Confucius: The Way to Becoming a Gentleman Lies in Understanding Virtue

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Confucius, named Qiu and also called Zhong Ni, was a resident of Lu kingdom (today's Qufu County in Shandong Province). He was a great educator, statesman, and thinker. He founded Confucianism to administer world affairs and enrich people's lives. He took it as his mission to promote morality and beneficent governance, and his avowed aspiration was unfaltering through numerous tribulations. His pursuit of the truth and an ideal and wholesome character; his uprightness, kindness, modesty, and propriety; and his loyalty to the country and concern for the populace all deeply touched his students and later generations. The following are a few stories of how Confucius guided his students to become gentlemen.

Gentlemen regard virtue as jade

Once Zi Gong sought advice from Confucius, "Teacher, may I take the liberty to ask why a gentleman considers jade more precious than precious stones? Is it because jade is rarer?"

Confucius answered, "Jade is precious not because it is rarer, but because the quality of jade corresponds to a gentleman's virtue. It corresponds to such virtues as benevolence, wisdom, righteousness, propriety, loyalty, and trustworthiness, and it also corresponds to the ways of the heaven and earth. Jade is mild and gentle, just like a gentleman's benevolence;. Jade has a fine texture yet it is solid, just like a gentleman's wisdom, his careful, meticulous and thorough way of handling things. Though jade has edges and corners, it is not sharp and will not hurt others, resembling a gentleman's sense of justice and uprightness. When the jade is hung, it symbolizes a gentleman's polite restraint and prudence. When it is struck, it releases a clear and spirited sound, akin to the nature of music. Though jade is beautiful, blemishes are also obvious, but they will not obscure its merits. Just like a gentleman's loyalty, it's without bias and without a need to conceal. In addition, the color of jade can be seen from all angles. Just like a gentleman's trustworthiness, his behavior is consistent with his words. Even in a dark room, he is trustworthy and will not cheat others. Jade is crystal like, glittering and translucent as a white rainbow, like the white clouds in heaven, which harmonize the heavens and correspond to the heavenly principles. The spirit of the jade can be seen in the landscape, like 'when jade lies in a deep pool, it makes the river enchanting. When jade rests in the mountain, the grass becomes luxuriant.' Wherever it is, it's bound to have an effect, just like a gentleman's noble demeanor can harmonize a myriad of things and benefit an entire area. Nowhere would people not cherish jade, and that is because people respect and admire a gentleman's virtue. The noble virtues are the manifestation of heavenly principles."

Gentlemen understand the principles

Zi Lu once turned to Confucius for advice, "Teacher, do gentlemen also have their worries?" Confucius answered, "No, a gentleman cultivates himself and understands virtue. In the course of his studies, he will focus on the Dao and often enlightens to certain principles in that realm. When he personally validates the teachings of the saints and the sages, he gains a deeper understanding of the principles and applies them benevolently and skillfully to his life as he deems fit. Therefore, a gentleman is someone who understands the true meaning of life and enjoys lifelong happiness. He will not have personal, vested interests in mind. A gentleman's worries are not worries about personal fame and gain, but worries about the entire world. What they shoulder is responsibility and consideration for others, a manifestation of a selfless and altruistic realm. Those who don't pay attention to cultivating morality are not like that. When they do not obtain the personal interests they are after, they worry. After obtaining them, they worry about losing them. They worry about gaining or losing in everything; therefore, they live in constant worry and fear and do not have a day at ease and happy. "

Chinese traditional culture has always emphasized morality. Only when people revere morality can they elevate their ideological realm. Gentlemen will follow heavenly principles and follow the saints and sages' teachings to conduct themselves. Gentlemen will uphold morality all the time and not get mired in society's dark forces. Gentlemen can accept others due to their magnanimous breadth of mind, they can awaken the kind thoughts in people's minds, and they affect people everywhere with a pure and compassionate heart.

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