易简 – Chinese philosophy and culture

yìjiǎn 易简

Ease and Simplicity

平易而简约。“易简”之说出于《周易·系辞上》。《系辞》认为,“乾”“坤”所代表的天地之道平易而简约,因此可以包容万物,又易为人所认识和遵从。后人或以“易简”之道作为对执政者的要求,强调政令应平易、简约,避免对百姓的过度干预。也有学者从修养工夫的角度,强调以“易简”工夫发现、体认自己的本心,确立内在的道德意识。

The term “ease and simplicity” comes from the first half of Xi Ci (“Attached Texts”), a chapter in The Book of Changes. Xi Ci holds that the law of the universe as embodied by heaven and earth is one of ease and simplicity. Therefore, it encompasses everything, and is easy to understand and follow. Later, some scholars championed the way of “ease and simplicity” as a necessary quality for rulers. They emphasized that government policies should be easy to understand and simple and that the government should refrain from excessive intervention in people’s affairs. Other scholars stress, as a matter of self-cultivation, the necessity to use the way of ease and simplicity to discover and realize one’s true self and cultivate a sense of morality in oneself.

引例 Citations:

◎乾以易知,坤以简能。易则易知,简则易从。易知则有亲,易从则有功。有亲则可久,有功则可大。可久则贤人之德,可大则贤人之业。(《周易·系辞上》)

(乾道因其平易而被知晓,坤道因其简约而发挥效用。平易则易为知晓,简约则易于遵从。易为知晓则为人所亲近,易于遵从则能成其功用。为人亲近则可长久,成其功用则能弘大。可长久是贤人的美德,可弘大是贤人的事业。)

The way of heaven is easily understood because of its ease. The way of earth is effective because of its simplicity. Ease means easy to know, and simplicity means easy to follow. If something is easy to understand, it appeals to people and draws them to it; if something is easy to follow, it will not be difficult to achieve it. Appeal can be enduring, and achievability will lead to great accomplishments. Endurance is a merit of a person of virtue, and being capable of reaching far is the pursuit of a person of virtue. (The Book of Changes)

◎易简功夫终久大,支离事业竟浮沉。(陆九渊《鹅湖和教授兄韵》)

(易简的修养工夫最终能够长久而宏大,专注于支离琐碎的学问最终会沉浮不定。)

Taking an approach of ease and simplicity to self-cultivation will achieve endurance and reach far, whereas focusing on fragmented study can only lead to aimless drifting. (Lu Jiuyuan: A Poem to Match the Rhyming Pattern of My Brother’s Poem on Goose Lake)

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