China News Agency, Chengdu, January 6.

Question : Why is Su Shi able to "seek the farthest" when life is "most difficult"?

  ——Interview with Zeng Ming, Vice President of China Institute of Ethnology

  China News Agency reporter He Shaoqing

  Editor's note:

  In his 2023 New Year's message, President Xi Jinping once again quoted "to commit the most difficult thing but to seek the farthest" to encourage forge ahead, which aroused heated discussions.

This ancient saying comes from Su Shi's famous essay "On the Governance of Thought". China News Agency "West and West" interviewed Zeng Ming, vice president of the China Institute of Ethnology, to explain why Su Shi was able to "see the farthest" when life was "most difficult".

  "In the ancient times, there were those who committed the most difficult and sought the farthest. What is the only way to do it?" Su Shi, who was only 26 years old in the eighth year of Song Renzong's Jiayou (1063 A.D.), proposed in "Sizhilun" doubt.

Su Shi gave the answer with his ups and downs in his life: After being demoted to Huangzhou for the "Wutai Poetry Case", he wrote "The Third Running Script in the World" and the two Fus of "Red Cliff", which has been written through the ages; in his later years, he was demoted to Huizhou and Danzhou, Still optimistic and open-minded, leaving countless chapters.

  In the trough of life, how did Su Shi turn from "difficult" to "far"?

In the long river of history, what kind of spirit does the Chinese nation use to face "tremendous difficulties"?

Zeng Ming, vice president of the Chinese Institute of Ethnology, recently accepted an exclusive interview with China News Agency's "East and West" to explain this.

The interview transcript is summarized as follows:

China News Service reporter: Why did Su Shi propose in "Sizhilun" that "the ancients, who committed the most difficult things and tried to go the farthest, what is the only way to do it?"

Zeng Ming:

In Su Shi’s life, the early stage was before encountering the "Wutai Poetry Case" in the second year of Yuanfeng (1079), and the later stage was after "building a house in Dongpo in 1081" in Yuanfeng four years (1081). The middle two years can be described as a period of enlightenment.

His life was full of ups and downs, great joy and great sorrow, "spring breeze of peaches and plums" in the early stage, and "night rain in the rivers and lakes" in the later stage.

  "Sizhilun" was written by Su Shi when he was 26 years old, which happened to be the time when he was "spring breeze".

At that time, Su Shi had been serving as a judge of Dali Temple and signed a letter to Fengxiang Mansion Jiedu Magistrate for two years. He had insight into the sufferings of the people and understood the local market.

In the article, regarding the "three troubles" of the government at that time, that is, "lack of wealth, lack of strength in soldiers, and indiscriminate officials", it is proposed to "teach all officials, secure the people, enrich the wealth, and train the soldiers."

  In "Si Zhi Lun", Su Shi also raised the question of "the ancients, who committed the most difficult and tried to go the farthest, what is the only way to do it?".

It can be seen that "the most difficult" and "the most distant" are dialectical in Su Shi's mind.

That is to say, everything in the world can change from difficult to easy, from small to large, from weak to strong.

Young trees become forests, and streams end up in the sea.

He firmly believes that as long as he sets his mind to do it, he will definitely achieve his goal.

The statue of Su Dongpo in the Sansu Temple in Meishan, Sichuan.

Photo by Zhang Zhongping

China News Agency reporter: What propositions did Su Shi put forward, which still have reference for today's Chinese-style modernization?

Zeng Ming:

Although the full text of "Sizhilun" is only more than 2,000 words, it clearly shows some of Su Shi's early ideas.

In his article, he stated that governance emphasizes people's livelihood and puts the people first; stability depends on the system and rules and regulations; peace requires "living laws" and should be reformed and innovated.

  In addition, "Thinking and Governance" also puts forward "promoting with courage, keeping it with specialism, and achieving it with strength", which means that under the condition of clear purpose and careful planning, policies should be unswervingly implemented. , the business can be successful.

  Su Shi changed according to "living" throughout his life, from which he saw the goodness in the world.

He understands that "achievement is found in change", and believes that "one who sticks to one but does not know change, and rarely tires of it", has achieved the unity of "one" and "many", "constant" and "change".

Su Shi advocated gradual changes, not "mutations".

Su Shi's "flexibility" thought of "choosing the law of the previous king, and following the law as the law" is still worth learning today.

Sansu Temple in Meishan, Sichuan.

Photo by Wang Lei

  In terms of culture, Su Shi was renewed because of his "liveness", from which he discovered the beauty of all things.

He knows very well that "newness" is the root of his own family, which is said in many poems.

