Li Ji Book of Rites, Record of Rites, Qu Li 1 Calm Voice

Li Ji Book of Rites, Record of Rites

Qu Li 1 Calm Voice

Li Ji Book of Rites, Record of Rites, Qu Li 1 Calm Voice

(CC0) by Matt Zhang

Photo enhancements by Larry Neal Gowdy

Larry Neal Gowdy

Copyright ©2021 - February 02, 2021

The collection of 49 texts known as Li Ji 禮記 has been given several different names including The Classic of the Rites, Book of Rites, Record of Rites, Rights Classic, Liji, and Lijing. One of the texts within Li Ji is Zhong Yong. As is universal within all ancient texts, none can be trusted to be fully accurate, nor trusted to have been accurately transcribed/redacted, and so the best choice for the moment is to simply look for oneself at what is presently available within each text.

Qu Li 曲禮 is the first text within Li Ji.

Qu Li 1:1

stable, peaceful, calm

citizens, public

exclamation particle

stable, peaceful, calm

stable, fixed, determine, decide

speech, explain, express

respectful, noble

like, similar, same

think, ponder

not, do not, must not, be not

not, no, non-, un-

respect, honor

Qu, bend, twist, wrong, not right, song

Li, custom, etiquette, manners

say, name, called

Draft #1: 'Song manners say: do-not not respect. Respectful like ponder, calm determine explain-speech, calm citizens {!}'. The sentences are coherent and make sense with what is real in the real world.

Draft #2 (quickly rejected): 'Wrong-bent manners called 'do-not not respect'. Respectful like ponder, calm determine explain-speech, calm citizens {!}'. Calm peaceful citizens, often occurs when leaders are calm and peaceful within their manner of speech. The act of pondering, of deep self-reflection of thoughts and feelings, is calm and peaceful. The act of giving respect is calm and peaceful. Peacefulness exists when respect is given to another. Not giving respect is not peaceful. To refrain from respecting other people, instills violence, it does not instill peacefulness. Respect is good manners, and results in calm peaceful relationships. Good manners, therefore, are not 'wrong manners' nor 'bent manners', and, so, therefore, the common definitions of qu in English dictionaries do not apply to how the word is used.

si is an admitted unknown to European scholars, and though English dictionaries state that si implies 'think', the manner of the 'thinking' implied by si does not infer a similar type of thinking that European scholars do. Si is indeed always calm, while European forms of 'thinking' are rarely ever calm.

The underlying concept, therefore, is that the first paragraph of the first book of Qu Li speaks of respecting other people, of how the respect is calm, and that the product of the respect leans the public towards behaving calmly. The paragraph speaks commonsense, but, perhaps not as common today as it used to be.

The word (li) has several plausible English synonyms, plus a depth of history behind the ancient word usage, but it is good enough for today's cultures and for the moment to simply think of li as implying manners. If an individual has good manners, then the person simultaneously has good etiquette, and if good etiquette, then any ritual that the individual attends will be performed with properness.

The sole difficulty with the paragraph is (qu). Known research materials offer precious little information about how the word was used in ancient China, and so discerning a plausible translation requires a bit of additional investigation and analyses. As used in Zhong Yong, (qu) implies a parallel sequencing of attributes that occur simultaneously. Draft: '23: Oneself honest bright, call it nature-character. Oneself bright honest, call it guidance. Honest then bright, bright then honest... 24: 'It sequence cause curve(qu), curve(qu) able exist honest, honest then body(shape), body(shape) then show(wear), show then bright, bright then move, move then change, change then reform.'

Western science and western philosophy are flat, binary, and they are unaware of the curved nature of Nature. Western science and western philosophy rely upon mathematics, but measuring point A to point B cannot describe what happened in-between. Curves happened, but mathematics cannot measure curves. Although the word curve for qu is weak and unfavored, still it is better descriptive than the use of flat philosophical English words.

Qu is similar to the mutals of Daodejing: (draft portion of paragraph #2) 'Cleave evil, already everyone know good, it serve-as good cleave, not good already. Therefore have nothing mutually unprocessed. Difficult, easy, mutually become. Longways, short, mutually compare. High, below, mutually deviation. Sound, voice, mutually together. Former, afterwards, mutually sequential.' Although Daodejing does often speak of flat contrasts that have no curves, still the book's primary author's ideas are valid.

Many things cannot be known to exist without there being contrasts, and nothing can exist without companion nature-characters. It requires conscious intelligence to be honest, which simultaneously means that an honest man is intelligent, and also means that an intelligent man will be honest. Similar to good manners and good etiquette existing simultaneously, qu points at the simultaneous manifestations of two or more nature-characters that nascent simultaneously and are evaluated upon the quality of either.

There does not exist a known English word that parallels the concept of qu, but surely most everyone is able to grasp the general concept of what it infers. Of the several English dictionary synonyms given for qu, perhaps song is adequate enough if accepted as a cultural metaphor. A vocal song cannot occur without singing, and singing cannot occur without a voice. When any one of the three comes into existence, the other two also nascent (and yes, all speaking is toned as if an emotioned song). The quality of any one of the three simultaneously affects the quality of the other two. Within the context of Qu Li, and as the sentences are written, the concepts are easy: the act of giving respect is similar to the act of heart-felt analyses, heart-felt analyses are calm, from the calmness is enabled the ability to calmly describe a thing with intricate details, and from the calm description is enabled the potential of the listeners to respond calmly. Respect, calm heart-felt analyses, and calm detailed explanations cannot exist without all three being present simultaneously. So, in a manner of speaking, the existence of proper manners (li) is as a chorus (qu) of one.

