13.5 Qualities close to virtue
The Master said, ‘The firm, the enduring, the simple, and the modest are near to virtue.’
-> Further to appreciating simple lifestyle, strive to be simple, truthful, and modest towards others and towards ourselves. Not only it helps us develop trust from others, it helps us to develop honesty and truthfulness towards ourselves. We are so used to wearing a “mask” when facing the world, overtime and therefore, we are so disconnected from our inner reality and mistake the task to be ourselves. A simple, direct yet embracing attitude therefore is helpful in recovering our inner and outer reality.
13.6 Qualities of a scholar
Zilu asked, saying, ‘What qualities must a man possess to entitle him to be called a scholar?’ The Master said, ‘He must be thus,– earnest, urgent, and bland:– among his friends, earnest and urgent; among his brethren, bland.’
-> truthfulness, directness again emphasized in facing friends and brothers.
15.5 Qualities of a superior man
The Master said, ‘The superior man in everything considers righteousness to be essential. He performs it according to the rules of propriety. He brings it forth in humility. He completes it with sincerity. This is indeed a superior man.’
-> Here Confucius the whole process of carrying out virture. From spiritual intention (righteousness), to worldly consideration (propriety), to implementation (humbly), to completion (sincerity). This is unique in spiritual education that not only the intention is described, but the whole process of manifestation is guided. It is wisdom of how to be successful as well, as well as how to integrate spiritual intention (internal) with the objective world (external).
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Everyone talks about honesty. I’m telling the truth. I’m innocent, it’s not my fault, i didn’t know why i do that. Are they really the case? Spiritual students need to go beyond superficial honesty, ignorance, excuses, and seek to be really truthful and honest towards others and oneself. It’s not helpful to keep blaming others for what happening inside yourself. Seek to face and accept yourself as who you are. Be honest, honest, and more honest.
Everyone knows what is humility, or to be humble. How often can we hold this attitude in our life? In the mist of habitual individual and collective self-centerness, humility is an antidote. When facing decision points, instead of thinking what is best for me, meditate what is best for all, for the highest good of all. This is the way of a Superior Man, this is the way of self-transcendence.
When you make progress in honesty and humility, it’s time to practice them in the real world. Here brings the wisdom of Confucius teachings. Typical spiritual teachings just emphasis on spiritual intentions, but some awareness of the external world and some human skills are also needed for the intentions to be successfully carried out. Here Confucius describes righteousness (spiritually appropriate), propriety (worldly appropriate), humility (to counter one self), and sincerity (for completion) for ingredients for implementation. What is use of a charity project, for example, if one only has good will (intention), but carry out inappropriately (wrong time/place/scope), inflating one’s self, and without completion due to lack of sincerity and will? This is the power of Confucius life and his teachings.