Confucius Analects – Choosing Friends
16.1 On friendships
Confucius said, ‘There are three friendships which are advantageous, and three which are injurious. Friendship with the upright; friendship with the sincere; and friendship with the man of much observation:– these are advantageous. Friendship with the man of specious airs; friendship with the insinuatingly soft; and friendship with the glib-tongued:– these are injurious.’
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We as human share the world, create the world, and influence each other moment by moment. Friends are those we choose to hang out with regularly in our lives, and therefore exert great influence to ourselves besides our family and work associates. There is a Chinese saying “近朱者赤，近墨者黑 – One takes on the attributes of one’s associates.” How to choose friends that will influence us positively? Confucius recommends friends that are upright (with principles), honest, and knowledgeable, and avoid friends that are not upright (no principles), flattering, and rhetoric.
When one is not up right and lives one life with no principle, one is vulnerable to temptation and fall; when one is immersed in flattery, one’s self image is inflated and is departed from reality; when one is rhetoric it can easily be used to cover up lies which leads to confusion.
Make friends that will move your lives positively. Just like how we choose and learn from teachers and teachings that will uplift our lives.