Analects of Confucius – Ch. 20

Matt | Analects of Confucius | Friday, September 10th, 2010

Last chapter of the Analects and it has been way too long since I’ve written something here.  A few things have happened in my life recently – got married, my wife and I returned to Canada and I returned to school – but still as I review some of the words from Master Kong I realize that I still have a lot of work to do.  Back to this last chapter, this chapter has only three “posts” and only the last one seemed to resonate at all with me, so I included it here.

3. Confucius said, “One will never be a gentleman if he does not understand destiny.  He will never get established if he does not follow the rites.  He will never judge people if he does not understand their words.

His first point, reminds me of how my wife often talks about living in the present as well as in listening to her body.  She does what she wants and always has a positive attitude and this seems to carry her to great places.  This is something I can learn from.

Master Kong’s second point I find interesting.  A part of me likes the idea of being able to follow certain rules or rites that will help us in getting established.   Recently, I’ve realized that I like having order and structure in my life and having certain guidelines can help one feel established.

The last point, I agree with and personally struggle with.  In dealing with others understanding their words is essential.  Words are extremely important in both spoken and written forms.

Analects of Confucius – Ch. 19

Matt | Analects of Confucius | Saturday, March 7th, 2009

5.  “One can be said to have mastered what one has learned,” said Zi Xia, “if one learns new knowledge every day, and reviews what one has learned every month,”

This is one of the most important things that I have learned in my 32 years of being.  How it’s important to try and learn something, anything, each and every day.  And if you do this you will be a little better tomorrow that you were yesterday and will be headed in the right direction.  As for reviewing what one has learned, that is also vital for memory work.  If you review something regularly you greatly increase the chance you’ll remember it (24 hour, 1 month, 6 month reviews).

8. Zi Xia said, “The petty man tries his best to cover up his errors.”

I take this as a gentleman will own up to his mistakes and face the consequences and learn from the experience.  As I write this I am staring at a burn mark I left on my desk last night from an errant candle during my Valentine’s Day festivities.  I was debating simply pulling the TV forward to cover this burn mark or to face up to it with my landlord.  I’ll probably try to fix it first, then tell the landlord.

11. “As long as one does not step out of bounds in big matters, it is permissible for one not to be meticulous.” said Zi Xia.

I like this.  I take it as focus on getting the big things right.  If you focus on the 1 or 2 important things, everything else will work itself out as it should.

25. Chen Ziqin said to Zi Gong, “Do you really think that Confucius is greater than you? Is it out of respect for your Master?” Zi Gong answered, “One can tell whether a gentleman is wise or stupid in one word he utters.  So he has to be careful in speech.  Nobody is able to surpass my Master just as nobody can reach the sky with the help of a ladder.  When my Master took office in court, the common people knew the rites, and followed my Master whole-heartedly.  Moreover, people were attracted from afar.  My Master will be honoured when alive and mourned when dead.  How can I equal him?

Be careful of what you say.  You can tell whether someone is wise or stupid , “…in one word he utters.”  Does this hold true for with one word someone writes?  Then I must remember to review my work better.  And think more before I utter sounds out of my mouth in the form of words.

Analects of Confucius – Ch.17

Matt | Analects of Confucius | Sunday, October 12th, 2008

The more I read through this famous book by Confucius, the more the information sinks in.  As a teacher, I think he had some great practices: not helping students who don’t help themselves first; teaching to each individual: building up the confidence of a weaker student and knocking a cocky student down a peg;  always learning by always asking questions.  As I read through his Analects, I can’t help but compare the writing to a modern day blog: there are lots of short posts in each chapter, some related, some not, but all interesting in some way.  Here are my favourites from Chapter 17...

6/ Zi Zhang asked Confucius how to be benevolent. Confucius said, “tho embrace five qualities at once is benevolent.” Zi Zhang asked, “what are the five qualities?” Confucius said, “They are gravity, tolerance, trustworthiness, diligence, and generosity.  With gravity you will not be humiliated; tolerance brings the suppport of the mulititude; trustworthiness wins the trust of others; diligence pave the way to success; and generosity makes it easy to exercise control over others.”

14/ Confucius said, “To indulge in gossip and spreading rumours is to abandon virtue.”

Don’t spread rumours, as juicy as they might be.  It never pays off.  It really can only hurt you in the end.

17/ Confucius said, “A man who speaks with honeyed words and pretends to be kind cannot be benevolent.”

Words alone don’t work, no matter how sweet they sound.  It’s your actions and the honest thoughts behind those actions that matter.

22/ Confucius said, “He who always has a full stomach but does nothing meaningful is simply a good-for-nothing.  Is there not a game of chess? Even playing chess is better than idling the time away.”

Doing something is always better than doing nothing.  I really like this quote especially, when I want to procrastinate and watch a movie or something.  There is always something better to do…like play a game of chess.

25/ Confucius said, “Only women and petty men are difficult to deal with.  When you let them get close , they are insolent; when you keep them at a distance, they complain.”

I don’t know why, but I quite enjoy his remarks about women.  I guess that if even the great Kong Fu Zi could have woman problems, then anyone can.  For me it makes him more real, more human, for having such challenges.  Even he could have learned something from Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus, or from talking honestly with his woman.

26/ Confucius said, “There are no prospects for a man who is still disliked by the age of forty.”

I got to get a move on.  Frighteningly 40 is around the corner for me.

Analects of Confucius – Ch.16

admin | Analects of Confucius | Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Again, here are some lessons from the first teacher, Confucius, or Kong Fu Zi.

