Today, September 28, is supposedly Confucius’s birthday (his 2,567th, according to historical accounts). September 28 is also celebrated as teachers’ day in Taiwan, the native place of many of our CAIS employees and families. The connection between the two occasions makes sense, as Confucius was first and foremost a teacher. Over the years, I have written a lot about Confucius and Confucianism to the CAIS community (some would say ad nauseum). For those of you who are interested, many of these writings are archived here (you’ll need to scroll through the titles).
This year, in celebration of the birthday of China’s first sage, I want to reflect on a passage from the Analects of Confucius that is among my favorites:
Sān rén xíng bì yŏu wŭ shī yān;
zé qí shàn zhĕ ér cóng zhī;
qí bù shàn zhĕ ér găi zhī.
When walking with others I am bound to learn from them as my teachers;
I will select their good qualities and follow them;
Their bad qualities and correct them in myself.
I like this passage, as it reminds me that whomever I am with, I can always learn something new and valuable from them—just so long as I keep an open mind. This is particularly true (perhaps exclusively true) when I am with others whose points of view are new to me or differ from my own. On the flip side, if I am walking with others whose experiences and thinking are similar to mine, then I probably won’t be pushed to learn much. In other words, I can become cognitively lazy.
I’m guessing Confucius would have... » read more