When Confucius in a Hard Time


Confucius once said about his favourite disciple, “Hui is a great gentleman. With a bamboo bowl of rice and a gourd-cup of water he lived in an alley of poverty. Others could not have endured his misery but Hui has never changed his happy disposition. Hui is a real gentleman.” (Analects 6:11)   In 489 BC Confucius and his followers entered a war zone, and they were surrounded by hostile armed men for seven days with no food except wild herbs. But Confucius’s spirits were not dampened and he kept singing to his zither. Gent-Road said, “A gentleman in such conditions, can he be said to be destitute?”


Confucius said, “What a truth you have spoken! A gentleman is rich if he has Tao but poor if he has departed from Tao. Now I have the Tao of benevolence and righteousness as my goal. Even though we are hard-pressed by a chaotic time, how can you say we are destitute? We have the Tao within, and have virtue to help us face the trouble. In the winter of snow and frost we notice only the flourishing green pines and cypresses. How lucky I am to live in such a trouble time!” Confucius again played his zither singing. Gent-Road was so excited by his master’s words, he took over a buckler and started dancing, and all the disciples joined the singing. ( Chung Tzu, Chapter 28; Analects , 15.2)

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