Leadership lessons from Confucius: visiting the Grand Ancestral Temple

Grand Ancestral Temple

入大廟,每事問。
Whenever he visited the Grand Ancestral Temple, he asked about everything that was happening there.

Never stop asking questions. There are always new things to find out even if you’ve already been to the place you’re visiting many times before and know its geography and history.

It’s always good to hear other people’s thoughts and perspectives. They can help you look at the seemingly familiar in fresh new ways – not to mention remind you that you don’t have the right answer to everything.

Notes

This article features a translation of Chapter 21 of Book 10 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 10 here.

(1) This passage repeats the first sentence of Chapter 15 of Book 3, and looks like it was thrown in at random. Here is the full text of the chapter:

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.”

You can read my post on this chapter here.

I took this image at the Temple of Confucius in Yilan, Taiwan.

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