10/ Confucius said, “A gentleman concentrates on the following nine things: seeing clearly when he uses his eyes; hearing acutely when he uses his ears; looking mild when it comes to facial expressions; appearing sedate when it comes to demeanor; being sincere when he speaks; being conscientious when it comes to his office responsibility; seeking advice when he is in the face of difficulty; foreseeing the consequence when he gets angry; asking himself whether it is right when he wants to gain something.”

This is a good guide to follow.  I wonder how much of the Chinese culture is a result of Confucius’ teachings, as it is common for a Chinese person to keep mild facial expressions and to not show his emotions. The other pieces of advice seem easy to follow, but is it truly easy to see clearly?  Or actually hear properly?  Like when you ask someone how they are doing today, do you truly listen for their answer?  Often I don’t.  Listening is one skill that I can definitely work on improving.

Analects of Confucius – Chapter 15

Matt | Analects of Confucius | Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Attached is the 15th chapter of Confucius, Kong Zi’s, classic, “Analects of Confucius.”  I love rereading these chapters and adding some of my favourites here as every time I read them it makes me think about things.  So here goes.

12/ Confucius said, “Worries will soon appear if one gives no thought to a long-term plan.

When I first read this, I soon realize why I was so worried.  I was about 30 living in China, teaching English, with a lot of thoughts and dreams, yet I didn’t have a long-term plan.  Since then, I still don’t have a long-term plan, I’m a few years older and more experienced, and a lot more worried.  So I believe this one is true.

15/ Confucius said, “Being strict with oneself and lenient to others is sure to save one from ill will.”

I like the thought of this one, that being tougher on yourself and more lenient to others is a good approach to follow.  Also by focusing on yourself, improving yourself, you are controlling really the only thing that you can.  By being lenient with others you’ll be forgiving them for mistakes made, or helping them understand the value of those mistakes.  Good ideas.

19/ Confucius said, “A gentleman fears his own lack of talent more than others’ failure to undersand him.”

I love this one as I read it to say that it’s more important that a person has skills and develops those skills, than it is for others’ to notice them.

24/ Zi Gong asked, “Is there a single word that a man can follow as his life guide?” Confucius said, “Yes.  It is perhaps, the word, forbearance‘. Do not impose upon others what you do not desire yourself.”

Here is the Golden Rule according to Confucius.  It is amazing that this rule has been used in almost every culture and religion known.

28/ Confucius said, “Be sure to look into the case if a man is disliked by all the people around him.  Be sure, too, to look into the case if he is like by all the people around him.”

This one touches close to home.  Be careful of people that is disliked by all.  As for being liked by all, this is something I have a problem with as I always try to be liked by all – having a high need for appreciation.  I believe it’s better to be seem as “fair” by everyone is more important that it is to be “liked”.  I got to work on this one.

30/ Confucius said, “Not to correct the mistake on has made is to err indeed.”

Mistakes are ok, I would argue they are essential in order to learn, but the important thing is to learn from them.

39/ Confucius said, “In education people, I treat everyone the same.”

Note: this could also be translated as, “Everyone is entitled to be educated.”

I like both quotes equally for different reasons.

41/ Confucius said, “it is enough that one’s words get the ideas across.”

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the importance of language and how language is a tool to be used.  In this case, I think being a functional tool, being “functionally fluent” is the most important thing.  Making mistakes are okay if you can get your ideas across.

Analects of Confucius – Chapter 14

Matt | Analects of Confucius | Thursday, September 11th, 2008

2/ Confucius said, “It is not befitting to an educated man to indulge in an easy and comfortable life.”

This quote has been ringing in my ears for the past few years.  I’ve had Chinese friends mention to me that life isn’t easy, shouldn’t be easy and that I should accept that fact.  I believe their words came in some way from this quote.  As someone who has a university degree, I sometimes have an internal battle on if I’m doing the right thing teaching here in China.  While on the one hand, I love teaching and helping others learn.  On the other hand, I feel that I’m not challenging myself fully teaching and that I could be learning and earning more working in other fields.  So I’ve struggled over this quote.  Thank you teacher Confucius for making me think.

10/ Confucius said, “It is difficult for one to make no complaints when poor; but it is easy for one to show no arrogance when rich.”

22/ Zi Lu asked about how to serve a lord.  Confucius answered, “Do not feign compliance but advise him with honesty.”

I quite like this quote because it reminds me of the days I worked in the corporate world and how so people would be “Yes” men, always doing whatever their boss wanted and never disagreeing with the boss.  I can honestly say at times I was one of those fellas; wanting to make the boss, or people around me, happy.  But from this quote above, sometimes the best way you can be of service is to be honest, even if you need to disagree or offer criticisms, and that is how you can best serve people around you.  As someone else once said, “If two people in the room always agree, then one of them isn’t needed.

24/ Confucius said, “People in ancient times studies to enrich their knowledge and improve themselves; people today study to decorate themselves and impress others.”

This is another of my favourite Confucius quotes.  I’m shocked at how true it is now, 2500 years after Confucius first spoke those words.  How many of us get degrees, or MBAs, because we want to learn more or because we love the subject?  How many of us get degrees to improve our resumes and impress others?

27/ Confucius said, “A gentleman takes it as a disgrace to let his words outstrip his deeds.

Another of my favourite Kong Fu Zi quotes.  Do what you say you will do.  It’s easy to talk the talk, but can you walk the walk.  Or “shut up and just do it!”. I can definitely learn from this one.

28/ Confucius said, “I fail to do any of the following three things that  a gentleman should do: a man of benevolence never worries; a man of wisdom never gets confused; a man of courage never fears,” Zi Gong commented, “That is just the Master’s self-image.”

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