Tag Archives: Confucius on learning

Analects of Confucius Book 1: Confucius on learning

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Although this may come as a surprise to people who have experienced or even just heard about the rigors of China’s so-called “Confucian” education system, Confucius himself believed that learning should involve much more than simply imbibing and regurgitating the ancient classics. Rather, it should be focused on the practical application of the timeless principles found in the texts to your daily life so that you can make a positive contribution to your family, your community, and ultimately the whole society you live in. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 1: Confucius on learning

Analects of Confucius Book 2: New English Translation

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. 

Chapter 1
子曰:「為政以德,譬如北辰,居其所而眾星共之。」
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

Analects of Confucius Book 1: New English Translation

Read this new English translation of the Analects of Confucius Book 1 to learn more about the teachings of China’s most famous philosopher. Its main themes include learning, filial devotion, self-cultivation, and leadership.

Chapter 1
子曰:「學而時習之,不亦說乎?有朋自遠方來,不亦樂乎?人不知而不慍,不亦君子乎?」
Confucius said: “Isn’t it a pleasure to study and constantly apply the lessons that you’ve learned? Isn’t it a joy to have friends visit from afar? Isn’t it the mark of a leader to remain unconcerned when others don’t recognize your talents?” Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 1: New English Translation

Leadership lessons from Confucius: dumb questions

dumb questions

子曰:「由!誨女知之乎!知之為知之,不知為不知,是知也。」
Confucius said: “Zilu, let me tell you what knowledge means. Knowing what you know and what you don’t know. That is what knowledge means.”

It can be very tempting to pretend that you understand what someone is droning on about during a meeting or presentation out of fear of looking stupid in front of everyone else. Tempting but stupid, because the likelihood is that if you don’t have the foggiest idea of what the person is talking about then most of the other people in the room don’t either! Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: dumb questions

leadership Lessons from Confucius: learning without thinking

learning without thinking

子曰:「學而不思則罔,思而不學則殆。」
Confucius said: “Learning without thinking leads to perplexity. Thinking without learning leads to trouble.”

We live at a time when knowledge has never been more abundant or accessible to everyone. With a few taps on the screen of our phone or a few clicks of our mouse, we can find out just about any information that we require. Continue reading leadership Lessons from Confucius: learning without thinking

Leadership lessons of Confucius: not a mere utensil

not a mere receptacle

子曰:「君子不器。」
Confucius said: “A leader isn’t a mere utensil.”

How can I add value? This is the key question that you need to repeatedly ask yourself as you go about your daily work. As Confucius points out in this well-known passage, a leader is much more than a utensil or receptacle such as a cooking pot in the kitchen or a vessel on an altar. Your role is not to passively absorb information and experience but to actively sift and share it with the members of your team so that they can develop their abilities more effectively. Continue reading Leadership lessons of Confucius: not a mere utensil

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: creative and critical thinking

critical and creative thinking

子曰:「溫故而知新,可以為師矣。」
Confucius said: “Bringing new meaning to the old to understand the new makes you fit to be a teacher.”

As AI proliferates, it won’t just be blue-collar jobs like driving that will be replaced by algorithms that never sleep. White-collar positions in legal, accounting, finance, and other professions will also be under threat from super AIs that are way more efficient at specific tasks like sifting through mountains of documents at the speed of light. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: creative and critical thinking

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: love learning

love learning

子曰:「君子食無求飽,居無求安,敏於事而慎於言,就有道而正焉,可謂好學也已。」
Confucius said: “A leader eats without filling his stomach; chooses a home without demanding comfort; is diligent in his work and cautious in his speech; and keeps the company of others who possess the way to make sure that he stays on the right path. This is what it means to truly love learning.” (1)

Leadership requires focusing your energy on cultivating the self rather than pursuing the material trappings of success. This means working hard, being careful about what you say, and spending your time with people who can help you improve through the example they set and the knowledge they share with you. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: love learning

Poetic exchanges

子曰:「誦詩三百,授之以政,不達;使於四方,不能專對。雖多,亦奚以為?」Confucius said: “Imagine a man who can recite the three hundred poems of the Book of Songs by heart but is unable to carry out his job when given an official post or proves to be incapable of responding on his own initiative when sent on a mission to another state. No matter how many poems he may have memorized, what use would they be to him?”

In Confucius’s time, court and diplomatic discussions were carried out in a ritualistic fashion in which the participants made extensive quotations from the Book of Songs (詩經/shījīng) to emphasize their points and make appropriate allusions to similar incidents in the past. Continue reading Poetic exchanges

Raising a mound

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子曰:「譬如為山,未成一簣,止,吾止也!譬如平地,雖覆一簣,進,吾往也!」
Confucius said: “Think of it like raising a mound: if I stop before piling on the last basket of earth, then I have stopped of my own accord. Think of it like filling a hole in the ground: if I have emptied the first basket of earth, I only need to keep on emptying more in order to make progress.”

This is a rather labored metaphor. Following the right path is a step-by-step process; don’t get discouraged and give up along the way. It may seem impossible now, but if you keep on going you will ultimately achieve your objective. Continue reading Raising a mound