Confucius Analects – Accept life as it is, simple life

Confucius Analects – Accept life as it is, simple life

4.1 Proper attitude to face fortune and misfortune

子曰、富與貴、是人之所欲也、不以其道得之、不處也。 貧與賤、是人之所惡也、不以其道得之、不去也。

The Master said, ‘Riches and honours are what men desire. If it cannot be obtained in the proper way, they should not be held. Poverty and meanness are what men dislike. If it cannot be avoided in the proper way, they should not be avoided.

-> Accept life as it is.  Do not attach to good fortune or resist misfortune.  Strive for a good life at the best of your ability and leave the rest.

7.2 Enjoy simple life

子曰、飯疏食飲水、曲肱而枕之、樂亦在其中矣、不義而富且貴、 於我如浮雲。

The Master said, ‘With coarse rice to eat, with water to drink, and my bended arm for a pillow;– I have still joy in the midst of these things. Riches and honours acquired by unrighteousness, are to me as a floating cloud.’

-> Most people are attached to possessions, status, which are like floating cloud beyond one’s control.  Instead, we can learn to appreciate simple life and its ups and downs, when we do, we can appreciate and content with how much we all have.

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In these two chapters Confucius outlines a portrait of the ideal man:  One who enjoy simple life, and can float with the ups and downs of life.  In this modern world of materialism, we are so programmed to possess, possess, and possess.   How much do we need in our life?  It seems never enough.  Confucius reminds us that life can be very simple: bowl of rice to fill the stomach, an arm for a pillow to rest.  When we can appreciate it, what else do we need?


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