superior man

Confucius Analects – Superior Man vs. Mean Man (2) – 孔子论语 – 君子与小人(二)

12.6 The superior man seeks to menifest the admirable qualities of men, and does not seek to manifest their bad qualities. The mean man does the opposite of this.

-> Everyone has strength and weakness.  When we facilitates our goods and others’ goods, good is strengthened.  When we facilitates our bads and other’ bads (e.g. fuel hatred, laugh at misfortune, blame others), we are mean to others and to our own selves.

13.3 The superior man maintains harmony in diversity; the mean man are similar in disharmony.

->  Great leaders embrace and allow for diversity.  Chinese says “A prime minister heart is often so huge that one can row a boat within”.  Confucius also recommends the cultivation of understanding and acceptance despite of difference.  Even though others are different than our own, our heart is big enough to accommodate them, and not attempt to reject, attack, and eliminate, for if we do so (reject and attack), we would become Mean Man in aligning the bads.   The mean man, on the other hand, looks all simiilar being drawn together by benefits and gain.  See how often criminal form a gang, and after the crime attack each other to further their selfish gains.

13.4 The superior man has a dignified ease without pride. The mean man has pride without a dignified ease.

-> Dignified people is confident, self-sustaining, and is easy to be with, as they know, accept and respect themselves and others.  Prideful people need to constantly be “higher” and “better” than others to sustain its pridefulness, and therefore is demanding to themselves and to others.

* * *


In these 3 chapters, Confucius further described the ideal Superior Man to be one who facilitates goods, allow for diversity, and is dignified and at ease with others. This is in contrast with the animalistic Mean Man, who delights in one’s and other’s bad, single minded in selfish gain, and driven be pride.  Which of these qualities do you have? Which direction would you like to go?

12.6 成人之美


-> 每个人都有长处和弱点。当我们肯定我们的优点与他人的优点时,优点就会被加强。当我们助长我们短处和他人的短处时(如指责别人,嘲笑不幸,燃点仇恨),我们就是自己和他人的小人。

13.3 和而不同


-> 伟大的领导者能包容,并允许不同和多样性。中国人说:“丞相肚子里面能划船”。孔子还建议培养理解和接受,尽管在差异和不同之中。即使别人跟自己不一样,君子的心是大到足以容纳他们,所以君子可以和而不同。不要试图拒绝,攻击,并消除,如果我们这样做,我们将成为狭窄的小人。另一方面,小人会为着共同的利益和目标而团结,但当得到利益后,他们往往便会分裂和相互攻击,以促进其自私的收益,所以小人同而不和。

13.4 泰而不驕


-> 有尊严的人是自信的,能自我维持,并很容易相处,是因为他们了解,接受和尊重自己和他人。骄傲的人需要不断的跟其他人比“高”和“更好”,来维持其骄傲,因此难相处。

* * *




6 responses to “Confucius Analects – Superior Man vs. Mean Man (2) – 孔子论语 – 君子与小人(二)”

  1. 妮基 Avatar

    With regard to the question: Which direction would you like to go? Do we not all wish to lead the path of the one who embraces all and rejects none?

    With regard to the question: Which of these qualities do you have? Is not the problem recognizing in ourselves/ being aware of when we are being selfish and driven by pride?

    How do we train ourselves to see ourselves clearly?

    1. derek Avatar

      Pathway of embracing, counterbalancing, and transcendence -> Yes. Such is the pathway of spiritual students.

      How to train and see ourselves? Honesty, honesty, and honesty.

      1. 妮基 Avatar

        Honesty… ok…

        …..but books have been written about how (for example) experimental scientists, excellent scientists, have wanted to see a result so bad… that they actually ‘saw’ it with their own eyes… although it did not exist. How do we learn to distinguish between… our imaginations and reality… how we perceive ourselves and how we really are?

        Also, how do we learn to be sensitive enough to the details of all of what we are to actually ‘see’ our greed, our ego, our unkindness… when we are to coarse to sense it?

        We might think that we are being honest… but how do we learn to truly be honest?

        1. derek Avatar

          Feedback from integrous people would help. E.g. teachers, students, family, friends, professional medical and health care practitioners.

          Discernment grows with awareness and life experience. Sincerity, humility, and persistence will facilitate the process.

  2. sight Avatar

    mostly it is simple to be positive but sometimes when the outer world is presenting challenges, i notice my own insufficiencies magnified and then it seems in order to make balance my negativity will come out in a critical way. i am learning that wherever I go, I am always there. there is always the core self with a small s under the surface and when faced with challenges, the things I would like to ‘better’ about myself show themselves. i can meditate, practice, and accept and it still seems these things are there. but yes, i would like to be the ideal man.

    1. derek Avatar

      Good. The world presents itself as a training ground when we look at it as such.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *