The Analects of Confucius

Topics: Confucianism, Virtue, Family Pages: 5 (1789 words) Published: December 6, 2012
The theme of benevolence is the core theme throughout the Analects. Benevolence is defined as the desire to do well to others, or to perform kind, charitable acts. Benevolence has three levels: personal, social and political. By reflecting on one’s faults and words, one can bring themselves to eventual improvement and make the development of character and virtue possible. The reflection of one’s self is being personally benevolent. To be socially benevolent is to be benevolent with family and friends, such as following the filial piety. To be politically benevolent is to make one worthy of governing a nation. A man who is unsuccessful at being benevolent is unworthy. Confucius states, “Wealth and rank attained through immoral means have as much to do with me as passing clouds. (VII, 16, 88)” Within the Analects, it states “When you meet someone better than yourself, turn your thoughts to becoming his equal. When you meet someone not as good as you are, look within and examine your own self. (IV, 17, 74)” This quote shows that you always need to work and reflect on yourself, which is considered personal benevolence. There is always a need to better yourself, because no one in the world is perfect. We all have our own flaws, but we tend to point out the flaws in others, rather than point out flaws in ourselves. Confucius also stated, “Wealth and high station are what men desire but unless I got them in the right way I would not remain in them. Poverty and low station are what men dislike, but even if I did not get them in the right way I would not try to escape from them. (IV, 5, 72)” We have to be true with ourselves and get things that we desire truthfully and honestly. If we do not get those things honestly, then we as humans are unworthy of our lives. That is why when people steal from others, they go to jail and get fined. You have to work for what you want and get it honestly, instead of stealing from others who have worked hard for what they got. Confucius himself was a benevolent man in my eyes; he earned and worked for what he wanted. “At 15 I set my heart on learning; at 30 I took my stand; at 40 I came to be free from doubts; at 50 I understood the Decree of Heaven; at 60 my ear was attuned; at 70 I followed my heart's desire without overstepping the line.(II, 4, 63)” Confucius believed in effort to perfect human life. The fully realized person attains that status through effort, not because he was born with some special endowment or talent that the rest of us do not possess. Becoming an accomplished person is not comparable to having a lot of money in the bank. It is not a matter of possessions or degrees or patents or Nobel prizes. It is a style of life, an ethical attitude, a lifelong sense of monitoring one's behavior in order to improve it. Confucius suggests that you can save yourself. Things that can make our life is extraordinary are just within our grasp if we make the effort. Being personally benevolent is the first step to becoming benevolent because you have to be true, trustworthy, and respectful to yourself before you can be socially benevolent. The next step in being benevolent is being benevolent to your family and friends. Confucius states, “The gentleman devotes his efforts to his roots, for once the roots are established, the Way will grow therefrom. Being good as a son and obedient as a young man is, perhaps, the root of a man’s character. (I, 2, 59)” In order to help others, then, it is best that one focus one’s efforts on one’s own character. If one succeeds in developing a better and better ethical character, then one will succeed inevitably with respect to becoming a ‘polestar’. People will look up to you, and emulate your behavior. So if you have a good character, they will try to acquire the traits (or virtues) that you possess .To be a good son you must not make any changes to your fathers ways after he is dead, which means being respectful of the way he did things. To be a good...

Cited: Confucius, and D. C. Lau. The Analects (Lun Yü). Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979. Print.
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