The previous post mentioned 周敦頤 Zhou Dunyi, who was perhaps one of the greatest Chinese philosophers, if slightly cheated of fame.
A little bit of background is perhaps necessary here. I think it’s quite common knowledge that Confucianism has been an important ideology (or religion, though it’s not much like religion to be honest) for the Chinese. The ‘Confucianism’ of more recent centuries, however, is really Neo-Confucianism, or what in Chinese is called 理學 li3 xue2 ‘study of principles’. This was a revamped creed that arose during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD), one of China’s cultural golden ages.
The prominent pioneers of this philosophy include 朱熹 Zhu1 Xi1, and the two brothers 程頤 Cheng2 Yi2 and 程顥 Cheng2 Hao4, which is why Neo-Confucianism is also known as the Cheng-Zhu school or Cheng-Zhu orthodoxy. Both the Cheng brothers, however, spent their formative years as students of Zhou Dunyi, who borrowed extensively from Taoist precepts in teaching Confucian ideas, which is why Zhou is nowadays also credited as a pioneering thinker.
The following prose piece is a short essay, what would be called 散文 san3 wen2 or ‘scattered writing’, where Zhou talks about… yeah, liking lotuses. Incidentally, it is perhaps not a coincidence with him that Tao Yuanming is often seen as espousing the Taoist ideal of retreat from the world and of not-doing, while the lotus is of course a favourite flower of the Buddhists, another prominent Chinese (well, not originally) philosophy and religion.
Well, take it away!