Before you read a single word of the Analects, it is important to understand that the work comprises a collection of conversations and aphorisms rather than a manifesto. Each of its twenty books features multiple exchanges between multiple characters discussing multiple topics – much like a modern-day social media feed. There are no linear arguments based on carefully-marshaled facts that build up to a resounding conclusion. It is left to you, the reader, to pick through the various threads of the text and connect them to the others to build up your overall understanding of the teachings contained in it. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 1: Overview→
Read this new English translation of the Analects of Confucius Book 2 to learn more about the teachings of China’s most famous philosopher. Its main themes include leadership, filial devotion, learning, thinking, and trust.
Read this new English translation of the Analects of Confucius Book 1 to learn more about the teachings of China’s most famous philosopher. Its main themes include learning, filial devotion, self-cultivation, and leadership.
Confucius said: “Isn’t it a pleasure to study and constantly apply the lessons that you’ve learned? Isn’t it a joy to have friends visit from afar? Isn’t it the mark of a leader to remain unconcerned when others don’t recognize your talents?” Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 1: New English Translation→
子貢欲去告朔之餼羊。子曰：「賜也！爾愛其羊，我愛其禮。」 Zigong wished to do away with the sacrifice of a live sheep for the ceremony welcoming the new moon. Confucius said: “You love the sheep; I love ritual.” (1)
How to react when someone opposes a much-needed change? Do you back down or do you find other ways of making sure it’s implemented? Unfortunately, this passage doesn’t tell us whether Zigong caved in to Confucius or continued to fight his corner. I hope he took the former tack – but given Zigong’s devotion to the sage I suspect he adopted the latter one. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: welcoming the new moon→
子曰：「射不主皮，為力不同科，古之道也。」 Confucius said: “In archery, it doesn’t matter whether you pierce the covering of the target, because some archers are stronger than others. This is the way of the ancients.” (1) (2)
There’s no need to overdo things. Clear your mind and relax. Focus on the process rather than trying to impress everyone around you or worrying that others will be stronger or more powerful than you. That way you will not only have a better chance of hitting the target but will also be able to save your energy so that you are ready to take on the next challenge. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: on archery→
The father of Confucius was called Shuliang He (叔梁纥) and is also referred to as Kong He (孔紇). He was born in 619 BCE and died in 548 BCE.
Shuliang was an officer in the army of the state of Lu and a member of a minor aristocratic family whose lineage, according to some accounts, could be traced back to members of the original royal family of the Shang dynasty (1600-1046 BCE). When the Shang dynasty was overthrown by the Zhou, the family moved to the state of Song, where it stayed for around four hundred years until Shuliang’s grandfather was forced to flee to the state of Lu to escape from domestic political turmoil. Continue reading Biography of Shuliang He: the father of Confucius→
子入太廟，每事問。或曰：「孰謂鄹人之子知禮乎？入太廟，每事問。」子聞之，曰：「是禮也。」 Whenever Confucius visited the Grand Ancestral Temple, he asked about everything that was happening there. Someone said: “Who said this son of a man from Zou is an expert on ritual? When he visits the Grand Ancestral Temple, he has to ask about everything that’s happening.” Hearing this, Confucius said: “Exactly, this is ritual.” (1) (2)
Don’t be afraid of asking questions. There’s always something new to learn even if you’re already familiar with the subject under discussion. Don’t worry about ridiculed for asking them either. You should always take it as a compliment when someone wants to show that they’re superior to you. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: asking questions→