If there’s one central theme of Book 7 of the Analects, it’s the importance Confucius places on the power of self-cultivation. He is so focused on what he saw as his heaven-given mission of restoring the former greatness of Zhou dynasty that he doesn’t have the time or inclination to pursue the power, wealth, fame, honors, and other trappings of success craved by his contemporaries.
Confucius doesn’t claim to have any particular talent for undertaking this mission. In 7.19, he candidly admits “I wasn’t born with innate knowledge. I simply love the past and am assiduous in seeking it there.” Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 7: Confucius on self-cultivation
Read this new English translation of the Analects of Confucius Book 7 to learn more about the teachings of China’s most famous philosopher. It provides a vivid portrait of the sage’s personality and motivations, as well as his opinions on various followers and other contemporary and historical figures.
Confucius said: “I transmit but I don’t create. I am faithful to and love the past. In this respect, I dare to compare myself with Old Peng.”
Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 7: new English translation
Confucius said: “Even if you have only coarse grain to eat, water to drink, and your bent elbow to use as a pillow, you can still find joy in these things. But wealth and honors obtained by improper means are like passing clouds to me.” (1) (2)
What compromises are you prepared to make in order to achieve fame and fortune? It’s all very well to wax lyrical about the simple pleasures of life like Confucius does in this passage, but they provide little or no joy at all when you are fighting to put food on the table to feed your family or keep your startup alive when it’s on the verge of collapsing. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: passing clouds
Confucius said: “If wealth was worth pursuing, I’d go after it even if it meant working as a lowly official. But since it isn’t, I prefer to pursue what I love.” (1) (2) (3)
If you pursue a career or set up a business with the sole aim of making money, the chances are that you’ll end up feeling empty and disappointed. Even if you succeed in bringing in the moolah, you’ll be so focused on keeping the geyser gushing that you won’t have time to enjoy the comforts of the lifestyle it brings. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: if wealth was worth pursuing
Confucius said: “Riches and rank are what people desire; but if they can only obtain them through improper ways, they should not pursue them. Poverty and obscurity are what people detest; but if they can only escape from them through improper ways, they should accept them. If a leader abandons goodness, how can he live up to that name? A leader never abandons goodness, even for as long as it takes to eat a single meal; in moments of haste and confusion he still stays true to it.”
How to stick to your core values and beliefs through thick and thin? The lure of “riches and rank” and the fear of “poverty and obscurity” are too great for most mere mortals to resist. A true leader is as rare as a pearl in an oyster bed. Or perhaps one doesn’t really exist except as an ideal to aspire to. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: riches and rank