Read Qian Mu's "Soul and Heart".

photo by Sergey Pesterev on Unsplash

Eastern and Western people have different perspectives on worldview and philosophy of life. For example, regarding immortality, Westerners believe in an afterlife, while Easterners believe that one remains in this world after death. Although the body may die, one's moral character and thoughts can continue to exist in this world.

Throughout history, great individuals, even after their bodies decay and their souls disperse into the heavens, their aspirations, moral character, achievements, and writings continue to have a profound impact in this world. Although they may be dead, they are not truly dead, and their souls, although dispersed, are still considered divine. - Qian Mu, "Soul and Heart"

This is why Sun Sunbao emphasizes "moral integrity, achievements, and influential words."

To achieve immortality, it is impossible for an individual alone; one must integrate into the collective. The limited life of the individual is part of the infinite life of the collective. The individual exists for humanity, and humanity exists for the heavens. My life originates from my ancestors and continues through my descendants. I am one link in this infinite and immortal chain. This is why ancestor worship holds such an important position and why Confucianism considers having no descendants as the greatest act of filial impiety.

Certainly, times are progressing, cultures are blending, and some things no longer align with the present. For example, whenever someone says to me, "You disrespect your ancestors and have broken the family lineage," I would counter by asking, "What is your grandfather's grandfather's name and what good deeds did he do? If you don't know, how can you be so sure that your descendants will remember you?"

However, the value of this book lies not in debating right or wrong, but in helping us understand how ancient people thought and why certain aspects of culture exist today.

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