Kong Wenzi (孔文子) was the posthumous name given to Kong Yu (孔圉) a minister of the state of Wei (魏)) who died about a year before Confucius in about 480 BCE.
Kong’s posthumous name literally means Kong-the-Refined or Kong-the-Cultured. Some people considered this to be rather ironic given that he was said to have been rather an unsavory character notorious for his disloyalty and dissoluteness. Continue reading Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Kong Wenzi
Zigong said: “The teachings of the master can be learned; but his views on the nature of things and the way of heaven can’t be learned.” (1)
What’s the purpose of education? Is it to teach people how to think or what to think? Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: the teachings of the master
Book 1 is one of the shortest books in the Analects with just sixteen chapters. In addition to Confucius, it introduces five of his followers including two of his most faithful companions, Zigong and Zixia.
Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 1: by numbers
The character 文 (wén) originally meant “patterns”, though it is more often translated as “culture” or “civilization” as it refers to arts such as literature, calligraphy, music, ritual, mathematics, and even archery and charioteering. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 1: Confucius on culture
Deference (讓/ràng) literally means “to yield”. Although the term is rarely mentioned in the Analects, the principles that govern it play an important role in ensuring smooth and courteous interactions between people of different walks of life. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 1: Confucius on deference
Ritual (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 of Confucius Book 1: Confucius on ritual
Although this may come as a surprise to people who have experienced or even just heard about the rigors of China’s so-called “Confucian” education system, Confucius himself believed that learning should involve much more than simply imbibing and regurgitating the ancient classics. Rather, it should be focused on the practical application of the timeless principles found in the texts to your daily life so that you can make a positive contribution to your family, your community, and ultimately the whole society you live in. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 1: Confucius on learning
Zigong wished to do away with the sacrifice of a live sheep for the ceremony welcoming the new moon. Confucius said: “You love the sheep; I love ritual.” (1)
How to react when someone opposes a much-needed change? Do you back down or do you find other ways of making sure it’s implemented? Unfortunately, this passage doesn’t tell us whether Zigong caved in to Confucius or continued to fight his corner. I hope he took the former tack – but given Zigong’s devotion to the sage I suspect he adopted the latter one. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: welcoming the new moon
When Zigong asked about leadership, Confucius said: “First accomplish what you want to say and then say it.”
Which comes first: words or actions? If you take your cue from Silicon Valley, the answer is to shout from the rooftops that your brilliant idea is going to transform the world as we know it so that you can suck in enough investors to kickstart your dream and keep it going until one fine day it stops bleeding cash and finally starts to make money. Or gets bought by a bigger company that wants to get their hands on your technology and people or at least prevent the emergence of a potential competitor. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: words or actions?