An Ancient Chinese Philosophy Technique of Life.
In 551 – c. 479 BCE in China, early leader, Kongzi Confucius believed in developing and maintaining Goodness in their lives. Big G for Goodness to emphasize humaneness and within a person. He believed in creating and living by your personal morals and virtues.
Goodness is greatly associated with human and community flourishing. But there are several aspects that come with seeking Goodness and attaining such. These challenges are made to shape us as human beings and as Kongzi also believes, they’re an essential part in learning how to be Good. Kongzi taught these concepts and discussed these challenges with his people to encourage their chasing and finding Goodness.
The analects I’m mentioning today are from Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy which include several of his teachings.
Book One: Chapter 3
“A clever tongue and fine appearance are rarely signs of Goodness.”
A short and sweet passage by Kongzi that explains the concept that being smart and quick to remark is not always the best quality to have. That it can show ignorance and arrogance in your character and lack of care for others. If we are not kind to others or even have the decency to try to understand them, we will not be considered Good. Caring about others is a big reflection of who you are on your own. And Goodness comes from caring about and taking care of yourself as well as caring about and taking care of others.
It’s important to refuse to go through life thinking that an outward appearance is all that matters; and that being Good on the inside is really what matters. Having character and being an inwardly Good person is what will count in the long run. This applies personally, professionally, and socially. Being quick to judge can be a bad habit to get into. Instead we should focus on how to be both inwardly and outwardly Good.
It doesn’t matter where we are or who we’re with. Showing genuine interest in others and learning what we can from them is vital for our personal and overall human development. It’s vital for continual, personal growth.
Remember that character counts. Growth happens when you decide to care about treating yourself well and treating others well. It all matters.
Book Four: Chapter 2
“Without Goodness, one cannot remain constant in adversity and cannot enjoy enduring happiness. Those who are Good feel at home in Goodness, whereas those who are wise follow Goodness because they feel that they will profit from it.”
Without the search of inward and outward Goodness, you won’t be able to truly appreciate the harder times. And you won’t be able to feel true happiness.
Our happiness and strength comes from trial and error. With every trial there’s something to learn. You’ll receive long-term benefits from short-term hardships if you’re willing to learn from them. When this occurs, you’ll begin to feel “at home in your Goodness.” You’ll feel that it’s something part of you that’s aiding you in the right direction. Those who feel that they can profit from manipulating others who are Good will have a harder time finding the right direction. So it’s vital to endure hardship to grow true character and lasting happiness.
Book Six: Chapter 30
“Why stop at being Good? Such a person should surely be called a sage! Desiring to take his stand, one who is Good helps others to take their stand; wanting to realize himself, he helps others to realize themselves. Being able to take what is near at hand as an analogy could perhaps be called the method of Goodness.”
Not only should we never stop being Good in the concept itself, we shouldn’t keep that to ourselves. We should be in the world inspiring others to adopt the same mindset and practice. We should take on the challenge to help others find themselves too. Inspiring others to honor everything they are about being human beings can be incredibly fulfilling. This is what Kongzi would state as a true method of Goodness.
Book Seven: Chapter 30
“Is Goodness really so far away? If I simply desire Goodness, I will find that it is already here.”
The cherry-on-top. How it ties it all together. I’m a big believer in energy and to some degree, I believe that Goodness was the ancient beginning of finding your inner energy. Chasing Goodness is a practice of seeing everything that Goodness can bring you. It’s a path to enlightenment. Eventually, the chase will become a habit as a result.
What you’re reaching for really isn’t unachievable. Goodness should become a habit of constant and personal improvement. When you’re doing your part and being intentional with the way you live your life, Goodness is around the corner.
When we’re mindful of how we live our lives and are aware of the ways we can continually change it for the better, we will find our sense of Goodness; of purpose and meaning.
I believe that a great part in this journey is also accepting the fact that it’s a hard thing to do. The best part of finding true benevolence and joy is enduring the struggle to get there. Kongzi was a big believer of this fact as well. These analects and many other references to Kongzi’s ancient philosophies are what I believe to be the most effective way to live purposefully in modern day life.
Once you start practicing and applying them to your life, you’ll see amazing changes.