Posts Tagged ‘Confucius’

An Identity Crisis?

Confucius was waiting in the Hall of Thousand Moons at the Palace Grounds on Yu Island. The Emperor of China had come on an expedition and expressed his desire to see him. So Confucius was at the appointed hour at the palace and settled himself to be called in. A man in splendid robes peered at the sage and frowned. When he was told that it was Confucius he became so glad and said that he had always wanted to meet so illustrious person as he. Introducing himself as the Keeper of His Majesty’s Seals he asked: “How is every one in Hoon Chow?”
“Hoon Chow?” Confucius was perplexed.
“Come, come,” said the fellow in the courtly dress. “I am so honored to see the man who discovered Hoon Chow.”
Confucius was all the more confused. “Didn’t you describe the land where men walk on all fours and women sported tails? They even eat grass. Do they not?” The nobleman chuckled.
Confucius wondered if he were dreaming or talking to one who had lost all his senses. Confucius strained to speak but the man said that from his travel books he imagined him to be different. “No matter, at last I have met the man who made Hoon Chow popular in the Court. The emperor also is taken by your book.”
“But I…” Before the sage could explain the mistake the Keeper of the Seals smoothly said: ”I expected you to belittle your great achievement, so modest just as I had expected.”
As the King’s First Minister approached them, the Keeper murmured, ”The Emperor is weighed down by various affairs of the state and as a friendly advice, royalty takes ill of modesty from one of such merit. Do not correct the messenger of the Sun and the Moon. He is apt to lose temper.”
“But I am the other Confucius” Confucius explained but the Keeper with a wave of his hand seemed to say, ‘Tell it to the birds!” With a quick courtly bow he went out.
Before he could recover his astonishment a gong sounded and he looked up to see the inscrutable face of the First Minister who with his entourage bowed before the sage. “The emperor will receive the Incomparable Master of Hoon Chow!”

Illustration: Pen and ink

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A legend that had persisted from the age of Three Dynasties in China related to the existence of a curious Sun- disk. Some were certain it was dropped from the sky. Others were sure it was the Will of heaven. No one could agree what it was.
It was a day’s journey so Confucius set out to see it, accompanied by his grand son Tsesze.
It was a large monolithic stone with large opening at the centre. In order to examine it in detail they had to negotiate their way over a series of stones laid across a stretch of shallow stream. At every turn they found that they could see through that opening a changing scenery which was like inspecting a large scroll painting. They stood there awed by the scenic beauty for long.
As darkness fell they realized that instead of looking at the celestial object they spent time admiring the view. It reminded them of their own backyard. Before they turned to leave Tsesze asked his grand father,” Is it not curious that we wasted coming here? Just as though we were at home?” Later Confucius observed ‘We seek Nature’s Order behind everyday reality. Instead we let our senses trick us.’He added Nature use man’s senses as first line of defense. So man with uncultivated mind would stop there and look beyond. Nature has her mysteries and it is not for all. We are scholars and even so how easily we are beguiled?’
Nature opens her secrets only to those who have devoted to keep the Will of heaven natural and sacred. Indeed they are sages.

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“What is the meaning of life?” one asked Confucius. They were passing through a hill country. It was spring. As they climbed down the philosopher said,” It is in the spirit of that old man down there, in his gaiety…see him on a spree, with the butterflies overhead and worms stirring about his feet..”
“I don’t believe your eyesight is sharp enough to see all that from here.” The man was skeptical.
“Perhaps you are right. But my spirit could move into that of the old man and know.” Confucius replied. “Still it doesn’t explain the meaning.” The man murmured.
Next they moved through the plains. They came across a large crowd weeping about a dead body. The widow was almost a child and curiously enough the philosopher thought her smiling inwards as if death came as deliverance; later in the evening the man who was with the philosopher asked, “What is the meaning of life? We were among the dead today.”
Confucius said,” Life holds mysteries and death is merely letting the youth free from the yoke of the old.” The man again asked the master, “What is the meaning of life?”
Confucius pretended as if he didn’t hear him. He said,” I have to go to the City on an urgent business. You may come if you want to.” He nodded.
Before they entered the City they had to pass through a village, which was almost deserted except for the womenfolk and children. Upon enquiries they were told that a great prophet had come to the nearby village holding sermons about the life after death. Meanwhile a man came into view. When the philosopher was told that he was the only one who stayed back, he wanted to speak to him.
Confucius asked if he weren’t interested in the life after death? The man said, “First things first. Being poor I must look after the needful things first, my family needs me. Who will look after them in this life if I were to run after a life which neither the prophet nor anyone else has seen, let alone lived it?”
Turning towards the man who was constantly pestering him as to the meaning of life, the philosopher said, “If you really want to know the meaning, here is the man for you.” With these words he pressed on towards the City.
* Riddle of your life no one can solve but yourself. If you have succeeded you may be pointed out by many as a pioneer. There are so many ways of doing it. To be a pioneer it must be self-evident and can throw light on many knots people needlessly make. Don’t take my word it. Try it yourself.

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Tsekung, a disciple asked Confucius,”Do the dead have consciousness?”
“Why don’t you wait till you are dead? Then you are bound to know.”
Confucius told the following story: Once I was walking in the mountains and saw a woman weeping by a grave that was fresh. I asked her what was her grief, and she dried her tears and replied,” We are a family of hunters. My father was eaten by a tiger. My husband was bitten by a tiger and died. And now my son.”
“Why don’t you move away from this place then?”
“No,” replied the woman.
“Why not?”
And the woman replied,”Because there are no tax-gatherers here.” (Family tradition of Confucius.)
Chiwentse said to Confucius,”I always think thrice before I act.”
Confucius replied,”To think twice is enough.”
Confucius said,”If a man does not say to himself, ‘What shall I do? What shall I do?’ Indeed I do not know what shall I do with such a person.”
Confucius said,”If a man discovers his mistake and does not correct it he is committing his second mistake.” (The Analects)
Tailpiece(being half of the wit of Confucius):
Mao Tse Tung on spotting Confucius went to him and introduced himself. ” Greetings. I am Chairman Mao. I have heard so much about you. Aren’t you pleased?”
The shade of Confucius politely, “I haven’t heard anything about you. Ahem, Am I not pleased?”

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