I’m thinking about Confucius. I’ve heard his name hundreds of times in my life. But what I don’t know is when, where, and how he lived. A long time ago, yes. China, yes.
Of course we know him as a philosophical teacher. But he was also an editor, politician, and advisor. This, during what is called “the Spring and Autumn period of Chinese history.” He was born in 551 BC. And died in 479 BC. So there you have it.
The philosophy of Confucius emphasized personal morality. It also called for governmental morality — if you can imagine such a thing.
I’ve read bits and pieces about that era of history, and frankly, I don’t care enough to stick with it. There is a lot of talk about overlapping topics, like:
“the victory of Han over Chu after the collapse of Qin”
And other things, such as:
“the help of his prime minister, Guan Zhong, Duke Huan reformed Qi to centralize its power structure”
I am quite sure all those smatterings of power struggles and territorial strains were very important at the time, but frankly, it’s all too much for me. Especially now when our great free country is being headed by a dictator and forty percent of the people are supporting this.
Yet. Somewhere, in all the historical muddiness, is the reason why Confucius had so much clout as a philosopher. I get gleanings that he “knew” somebody. But these days, we know him because he used to say things. A lot of things.
The one I heard this morning, and the reason for all of this was as follows:
“I hear, I know. I see, I remember. I do, I understand.”
When I started taking this one apart, I realize old Connie must have been some kind of super human.
“I hear. I know.”
Well, he’s got me beat. Half the time, I hear things and I don’t have any idea where that “noise” was coming from. Just last night, I was walking the dogs at dusk. I heard quacking. Like a duck. Loud quacking. I am pretty sure the dogs heard it too. As all three of use were looking around for Houdini the Duck. Nonetheless, we never found one. And the quacking stopped eventually. After we went in the house, closed the door, and could not hear it any more. But. In our case. He heard. We did not know.
Next item Confucius does in his quote.
“I see, I remember.”
Well. Shuckey Dern. I see things all the time that I do not remember. In fact, as hard as I try, I cannot remember them. And as memories go, I have a pretty good one. I’m blaming this on the “Grocery Store Phenomenon,” as this is where it seems to happen most frequently. It is there, where people come up to me and say, “Hey Polly! How have you been Polly? So good to see you again. Blah. Blah. And. Blah. Blah.”
I have absolutely no idea who they are. I saw. But I cannot remember. Strike two.
Finally from the quote. Confucius says.
“I do. I understand.”
This one confounded me. It unraveled me. It seems, in my life at least, the more I do, the less I understand. There may have been a time in my youth when I thought I “knew it all.” But the older I get, the more I realize: I don’t really know anything for certain. It all hangs in the balance. Every moment could go this way. Or that. Who knows.
Finally, you have to take his quotes with a grain of salt. People assign his names to all sorts of sayings. Another one I found this morning:
“Anyone can find the switch after the lights are on.”
That’s great adage, and all. But they didn’t have electricity or light switches back in 479 B.C.
You can quote me on that.
Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it. — C
Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. — C
Wherever you go, go with all your heart. — C