Wisdom Books: The Analects of Confucius

The Analects express a philosophy, or a moral code, by which Confucius, one of the most humane thinkers of all time, believed everyone should live. Upholding the ideals of wisdom, self-knowledge, courage and love of one’s fellow man, he argued that the pursuit of virtue should be every individual’s supreme goal. And, while following the Way, or the truth, might not result in immediate or material gain, Confucius showed that it could nevertheless bring its own powerful and lasting spiritual rewards.


Excerpt from ‘The Analects of Confucius’ translated by A. Charles Muller:

Sayings about Confucius

2:4 Confucius said: “At fifteen my heart was set on learning; at thirty I stood firm; at forty I had no more doubts; at fifty I knew the mandate of heaven; at sixty my ear was obedient; at seventy I could follow my heart’s desire without transgressing the norm.”

7:1 Confucius said: “I am a transmitter, rather than an original thinker. I trust and enjoy the teachings of the ancients. In my heart I compare myself to old P’eng.”

7:2 Confucius said: “Keeping silent and thinking; studying without satiety, teaching others without weariness: these things come natural to me.”

7:3 Confucius said: “Having virtue and not cultivating it; studying and not sifting; hearing what is just and not following; not being able to change wrongdoing: these are the things that make me uncomfortable.”

7:15 Confucius said: “I can live with coarse rice to eat, water for drink and my arm as a pillow and still be happy. Wealth and honors that one possesses in the midst of injustice are like floating clouds.”

7:18 The Duke of Sheh asked Tzu Lu about Confucius. Tzu Lu didn’t answer him. The Teacher said, “Why didn’t you just tell him that I am a man who in eagerness for study forgets to eat, in his enjoyment of it, forgets his problems and who is unaware of old age setting in?”

9:15 Confucius said: “When out in the world, I served my ruler and ministers. At home I served my father and elder brothers. I never dared to take funerals lightly and I didn’t get into trouble with alcohol. What problems could I possibly have?”

19:23 Shu-sun Wu-shu, addressing the major officers of his court, said: “Tzu Kung is superior to Confucius.”

Tzu-fu Ching-po told this to Tzu Kung, who commented, “Let me use a simile of a castle and its wall. My wall is only shoulder high, which you may look over and see the desirables that lie inside. My Master’s wall is several tens of feet high and if you can’t find the door and enter by it, you will not see the beauty of its ancestral temple, nor the splendor of its hundred officers. Those who find the door are few indeed. Are not my Master’s words even more difficult to grasp?”

19:24 Tzu Kung, having heard about Shu-sun Wu-shu’s disparagement of Confucius, said, “It is ridiculous talking this way. Confucius cannot be slandered. The virtue of other men is like a small hill, which can be climbed over. Confucius is like the sun and the moon. There is no way they can be climbed over. Even if you want to cut yourself off from the sun and moon, how can you hurt them? It is easy to see that Wu-shu does not know value.”

 

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