To be able under all circumstances to practice five things constitutes perfect virtue; these five things are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness and kindness.
I had the good fortune to attend a lecture and discussion last week on Confucianism. It was an excellent program and reminded me of the wisdom imparted by Confucius over the centuries. It was also helpful for the attendees to be reminded that Confucianism is not a traditional religion but a guide for living. In fact it is not mutually exclusive with organized religion; you can be a Christian, Jew or Muslim and benefit from the precepts of Confucius.
For me it is its belief that cooperation and harmony are worthwhile goals and that adversarial relationships result in non-productive conflict. I think that in today’s highly partisan society we would benefit with more cooperative problem solving than we ever will by battling against each other.
A few things from the Analects which were communicated via the writings of Confucius’ disciples that hit home for me are:
“The Master said, A gentleman who never goes on eating until he is sated, who does not demand comfort in his home, who is diligent in business and cautious in speech, who associates with those that possess the Way and thereby corrects his own faults – such a one may indeed be said to have a taste for learning.”
To me this reminds us that if we spend all our time in material pursuits we will have little time to enrich our lives and benefit from the wisdom of others. It also reminds me that having the biggest house or biggest TV does not make me a better person.
“The Master said, (the good man) does not grieve that other people do not recognize his merits. His only anxiety is lest he should fail to recognize theirs.”
I can think of few things in life more important than “to thine own self be true.” I believe that it is I who must establish my values and then live up to them. We should strive to be able to end each day and look back and say “I did the best I could and I did it well.” It is when I strive for the approval of others, feeling that their values are superior to my own that I can stray from what I might become. I also believe that each of us has a duty to recognize the good works of others, learn from them and make sure that they know we appreciate what they do.
Of course there is much more of the wisdom of Confucius that is worth our time. I know I’ll again revisit his teachings for I can use all the help I can get.
Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.
Q: What is it when a man talks nasty to a woman?
A: Sexual harassment.
Q: What is it when a woman talks nasty to a man?
A: $3.99 a minute.
Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.
Lefkowitz was a very pious old man, who had lived his life according to the Commandments, never asking anything, always giving to others. Finally, wanting to have something for himself, and to experience the other side of life, he began to pray to God.
"Lord", he said, "All my life I have tried to be good, to follow all your Laws and Commandments, and to always help others, never asking anything for myself when I have prayed to you. Now that I am old, I am finally asking for something for myself. All that I want is to win the Lottery, so I can have a comfortable old age."
For year after year, he repeated this prayer, and nothing would happen. Finally, in despair, he again prayed to God, saying "Why have you abandoned me? Is this all I am to have in life? All I have ever asked you for is to just once to win the Lottery. What have I done wrong that you punish me this way?"
And an aggravated voice boomed down from the heavens, saying, in exasperation, "Lefkowitz, BUY A TICKET ALREADY!!!"
If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself.
Signs That You Live In 2009
1. You just tried to enter your password on the microwave.
2. You call your son's beeper to let him know it's time to eat, he emails you back from his bedroom.
3. Your daughter sells Girl Scout cookies via her web site.
4. You chat several times a day with a stranger from South Africa, but you haven't spoken with your next door neighbor yet this year.
5. Your grandmother asks you to send her a JPEG file of your newborn so she can create a screen saver.
6. You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home.
7. Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn't have the first 20-50 years of your life, is cause for panic and turning around to go get it.
8. Cleaning up the dining room means getting the fast food bags out of the back seat of your car.
9. You hear most of your jokes via e-mail instead of in person.
10. You're reading this.
It is more shameful to distrust our friends than to be deceived by them.
An old Jewish man and a young Jewish man are traveling on the train. The young man asks: "Excuse me, what time is it?" The old man does not answer. "Excuse me, sir, what time is it?"
The old man keeps silent.
"Sir, I'm asking you what time is it. Why don't you answer?!"
The old man says: "Son, the next stop is the last on this route. I don't know you, so you must be a stranger. If I answer you now, I'll have to invite you to my home. You're handsome, and I have a beautiful daughter. You will both fall in love and you will want to get married. So tell me, why would I need a son-in-law who can't even afford a watch?"
Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
"I think a really funny joke would be for NASA to send up rockets and push a bunch of planets out of alignment. Then they could sit back and laugh when everyone realizes that their horoscopes aren't coming true."
It is better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness.
Stay well, do good work, and have fun.
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