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The Analects Essay

1712 words - 7 pages

Through reading The Analects it is easy to see why a lot of the Chinese people of that time valued the ideas of Confucius. He was constantly pursuing self-improvement and the knowledge that would help in this pursuit. Just like anybody though, he had his critics and enemies that would try to discredit him and get him to say things that went against what he had originally taught, but Confucius managed to keep his wits about him and in most cases never faltered from his original views. The book was a masterful collection of the beliefs, wisdom, and sayings of Confucius. In many ways it reminded me of the Book of Proverbs from the Bible in which there are many profound quotes or sayings to live ones life by and to also serve as a guide to become a very wise and humble man or in Confucius's case, a gentleman. Confucius main idea behind someone being a gentleman was that this person needed to pursue or have knowledge of the Way. In The Analects the Way seems to be mostly used in terms of covering the sum total of truths about the universe and man and it is something which can be transmitted from teacher to disciple. Therefore it must be something that can be put into words. The way can also be said to be someone's way. When this is given, the way naturally can only be taken to mean the way followed by the person specified. The Way, then, is extremely difficult to define and comes very close to the term truth (Lau 11). By the descriptions given by Confucius of a gentleman we can get a fairly clear idea then of what exactly is the Way or the truth in Confucius's mind and why following the Way will lead to completeness in every sense of the word.In one passage that comes from the first book of The AnalectsConfucius describes the gentleman as this: The Master said, "˜The gentleman seeks neither a full belly nor a comfortable home. He is quick in action but cautious in speech. He goes to men possessed of the Way to be put right. Such a man can be described as eager to learn (I. 14. 61).' In my opinion I believe this description gives an account of how somebody would start to go about becoming a gentleman. It says not to seek out those things that are superficial but to seek out knowledge by learning from those who already possess the Way. Another important part of this is to be cautious in speech or in other words hold ones tongue, for somebody who is talking surely can not listen and learn. A passage in book XIV just as enlightening reads "˜there are three things constantly on the lips of the gentleman"¦ "A man of benevolence never worries; a man of wisdom is never in two minds; a man of courage is never afraid (28. 128)"¦" This seems to point out to me that Confucius idea of a gentleman is also benevolent, has great wisdom, and is very courageous. The first part that deals with benevolence states that one never worries. For worrying about the future does not accomplish anything, for no one knows...

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