient philosophy. The harmony begins from what is most concrete and immediate, i.e. from the perspective of any particular human being. The emphasis is on personal cultivation as a starting point for familial, social, political, and cosmic order.
The nature of harmony is explained by relating it to the culinary arts. The art of Chinese cooking requires that good cooking depends on the blending of various ingredients and at the same time for each ingredient, retains its own colour, texture, and flavour. In order to become a good cook one must first be a good matchmaker. The flavours of the ingredients must be blended with harmony. Without this harmony there is no taste. The use of colour and texture in the presentation of the dish was also stressed.
In Spring and Autumn Annals of Master Lu, the art of cooking described as follows:

‘In combining your ingredients to achieve a harmony, you have to use sweet, sour, bitter, acrid and the salty, and you have to mix them in an appropriate sequence and proportion. Bringing the various ingredients together is an extremely subtle art in which each of them has its own expression. The variations within the cooking pot are so delicate and subtle that they cannot be captured in words or fairly conceptualise. It is much like the fine skill of archery, transformation of yin and yang, and changes of seasons.’

Therefore Confucius said: ‘The exemplary person pursues harmony, not sameness (uniformity).’

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