Social media advice

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子曰:「古者言之不出,恥躬之不逮也。」
Confucius said: “People in ancient times were reluctant to speak, fearing disgrace if their actions did not match their words.”

子曰:「以約失之者,鮮矣。」
Confucius said: “Restraint seldom leads to losses.”

子曰:「君子欲訥於言,而敏於行。」
Confucius said: “A leader should be slow to speak and prompt to act.”

Think before you tweet….

Sensible advice on filial piety

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子曰:「父母在,不遠遊,遊必有方。」
Confucius said: “While your parents are alive, do not travel far. If you do have to travel, you must keep to a fixed itinerary.”

子曰:「三年無改於父之道,可謂孝矣。」
Confucius said: “If for three years after his death the son does not alter his father’s ways, he is a good son indeed.”

子曰:「父母之年,不可不知也:一則以喜,一則以。」
Confucius said: “Always keep the age of your parents in mind. Let this knowledge be both a source of joy and dread.”

There’s nothing exceptional in the advice Confucius gives here on filial piety: don’t travel too far away from your parents unless you really have to; observe the traditional three years of mourning after your father’s death (a custom that was already long-established in Confucius’s time); and celebrate your parents’ advancing years while being mindful of the small amount of time that they still have left. Continue reading Sensible advice on filial piety

Reality distortion fields

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子曰:「事父母幾諫,見志不從,又敬不違,勞而不怨。」
Confucius said: “When serving your parents, you may gently remonstrate with them. If you see that they’re not following your advice, remain respectful and do not contradict them. Don’t let your efforts turn to bitterness.

Filial piety is probably the best known but least well understood of all the values promoted by Confucius in the Analects. Thanks to thousands of years of propaganda by successive generations of rulers eager to assert strict control over their restless subjects, not to mention countless hapless parents attempting to keep their unruly children in line, filial piety has become almost synonymous with blind obedience to your elders and superiors. Continue reading Reality distortion fields

Iterative learning

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子曰:「見賢思齊焉,見不賢而內自省也。」
Confucius said: “When you see someone who is worthy, think how you can become their equal. When you see someone who is unworthy, look inside and examine yourself. ”

Confucius saw learning as an iterative process. By constantly observing how other people act and emulating their strengths, you can improve your own character and behavior. Continue reading Iterative learning

A single thread

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子曰:「參乎!吾道一以貫之。」曾子曰:「唯。」子出。門人問曰:「何謂也?」曾子曰:「夫子之道,忠恕而已矣。」
Confucius said: “Shen, my doctrine is all woven into a single thread.” Zengzi replied: “Indeed.” After Confucius had left, the other disciples asked: “What did he mean?” Zengzi said: “The doctrine of the Master is based on loyalty and reciprocity; that and nothing more.”

It’s very tempting to become way too reverential when reading ancient texts like the Analects and to build up the expectation that each and every single word by the “Master” will be pregnant with profound significance and meaning. Continue reading A single thread