Wednesday, October 15, 2008

On being a gentleman - Mencius

The virtue of a just and benevolent man spreads faster than an order transmitted from posting station to posting station.

A gentleman has a sensitive heart which cannot bear to see suffering in others.

The feeling of compassion is the beginning of benevolence;
The feeling of shame and self-reproach, the beginning of righteousness;
The feeling of courtesy and modesty, the beginning of propriety;
The feeling of right and wrong, the beginning of wisdom.
These four beginnings are like the four limbs of man and to deny oneself any of these potentialities is to cripple oneself.

A man has to live with himself; so he should see to it that he is always good company.

A virtuous man cannot be led into excesses when wealthy and honoured, or be deflected from his purpose when poor and obscure. Nor can he be made to bow before threats of violence.

Do not wait until next year to put an end to anything that is wrong or unrighteous now.

If others do not respond to your love with love, look into your own heart;
If others fail to respond to your attempts to teach and lead them, look into your own wisdom;
If others do not return your courtesy, look into your own motives.
In all cases, examine yourself whenever you fail to achieve your purpose.

A man has to overcome all pettiness before he can achieve greatness. He must decide what he should not do, and then he is able to concentrate on what he should do.

Even when unexpected vexations come his way, a gentleman refuses to be perturbed by them.

In making friends with others, do not rely on the advantage of your age, rank or powerful connections. Friends are chosen for their virtue, nothing else.

There is goodness out of adversity. Exhaustion, hunger, hardship, poverty, bitterness and frustration will stimulate a man’s mind, toughen his character and make good his defects.

Rectify the mistakes in others by first rectifying them in yourself.

A bad year cannot starve one who has accumulated sufficient wealth; a wicked generation cannot confound one who has laid up a full store of virtue.

If a man build up the nobler part of his nature, then the baser part cannot overcome it.

A great man forever retains the heart of a child.

From 'A Gentleman's Code', edited by Philip Chew Kheng Hoe

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Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)

Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)
Kiyomizudera Temple has a large veranda looking out over Kyoto and beyond