Things I learned from Confucious ‘The Analects’
To be moral, need to have a sense of shame when done something wrong.
The only purpose a person can have, or worthwhile thing can do, is to become as good a person as possible. Persued for it’s own sake, without thought of reward; success or failure. This takes a great deal of hard work and cultivation.
A complete man ‘remembers what is right at the sight of profit’ and ‘is ready to lay down his life in the face of danger’
It is benevolence that makes a man a gentleman. Benevolence also makes a man free from worries and fears.
The best guide to conduct ‘Do not impose on others, what you yourself do not desire’. What would you like or dislike if were the receiving person.
To be moral a person needs to overcome themselves (self interest) and do the right actions. Self interest is the most persistent, insidious and persistent thing that stops a person being moral.
Not possible to work with mean (selfish, not benevolent) people in service of the Lord. They do not get the wealth or position they crave, as they do not deserve it. They worry they will not get it, once have it worry will loose it, once at that stage will not stop at anything to have these things.
If a person is benevolent, benevolence is a thing that a person has. A person builds it up and grows it.
Very hard to maintain benevolence, even the great normally only manage it for short periods.
Practicing benevolence is a heavy burden, but every man has the strength to do it. By a person thinking they cannot do it, they have set their limit before they even try.
As soon as want to be benevolent it is there, it is not far away, the question is if people really want it.
By thinking of something it is there.
Man of wisdom never in two minds, man of benevolence never worries, man of courage is never afraid.
Man of wisdom knows what is morally right and what is not (especially things that appear right when they are not)
Knowledge of men, means being good judge of people’s character, this is is how to predict their future.
A teacher must be honest about what they do not know and not pass anything on that they have not tried out themselves.
Courage means a person can do what is right when they see it and not leave it undone, but courage without morality will mean the person just carries out evil.
A person must live up to their words, best to do the action before making the claim.
Being respectful of others, is the best way to prevent others from disrespecting you.
By a person being respectful with others, others will be respectful to him and not disrespectful to him.
Learning stops a person being foolish.
He mentions the Decree of Heaven: heaven cares profoundly about the welfare of the common people, a person is set up by heaven to fulfil that purpose. As soon as he forgets that function and begins to do things for his own sake, heaven removes his decree and will bestow it on someone more worthy. A person should be in awe of this.
With regards to self interest, profit and rightness are in opposition to each other.
A person’s destiny will determine their lifespan, wealth and honour. No human persuit, effort or speculation can change this so is not a proper object of persuit. What is in the domain of destiny should be left alone.
We should obey heaven’s way, that is somerhing we should follow.
Morality is the only object a person should persue, being moral lies in making a moral effort and not in the success or failure of the person’s actions.
Do the work without thinking of the salary may get for it. Shameful for a person to be making saleries their sole object.
When ‘the way of heaven’ and morality is being followed in government, then should be in it and the person should be wealthy in it. Should speak with high mindedness.
When the way of heaven is not being followed in government, as then can only be there if bends ones principles and will also be a nasty place of humiliation and punishment. In this case, the person must leave and keep out of trouble as a private citizen, so not have to bend their morals. To stay out of trouble people must think you are the most stupid, lacking confidence, self effacing, not attract attention to oneself.
So in times of an ethical government a person will succeed in government because they do good. That is what the government has chosen.
In times of an unethical government it is the bad people who will be wealthy and given high rank.
The common people trust the government if they get enough food and arms.
When the common people do not trust a government, they have nothing to stand on. It is more important that the military defenses and food.
Setting an example
Edicts and punishments will get the people to stay out of trouble, but will have no sense of shame.
Guide them by virtue, keep them in line with the rites, they will have a sense of shame and reform themselves. To do this the ruler sets a moral example for the people, by behaving correctly. Then never have to use the law and threat of punishment.
The people will imitate their leaders even if told not to do something different.
If the leader sets a moral example, the people will do the right thing even though no orders are given.
If people told by leader to be moral, but leader themselves is immoral, the people will do immoral things.
If people told by leader to be immoral, but leader themselves us moral, the people will still do moral things.
If the leader sets a bad example, the people will do the wrong thing, even though orders have been given to the contrary.
If a person punished for something the leader has themselves done, the person will be aware of the injustice.
People may not be be able to perceive the morality in a leader, but they will still be influenced by it, behave in accordance to it and so be moral.
The leader does not even have to do things that the people could not even say what he had done, the moral influence works imperceptibly.
A leader has to promote the straight people to positions of authority over the crooked, will help make the crooked straight.
Music and poetry need to be beautiful, but it is the goodness in it that makes it amazing and goes beyond expectations.
Pleasure is fine, but it is excessive pleasure that causes the problems.
Detest clever talkers who overturn states and noble families. Also things which look good on the outside, but it is only on the outside, so misleading and not genuine.
A person should seek benevolence. If they get it, they will have no complaints. It is the gaining of the benevolence that makes them benevolent.
Practicing doing things, enables a person to become a better person morally.
Must learn from the wise men of the past and present.
The morally right thing to do changes in different time periods, new rules must be added and others omitted. This makes a person’s actions timely.
A moral principle, for example respect, leads to rules, these lead to actions that exemplify those rules. How good the rules are, is shown by how well the moral principles are performed.
Need thinking to see connections between things which at first seem unconnected. Also to discover new applications for known principles, so when learn one thing, can understand ten.
Need to perfect one’s own moral character by being benevolent to other people and working for the welfare of the common people. The reward is not getting things in return, it is in doing what is good and this constitutes the joy of following the Way.
Studying is hard and arduous and never finished, but:
●needed to overcome being vexed by difficulties
●needed to know why to follow a certain path, otherwise just doing what told without knowing why
Study needs a person to have the capacity, opportunity (time) and be able to put up with the hardship.
Admire people who only have a bowl of rice and ladle of water, but not allow this to affect their joy
Only praise someone once they have been put to the test, for example did a ruler manage to promote the welfare of the common people.