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tokyo_girl

Forgiveness in China

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tokyo_girl

More broadly my query includes Japan too. Japan is the context that started me thinking.

An incident the other day, and a bit of more general reflection past few weeks have made me curious about to what extent the idea of forgiveness is a western Christian concept. .

I was talking to a colleague who is a bit mentally on the edge, She was talking about her alcoholic, abusive father. She suffers from depression and is on medication (rare for Japan) . I asked her if she thought she would be able to forgive him one day -

she was really taken a back. Her reply made me think that perhaps she thought forgiveness meant excuse. I told her that forgiving her father didn't mean what he did was OK. Her English is good but she didn't seem to get the idea.

I guess my cultural framework for forgiveness comes from an upbringing - in which forgiveness is almost a black and white issue - people should forgive. (not to say that it's a simple matter or that people necessarily do forgive.)

In the west secular institutions emphasize justice rather than forgiveness. It seems like forgiveness is the domain of religion and self help manuals - neither of which are widespread in Japan or China.

I'm not really sure how forgiveness is conceptualised in Confucian / Buddhist countries. From my understanding of Confucianism, hatred should be countered with virtue or upright behaviour. I don't know much about Buddhism.

Can anyone shed some light on the cultural framework or provided a Chinese or Japanese paradigm of forgiveness - if it indeed exists.

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Ian_Lee

In Confucian thought, "loyalty" and "forgiveness" are the two basic virtues.

But under the Tokugawa Shogunate, only "loyalty" was emphasized in Japan's Confucian study.

And of course, under Mao's China, the last thing considered was "Forgiveness" under the incessant political campaigns.

In fact, even in present day Mainland media, terminology like "tolerance" which regularly appears in HK and Taiwan media hardly shows up.

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Quest

Buddism values forgiveness as well.

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smithsgj

What is the difference between 'forgive' and 'excuse'? I'd say that 'excuse' is used where the behaviour is on-going, and 'forgive' is said of some past action.

OP gives the impression that the father continues in his alcoholic and abusive ways. I too would be surprised if it was suggested that I "forgive" someone's unpleasant behaviour, until the behaviour actually stopped.

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nnt
An incident the other day' date=' and a bit of more general reflection past few weeks have made me curious about to what extent the idea of forgiveness is a western Christian concept. .

In the west secular institutions emphasize justice rather than forgiveness. It seems like forgiveness is the domain of religion and self help manuals - neither of which are widespread in Japan or China.

I'm not really sure how forgiveness is conceptualised in Confucian / Buddhist countries. From my understanding of Confucianism, hatred should be countered with virtue or upright behaviour. I don't know much about Buddhism.

Can anyone shed some light on the cultural framework or provided a Chinese or Japanese paradigm of forgiveness - if it indeed exists.[/quote']

I think the concept exist in all religions. In Buddhism, one often used expression is 我佛慈悲 ("our merciful Buddha"), and Guan Yin (Avalokiteshvara) embodies this virtue.

That's religion. You sometimes need to be a saint or a Buddha to forgive. (More common expressions are: 君子报仇,十年不晚 : Revenge is best served cold, or: "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth."

Human nature is the same everywhere, for better or for worse.)

And in the case mentioned, the first thing for your colleague to do is to stop her father's misbehaviour.

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tokyo_girl

I'm not really interested in advice for my colleague, more in the cultural framework of forgiveness - in China and Japan.

Ian Lee, can you point me in the direction of confucian extracts that deal with this.

My knowledge of Buddhism is very limited - any takes on the topic from a buddhist perspective appreciated.

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skylee

tokyo_girl, read Verse 15 of Chapter 4 of the Analects -

Zengzi said, "the way of the Master is simply loyalty and forgiveness."

And also Verse 22 in Chapter 22 -

Fan Chi asked about benevolence.

Confucius said, "love your fellow men."

If you wish, click the 日本語 button on the webpage to convert them into Japanese.

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skylee

This thread has reminded me of how my father always said that we had forgiven Japan by not asking for any compensation for WWII. I have just done a little research on the internet and found this -

Article XIV 1(B)

As a sign of magnanimity and good will towards the Japanese people, the Republic of China voluntarily waives the benefit of the services to be made available by Japan pursuant to Article 14 (a) 1 of the San Francisco Treaty.

And this -

5. The Government of the People's Republics of China declares that in the interest of the friendship between the Chinese and the Japanese peoples, it renounces its demand for war reparation from Japan.

sign ...

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Quest
5. The Government of the People's Republics of China declares that in the interest of the friendship between the Chinese and the Japanese peoples, it renounces its demand for war reparation from Japan.

Political "save-face" tactics. They had no say on the table. It's much like US vs Iraq today, the US is asking everyone to scrap Iraqi debts, so the US himself would take less burden to rebuild the country and.. rip the profits himself afterwards.

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tokyo_girl

Thanks Skylee.

Is it only the 'superior' in the relationship that forgives?

Is it conceivable that the 'inferior' in the relationship forgives the error of the 'superior'.

Confucianism, as I understand it, is quite dependent on the benevolence and righteousness of the 'superior'. What happens when the superior errs ? they lose their mandate or can they be reformed / forgiven.?

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