Long essay writing assignment
FYS: Section 17
By: Naseer Ahmad
Book 10 describes the Master’s behavior, what he did and didn’t do in life. What picture of Confucius emerges in this book regarding his way of dealing with those above and below him in rank? What is he like in his day to day habits and manner of speech? Why are we being told all this?
In responding to the above questions, this paper describes Confucius’ behavior and his accomplishments. It also explains his personal characteristics and approach with people above and below him in rank. Finally, it discusses the Master’s lifestyle, his sayings and their relevance to our lives today. It specifically reviews the Book ten of his analects, which were written by his disciples and refers to the Masters’ personal characteristics.
Confucius was a great thinker, philosopher and tutor whose thoughts laid the foundation of the Chinese practical philosophy and formed the basis of day-to-day behaviors of people and influenced the literary works of his time and the centuries after. Confucius was very cautious about his deeds and actions, which shows the greatness of his philosophy. He wanted to teach by his actions. Reading through Confucius’ Analects in part10 indicates that he was a very respectful and courteous person.
Confucius showed respect not only to those who were above him in rank, but also to those who were lower than him in position. For him it was not important whether a person was lower than him or higher, he showed respect for both. The main thing that I have noticed is that he was a very humble person; not only to common people, but to himself as well. For instance, he was very particular about his behaviour in public. To quote from his Analects, “he does not converse at meals; nor does he talk in bed” (Book 10, 10), or “he does not sit, unless his mat was straight" (Book 10, 12), all of which shows his different characteristics.
Confucius liked to be responsible and respectful to his lord. For example, when he was called by his lord, he would go without waiting for horses to be yoked to his carriage which shows his responsibility toward his lord. Confucius did not respect people because of his or her position or of other purposes; he respected the human beings as a whole. Even when he was coming across to a blind person, whom he did not know, he invariably was showing respect to him.
The Master’s behaviour was different with those above him and below him in rank. To illustrate, when he was beckoned by his lord to act as a guide, his face took on a solemn expression and his step became fast. When he bowed to his collaborator, stretching out his hands to the left or to the right, his robes followed his actions without being disordered. He went forward with quickened steps, as thought he was gliding on wings. After the leaving of the guests, he always reported, ‘The Guest has stopped looking back.’
At court, when speaking with counsellors of lower rank he was friendly; when speaking with counsellors of upper rank, he was frank though respectful. In the presence of his lord, his bearing though respectful, was composed (book 10, 2).
When his lord gave a gift of cooked food, the first thing he invariably did was to taste it after having adjust his mat. When his lord gave him a gift of uncooked food, he invariably cooked it and offered it to the ancestors. When his lord gave him a gift of a live animal, he invariably reared it. At the table of his lord, when his lord had made an offering before the meal he invariably started with the rice first.
During an illness, when his lord paid him a visit, he would lie with his head to the east, with his court robes draped over him and his grad sash trailing over the side of the bed.
Confucius had a gracious and commanding personality. Examples of this are illustrated in his moral teachings and by the generous men that he taught to continue his way. In their respect of him, they stated him the greatest of men, the wise without mistake, and the ideal man. He didn’t make any affectation to have virtue and wisdom. He was aware of his shortcomings, and he made no effort to keep that covered. Confucius’s worship of virtue and wisdom is described in Analects as one "who in the eager pursuit of knowledge forgot his food, and in the joy of attaining to it forgot his sorrow". Whatever conventional accounts of the past, whether history, lyric poems, or rites and ceremonies which promoted virtue, he wanted out and trained to his pupils. He was a man who loved nature, wisdom, and most thoughtful towards others. He loved his students very much, and won in turn their unending loyalty.
In Confucianism the search of virtue is natural and auspicious. But in this pursuit of moral perfection Confucius wanted to give others the passionate love of virtue that he felt himself. To make one as good as possible was the main business of life. Everything that was helpful to the exercise of goodness was to be keenly required and made use of. Wisdom was held as a crucial treasure. The knowledge which he educated to be followed was not simply exact learning, but was the study of the blessed texts and the rules of virtue and politeness. Another factor which he stressed was the influence of good example. The heroes and sages of the past and sayings he sought to promote. He did this by insisting on the study of the ancient classics. Many of his recorded sayings are eulogies of these men of virtue. Confucius taught his followers the importance of always welcoming the correction of one’s faults. Also, the daily examination of conscience was enforced. To further aid to the formation of a virtuous character, he appreciated a certain amount of self-control. He knew the risk, particularly in the young, of falling into awful habits, so he persevered on removing the urge for needless comforts.