"Shu Wu Daozi After Painting" talks about painting, saying "bring out new ideas in the law, and send wonderful principles out of boldness and unrestrainedness";

  Su Shi made the new style more mature and the old style different by using essays as poems, poems as words, essays as poems, poems as essays, and poems as essays.

For example, "Xue Tang Ji" and so on are all decorated with Sao style, "Guan Miao Tang Ji" and so on are written in dialogue, showing the characteristics of Fu style prose. "Ancestral Hall Records" and so on borrow "record" as "theory", so that the article has more immortal vitality.

  Unconstrained and constantly innovating, Su Shi's creative practice of "living methods" still has inspiration for contemporary Chinese culture and art.

Only by creating literary and artistic works that resonate with the times can we truly "enrich the people's spiritual world" in Chinese-style modernization, bring the world closer to Chinese culture, and help the world understand China, the Chinese people, and the Chinese nation.

The audience appreciates the long scroll of Su Shi's masterpiece "Xiaoxiang Bamboo and Stone Picture" in the National Art Museum of China.

Photo by Hou Yu

Reporter from China News Agency: What are Su Shi's magnificent chapters, which were achieved by "committing the most difficult"?

Why did he achieve the brilliance of his art in times of hardship?

In the long river of history, what kind of spirit does the Chinese nation use to face "tremendous difficulties"?

Zeng Ming:

Su Shi not only permeated the "living method" in poetry, poetry, calligraphy and painting, and even in receiving guests, but also practiced it in his joyful and carefree life of "one life in the mist and rain".

The "misty rain" in nature, the "misty rain" in life, and the "misty rain" in official life, in Su Shi's view, are all the only ways to change from "difficult" to "far".

  Regardless of "the great river is going east" or "when will the bright moon come", Su Shi always maintains a positive and optimistic attitude towards life.

He is still able to maintain a calm, unrestrained, contented and happy life in the "most difficult".

Su Shi, who was over 60 years old, was demoted to Danzhou, a barren land. He was not desperate or resentful, but climbed high and looked far away, enjoying the beautiful sea view.

  Su Shi suffered repeated blows and traveled through vicissitudes, but he still had the philosophical thinking of "life is like a dream", the open-mindedness of "surviving the rest of his life in the river and sea", and the reverie of "the bamboo stick and straw shoes lightly beat the horse".

Su Shi created a fascinating cultural personality, which contains the richness of human nature and the possibility of development. All the expectations of ancient literati and bureaucrats.

The audience is visiting the "Romantic Figures through the Ages - Special Exhibition of Su Shi's Calligraphy and Paintings Collected by the Palace Museum".

Photo by Du Yang

  From "Lu Man Man Qi is far away, I will search from top to bottom", to "Sacrifice one's life to go to the country's calamity, and see death as a sudden return", to "If you want to benefit the country's life and death, how can you avoid it because of misfortune and good fortune", and then to " The Red Army is not afraid of difficulties in expeditions, and thousands of rivers and mountains are just waiting for leisure", which also reflects that not taking refuge in anything is the spiritual code engraved in the bones of the Chinese nation.

  China has experienced many ups and downs in its millions of years of human history, 10,000 years of cultural history, and more than 5,000 years of civilization history.

In the face of any "difficulties", we always face them, which is closely related to the high-spirited spiritual realm and the ideal pattern of tolerance of the Chinese nation.

It is difficult to change without taking refuge, and it is easy to become difficult without "going far".

In the new year and new weather, everyone in the Chinese nation has "far-reaching" goals in mind, and there is no "difficulty" that cannot be overcome.

(use up)

Respondent profile:

  Zeng Ming, a second-level professor at Southwest University for Nationalities, a doctoral supervisor, an academic and technical leader in Sichuan Province, an outstanding expert with outstanding contributions in Sichuan Province, a member of the Sichuan Provincial Party Committee and Provincial Government’s Decision-making Advisory Committee, and the Chinese Multi-Ethnic Cultural Cohesion and Global Communication Province Director of the National Literature and World Literature Research Center of the Collaborative Innovation Center of the Ministry of Education.

From October 2013 to April 2019, he served as the ninth president of Southwest University for Nationalities.

The main research fields are ancient literature and literary theory. He has presided over and completed 4 projects of the National Social Science Fund Project "Song Dynasty Poetics' Live Method" and other projects, and published 6 monographs; published in "Literary Review", "Literary Heritage" and other publications More than 70 papers have been published online, many of which have been excerpted, reprinted, and reprinted in full by "Xinhua Digest", "Chinese Social Science Digest", and "Reprinted Newspapers and Periodicals of the National People's Congress".

Has won 6 provincial and ministerial first prizes and 5 second prizes.