Confucius Analects – 3 Levels of Practice

Confucius Analects – 3 Levels of Practice – 孔子论语 – 修行3阶段

Last week we finished our discussion on study.  This week we start our discussion on practice.  Practice is the application of knowledge in life. in Chinese practice is (修行), which includes study and application. Alongside with our ongoing study, let see what Confucius and his students had to say on how to practice, and how to integrate teachings into their lives.

6.1 Three levels of cultivation: knowing, loving, enjoying

The Master said, ‘They who know the truth are not equal to those who love it, and they who love it are not equal to those who delight in it.’

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This chapter presents the 3 major stages of practice. One

1) knows about the truth (intellectual)

2) loves it (feeling)

3) delights in it (awareness)

The first stage one find interest in exploring the truth, and seek to know about it thoroughly.  In second stage after understanding, one sees its value, feels the effect, and loves the truth. Finally, with practice and dedication, one realizes the wholeness of the practice, fully integrates in ones life, and therefore delights in it.

These 3 stages of practice could be applied to any topic of interest.  For example in meditation, beginning students seek to understand the what-about and how-to of meditation.  Intermediate students see and feel the value and love it. Advanced students is in meditative state all the time and is therefore at one with the internal joy of it.

Which stage of practice are you in?上周我们完成了“学”的讨论。这个星期,我们开始讨论“行”。修行包括修和行俩部分。除了我们正在进行的学习(修)外,让我们看看孔子和他的学生们怎样去“行”,如何将知识融合到他们生活之中。

6.1 修行的三个层次:知,好,乐





2)喜爱 (感受上)

3)喜悦 (知觉上)





5 responses to “Confucius Analects – 3 Levels of Practice – 孔子论语 – 修行3阶段”

  1. 妮基 Avatar

    Certainly if one seeks to learn more and better understand and deepen one’s understanding of, for example, meditation.. then certainly one must love to meditate, otherwise why would one bother to explore it more fully? And if one loves the art/ practice of meditation then certainly this must mean that one also delights in it. If this is true…. Yet one does not walk in constant awareness/ in a constant state of meditation… then how can one possibly know at what stage one sits in this process? Is it important to be aware of what stage one is at?

    Is it even possible to realize that one has not reached a certain stage until one has already experienced it?

    1. Derek Avatar

      This is a good observation that the desire to understand, the preference to love, and the delight in awareness are well connected and linked. Confucius here, reminds us to seek not only to understand, but also to experience, and to become aware. Understanding and feelings are temporary, while awareness is more stable and closer to Reality. From there arise the subtle yet stable delightfulness that is beyond personal thoughts feelings perceptions.

      To question about one’s state is normal. To recognize that one has not reached certain stage requires proper understanding (about reality and about self), and/or genuine experience. Until this happen, honest reflection, genuine teacher, and diligent study will help. Even if we have no experience, we could gain some idea of what it is like by reading advance teachings from enlightened teachers across different traditions (such as the classics presented in this website). Their reported inner reality are pretty much the same if we strip away the religious and cultural makeups.

      So my answer to you is Yes. Even if we are not enlightened and have no experience, we can check our state of non-enlightenment through reflection, comparing to genuine experience, and self-honesty. Even though we are not sure, it is still a delight to walk on this path of exploration, experimentation, dedication, and cross-checking, isn’t it? 🙂

  2. 妮基 Avatar

    If it wasn’t…. why bother?

    Although perhaps there are things that would behoove us to do that we don’t necessarily find delightful… but then maybe delightful or not has nothing to do with the object or the action but really is only a mater of perspective…

    Ultimately, is one more important than the other… our actions or how we perceive them?

    In the course of living a life…. do these kinds of questions even matter?

    1. Derek Avatar

      when delightful or not (in an individual sense) becomes irrelevant, when who is more important or not (in an individual sense) becomes irrelevant, when questioning or not becomes irrelevant, then, what is?

  3. […] faces and rigid lifestyle.  This is another chapter that refutes this perception (refer also to Section 6.1 – 3 Levels of Practice) as Confucius himself described enjoyments in life.  He did not object joy and enjoyment, he […]

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