Final words


When Zengzi was ill, Meng Jingzi came to visit him. Zengzi said: “When a bird is about to die, his song is sad; when a man is about to die, his words are good. In following the Way, a leader cherishes three things: in his demeanor, he stays far from violence and arrogance; in his countenance, he invites trustworthiness; in his speech, he avoids vulgarity. As for the details of the ritual, these will be taken care of by the functionaries.”

Apparently, these are the final words of Zengzi before he expired. Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t find him anywhere near as eloquent as Confucius. He is trying to make the point that individual behavior is much more important than external ritual, but this message doesn’t ring very clear.

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