Category Archives: Confucius

Followers of Confucius: Zixia

Zixia (子夏) was born in 507 BCE, probably in the state of Wei, and is said to have lived to an extremely advanced age. He reportedly served at the court of Prince Wan of Wei in 406 BCE when he would have been ninety-nine. He was also known by the courtesy name of Bu Shang (卜商) and the given name of Bu Zixia (卜子夏). Continue reading Followers of Confucius: Zixia

Followers of Confucius: Zengzi

Although he was only twenty-six years of age when Confucius died in 479 BCE, Zengzi (曾子) quickly rose to prominence as one of the leading proponents of the sage’s teaching and is said to have written or edited at least ten books, including the rip-roaring Classic of Filial Devotion (孝經/xiàojīng). Continue reading Followers of Confucius: Zengzi

A truly learned man

子夏曰:「賢賢易色,事父母能竭其力,事君能致其身,與朋友交言而有信,雖曰未學,吾必謂之學矣。」
Zixia said: “A man who values virtue over beauty, who devotes all his energy to serving his father and mother, who is willing to sacrifice his life for his ruler, and who is true to his word in his dealings with his friends: even though some may say he is not learned, I will insist he is a learned man.”

The seventh chapter of Book 1 of The Analects explores the same theme as the sixth one, with Zixia, one of Confucius’s disciples, giving his own spin on the qualities that a man should possess. Continue reading A truly learned man

Seen and Not Heard

子曰:「弟子入則孝,出則弟,謹而信,汎愛眾,而親仁。行有餘力,則以學文。」
Confucius said: “At home, a young man should respect his parents. Outside, he should respect his elders; talk little but truthfully; and love everyone but only associate with those who are good. If he still has time and energy to spare after all this, he can study the cultural arts.”

The sixth chapter of Book 1 of The Analects brought some long-buried admonitions from my childhood bubbling to the surface of my brain as I worked my way through the words. What was it about little children? Oh yes, shouldn’t they be seen but not heard? Continue reading Seen and Not Heard

Governing a medium-size country

子曰:「道千乘之國,敬事而信,節用而愛人,使民以時。」
Confucius said: “To govern a medium-size country, you must pay strict attention to its affairs and fulfill your promises; be economical and love your people; and only mobilize them for labor at the right times of the year.”

Although Confucius is best known as a teacher and philosopher, he was at heart a politician or perhaps even the ancient Chinese equivalent of a modern-day think tank policy wonk ever eager to grab the ear of any ruler willing or desperate enough to listen to his opinions. Continue reading Governing a medium-size country

The Straight and Narrow

Zengzi may have been a prolific author during his lifetime, but like Confucius he was a strong believer that practical application was a more important aspect of education than the simple acquisition of theoretical knowledge. What would be the point of learning about key ethical principles such as loyalty and sincerity if you are not going to follow them? Continue reading The Straight and Narrow

Zengzi opines

曾子曰:「吾日三省吾身,為人謀而不忠乎?與朋友交而不信乎?傳不習乎?」
Zengzi said: “I examine myself three times every day. Have I been true to other people’s interests when acting on their behalf? Have I been sincere in my interactions with friends? Have I practiced what I have been taught?”

Although he was only twenty-six years of age when Confucius died in 479 BC, Zengzi (曾子) quickly rose to prominence as one of the leading proponents of the sage’s teaching and is said to have written or edited at least ten books, including the rip-roaring Classic of Filial Piety (孝經/xiàojīng). Continue reading Zengzi opines