As in Book 2 and Book 3, Confucius dominates Book 4 of the Analects with the curious exceptions of Chapter 15, in which his younger follower Zengzi steps in to clarify the meaning of his words, and Chapter 26, where his follower Ziyou takes the reins. The only plausible explanation for these two anomalies is that they were slipped in by unscrupulous or careless editors. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 4: by numbers
The Analects of Confucius Book 4 begins with an exploration of the meaning of goodness. Only people who practice it constantly in their daily lives without a desire for personal profit are able to enjoy true satisfaction and contentment.
Even though Confucius claims that he has never seen “anyone whose strength is insufficient” to devote themselves to goodness for a single day, he despairs that he hasn’t ever seen anyone who “truly loves goodness and truly detests evil” either. The path to goodness that he urges everyone to follow is indeed a lonely and difficult one! Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 4: overview
Confucius said: “Always keep the age of your parents in mind. Let this knowledge be a source of both joy and dread.”
Life is short. Make the most of it. Spend as much time as possible with the people you care the most about. They won’t be around forever. Neither will you for that matter.
Confucius said: “When your parents are alive, do not travel far. If you do have to travel, be sure to have a specific destination.”
As business becomes increasingly global, it’s getting more and more difficult to achieve the right balance between your working and family lives. While apps like Skype make it easier to remain in touch with your loved ones while you’re on the road, online conversations remain a poor substitute for face-to-face conversations. Even high-resolution video cannot capture the nuances of physical presence with someone.
Confucius said: “When serving your parents, you may gently remonstrate with them. If you see that they’re not following your advice, remain respectful and do not contradict them. Don’t let your efforts turn to bitterness.” (1)
How to react when your boss refuses to listen to your counsel? Do you continue to fight your corner or do you gracefully withdraw from the fray by agreeing to disagree with him? Perhaps even more importantly, do you accept his refusal to bow to your wisdom with grace or do you let his obvious stupidity and blindness consume you with anger and resentment?
Filial devotion (孝/xiào) is one of the best known of the values taught by Confucius, not least because it was so heavily promoted by a succession of imperial dynasties starting with the Han who drew a direct link between obedience to parents and obedience to the ruler. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 1: Confucius on filial devotion
Read this new English translation of the Analects of Confucius Book 2 to learn more about the teachings of China’s most famous philosopher. Its main themes include leadership, filial devotion, learning, thinking, and trust.
Confucius said: “Governing by the power of virtue can be compared to the Pole Star, which remains fixed in place while all the other stars orbit respectfully around it.”
Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 2: New English Translation
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
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