Confucius' Merry Laugh and Angry Curse
When reading the Analects of Confucius, we could find out that there are abundant with proverbs in the works, and often think that Confucius always says such kinds of proverbs in his life.
As a matter of fact, it is misunderstood.
Like all of us, Confucius enjoys and tastes sorrow, joy, separation, reunion, as well as happiness, anger, grief and pleasure just as all other common people do. In addition, he has a sense of humor.
He dares to cry.
The scene that Confucius cried for Yanhui, was so touching that it moves the heaven and everyone.
Yanhui died at 40 years old, when Confucius was 71. The old saw the young pass away, he cried hysterically.
According to the New Explanation on The Analects of Confucius, he wept anguishingly with tears, saying, ah！How could I possibly stand this, it’s going to kill me! The people standing around lamented that the master was too grieved! Confucius replied sorrowfully，who else on the earth should I feel mourning for, if I didn’t feel grieved for him! However, what’s out of his expectation was that, in the following year, one of his beloved students, Zilu died, too. By referring to the Kung-yang chuan, Ai-kung 14th year, we could learn that Confucius wept extremely grieved over again, saying: Ah! The Heaven is going to put an end to me!
He dares to scold.
According to the Gongye Chang, Analects of Confucius, Zaiyu slept in the daytime (day sleep) and was discovered by Confucius, consequently, suffered serious lashing.
He said: “Decayed wood cannot be carved; Wall made of dung earth cannot be trowelled! For you, I’ve got nothing to say”. The “Trowel” literally means making the surface of wall flat or trowelled; the “Dung earth” refers to scuzz or dunghill. Here, Confucius scolded Zaiyu as decayed wood and dung earth, equivalently scolded him as useless trash. And even “For you, I’ve got nothing to say”: literally means that for Zaiyu, my goodness, I don’t know how I should scold him!
The cause for Confucius’ condemnation over Zaiyu is no more than his “day sleep”. However, it can not be judged just by means of superficial circumstances, we get to trail out the reasons from Confucius' following statements. Confucius said: “Once I recognized others usually by what they say and believed they will abide by what they promise”; yet, for right now, I have to “recognize them by what they say and observed how they put what they promise into practice.” I changed this perception ever since the case of Zaiyu. It could be learned that, why Confucius scolded Zaiyu was mainly because he failed to keep his promise.
Surely, Zaiyu, in fact, is also one of Confucius’ students. Later on, when Zigong engaged in “Sage-making Movement”, Zaiyu had made great endeavors. According to Gong Sun Chou I of the Works of Mencius, Zaiyu even said, “In my opinion, our Master was far superior to Yao and Shun”, which literally means that Yao and Shun are even inferior to Confucius. It might be out of Confucius’ expectation that his coaxing bollocking even helped to transform Zaiyu into his “unshakably permanent” loyal follower. But why?
Confucius and His Students
There are multiple of reasons.
Culturally, Confucius inherited the past and forged ahead into the future. Academically, Confucius was outstanding and renovated the essence of great achievements which were made by the preceding sages. Morally, Confucius conducted what he preached. In terms of teaching, Confucius drew his students on with kindness, and taught them with tireless zeal. I will not illustrate these well-known reasons except one, i.e. Confucius’ personality charisma of truthfulness and sincerity.
He is sincere.
He did not hide his hatred or loathe against others. According to Zilu of the Analects of Confucius, once, Zigong made a request for Confucius about how someone could be called “Shi”. “Shi” was one sort of special class or rank by then, approximately equivalent to “intellectual” today. However, from the perspective of Confucius, a class or rank shall be matched with “individual comprehensive capacity, intelligence and moral grade”. Taking “Junzi (Gentleman)”as an example, originally, it refers to a class or level (aristocracy); still in the view of Confucius, it also means individual comprehensive capacity, intelligence and moral grade. Therefore, the identification or rank of “gentleman” is far less for some one to be admired as gentleman unless he’s endowed with the comprehensive grade and nice self-cultivation.
