21. The Analects of Confucius (c. 490 BC)

Contents: 20 ‘books’ of quotes by the Chinese philosopher Confucius and his disciples
My thoughts : In modern Western parlance, the name Confucius is a stereotype for wisdom, but few people would be able to say they know much of what he actually said or taught. Much of what is written here is via analogy to third parties and their actions and remains obscure, but certain threads are repeated throughout, often about the moral way to live, the value of learning, and direction in what it means to be benevolent, wise, courageous, reverent and truthful, for its own sake, rather than any reward of heaven or earthly gain.
None of the “sayings” I have seen attributed to Confucius appear in the Analects, and Confucius has probably become a convenient name to hang various anonymous snippets of triteness upon. Read the Analects if you want to seriously consider self-betterment – they are a good start.
Favourite lines/passages:
“Every day I examine myself on three counts. In what I have undertaken on another’s behalf, have I failed to do my best? In my dealings with my friends, have I failed to be trustworthy in what I say? Have I passed on to others anything that I have not tried out myself?” Book I

“When you meet someone better than yourself, turn your thoughts to becoming their equal. When you meet someone not as good as you are, look within and examine your own self” Book IV

And his description of himself as “the sort of man who forgets to eat when he tries to solve a problem that has been driving him to distraction, who is so full of joy that he forgets his worries, and who does not notice the onset of old age” Book VII

Personal rating : at its heights I would rate the Analects at 5/10.
Next : The Old Testament of the Holy Bible. My copy since I was a boy and never read is the Authorised King James version, although I have been advised that there will be some words and phrases so removed from everyday understanding as to prove impossible to understand even in their context, so a copy of a more recent version kept nearby might be essential for reference.

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