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ÁùÒÕ Six Arts in Chinese traditional culture
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The Art of Tao originates from the six ancient arts in China, which are propriety, music, archery, driving, writing, and mathematics. These are the foundation for one to become a virtuous person. From the metaphysical sense, the pursue of the art of Tao can be satisfied through the pursue of the truth of Tao via the six arts.
Propriety is the foremost among the six arts. This means humans should take propriety as their moral standards, so that everyone can gain others' respect through propriety. Through mutual respect, the human morality can be established. This is why propriety is listed first among the six arts.
Music functions not only as a tool for personal cultivation, it can also be a way to meet friends. Through music one can feel the wonderful and mystic sounds in the cosmos, and the tune and rhythm in the flow of all things. Through the metaphysical tunes and rhythms, the accords and rhythms of the flow of Tao are revealed.
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Archery, as practiced in the ancient days, was not for the purpose of hunting. It was meant to be a practice for the spirit and the soul to express their natural aim towards a target. As such, the accuracy is perfect, which manifests the inner force within the body. Then, the exercise becomes the ultimate expression of the inner force within the body.
Driving means to direct. The direction comes not from the conscious effort, but the expression of ones inner wisdom. With such wisdom, one is adaptable and flexible, can act and react, and can be in motion and can be still. As the spontaneous spirit arises, one can achieve at will, and this is the way of driving.
Writing refers to articles and calligraphy, which can express ones internal character. So, from writings, calligraphy and paintings, one can better experience his inner self. When breathing calmly and being alert, being concentrated and involved, one's true feeling emanates naturally through the brush and ink.
Mathematics means divination. The divination through mathematics and the truth can derive from past events to future events, which encompass myriad changes. Changes in the nature are beyond one's perception, and can only be deciphered through mathematical derivation and the truth. When one understands the mathematical derivation, one understands the truth. By understanding the truth, one can be perspective, which is the attainment of both the essence and manifestation of Tao.
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Hence, the six arts are a must for virtuous people.