Confucius Analects – Balance Work and Study
19.3 Serving vs. learning
Zixia said, ‘The officer, having discharged all his duties, should devote his leisure to learning. The student, having completed his learning, should apply himself to be an officer.’
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Zixia, a prominent student of Confucius, talked about the importance of balancing work and study. When we are in schools, study well and prepare ourselves for serving in the society (Note that in the old days, the goal of study was to provide service for the government and society). When we are at work and in society, AFTER we have discharged our duties excellently, engage in study and continuous cultivation.
Note that Confucius teachings did not call us to abandon our social-work-family role for personal cultivation, but to fulfill our roles first and at the same time strive to upgrade our selves. This is in-line with the Confucius classic “Daxue(大学）”，which calls for development in a step-by-step manner: from personal, to family, to country (social organization), and finally to the world (修身齐家治国平天下）.
Such advice is still valid for spiritual students in this modern world. In cultivating our life, how should i position my self, to best fulfill our various roles in life, to fulfill the highest good of all?