Confucius said: one could only be called “Shi”, provided that he or she cherished feather, comprehended shame and succeeded in accomplishing the Emperor’s order when being designated to visit various countries and regions. Zigong asked: How about the class inferior to Shi? Confucius said: clansmen apprised him of being filial towards parents; villagers commended him as being polite to the old. Zigong continued, how about the class further inferior to Shi? Confucius said: Promise must be kept and action must be resolute. This category of class is no more than superficial and tenacious flunky, yet they could be perfunctorily classified into the furthest inferior class. Zigong asked again, “What did you think of people engaging in politics?” Confucius showed an instant despising expression, saying, “There’s no any tiny need of counting those people who are mere pecks and hampers!” Peck refers to measuring bucket; Hamper, means basket for carrying meals. Pecks and Hampers mean those short-sighted and un-magnanimous people. It can be learned that Confucius’ comments over the people in authority is even inferior to the flunky. More noticeably, Confucius’ despising attitudes were all displayed openly without any mince matters. Couldn’t we call him a man of temperament?
He is lovely.
Confucius favored in music and could sing as well. According to Suer of the Analects of Confucius，when Confucius sung together with others, and if one sung well, he would surely invite that one to sing once more, then he “followed the rhyme.” Confucius was one hundred percent willing to accompany the one he found he sung better. Let's think about it, don’t you think this Confucius is exceptionally lovely?
Confucius has one student named Yanyan, when he served as leader of Wucheng city, Confucius once paid him a visit. According to the Yanghuo of the Analects of Confucius, on arriving at the Wucheng, Confucius heard “the sound of Xuan Ge”. Confucius smiled, and said “why break a butterfly on the wheel?” The meaning of the sentence is quite clear: Is it necessary to establish normal education undertakings and perform music education for such a small place of palm size? Yanyan replied: Student has learned from Master that a gentleman would have loving heart if he studies music, even flunky will be obedient once they learn music. Confucius corrected himself at once, saying, “Dear Students, what Yanyan says are quite right, I was kidding just now.”
He is lonely.
The true Confucius is very lonely. According to the Xianwen of the Analects of Confucius, Confucius said to Zigong once: “No one understands me!” Zigong asked: “Why no one could understand you?” Confucius said: “Don’t complain of the Heaven, nor blame on others (don’t impute all wrongs and faults on others), learn from the very basic fundamental step by step, manage to attain the highest level (studying from the fundamental to support the higher learning). The only one that understands me in the real sense, shall be the Heaven! (It’s the Heaven that understands me!)”
This paragraph is a little bit difficult to comprehend. Taking “studying from the fundamental to support the higher learning” as an example, there are several explanations. But one thing is quite clear, that is, Confucius thinks that no one really understands him.
He is sad.
But what makes Confucius sadder, is probably that his dreams can not be fulfilled, and his proposals failed to be executed. According to Family Pedigree of Confucius of Shih Chi, the dying Confucius said to Zigong: “It's been quite a long time for the world to lose justice (there’s no justice in the world for quite a long time). No one could succeed my thoughts, and help me fulfill the unfinished undertakings.” When Zigong heard this, he might not take it seriously, “How could it be no one? We students, aren’t we your successors?” However, I just think that Confucius has told what he truly thought in his deep heart. His thoughts might not be able to be fulfilled even up to now. What the following generations admired is no more than a distorted Confucius. However, this is something the old Master could not manipulate.
This is exactly the Confucius I understand from the Analects of Confucius. He has blood and flesh, he is true and sentimental, he does not draw a veil over something, he does not play airs and graces, and sometimes, he might be charmingly naïve. Or maybe, this is what Confucius should be like. He is a great master in culture. He is a heart-losing frustrated official servant. He is a model teacher. He is a lonely superior. He is a man of temperament. That’s universally known. Ever since Confucius’ founding of Confucianism and Confucian School, he and his theories and school thereinafter turn out be the object the following generations must face, and the topic that couldn’t be evaded. No one could go beyond that by means of any by-pass.