Why oh why?


Confucius said: “Who would leave a house except through the door? Why is it that nobody follows the Way?”

Given the great effort that Confucius put into promoting his teachings, this can’t have been the first or the last time that he found himself shaking his head in exasperation at other people’s reluctance to follow his “Way”. Even among his disciples, only a small number truly embraced it, most notably Yan Hui.

Indeed, the great tragedy of Confucius’s life was that it wasn’t until the arrival of the Han Dynasty (206BC – 220 AD) over three hundred years after his death that his teachings achieved widespread popularity – and even then in a form that was so “optimized” to meet the needs of the rulers who adopted it as their official state ideology that he would have barely recognized it.

For all his undoubted brilliance, Confucius was startlingly naïve (and more than a little arrogant) in his assumption that everyone else should share his vision and commit themselves to pursue it. Perhaps, too, with the zeal of the true believer, he never considered that there were other equally valid paths that people could follow.

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