(Minghui.org) Faith, or xin yang in Chinese, has a long history. It also plays an important role shaping the culture of today’s society.
St. Thomas Aquinas (1125 – 1274), a great priest in Italy, said God was the source of natural reason and faith. “Faith is a quality, since it is a virtue, i.e., a good quality of the mind,” he wrote. “…faith is a habit of the mind by which eternal life begins in us, a habit which makes the intellect assent to things that are not apparent.”
William James, known as the father of American psychology, believed faith is part of our society. “A social organism of any sort whatever, large or small, is what it is because each member proceeds to his own duty with a trust that the other members will simultaneously do theirs,” he wrote in an 1896 article titled The Will to Believe. “Wherever a desired result is achieved by the co-operation of many independent persons, its existence as a fact is a pure consequence of the precursive faith in one another of those immediately concerned.”
In China, the term xin yang (faith) originally came from Sanskrit Buddhism. It refers to “the belief and admiration of Buddha, dharma, and sangha (the Buddhist community) with no doubt.” In fact, China has a rich history of faith. In addition to Buddhism, it has Taoism, Confucianism, and other belief systems. For thousands of years, these belief systems provided spiritual guidance and a moral basis for people from all walks of life.
Crossroads of Cultures
Who we are has been an eternal question pondered by mankind. “The soul of man is immortal and imperishable,” remarked Plato. “In order for man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means—education and physical activity. Not separately—one for the soul and the other for the body—but for the two together. With these means, man can attain perfection.” he explained.
In the East, the ancient sages not only fostered Chinese culture, but also influenced other civilizations. One example was Tao Te Ching by Laozi (also known as Lao Tzu). “For me, this is as every bit as important a guide in terms of personal moral ethics as Plato’s work is,” wrote a 2017 New York Times review by American writer and producer Viggo Mortensen. “Another side of the same coin. The timeless lessons that can be had from Plato and Lao Tzu reinforce each other in many ways.”
In fact, Tao Te Ching was well known in Germany in the 16th century. After the first German translation became available in 1870, there were as many as 102 translations in German alone. German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770 – 1831), for example, was heavily influenced by Laozi. With hundreds of translation version combined, Tao Te Ching became one of the most translated literature in human history.
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646 – 1716), the German mathematician who developed calculus independently from Isaac Newton, had a strong interest in Chinese culture. When seeing the Latin translation of hetu (Yellow River Chart) and luoshu (Inscription of the River Luo), he was in awe and exclaimed that it was a profound mystery of the universe. Inspired by I Ching, he advanced dialectics and invented the binary numeral system that is used in today’s computer system.
Indeed, people from across all cultures have been searching for the meaning of life and eternal happiness. Righteous belief systems not only lead people in the right direction, but also guide them with higher moral values and better conduct in society.
Scarcity of Faith under Communism
According to statistics published in 2018, there were about 2.3 billion Christian followers, which accounted for about 32% of the world’s population. Four hundred million people, 7% of the world’s population, believed in Buddhism. Updated data in 2022 indicated that 80% of the world’s population follow some faith systems. Among them, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and Taoists account for about half of the world’s population. More and more people around the world have found meanings of life through their faith systems.
But not all countries are the same. In communist China, for example, only 7% of the population have belief systems. As Confucius said, “Those with no long-term vision would face near-term worries.” Western philosophers also realised this situation. “In the first place, no one is happy, but everyone throughout his life strives for an alleged happiness that is rarely attained, and even then only to disappoint him,” wrote German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer.
As a result, many people in the modern China have no faith and instead pursue money and lust, often at the cost of harming others. This has not only undermined China, but also endangered the world.
The 7% of the Chinese population that have faith systems include practitioners of Falun Dafa, a meditation system also known as Falun Dafa that is based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. It was introduced to the public in 1992 by Mr. Li Hongzhi, and the practice has since attracted about 100 million practitioners from all walks of life.
Falun Gong practitioners strive to be good citizens by following the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. Even after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched a nationwide campaign against Falun Gong due to its popularity, practitioners have remained calm and determined in their righteous faith.
One of the articles in this year’s “Celebrating World Falun Dafa Day” series described how Falun Dafa changed a rebellious girl and shrew of a wife to someone who is always considerate of others. Because she was compassionate to everyone, including family members, co-workers, and neighbors, people around her were deeply moved by the changes they saw in her. Her nephew said to her husband, “I am proud of my aunt (referring to the practitioner) as a Falun Gong practitioner. She treats everyone well. Falun Gong practitioners are the best.”
It is faith that makes us live, said Antoine Augustin Cournot, French philosopher, mathematician, and economist, who believed that our curiosity about the supernatural and miraculous that gives life. That is, it is in truth we wish to live.
That explains why Falun Gong practitioners are determined in their faith despite 23 years of brutal persecution by the CCP. After all, our world needs Truthfulness-Compassion -Forbearance.
Chinese version available