More by accident than design, I completed my overview of the first half of the Analects of Confucius just before my trip to the UK. I will start tackling the second half this weekend. In the meantime, here are links to materials covering the first ten books, including posts on each chapter and more general articles about certain topics.
Analects of Confucius Book 1
Analects of Confucius Book 2
Analects of Confucius Book 3
Analects of Confucius Book 4
Analects of Confucius Book 5
Analects of Confucius Book 6
Analects of Confucius Book 7
Analects of Confucius Book 8
Analects of Confucius Book 9
Analects of Confucius Book 10
Although I enjoyed Book 10, I still haven’t quite figured out what to make of it. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s not even clear whether its chapters describe the behavior of Confucius himself or that of an archetypal gentleman. Nevertheless, its advocacy of the importance of ritual is as relevant today as it was in Confucius’s time. Essentially, it is telling you how to make the most of every moment in your life. Continue reading Analects update: halfway there
Here is a list of resources covering Book 10 of the Analects of Confucius. You can click on the links below to learn more about the main themes of the book:
Analects of Confucius Book 10: translation
Here is a list of articles I have written about each chapter in the book. Again, click on the links to learn more. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 10: resources
Startled by a sudden movement, the bird flew off, hovered for a while, and then landed again. Confucius said: “The hen pheasant on the mountain bridge – How timely! How timely!” Zilu clasped his hands and bowed towards the bird, which tweeted three times and flew away. (1) (2)
No matter how well tuned in you are to the rituals of everyday life, it’s always good to escape from them with a visit to the countryside and enjoy the natural world. There’s no telling what random delights you might come across! Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: random delights
Before mounting his carriage, he stood straight and grasped the hand strap. Once in the carriage, he didn’t turn to look back, talk loudly, or point with his finger. (1)
Put your best foot forward. Screen out the noise and distractions. Focus on the here and now. Even if you’re just taking a short trip from A to B, proceed with grace, precision, and purpose. You never know what might happen or who you might meet along the way. Or what you might learn or experience if you’re paying full attention to everything that’s happening around you. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: the best you can be
When he saw someone in mourning clothes, he adopted a solemn expression on his face and remained distant even if he knew them well. When he saw someone wearing a ceremonial cap or a blind person, he was courteous even if he was familiar with them. When he came across someone in mourning garments while riding in his carriage, he leaned over the stanchion to greet them; he would do the same when he encountered someone carrying official documents. When he was served rich delicacies at a banquet, he adopted a gracious expression on his face and rose to his feet to show his appreciation. When he heard a sudden clap of thunder or a ferocious wind an awe-struck expression came over his face.
Every day is full of encounters with other people in different contexts – from the person you sit next to on the bus or train to work and the barista who serves you coffee to your colleagues in the office and the friend you meet for lunch. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: lessons in etiquette
In bed, he didn’t lie stiffly like a corpse; at home, he was informal and relaxed. (1)
We are living at a time when the distinction between our working and personal lives has never been more blurred. Thanks to ubiquitous connectivity, we are increasingly expected to be available at all times – no matter what day or time it is. Even if we aren’t answering email, our minds are still busy spinning over work issues in the background like the cogs and wheels of a clock. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: the blurring of the lines
When receiving a gift from a friend, he wouldn’t bow even if it was a horse and carriage. The only gift he would bow for was one of sacrificial meat.
Customs change along with the times. Long-established conventions like wearing a suit and tie to the office give way to more casual forms of dress and behavior. Centuries-old church services are spiced up to appeal to younger audiences. Do you stick to the old ways and decry the loss of age-old traditions? Or do you keep up with the times and celebrate the latest social innovations? Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: a horse and carriage
When a friend died and there was no one to take care of his funeral, he said: “Let me look after it.”
Ritual is a form of automation. It provides you with the script and stage directions to follow when carrying out interpersonal interactions such as meeting another person or attending an event or religious ceremony. Memorizing and internalizing these conventions enables you to get through your day much more smoothly because you don’t have to think about how to behave or what to say in most common situations. In most cultures, for example, when you meet someone for the first time, you automatically shake their hand. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: beyond the ritual script
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. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: visiting the Grand Ancestral Temple
Whenever his ruler summoned him, he would set off without waiting for the horses to be harnessed to his carriage.
There’s no denying the importance of keeping your boss happy, but that doesn’t mean you have to leap at his or her every command. If you’re not delivering real results, all the effort you put in to impress the higher-ups will quickly go to waste. Focus on what’s important for the organization in order to get ahead rather than trying to look good in front your superiors.
Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: misdirected energy