Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Three Roots of Ritual

Ritual has three roots. Heaven and Earth are the root of life. Forefathers and ancestors are the root of one's kind. Lords and teachers are the root of order. Without Heaven and Earth, how would one live? Without forefathers and ancestors, how would one have come forth? Without lords and teachers, how would there be order? If even one of these roots is neglected, no one will be safe. And so, ritual serves Heaven above and Earth below, it honors forefathers and ancestors, and it exalts lords and teachers. These are the three roots of ritual.
Xunzi, "Discourse on Ritual", in Xunzi: The Complete Text, Eric L. Hutton, tr., Princeton University Press [Princeton, NJ: 2014] p. 202.

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