The title, therefore, might could read as 'Song Manners', or in English structure be loosely expanded to read 'The Chorus of Manners'.

Worthy of noting is that although li may have once more closely inferred and pointed to rites — as in ceremonial rites — within the present text of Qu Li the behaviors ought to be from the heart, natural, of one's own inner nature, and not merely be mechanically obeyed like a rite.

James Legge version: "The Summary of the Rules of Propriety says: Always and in everything let there be reverence; with the deportment grave as when one is thinking (deeply), and with speech composed and definite. This will make the people tranquil."

As usual, Legge contradicted his own sentences, made absurd claims, and made no sense. The worthiness of Legge's translations is that they are useful as stark contrasts to what is rational. Sometimes, seeing that which is utterly false, helps to clarify what may be true. Parallel is what Daodejing pointed to; Legge's evil enables an appreciation of what is good.

The word "reverence" implies 'Profound respect and esteem mingled with fear and affection, as for a holy being or place; the disposition to revere; veneration. To regard or treat with reverence; to regard with respect and affection mingled with fear; to venerate. Profound emotion, profound awe, normally in a sacred context'. 'Fear', 'affection', 'awe', and 'profound emotions' are not calm nor peaceful. Si is most emphatically not "deportment grave as when one is thinking (deeply)".

The word "deportment" implies externally measured behavioral attributes: 'manner of acting, conduct, demeanor, bearing, how a person behaves toward other people'. Respect is the effect of the cause of an inner caring and worthy evaluation for another person. Respect occurs before any visible external response occurs. "Deportment" is a purely external act and effect that almost always has a selfish internal cause that does not include respect for another person. "Deportment" is not synonymous with 'respect'. Legge's choice of word points to his personal experiences of outwardly obeying ritual commandments while his having ulterior motives inside — hypocrite.

"The gravity of his deportment carried him safe through many difficulties." (Swift) Swift's statement illustrates a self-dedicated seriousness (gravity) of external behavior (deportment) for the inner personal reason of remaining safe. The "gravity of his deportment" is not an act of being calm.

As is always known to occur, "grave" implies an increased downwardly-dark tone of emotioned expression. If calm were the tone of a violin's D string played softly, then grave might be as if the G string played harshly. Calm is as 'ah', soft, quiet, peaceful, relaxed. Grave is as 'eh', hard, noisy, increased violence, increased anxiety. As has been observed within all of Legge's writings, in none did he exhibit a comprehension of what 'respect' implies — apparently he himself had never experienced the inward act of outwardly expressing respect for other people — and the results were always absurdities.

Nothing can make "the people tranquil" except the people themselves. In Nature an individual is able to use loud sounds to make a wall vibrate at a similar frequency, but the vibration does not become the inner nature of the wall itself. Rocks thrown into water cause ripples, but the inner nature of water is not ripples. Similar applies to electrical fields and all other known things in the 3D Nature. Calmness expressed through voice and body language will have an influence on other people — as all things also influence all other things — but a momentary outer influence does not change the inner nature of wood, water, rocks, nor people. Legge's nonsense claim is false and denies what is real in Nature: dementia.

An online search for "The Summary of the Rules of Propriety" results in Qu Li having been given the English title "The Summary of the Rules of Propriety". It is unknown why the false title was given to Qu Li, but apparently the cause was similar to why Legge improperly named Zhong Yong "The Doctrine of the Mean": he merely invented it.

The first paragraph of Qu Li simply states the obvious, and leaves the reader to mentally assemble and to reason the statements oneself. No rules, no commandments, no laws, nothing to obey, nothing to follow, nothing to worship, but much to think about and to logically reason for oneself what is proper for oneself.


The first paragraph of the first book of Qu Li might merely speak of what used to be commonsense, but today that commonsense seems to be uncommon within the general public. Politicians do not speak calmly, philosophers do not speak calmly, sciencians do not speak calmly, academicians do not speak calmly, news reporters do not speak calmly, preachers do not speak calmly, and so it is not unexpected that the public resonates with similar angry tones as the people's leaders'.

From Zhong Yong 33:7 (draft): 'Poem say, "Give bosom bright goodness, not large voice with face." Master say "Voice face, it for to-use convert people, insignificant also."' Similar exists today; men and women with loud fake voices and fake strained faces convert tiny people into believing what the fake men and women want people to believe.

Xunzi Book #5: 'Junzi him learning, enter ear, attach heart, spread four limbs, body move calm. Hold-level while speak, fluid while move, alone able use be standard follow. Tiny person him learning, enter ear, come-out mouth, mouth ear it space-between then four cun ear. How entirely use beautiful seven chi him body?'

A calm voice is a 'hold-level while speak' voice. Confucius spoke of it, Xunzi spoke of it, all people who are able to self-observe themselves know of it, the laws of Nature illustrate it throughout everything in the universe, and commonsense used to know of it, but, apparently, some people cannot grasp it.

The ideas of ancient China are still valid today. If citizens want a peaceful nation and peaceful relationships, then respect (care about) other people, and choose calm leaders who speak with honest calm voices, and thus are intelligent. Choosing the standard for oneself is also of value: if intelligent, then honest, if honest, then intelligent, if intelligent honest, then calm. Tiny people's voices are loud, excited, unstable, driven by uncontrolled emotions, not driven by thinking. When calm is removed, so is intelligence.

The song of one's heart and mind, is synonomous with one's voice. For some of us, it was one of the languages learned long before first learning a spoken language, and the song still remains the most descriptive language known to exist in Nature: the song has curves.