Confucius says… pt. 2: Analects and Golden Rule (子曰)

Posted on 24. Jun, 2011 by in Culture, history, Philosophy, Uncategorized

Confucius or 孔子 (Kǒng Zǐ) is China’s most famous philosopher, poet and scholar who lived from  551 BC – 479 BC, and is best known for his writings and teachings on Chinese society, culture and everyday life. His impact on Chinese culture has been so profound that some 2,500 years later his teachings are still well known and well respected.

Like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and other Greek/Roman philosophers,  Confucius spent his entire life trying to reconcile the social world with the natural world, looking for truths throughout that would improve society and the relationship between man and spiritual world.

The philosophy of Confucius emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity. These values gained prominence in China over other doctrines, such as Legalism or 法家 ( jiā) and Taoism or 道家 (Dào jiā) during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – AD 220). As a result, Confucius’ thoughts have been developed into a system of philosophy known as Confucianism or 儒家 ( jiā).

The following selections are from the Confucian Analects. Many of these chapters are on issues of morality and self-betterment. Heed these words, for they are timeless and great advice on how to live your life.

The Golden Rule:

己所不欲,勿施于人

“What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others”. An English paraphrase would be “do unto other’s as you would want them to do unto you” which is known as the “Golden Rule”.

Filial Piety:

事父母幾諫,見志不從,又敬不違,勞而不怨。

“When you serve your mother and father it is okay to try to correct them once in a while. But if you see that they are not going to listen to you, keep your respect for them and don’t distance yourself from them. Work without complaining.” Many of Confucius teachings focus on Filial Piety and the relationship between father, son, mother, daughter and their roles within society. A future post will discuss these views at length.

On Safety:

君子安而不忘危,存而不忘亡,治而不忘亂。是以身安而國家可保也。

“The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved.” To quote a biblical paraphrase: “god givith and god taketh away” or “this too shall pass”. This speaks to the impermanence of life, and draws upon Daoist notions of balance and ying/yang.

Chapter 6:

君子博學於文、約之以禮、亦可以弗畔矣夫。

“The superior man, extensively studying all learning, and keeping himself under the restraint of the rules of propriety, may thus likewise not overstep what is right.”

Chapter 7:

三人行,必有我師焉:擇其善者而從之,其不善者而改之。

“When I walk along with two others, they may serve me as my teachers. I will select their good qualities and follow them, their bad qualities and avoid them.”

Chapter 8:

君子坦蕩蕩,小人長戚戚。

“The superior man is satisfied and composed; the mean man is always full of distress.”


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About Stephen

Writer and blogger for all things China related. Follow me on twitter: @seeitbelieveit -- My Background: Fluent Mandarin speaker with 3+ years working, living, studying and teaching throughout the mainland. Student of Kung Fu and avid photographer and documentarian.

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