The rites (禮/lǐ) is a flexible term that describes the loosely connected web of formal religious, political, and cultural ceremonies and unwritten rules of behavior that govern smooth interactions between people and ensure social stability. Continue reading Analects Book 1: Confucius on the rites
One very good reason to study The Analects and the Daodejing is that, for all the archaic and in the latter case mystic language they feature, these two ancient works focus on providing practical solutions to real-world problems.
Unlike many of the works in the Western philosophical cannon, neither text features an agonized search for a universal “truth” or any promises of eternal salvation for ascribing to the “right” set of values or behaving in the “correct” manner. Instead, they are concerned with dealing with the challenges of the here and now, exploring how you can improve your character to make a greater contribution to the stability and prosperity of your family, community, and society overall. Continue reading Situational leadership in The Analects and the Daodejing
Youzi said: “If your commitments conform to what is right, you will be able to keep your word. If your manners conform to the rites, you will be able to avoid shame and disgrace. Only if you associate with reliable people will you be successful.”
Making rash promises that you have no hope or intention of fulfilling is a sure way of eroding the trust that people have in you. You might be able to get away with it for a while through sheer force of personality or verbal dexterity, but eventually the chickens will come home to roost and your credibility will be destroyed. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: rash promises
Youzi said: “When practicing the rites, harmony matters most. This is what made the way of the ancient kings so admirable and inspired their every action, no matter how great or small. But they also knew where to draw the line: seeking harmony for its own sake without it being regulated by the rites won’t work.” (1)
Promoting a strong esprit de corps is a key responsibility of a leader. Without high levels of cooperation between individuals and departments, silos can quickly appear in an organization and rivalries between different groups can lead to unnecessary inefficiencies and even conflicts.
It’s quite a relief that the sweltering Taipei summer heat has final started to dissipate and I can resume my favorite lunchtime ritual of taking a ten-minute walk to Le Home coffee for lunch followed by another short stroll to the Jingmei Human Rights Memorial and Cultural Park just behind our office.
Although Book 3 of the Analects is dominated by the subject of rites, it does also touch on a few other themes, most notably leadership and the glories of ancient Chinese culture. Click on the links below for the full story. Continue reading Analects Book 3: Resources
Confucius never defines exactly what he means by the rites in Book 3 of the Analects. Instead, he spends most of his energy on criticizing others, most notably members of the Three Families, for their violations of the unwritten rules governing important ritual ceremonies that had presumably existed since at least the beginnings of the Zhou dynasty in the early 11th century and probably even before that. Continue reading Analects Book 3: fighting for the rites
With civilization collapsing around him as multiple states and factions within them fought for control of China, Confucius looked back to the “golden age” at the beginning of the Zhou dynasty in the 11th century BC as the model for restoring stability and culture to the country. Continue reading Analects Book 3 on culture: I follow the Zhou!
Book 3 of the Analects features some quite astonishing tirades from Confucius against the Three Families, the real power behind the throne of his home state of Lu, for what he saw as their shameless violations of the ancient ritual ceremonies and proprieties that he believed were essential for a civilized society. Continue reading Analects Book 3: Overview