When Zengzi was seriously ill, Meng Jingzi came to visit him. Zengzi said: “When a bird is about to die, its song is mournful; when a man is about to die, his words are kind. In following the way, leaders cherish three things: by maintaining a dignified demeanor, they stay far from violence and arrogance; by maintaining a sincere countenance, they show they can be trusted; by choosing their words carefully, they avoid vulgarity and mistakes. As for the details of ritual, these will be taken care of by the functionaries.”
If you have the chance to impart some final words of wisdom while lying on your deathbed, what will they be? Will you rebuke someone you don’t even like for their failings or will you talk about your love for your family and friends? Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: final words of wisdom
Very little is known about the follower Wuma Qi (巫馬期), who makes only a single appearance in the Analects of Confucius. Some sources suggest that he was the successor to the follower Zijian (子賤) as the chief magistrate (宰/zǎi) of Danfu (單父) located in modern-day Shandong province. Continue reading Followers of Confucius: Wuma Qi
There is a lot controversy over the exact identity of Tantai Mieming (澹臺滅明). According to the Records of the Historian (not always the most reliable of sources), Tantai was so ugly that the first time Confucius met him he mistook him for being stupid. It was only later that the sage realized his error and grew to appreciate him for his exemplary moral conduct. Continue reading Followers of Confucius: Tantai Mieming
Shen Cheng (申棖) is said to have come from Confucius’s home state of Lu and may possibly have been the follower called Shen Dang in the Records of the Grand Historian by Sima Qian.
Shen is featured only once in the Analects. He was known for his love of argument and refusal to concede defeat even when he was on the losing side. Some of Shen’s peers saw this as a sign of strength and resoluteness, but Confucius saw his need to win at all costs as a sign of weakness because it demonstrated his inability to control his internal desires and compulsions.
Continue reading Followers of Confucius: Shen Cheng
Although Qidiao Kai (漆雕開) only makes a single appearance in the Analects, he was a highly influential disciple who went to establish his own school, which became one of the eight branches of Confucianism identified by the philosopher Han Fei (韓非) in the third century BCE. Continue reading Followers of Confucius: Qidiao Kai
Zijian (子賤), also known by his courtesy name of Fu Buji (宓不齊), was born in 521 BCE in the state of Lu and was 49 years younger than Confucius.
After studying under the sage, he served as the chief magistrate (宰/zǎi) of Danfu (單父) in modern-day Shandong province and achieved such a good reputation that Confucius describes him as a true leader in Chapter 3 of Book 5 of the Analects. Continue reading Followers of Confucius: Zijian
Gongye Chang (公冶長), also known as Zichang (子長), Zizhi (子之), or Gongye Zhi (公冶芝), was born either in the state of Lu or the state of Qi. Even though he spent some time in prison, Confucius believed he was innocent and gave his daughter to him in marriage.
Nothing else is known about Gongye, unless you count some fantastical tales of his amazing supernatural abilities based on his ability to understand the language of birds and other animals. Continue reading Followers of Confucius: Gongye Chang
Confucius attracted quite a following during his lifetime as a result of his reputation as a great teacher. It is traditionally believed that he had as many as three thousand students, though only seventy-two were said to have truly mastered his teachings. In Sima Qian’s Records of the Grand Historian (史記/shǐjì) Confucius himself is quoted as saying that he had seventy-seven “scholars of extraordinary ability” who were able to understand his “instructions.” Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 1: young pretenders and old companions
Lin Fang was from Lu, the home state of Confucius. Aside from his interest in ritual matters, there is no concrete information about him. Apparently, he was known for being rather slow-witted. Perhaps that’s the reason why he only appears twice in the Analects. Continue reading Followers of Confucius: Lin Fang
Book 2 of the Analects introduces five followers of Confucius for the first time, including his favorite and protégé Yan Hui, who left the sage totally devastated when he died at the young age of thirty-two. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 2: followers of Confucius