How to be the best you can be? This is the question Confucius raises in 6.29 of the Analects. His answer is that it’s by applying the “golden mean” (中庸 /zhōngyōng), a dynamic process that enables you to maintain a constant state of balance in your character and attitude towards life.
In 6.18, Confucius describes the two key forces that drive the application of the golden mean. Native substance (質/zhì) and cultural refinement (文/wén) comprise a complementary and conflicting duality that needs to be constantly tweaked to maintain the optimum equilibrium. If you don’t put enough focus on learning, you risk becoming as coarse as a peasant; if you put too much focus on learning, you risk becoming as pedantic as a clerk. The goal is to hit the mark in the middle. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 6: Confucius on the golden mean