We know very little for certain about the life of the Chinese philosopher,
He is said to have been born in 551 BC in China. He may have been a student of the Daoist master, Lao Tzu
According to tradition,
他走上了从政之路 并担任了许多官职 其中包括鲁司寇
he began Government service, and served many roles, including: Minister of Crime,
under Duke Ding in the state of Lu.
Confucius and the duke fell out, after the duke received a present from a neighboring ruler:
80 beautiful women, and 124 horses.
The duke spent all of his time riding the horses, and being entertained by the woman.
Which Confucius found deeply improper for a ruler.
So he left the court, and wandered for years.
Around between the 3rd, and 5th century B.C,
Confucius’ works were collected into
《论语》 这是一本语录集合 由他的追随者编撰而成
the “Analects 论语 (Lunyu)”, a collection of sayings, written down by his followers.
Some of the morals Confucius taught, are easily recognizable.
Most notably, his version of the Golden Rule:
“Do not do unto others what you don’t want done to yourself”
但是 其中有些也听起来非常奇怪 或者在当代人看来早已不合时宜了
But, some of them also sound very strange, or old-fashioned to modern ears.
especially to western ones
But we need his advice all the more for this.
It serves as an antidote to the troubles we currently face.
Here are a few examples, of what Confucius helps us to remember:
One: Ceremony is important.
The Analects are filled with strange conversations between Confucius and his disciples,
like this one:
Tsze-kung wished to do away with the offering of a sheep.
孔子说:“赐也 尔爱其羊 我爱其礼”
Confucius said, “Ts’ze, you love the sheep; I love the ceremony.”
At first, this is baffling,
If not also humorous.
Why not save the sheep?
这是孔子在提醒子贡 也提醒我们 礼节的重要性
But, Confucius is reminding Tsze, and us, about the importance of ceremony.
In the modern world, we tend to shun ceremony,
甚至把这看做一件好事 一种亲密的象征 或是不做作的体现
and see this as a good thing, a sign of intimacy, or lack of pretension.
But, Confucius believed in the value of ceremonies over sheep,
because he valued what he called “Ritual Propriety 禮 (Li)”
This might seem a very outdated and conservative idea
但是 事实上 许多人都渴望有这些特殊的礼节
but, in fact, many of us long for particular rituals.
That meal mum cooked for us whenever we were sick,
or the yearly birthday outing.
Or our wedding vows.
我们深知那些预先计划好的 经过深思熟虑的 精确的姿势
We understand that certain premeditated, deliberate, and precise gestures
stir our emotions deeply.
Rituals make our intentions clear
and they help us to understand how to behave.
2 : We should treat our parents with reverence.
特别地 关于我们应该如何对待我们的父母 孔子提出了一个非常严格的要求
In particular, Confucius had a very strict idea about how we should behave towards our parents
He believed that we should obey them when we are young,
care for them when they are old,
mourn at length when they die
and make huge sacrifices in their memory thereafter.
他甚至还说 父母在 不远游
He even said that we shouldn’t travel far away while our parents are alive,
而且 如果他们偷了一只羊 我们应该掩护他们
and should cover for them if they steal a sheep
This attitude is known as “Filial Piety”
This sounds strange now when many of us leave our parents’ home as teenagers
and rarely return to visit.
We may even see them as strangers arbitrarily thrust upon us by fate.
After all our parents are so out of touch,
so pitifully human in their shortcomings,
那么难相处 那么爱评头论足 而且音乐品味那么差
so difficult, so judgmental, and they have such bad taste in music.
Yet Confucius recognised that in many ways moral life begins in the family.
我们不可能真的懂得体贴 明理 感恩 尽责
We cannot truly be caring, wise, grateful and conscientious
unless we remember mum’s birthday and meet dad for lunch.
3 : we should be obedient to honorable people
Modern societies are very egalitarian – we believe that we are all born equal
and should ultimately be able to say and do whatever we like.
We reject many rigid hierarchical roles
Yet Confucius told his followers: “Let the ruler be a ruler,
臣臣 父父 子子”
the subject a subject, a father a father and a son a son”.
This might sound jarring but it is in fact important to realise
that there are people worthy of our deep veneration
even our simple and humble obedience.
We need to be modest enough to recognise the people
whose experience or accomplishments outweigh our own
We should also practise peaceably doing
what these people need, ask or command
Confucius explained: “the relation between superiors and inferiors is like that between the wind and the grass:
草上之风 必偃 ”
the grass must bend when the wind blows across it.”
优雅的鞠躬 实际上 并不是弱小的体现
Bending gracefully is, in fact, not a sign of weakness
but a gesture of humility, and respect
4. Cultivated knowledge can be more important than creativity.
Modern culture places a lot of emphasis on creativity
unique insights that come to us suddenly
but Confucius was adamant about the importance of the universal wisdom
that comes from years of hard work and reflection
他列出：仁 礼 义 智 信
He listed: benevolence, ritual propriety, righteousness, wisdom, integrity
as the five constant virtues
While Confucius believed that people were inherently good,
he also saw the virtues like these must be constantly cultivated
just like plants in a garden
He spoke about moral character and wisdom
as the work of a lifetime
We can see now why he had such reverence with elders!
当然 一次灵感的涌现是需要的 当我们要开始自己的事业
Of course a burst of inspiration may will be what we need to start our business or
redo our rough draft or even reinvent our life
But if we are being very honest with ourselves
We’ll have to admit that we also need to devote more energy to slowly changing our habits
这些积习 相比于其它任何事 是阻挡我们变得更聪明 更成熟 更博学的最大障碍
This, more than anything else, is what prevents us from becoming truly intelligent , accomplished, and wise.
Confucius died without reforming the decadent duke and his officials.
但是他死后 他的追随者们以他的名义建造了许多学校和庙宇 遍及东亚
But after his death ,his followers created schools and temples in his honour across East Asia.
passing his teachings along for over two thousands years.
Today,millions of people still follow Confucius’s teachings
as a spiritual or religious discipline,
and his thought has been a huge influence on eastern political ideas
包括何为道德 何为服从 以及何为好的领导
about morality,obedience,and good leadership.
We might find Confucius virtues a bit strange or old-fashioned.
But this is what ultimately makes them all the more important .
we need them as a corrective to our own excesses.
The modern world is almost surprisingly totally un-Confucian.
不拘礼节 人人平等 充满新事物
informal,egalitarian,and full of innovation.
所以相反的 我们有可能变得冲动 无礼 自私
so we are conversly at risk of becoming impulsive,irreverent,and thoughtless
without a little advice from Confucius about good behavior and sheep.