Confucius Analects – Surviving the Changing World
We live in a turbulent world. External events come and go, internal reactions rise and fall. While we could have a fairly stable way to, or expectation on how to live our lives, often time the reality falls short of our expectations. How did Confucius survived this changing world?
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8.4 Selecting place to abode, mode of living
Such an one will not enter a tottering State, nor dwell in a disorganized one. When right principles of government prevail in the kingdom, he will show himself; when they are prostrated, he will keep concealed.
5.4 Different actings in different times
The Master said, ‘When good order prevailed in his country, Ning Wu [Ning Wu] acted the part of a wise man. When his country was in disorder, he acted the part of a stupid man. Others may equal his wisdom, but they cannot equal his stupidity.’
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For beginners, Confucius’s advise is to choose wisely of place to live and work. If we choose an environment that is supportive to our life, we are supported, and therefore can grow and serve effectively.
With study and practice, our inner strength and wisdom grows. We become increasing aligned to truth and power, and more able to function in increasingly complex and turbulent situations. We share what we have to offer when conditions are right (which appears to be wise), and blend in with people without losing our inner alignment in other situations (which might appears stupid).
The former require inner wisdom and right conditions, while the latter require unconditional acceptance, wisdom, and compassion to all. Confucius found the latter to be more difficult, as not only does it requires perfection of one’s inner world, it asks for the full acceptance of the world as it is, external and internal, beyond one’s self.
Therefore of the Chinese saying “大智若愚”: the wise appears fool. Lower level of wisdom appears wise; higher level of wisdom appears fool. Are you wise? Are you fool?