Moderation not ostentation

子曰:「人而不仁,如禮何?人而不仁,如樂何?」
Confucius said: “If someone has no goodness, what can they have to do with the rites? If someone has no goodness, what can they have to do with music?”

林放問禮之本。子曰:「大哉問!禮,與其奢也,寧儉;喪,與其易也,寧戚。」
Lin Fang asked: “What is the essence of the rites?” Confucius said: “That is a big question! For festive ceremonies, simplicity is better than extravagance; for funerals, genuine grief is better than excessive formality.”

Although in many ways a traditionalist, Confucius was more concerned that ceremonial rites be conducted in the correct spirit rather than according to strict guidelines.

He was also a strong proponent of moderation. In his opinion, all too many families used events such as weddings and funerals as excuses for inappropriate displays of ostentatious wealth and power and thus violated the true meaning of the ceremonies.

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