Ear and Conscious Activity

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Man’s Nature is Evil
Hsun Tzu

Man’s nature is evil; goodness is a result of a conscious activity. The nature of man is such that he is born with a fondness for profit. If he indulges this fondness, it will lead him to wrangling and strife, and all sense of courtesy and humility will disappear. He is born with feelings of envy and hate, and if he indulges these, they will lead him to violence and crime, and all sense of loyalty and good faith will disappear. Man is born with the desires of eyes and ears, with a fondness for beautiful sights and sounds. If he indulges these, they will lead him to license and wantonness, and all ritual principles and correct forms will be lost. Hence, any man who follows his nature and indulges his emotions will inevitably become involved in wrangling and strife, will violate the forms and rules of society and will end as a criminal. Therefore, man must first be transformed by the instructions of the teacher and guided by ritual principles, and only then he will be able to observe the dictates of courtesy and humility, obey the forms and rules of society, and achieve order. It is obvious from this then, that man’s nature is evil, and that his goodness is the result of conscious activity.

A warped piece of wood must wait until it had been laid against the straightening bard, steamed and forced into shape before it becomes straight; a piece of blunt metal must wait until it has been whetted on a grindstone before it can become sharp. Similarly, since man’s nature is evil, it must wait for the instructions of the teacher before it can become upright and for the guidance of the ritual principles before it can become orderly. If men have no teachers to instruct them, they will be inclined towards evil and not upright, and if they have no ritual principles to guide them, they will be perverse, violent and lack order. In ancient times, the sage- kings realize that man’s nature is evil and that therefore he inclines toward evil and...
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