14 Foundations and Basics of the Analects and Quotations from the Analects

14 Foundations and Basics of the Analects and Quotations from the Analects

What is the Analects?

The Analects is a book containing sayings and deeds by Confucius, a thinker of the Chinese Spring and Autumn period, and his disciples, and is considered the scripture of Confucianism initiated by Confucius. It is the most read book in Chinese history and is also known as one of the "Four Books" (Analects, University, moderation and Mencius) in the Zhu Zi school founded in the Southern Song dynasty. There are many hints for deciphering life's doubts and worries, as well as many proverbs derived from the Analects that are still handed down today, and we will introduce the basics and a collection of quotations from the Analects in this issue.

What was Confucius like?

Confucius was born in Lu around 550 BC and died in 479 BC. He was an ancient Chinese thinker, philosopher, and founder of Confucianism, and is considered one of the four great saints along with Buddha, Christ, and Socrates. Confucius is credited with systematizing Confucianism, which until then had been as primitive as shamanism. Confucius founded Confucianism on the basis of the "Zhou rites" and "rituals" established by Zhou Gongtan, the founder of the Lu Dynasty. Confucius also wished to put his ideas into practice in the political arena, but this did not come to pass, and his achievements and ideas were not recognized until after his death. It is said that Confucius was very particular about what he ate and drank, and he did not eat inferior food, and was quite a gourmet in those days.

Life of Confucius

Confucius is said to have started out in the state of Lu (now Qufu, Shandong Province). His father was a soldier in the service of a weak force, and his mother was reportedly a priestess, so it seems that he grew up in a relatively low-status family. Confucius lost his father when he was three years old and his mother when he was 17 years old, but he worked diligently and mastered the study of etiquette (so-called manners of the time). He married at the age of 19, had a child the following year, and was in the service of Lu by the age of 28. At Lu, he managed warehouses and ranches. At the age of 36, Confucius also went into exile in Qi, following his master who was exiled to Qi after a failed coup d'état. After returning to Lu, he did not serve as an officer for long, but instead devoted himself to the education of his disciples. It was during this time that many of his disciples (Yan Hui, Zigong, Zhongyun), who would become prominent, were initiated into the discipline. After that, he had several opportunities to be appointed to the national government but failed, and at the age of 52, he was appointed as the director of the capital city of Lu by Dinggong, the 26th monarch of Lu. The following year, he was praised for his success in detecting a plot by an enemy vizier during an event, and was appointed as a supreme judge and diplomat, serving several years before retiring in 497 B.C. He was to serve as a disciple and a diplomat for the next 13 years. For the next 13 years, he and his disciples traveled from country to country, and after returning to Lu, he devoted himself to classical studies, including branch studies, until his death at the age of 74. After Confucius' death, Confucianism was continued by his grandson Zizhi, who also became a disciple of Mencius, who advocated the idea of sexual morality. The Analects introduced here were compiled and written by his disciples after his death.

What are the 20 Arguments?

The Analects are contained in 10 volumes (10 upper and 10 lower), but they are not to be read in order like the Bible or a story. The words in each volume are not in the same order as in the Bible or in a story. The words in each section are quotes from Confucius, and it does not matter where you start. It is important to note, however, that the words of the Analects are short and fragmentary, so they can be interpreted in many different ways by different readers. Therefore, reading the Analects is a matter of seeing oneself reflected in the words of the Analects and finding one's own interpretation, which may or may not be of any use, depending on the reader's reading style.

Quotes from the Analects

The following is a collection of some of the most famous sayings in the Analects.

People who use compliments and a put-on smile have little virtue.

Those who try to take advantage of the situation by cleverly putting on a good front are lacking in compassion.

If you learn from the history and understand the present age, you can become an excellent teacher.

It means to study the old from history and classics and to gain new knowledge from them. It is also called "warming the old and learning the new.

To learn and to review those you learned are pleasure. To see a friend from far is a joy. Not to have a grudge even if you are not appreciated by others. It is gentlemanly..

A like-minded friend came to visit me from far away. What fun! It is used in the sense that an unexpected visit from a friend is a joyous occasion, but originally it seems to have meant that those who aspire to study together will surely share the joy of each other's company in due course.

If you see righteousness and do nothing, you will lack courage.

Those who know the right thing to do, but do not do it, lack courage. The analogy would be to turn a blind eye to it.

At fifteen one aspires to study, at thirty one stands up.

At fifteen you set a goal in life, at thirty you achieve greatness. After this, he will "not be lost at 40 (forty and bewildered)," "know your destiny at 50 (fifty and deadly)," "listen to what others say at 60 (sixty and obedient)," and "be a good student at 60. At the age of 70, he no longer strayed from the path of others even if he acted as he wished (seventy obedience).

One who knows is no match for one who likes. One who likes is no match for one who enjoys.

Knowing something is no better than liking it. I guess it means that to be good at something, it is important to be familiar with it. Incidentally, this phrase is followed by "He who likes this is no better than he who enjoys it," so perhaps the best way to improve at something is to enjoy it.

The virtues are not solitary. It is always next door.

A virtuous person or a virtuous act is not isolated, and there will always be followers and people who understand. It may be a little different, but it reminds me of the movie "PAY FORWARD".

The people shall have this. Do not let them know this.

The people should obey their rulers, not let them know why they should obey them.  In other words, the people should be made to obey the politician and not be made to understand why they should obey him. It is quite a frightening word.

Hear the way in the morning, and you may die in the evening.

If you can understand the psychology of life in the morning, you will have no regrets if you die in the evening. These words express a strong desire for ambition and the attitude of pursuing to achieve it.

You do not know life yet, and you do not know death yet.

How can we know death when we do not yet know what life is? In other words, it means that it is more important to think about what we are doing now, while we are alive, than to think about death.

To err and not change is called an error.

You have made a mistake, but you do not change it. This is a mistake. We are grateful for these words, but Shinran said, "If you have the right karma, you should behave in any way," and in the Suddara-bushi, he sometimes sang, "I know I know, but I can't stop.

Awe of posterity.

The duty entrusted to you is grave, and the road you must go is far. Incidentally, Tokugawa Ieyasu, based on these words, said, "A man's life is like a distant path with a heavy burden to bear. Do not be in a hurry.

Take care of yourself and the path will lead you.

The duty entrusted to you is grave, and the road you must go is far. Incidentally, Tokugawa Ieyasu, based on these words, said, "A man's life is like a distant path with a heavy burden to bear. Do not be in a hurry.

The child does not speak of a monstrous and turbulent god.

These are not the words of Confucius, but the words of his disciples who praised him, meaning, "The teacher did not speak of monstrous and turbulent gods (phenomena and events that make no sense). In other words, it is a warning to be careful of such words and actions.


These are the basics and quotes from the Analects. These are just a few of the quotes that we have introduced in this article. If you are interested in them, you may want to read them yourself. Perhaps you will find a word that will unexpectedly lead you to a solution to a problem in your daily life or a guideline for your life.
Quoted from "The Analects of Confucius" translated and annotated by Osamu Kanaya (Iwanami Bunko, Ao 202-1)

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