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Tag Archives: #Confucius#

子曰:“吾十有五而志于学,三十而立,四十而不惑,五十而知天命,六十而耳顺,七十而从心所欲,不逾矩。”《论语》

zǐ yuē:“wú shí yǒu wǔ ér zhì yú xué,sān shí ér lì,sì shí ér bú huò,wǔ shí ér zhī tiān mìng,liù shí ér ěr shùn,qī shí ér cóng xīn suǒ yù,bù yú jǔ。”《lùn yǔ》

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Humans go through physiological life stages from baby to child to teenager then to old age. What about psychological life stages?

Here, I would like to share the life stages presented by Confucius, and it puts into perspective the advice given by Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba.

The best interpretation, or one that helped me make sense of Confucius’ saying is this post on the following site:
https://m.ruiwen.com/news/64708.htm
(I do not vouch for the site)

Confucius says,

“When I was fifteen, I started on my pursuit of life’s path/ career (being open to questioning and devote in finding my path);

(After many years of hard work)
when I was thirty, my understanding of life, my path was set firmly;

when I was forty, I no longer doubt my life decisions (my career path is set);

when I was fifty, my inner and outer world finds alignment. I have found (act out) my mission in life. I practice what I preach (No mid life crisis here) 五十而知天命.

when I was sixty, I realised that life is complex and I begin to accept – the positive and the negative views – and not be upset;

when I was seventy, I had the freedom to do whatever my heart desires, within the rules of this world [that I have observed throughout all of my life].”

Examining Confucius, I realised that Jack Ma’s sayings are built on philosophical foundations, just like in the Western world if you quote Socrates.

What Jack Ma says (probably building on the sayings of Confuscius) :

“When you are 20 to 30 years old, you should follow a good boss [and] join a good company to learn how to do things properly,” Ma said. (Learn as much as you can.)

“When you are 30 to 40 years old, if you want to do something yourself, just do it. You still can afford to lose, to fail,”

“When you’re 40 to 50 years old, my suggestion is you should do things you are good at.” Instead of diving into a new field or subject toward the later years in your career.

“When you are 50 to 60 years old, spend time training and developing young people, the next generation,” Ma added.

“When you are over 60 years old, you better stay with your grandchildren.”

Source:
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/30/jack-ma-dont-fear-making-mistakes-in-your-20s-and-30s.html

磨刀不误砍柴工 
mó dāo bú wù kǎn chái gōng

Grinding an axe will not hold up [delay] the work of cutting firewood. Spending time preparing your axe may quicken the speed of your work.

Story goes that two men were chopping wood. One started ahead. The second man just continued grinding his axe. The first man, very conceited, was anxious to find out who fell more trees ? It was the second man.

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Photo of Ainu carving by master wood carver Takeki Fujito in Tsuruga Wings Lake Akan, Hokkaido, Japan

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Desk of Japanese Carver Kengo at Lake Akan Ainu village

Half way through chopping, the first man’s axe had become dull and blunt and it took him more effort and time to fall one tree.

工 欲 善 其 事,必 先 利其器
gōng yù shàn qí shì,bì xiān lì qí qì

“工欲善其事,必先利其器”
孔子告诉子贡,工艺的人,要想把工作完成,应该先把工具准备好。

What then for someone who manages the state?

居是邦也
Jū shì bāng yě

事其大夫之贤者,友其士之仁者
Shì qí dàfū zhī xián zhě, yǒu qí shì zhī rénzhě

孔子说:“工匠要做好工作,必须先磨快工具。住在一个国家,要侍奉大夫中的贤人,与士人中的仁人交朋友。” 

那么为仁是用什么工具呢?住在这个国家,想对国家有所贡献,必须结交上流社会有道德的人才,乃至政坛上的大员,政府的中坚;和这个国家社会上各种贤达的人,都要交成朋友。有了良好的关系,然后才能得到有所贡献的机会,完成仁的目的。
Source: Baidu with words in italics added by me

(The Baidu translation gives the impression that Confucius advised one should network with the rich, influential and powerful. But Confuscius emphasised seeking out the benevolent ones because his disciple Zigong’s question was on benevolence (仁).

When asked by his disciple how one should prepare to manage his country benevolently, Confucius noted in the “Analects” that just as a workman has to prepare his tools, an official preparing to govern a country benevolently must prepare his tools too.

Confucius advised that (humans being social creatures), one should seek out and befriend good and respectable talent in all levels of society.

How does a knowledge worker polish his tools?

Today, Confucius would have advised us, knowledge worker, what is the tool of your trade? Have you been spending time polishing it before cutting your tree.

Translation and reinterpretation by me.