Aspirations

WXLYG-45

顏淵、季路侍。子曰:「盍各言爾志?」子路曰:「願車馬、衣輕裘,與朋友共,敝之而無憾。」顏淵曰:「願無伐善,無施勞。」子路曰:「願聞子之志。」子曰:「老者安之,朋友信之,少者懷之。」
When Yan Hui and Zilu were sitting together with him, Confucius said: “How about telling me your aspirations?” Zilu said: “My wish is to share my carriages, horses, clothes, and furs with my friends without getting upset if they damage them.” Yan Hui said: “My wish is never to boast about my abilities or call attention to the trouble I take on behalf of others.” Zilu said: “I would love to hear our master’s personal wishes.” Confucius said: “My wish is to be able to provide comfort to the elderly, to be faithful to my friends, and to cherish the young.”

We can see the huge difference in the personalities of Zilu and Yan Hui in this exchange: the former is down-to-earth while the latter is other-worldly. As for Confucius, he stands in the middle with his wish to “provide comfort to the elderly, to be faithful to my friends, and to cherish the young.”

Many commentators link this to passage to Chapter XXVI of Book 11, which explores the same idea in much greater and more lyrical detail.

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