BUDDHISM LINKS MORE THAN EAST ASIA
Journal of Cultural Interaction in East Asia
The English terms culture and civilization go via French back to Latin terms. Just as the great Chinese philosophers (Kongzi 孔子, Zhuangzi 庄子) are the beginning of Chinese thought and civilization today, so Greek and Latin thought and civilization are at the beginning of European civilization today. The word culture comes from cultura, and from the verb colere, meaning "to cultivate"(e. g. agriculture), "to foster." Many people now limit the meaning to material culture. Civilization comes from
... vilitas "courteousness, civility, restraint." It is the nature of a citizen. The two mentioned terms are quite different from the Chinese wenhua 文化, bunka, culture, and from wenming 文明, bunmei, civilization. The term wenming already occurs in the Yijing 易经, Book of Changes. There we read: "jian long zai tian, tianxia wen ming 见龙在天, 天下文明 Seeing a dragon in the field, the land under heaven has literacy and brightness." The famous Sui-Tang 隋唐 Confucianist Kong Yingda 孔颖达 (574-648) explains tianxia wen ming: "Yangqi zai tian, shi sheng wanwu, gu tianxia you wenzhang er guangming ye 阳气在田, 始生万物, 故天下有文章而光明也 Because when the force of yang is in the fields, beginning to make all things grow, in the land under heaven there is literature and brightness." Kong Yingda is the author of the authoritative commentary on the five classics: Wu jing zheng yi 五经正义 Correct Meaning of the Five Classics. This work has been the basis for so many later commentaries. It offered the basis for the curriculum for imperial examinations. The text at once explains the term wenhua, namely the becoming literate. Literacy is the basis for Chinese culture. Chinese thought traditionally has Confucianism, Rujiao 儒教, and Daoism, Daojiao 道教. They express the two traditional aspects of Chinese culture. Confucianism shows the yang 阳 aspect, the active aspect, and Daoism shows * Charles WILLEMEN is rector and teaching professor at the International Buddhist College.