Tag Archives: timeliness

A question of timing

子曰:「可與言而不與之言,失人;不可與言而與之言,失言。知者不失人,亦不失言。」
Confucius said: “To fail to speak with someone who is open to what you have to say is to let the person go to waste; to speak with someone who is not open to what you have to say is to let your words go to waste. A wise person never lets people or words go to waste.”

It’s all a question of timing….

Principles or pragmatism?

子曰:「直哉史魚!邦有道如矢,邦無道如矢。君子哉蘧伯玉!邦有道則仕,邦無道則可卷而懷之。」
Confucius said: “Shi Yu is truly a man of principle! When the Way prevails in the state, he is as straight as an arrow; when the Way doesn’t prevail in the state, he is as straight as an arrow. Qu Boyu is a true leader! When the Way prevails in the state, he serves as an official; when the Way doesn’t prevail in the state, he folds up his principles and hides them in his breast.”

Shi Yu and Qu Boyu were senior officials in the state of Wei; the latter was also featured in Book 14 Chapter XXV. By comparing the behavior and character of these two men, Confucius is addressing the question of how a virtuous official should react when the state he serves is falling into decline as a result of the corruption and depravity of its ruler. Continue reading Principles or pragmatism?

Confucius slaps down Zilu

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子謂顏淵曰:「用之則行,舍之則藏,惟我與爾有是夫。」子路曰:「子行三軍,則誰與?」子曰:「暴虎馮河,死而不悔者,吾不與也。必也臨事而懼,好謀而成者也。」
Confucius said to Yan Hui: “To take office when needed and to stay out of sight when dismissed: only you and I can do this.” Zilu said: “If you had command of the Three Armies, who would you appoint to help you?” Confucius said: “I would not choose a man who wrestles tigers barehanded or swims across rivers without fearing death. But I would choose a man who approaches difficulties with due caution and achieves victories through careful planning.”

Poor Zilu! Like a faithful dog he lifts his head for a pat of affection from his master, only to have it brutally slapped down while his fellow disciple Yan Hui basks in Confucius’s praise. Continue reading Confucius slaps down Zilu