Chapter 11: Rituals And Customs

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Rituals and Customs became necessary in the age of decline, when people no longer embodies the Way and its Potency. Disorder and chaos arise as a result of the diversity in people and things when they are no longer unified in the Way and its Potency. Rituals and customs are implemented as tools to aid the ruler in creating order and harmony in the society again. Chapter 11 explores the origins of rituals and what kind of techniques current sage rulers should employ in establishing rituals such that they are appropriate to his age. However this report will not be focusing on chapter 11. Instead, this report will be discussing two main themes regarding rituals and customs through other chapters. Firstly, the function of ritual as a portal for …show more content…
This shows that there are no standard customs, only customs which are deemed right by the current sage of the country. Thus customs are only considered as “right” in the time and place where it is practice. Though rulers employ different techniques, they have the same goal. This is exemplified by section 19.3, through the stories of Mozi and Duangan Mu. Mozi defended attacks from Chu through his speech whereas Duangan Mu defended his state from being attack through his reputation. Both of them employed different techniques, yet they strive for the same goal - to defend and preserve their states. Likewise in establishing rituals and customs, though there are different customs and rituals by different states, Huainanzi argues that all rulers establish rituals and customs with the same basis, which is to benefit its people through section 13.3. So long as the rituals and customs established are beneficial to its people, they will be passed down. Only when it no longer benefits its people, the ruler should discard the previous rituals and customs. However for rituals and customs to be effective, section 20.34 states that they must have their basis in the Way and its Potency. This implies that the ruler himself must be able to embody the Way and its Potency first before he can establish rituals and customs that have basis in the Way and its Potency. In section 13.3, a silk cap was made for the beloved nurse of Duke Zhao when she died. From there onwards, there were mourning clothes for nurse. Thus besides considering the effectiveness of rituals and customs to the people, time seems to be of an important factor in rituals and customs as well. When the ruler has embodied the Way and its Potency, he is able to establish rituals and customs spontaneously according to the right time. In conclusion, if a ruler has embodied the Way and its

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