Confucius didn’t “do god” in the sense of worshiping a specific deity or religion, but he did subscribe to a belief in the idea of an all-seeing and all-knowing “heaven” (天/tiān) that acted as a sort of moral guide for the world and bestowed its will or mandate (命/mìng) on virtuous individuals to rule the world wisely and benignly. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 2: Confucius on the mandate of heaven
Book 8 of the Analects of Confucius features only one of the sage’s followers. Thanks no doubt to some editorial skullduggery from his own followers, who played in important role in compiling the Analects, the young pretender Zengzi is given five chapters to spout his wisdom. Even though, in first two at least, he is lying on his death bed, it’s hard to summon up any sympathy for him given the pretentiousness of his utterances.
The book isn’t exactly filled with contemporary figures either, featuring only two. Meng Jingzi, a member of the Meng clan, one of the notorious Three Families that ran the state of Lu, receives a rollicking from Zengzi in 8.4 for his tendency towards micromanagement in his one and only appearance in the Analects. Music Master Zhi fares much better in 8.15 when Confucius praises his “rich and beautiful music” to the skies. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 8: by numbers
The greatest love that Confucius preferred to pursue rather than wealth was music (see 7.11). He is said to have been a fairly decent musician himself, and in 7.13 is described as being so enraptured by a performance of Shao music that he saw during a visit to the state of Qi that he “didn’t know the taste of meat” for three months.
Confucius didn’t just love music for its aesthetic beauty. He also saw it as the ultimate embodiment of cultural sophistication and civilization with its power to elevate people’s senses and thoughts to ever greater levels of harmony with each other and their surrounding environment. When combined with ritual, it exemplified the values that everyone could achieve if they followed the way he laid out for them. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 7: Confucius’s love of music
Confucius said: “Shun and Yu were so majestic! They reigned over the world but never profited from it.” (1)
There’s always more than one side to every story. Before you decide whether to buy in to the version of it that someone is telling you, take some time to understand their motives in bringing it to your attention. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: selfless devotion to duty?
Zigong said: “What about someone who acts generously towards the people and benefits the masses? Could that be described as goodness?” Confucius said: “Why stop at calling it goodness? It could be defined as perfection. Even Yao and Shun wouldn’t be able to match it! Good people help others get on their feet while establishing their own career; they help others to achieve their goals while achieving their own objectives. By standing in other people’s shoes, it can be said that they’re on the right track to goodness.” (1) (2)
A rising tide lifts all boats. Leadership is not just about improving your own effectiveness but also that of everyone around you. It requires building a platform that enables everyone to learn and grow. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: a rising tide lifts all boats
Confucius described Shao music as being perfectly beautiful and perfectly good and Wu music as being perfectly beautiful but not perfectly good.
Is there a moral component to deciding whether someone or something has attained perfection? Confucius certainly thought so. That’s why he gives Shao music the edge over Wu music in this passage. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: considering the moral component
Read this new English translation of the Analects of Confucius Book 20 to learn more about the teachings of China’s most famous philosopher. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 20: new English translation