Early leader, Confucius, or Kongzi, believed in developing and maintaining Goodness in their lives. Big G to emphasize humaneness, benevolence and virtue within a person. Goodness is greatly associated with human flourishing, as well as 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, as Kongzi also believes that is an essential part in learning how to be Good. These analects and challenges in life can help work towards finding Goodness.
Kongzi and his philosophies are stated in 20 books/analects. In Book One of these analects, chapter three states, “A clever tongue and fine appearance are rarely signs of Goodness.”
I think that this is a great passage to begin on. It’s short and sweet. Kongzi is explaining the concept that being smart and quick to remark, is not always the best quality to have. It shows ignorance and arrogance, and lack of care for others and how they potentially feel. If we are not kind to others, or even have the decency to understand others, we will not be considered Good. As well as being quick to respond, we can’t just go through life thinking that an outward appearance is all that matters. Being Good on the inside is really what matters. Having character and being an inwardly Good person is what will count. So, 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.
Book One also includes this passage in chapter six, “A young person should be filial when at home and respectful of his elders when in public. Conscientious and trustworthy, he should display a general care for the masses but feel a particular affection for those who are Good. If he has any strength left over after manifesting these virtues in practice, let him then devote it to learning the cultural arts.”
This to me, really means that someone should be Good both at home and in public. It doesn’t matter where we are, or who we’re with. Showing care for others and learning what we can from others is vital for personal and overall human development. And once we’re done caring for the masses—even though, really, that’s not possible—we can devote my time to learning other practices and rituals in culture and arts. Both of these values and teachings help create a lively and necessary balance for continual growth.
Book Four, chapter two states, “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.”
If we are not seeking Goodness or maintaining the Goodness that we have, we won’t be able to appreciate the harder times, and we won’t be able to feel true happiness. Happiness and strength comes from trial and error. We can receive long-term benefits from short-term hardships. When this occurs, we will begin to feel “at home in our Goodness.” We will feel that it’s something a part of me that’s aiding me 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. Therefore, it’s vital to endure hardship to grow character and lasting happiness.
Book Six, chapter thirty explains, “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.”
I believe that this passage is almost self-explanatory. Not only should we never stop being Good in the concept itself, we shouldn’t keep that to ourselves. We should try to inspire others to adopt the same mindset and practice. We should take on the challenge to help others find themselves, and honor everything they are about being human beings. That’s what Kongzi states is a true method of Goodness.
My last reference goes to Book Seven, chapter thirty. It states, “Is Goodness really so far away? If I simply desire Goodness, I will find that it is already here.”
I think this is the cherry-on-top to what has been previously stated. It ties it all together. If we’re practicing all the things that Goodness is and can bring, then it’ll become a habit as a result. Because it will become a habit, we’ll feel that it won’t be so far away—and that what we’re reaching for really isn’t unachievable. One of true Goodness never goes against it, and Goodness should become a habit that is always trying to be improved. When we’re doing our part, and putting in the necessary effort, Goodness will be right around the corner.
When we’re mindful of our lives and aware of the ways we can continually change it for the better, we will find our sense of Goodness. 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. I believe that Kongzi is 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 upright sources to be applied to enlighten modern day life.
You should begin practicing them and applying them to life; you’ll see great changes.
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