As one of the most influential ancient aphorisms that shaped China's cultural psyche, two lines from "Zhou Yi," or "The Book of Changes," have inspired generations of Chinese to strive for perfection and to have a broad, open mind.
The original text in the ancient canon of Confucianism goes: "As Heaven's movement is ever vigorous, so must a gentleman constantly strive for self-perfection; as earth's condition is ever receptive, so must a gentleman foster virtue and be broad-minded to embrace all things."
Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, has referenced the proverb on various occasions to encourage people on different fronts to embody the spirit of self-improvement and virtue cultivation.
In 2018, while addressing a gathering to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the country's reform and opening-up, Xi said the spirit of self-improvement and broad-mindedness demonstrated in the aphorism is what makes Chinese civilization unique and has allowed it to stretch uninterrupted for millennia.
Generally speaking, seeking improvement and being committed to openness represent something of a norm in Chinese history, Xi noted.
In addition to encouraging broad-mindedness, the second line was often cited to underscore the importance of fostering virtue in society.
Chinese pay very close attention to cultivating virtue and good moral characters, which have been advocated ever since antiquity.
This tradition has been inherited by the CPC. It has rolled out a set of core socialist values. Over the past decade, the Party leadership has held group study sessions on promoting traditional virtues and core socialist values. Guidelines were issued and Xi made multiple instructions.
"We will see that all areas of social development are imbued with these values and that they become part of people's thinking and behavior," Xi has said.
He also said that "as Chinese, we should always keep our unique inner world, uphold values that we practice every day without noticing. The core socialist values we advocate today represent the inheritance and upgrading of outstanding traditional Chinese culture." -