Zengzi eulogizes Yan Hui


Zengzi said: “Capable but willing to listen to those who are not capable; talented but willing to listen to those without talent; viewing having as the same as not having; viewing fullness as the same as emptiness; accepting insults without bearing a grudge: long ago, I had a friend who practiced these things.”

Zengzi is believed to be referring to Confucius’s protégé Yan Hui (顏回), who left the sage bereft when he died at the age of only 32.

Zengzi is also probably using this eulogy to indirectly extol the benefits of the Doctrine of the Mean (中庸/zhōngyōng). Those who are able consult those who are not; those with talent heed the opinion of those without it; and the “haves” and the “have-nots” are equal: the polarities merge to create a new world in which everything is perfectly balanced.

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