Passing clouds

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子曰:「飯疏食,飲水,曲肱而枕之,樂亦在其中矣。不義而富且貴,於我如浮雲。」
Confucius said: “Even if you have only coarse grain to eat, water to drink, and your bent elbow are to use as a pillow, you can still find happiness in them. Wealth and honors obtained by immoral means are like passing clouds to me.”

There is a poignant eloquence to Confucius’s words in this passage. It’s probably impossible to find this out for sure, but it would be interesting to know when he spoke them.

Perhaps it was during the time of his exile from the Lu, when he and a small number of disciples trudged around the surrounding states in a fruitless search for a virtuous ruler who would employ their talents, encountering numerous hardships along the way.

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