Tag Archives: Analects of Confucius Book 9

Analects of Confucius Book 9: resources

Here is a list of resources covering Book 9 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 9: 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 9: resources

Leadership lessons from Confucius: pines and cypresses

pines and cypresses

子曰:「歲寒,然後知松柏之後彫也。」
Confucius said: “It’s only in the cold of winter that you realize that the pines and cypresses are the last to wither.”

It’s only when your back’s against the wall that you’ll find out what you’re really made of. Tough times and crises provide a test of character and ability like no other. Are you sure that you have the mental and physical toughness to withstand them like pines and cypresses in the winter? Do you possess the inner strength to remain calm while everyone else is losing their head around you? Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: pines and cypresses

Analects of Confucius Book 9: new English translation

Read this new English translation of the Analects of Confucius Book 9 to learn more about the teachings of China’s most famous philosopher, including his thoughts on how to observe ritual and his hopes for the younger generation.

Chapter 1
子罕言利,與命與仁。
Confucius disapproved of profit, but he approved of fate and goodness. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 9: new English translation

Leadership lessons from Confucius: the flowers of the cherry tree

flowers of the cherry tree

「唐棣之華,偏其反而,豈不爾思?室是遠而。」子曰:「未之思也,未何遠之有?」
“The flowers of the cherry tree,
Flutter and turn.
How could it be that I don’t long for you?
But your house is so far away!”
Confucius said: “He doesn’t really long for her. If he did, would he care about the distance?”

If you have a goal that you truly wish to achieve, don’t just talk about it. Don’t complain about the difficulties you face. Go out and make it happen. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: the flowers of the cherry tree

Leadership lessons from Confucius: the same path?

same path

子曰:「可與共學,未可與適道;可與適道,未可與立;可與立,未可與權。
Confucius said: “Those who learn together won’t necessarily take the same path; those who take the same path won’t necessarily stand together; those who stand together won’t necessarily exercise their judgment in the same manner.”

Education is about providing people with the intellectual tools they need to make good decisions in a complex and dynamic world. It’s not about attempting to ensure that everyone conforms to a certain set of pre-approved values. Even if you attempt to force everybody to sing from the same hymn book, their opinions will naturally diverge based on their own experiences of the world. There is no universal truth that applies to everything. There is no single right answer for resolving every problem. Life is far too nuanced and complex for that. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: the same path?

Leadership lessons from Confucius: the wise are never perplexed

The wise are never perplexed

子曰:「知者不惑,仁者不憂,勇者不懼。」
Confucius said: “The wise are never perplexed; the good are never anxious; the brave are never afraid.”

Put in the time required to understand what’s really happening. Don’t take what other people have to say at face value. Question all your assumptions. Ignore all the fake narratives and bogus statistics designed to befuddle rather than enlighten you. Blow away the smoke and smash the mirrors until you reach such a state of clarity that you can make a decision without any doubts or second thoughts.

Embrace uncertainty rather than resist it. Analyze the opportunities and the threats and decide on your course of action. While others are flailing around trying to figure out what’s going on and what to do about it, you’re ready to swoop in and make your move.

Don’t confuse courage with recklessness. The reason you’re not afraid is because you’ve fully prepared yourself for this very moment. While others waste valuable time complaining about the vagaries of fate, you’ve already executed your plan and decided what your next step will be. Because they are in control of their thoughts and emotions and know the right time to take action, the wise are never perplexed.

Notes

This article features a translation of Chapter 29 of Book 9 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 9 here.

I took this image at the Temple of Confucius in Yilan, Taiwan. You can read more about the rather convoluted history of this temple in this excellent article by Josh Ellis here.

Leadership lessons from Confucius: you can always do better

do better

子曰:「衣敝縕袍,與衣孤貉者立,而不恥者,其由也與!不忮不求,何用不臧?」子路終身誦之。子曰:「是道也,何足以臧!」
Confucius said: “Only Zilu can stand in his shabby hemp gown next to people wearing fox and badger furs without feeling embarrassed: ‘free of envy, free of greed, he must be a good man.’” When Zilu continuously chanted these lines, Confucius said: “You’re moving in the right direction, but is that a good reason to be so self-satisfied?” (1)

Don’t rest on your laurels. There’s always room for improvement. Just because you’re making progress doesn’t mean that you can relax. You can always do better. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: you can always do better

Leadership lessons from Confucius: we all make mistakes

we all make mistakes

子曰:「主忠信,毋友不如己者,過則勿憚改。」
Confucius said: “Hold loyalty and trustworthiness as your highest principles; don’t make friends with people who are not your equal. When you make a mistake, don’t be afraid to correct yourself.” (1) (2)

We all make mistakes. The key is having the courage and intellectual honesty to recognize them and move swiftly to correct them. Once the problem is sorted out, it also means putting in the hard work of carefully analyzing what went wrong and the reasons for it so that you can make sure it’s never repeated. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: we all make mistakes

Leadership lessons from Confucius: a sense of purpose

sense of purpose

子曰:「三軍可奪帥也,匹夫不可奪志也。」
Confucius said: “You may seize the commander-in-chief of an army, but you cannot remove the sense of purpose of the humblest person.” (1) 

We all have a sense of purpose even if there are times when we don’t know what it is or it seems insignificant compared to the vaulting ambition of others. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: a sense of purpose

Leadership lessons from Confucius: words of praise

words of praise

子曰:「法語之言,能無從乎?改之為貴!巽與之言,能無說乎?繹之為貴!說而不繹,從而不改,吾末如之何也已矣!」 (1)
Confucius said: “How can we turn a deaf ear to pertinent words of advice? But they only have any value if we act on them. How can we fail to be delighted by words of praise? But they only have any value if we understand their true purpose. People who are delighted by praise but don’t understand the reason for it and people who accept words of advice without acting on them – I have absolutely no idea what to do with them!”

When someone asks you for advice, give it freely and frankly. If they decide not to follow your counsel, don’t take it personally. But if they come to ask you advice again, don’t waste your time sharing your thoughts. They’re clearly not that interested in what you have to say. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: words of praise