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Confucius Versus Modern Chinese Thinking, Part 1

Popularity 8Viewed 11340 times 2016-5-11 04:00 |System category:Life| government, personal, history, Chinese, Versus

Confucius is revered in China as the wisest man in Chinese history. His thoughts not only dealt with daily living, such as, relationships, social action, personal development, attitude and right thinking, but, he also influenced government and shared his wisdom on governing justly.

As the West has come to realize that materialism and the pursuit of money and luxury is futile and really doesn't satisfy the human soul, they have turned to ancient Chinese wisdom. They have turned to the wisdom of Lao Tse, Confucius and others to guide them in how they should think for living a life of true success. 

In China, much of the ancient wisdom has been downgraded or outright forgotten. The pursuit of money, material possessions, status and prestige are obviously all about society and are now driving the lives of many.

An old Chinese professor recently pointed out to me how Chinese have abandoned ancient Chinese wisdom and thought. Though Chinese culture throughout the world is being promoted through what is called 'Confucius Institute', the wisdom of Confucius is now largely ignored.

I decided to become a student of Confucius and study his writings in order to learn and understand his philosophy. Much of his philosophy was summed up in notable quotes that he spoke. As I began to study these and learn them so that I might apply them to my own life, I also remembered the old Chinese professor and what he said. It was quite easy to see the contrast and contradictions between the ancient wisdom and modern Chinese thought. So I embarked upon a personal project of studying this subject. Now, I want to share it with others in hopes of resurrecting these life impacting and shaping thoughts.

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in getting up every time we do." - Confucius

The heart of this quote is that you realize and accept that there are times in life that you will fail. But, as we like to say in the West, 'failure is never final unless you quit.' In the West today, we respect the person who says, "I'm not perfect, but, I am striving to learn more every minute of every day." We have come to realize that 'perfection' is not something that is found in reality. The wise man says, "I know nothing" while the ignorant man says, "I know everything."

The wisdom of Confucius is profound. Not just in the hearing of his thought, but, most importantly, in the application of the thought. It is good, right and honest to know that you aren't perfect and that no one else is either. In teaching my students English, if I make a mistake and realize it, I quickly let them now that I did and give them the right answer. For me, 'looking good' or 'having face' has to do with whether I taught my student the right thing rather than just me saving face. I don't care about 'face' nearly as much as I do about teaching the truth.

When we fail, we don't quit. We keep going. Sometimes we encounter things that we will never overcome, but, we don't stop. We move on. We reach higher. True wisdom is knowing that you will fail, admitting when you do (the student respects the teacher who is honest with them and despises the teacher who pretends perfection), correcting your mistake or failure and get up again.

This is the true wisdom of Confucius. This is the way our children (in the East and in the West) should be taught. Integrity will always win out over pretension. Confucius had it right. His wisdom can guide your life and bring you true lasting success, but, only when you embrace what he said and apply it in your daily life and character.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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Reply Report Ted180 2016-5-18 19:34
Thanks. We agree on a lot.

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Michael is the author of the transformational book, Powerful Attitudes. He is a professional educator, an educational consultant, an author. He lives in Zhengzhou, Henan Province. He enjoys playing guitar and writing poetry. He loves China.


Recent comments

  • Amazing Chinese Student 2018-6-16 15:05

    Great story.

  • Can Chinese Education Change? 2018-5-16 10:53

    I think foreigners are advanced on writing (working)style that we could see if we compare the dictionary of English and Chinese with each other! Chinese scientists and teachers must tell stories in plain words to children and leave more free space for the latter to do logical thinking all by themselves. That is the direction of Chinese education-reform. We must first realize our disadvantages on schooling and then do some operations for changing and improvement!  Never copy foreign things on appearance!
    For more, please check my recent writings on education!

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