Mengpi (孟皮), the elder step-brother of Confucius, was the son of the first wife of their father Shuliang He (叔梁纥) and had nine sisters. Although he was the only son of the couple, Mengpi had a handicapped foot that meant he wasn’t considered eligible to carry on the family name. Desperate for an heir, Shuliang took Confucius’s mother Yan Zhengzai (颜徵在) as his concubine or second wife while in his early sixties to preserve the family line.
Shuliang died only three years after Confucius’s birth in 548 BCE, leaving Zhengzai and Confucius poor and of uncertain social status because of the cloudy circumstances of their marriage. Unable or unwilling to live with Shuliang’s first wife and daughters, Zhengzai is said to have returned to her father’s home together with her son and Mengpi – who was presumably regarded as a burden by his birth mother. Continue reading Biography of Mengpi: the elder step-brother of Confucius
Confucius said: “I wasn’t born with innate knowledge. I simply love the past and am assiduous in seeking it there.” (1) (2) (3) (4)
Even if you have all the talent in the world, it isn’t worth anything unless you’re willing to put your nose to the grindstone and set to work. Of course, it helps to have family members around to encourage and guide you, as Confucius’s mother and grandfather are reputed to have done after his father died when Confucius was just three years old, but that can only take you so far. In the end, it’s up to you to put in the time and effort required to be successful. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: innate knowledge
Whenever Confucius visited the Grand Ancestral Temple, he asked about everything that was happening there. Someone said: “Who said this son of a man from Zou is an expert on ritual? When he visits the Grand Ancestral Temple, he has to ask about everything that’s happening.” Hearing this, Confucius said: “Exactly, this is ritual.” (1) (2)
Don’t be afraid of asking questions. There’s always something new to learn even if you’re already familiar with the subject under discussion. Don’t worry about ridiculed for asking them either. You should always take it as a compliment when someone wants to show that they’re superior to you. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: asking questions