The phrase “After achieving center and harmony, the cosmos is in order and all things are cultivated,” was written down by Zi-si, the grandson of Confucius and the Third Patriarch of Confucianism.
He was elaborating the Confucianism thought that “center” is the essence of Tao and “harmony” is the mystical and divine nature of Tao.
Applying to the human body,
to achieve “center and harmony”
is to achieve the state of unification of Heaven and man.
The Doctrine of the Mean states “When the feelings of sorrow, joy, delight, and anger are perceived but not displayed, it is called the ‘center’.
When those feelings are turned into emotions and are displayed with proper manners, it is called the ‘harmony’.
‘Center’ is the natural property of all beings and events.
‘Harmony’ is the common path all beings and events travel.
By achieving the state of ‘center’ and ‘harmony’, the universe is aligned and all things are nurtured.”
Therefore, to a human being, “center” is the True Self and “harmony” is the manifestation of the True Self.
Obtaining “center” and “harmony”
is the ultimate achievement and the goal
of practicing Tao.
Specifically, Heaven is another name for cosmos or nature. When one aligns to Heaven, he is united with the cosmos and the two become a single entity; i.e., he transcends the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.
This is not simply a theory or an ideology, but a state that can be attained.
Heaven and man are one entity.
The whole universe originated from Tao. Mankind also originated from Tao. Therefore, man and Heaven are connected; thence man and Heaven can be aligned and united as a single entity and become One.
The soul of a man is nurtured by the essence of Heaven and Earth, and hence man possesses the essence of nature. In other words, a man possesses the same essence that makes up the cosmos, i.e., a man is a small cosmos within the large cosmos.
All images are One.
Phenomena in the world seem to be very colorful and complicated, but actually, they are the same. All of the phenomena are only images and mirages.
They are simply the manifestations of our minds and the successions of karma established previously. This is presented as in Xuan-tong Section by Lao-tzu and Qi-wu Section of Zhuang-zi.
The goal of practicing Tao is to
tranquilize one’s heart.
It is better for a practitioner not to have the emotions of joy, delight, sorrow, and anger, because if he can eliminate emotions, he will find that he and the cosmos become one entity.
The True Self of a man is almighty, wise, and all good. One should begin with benevolence and justice, and then perfect morality in order to be enlightened.
Once enlightened, his heart is filled with mercifulness; he is compassionate not only to mankind, but also to all animals and objects, and helps others to attain Tao.
The Doctrine of the Mean states:
“If one awakens to his True Self, he can help others to awaken to their True Selves. Then, he can help all substances awaken to their essence. After that, he will be able to help Heaven and Earth to cultivate the world, and be in parallel with Heaven and Earth.”
This is another way of saying that man and the cosmos are united. In conclusion, when a person restores his True Self, he achieves “center and harmony”.
That is how the phrase “After achieving center and harmony, the cosmos is in order and all things are cultivated.” relates to the human body.