Womanhood, Religious Craftsmen and Confucian Politics,

We open our selection this week with a rare audio recorded lecture, “Womanhood, an Islamic Perspective”, by Thomas Cleary, the renowned translator of Far Eastern classics:

The instructive metaphors for meditative processes are in fact metaphors from the processes of gestation and nursing. There is the image of the man becoming pregnant… These are representations of the kind of moment-to-moment, very intimate, very intense inwardness and concentration that is naturally part of the process of carrying a baby and nursing a baby. And if we think in Islamic terms, of real nature being itself, real religion, we have to then believe that this faculty of this incredible patience and punctilious awareness is a natural inherent gift of womanhood… In this tradition the reverence for the woman is connected not only to the function of compassion but also to this power of concentration which the men try to imitate.

• We are happy to add to our growing collection of Ananda Coomaraswamy’s works his essay on the “Religious Ideas in Craftsmanship”, from his early work The Indian Craftsman:

The craftsman is not an individual expressing individual whims, but a part of the universe, giving expression to ideals of eternal beauty and unchanging laws, even as do the trees and flowers whose natural and less ordered beauty is no less God-given.

• Finally, we bring a new contributor, William Keli’i Akina, with an article on the “I Ching and the Metaphysical Roots of the Confucian Political Ideal”

Tianming (the “Mandate of Heaven”) creates a dual accountability for all rulers, one that is immanent as a duty to the people and metaphysical as a duty to tian (Heaven) and dao. In the Chinese worldview, the fulfillment of this duty is essential for the flourishing of unity and harmony within society as the outworking of dao. Its violation harms society.