2500 years ago Somewhere in Ancient China
This was the warring period in China with many warlords controlling different territories and a period of utter chaos. A captured retinue of people were awaiting the leader of the warlord for discussion with regards to their well-being. There were terrified and very anxious about their future. They huddled close to each other and look pensively at their Master. Master was huge, well-built and looked lovingly at his followers. He smiled and joked and said all is fine. His followers were stunned by his mental calmness and superlative demeanor. The leader of the warlord called the Master and the Master with an equanimous mind met with the warlord. The warlord after meeting the Master suddenly calmed down and after a brief exchange let him and his group go free. He was Master Kong also known as Confucius. This is a superlative example of Equanimity. If you read some of the Analects of Confucius and in one he mentions being aware of thoughts. Confucius was always mindful in his own way all his life.
In this article, I would argue that Confucius was more than a philosopher, take a few instances from his life and give an interpretation of the quote. Do not compare the length of this article to previous one, since I had planned to write this one for some time.
“If you think in terms of a year plant a seed; if in terms of 10 years plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people” by Confucius (Master Kong)
A seed is like a new-born baby, its needs utmost care and nourishing during the first formative years. A seed needs to be water every day in a fertile soil so during the first year you need to put more effort. Here seed is a metaphor. When you start your venture or undertake any work, you need to be very focused and dedicated to your task. After a period of one year, the seed develops vitality to gain strength and evolve into a sapling. Over a medium term which is 10 years, a tree needs consistent care although less focused compared to a seed. Trees provide shade to rest or give fruits while either can be consumed for personal gratification or can be economized. Over the medium term, any venture after the first start-up phase, after it receives seed capital, angel investing, (maybe series funding), develops a prototype and starts selling the product and service generating revenue. It might not be profitable but has started generating cash flows. The seed becomes a sapling and a sapling becomes a tree. During the formative years, it needs care but starts generating fruit over a time. Similarly, any venture if successful over the initial years (able to raise seed funding and successfully implements the business plan) clears the first hurdle and starts developing into a venture.
A society develops into a civilization over 100 years. To develop into a civilization, a society needs to be sustainable in innovation and growth. Teaching people equips skill sets to earn their livelihood but to make it more progressive and sustainable, one needs innovation. Teaching begets teaching, innovation begets innovation. To teach someone to farm helps in sustaining livelihood through consumption of crops and over a time wage for labor. But over a period of time for incremental productivity, innovation is a must. Innovating could be through better discoveries of fertilizers, better equipment and better irrigation of crops. There could be much more and here the example is only an analogy. If you look at all great civilizations, there survived through constant innovations and teaching people is the best way to address the problem. Teaching here does not mean only academic knowledge. We will come to this at a later date. Similarly look at all the top companies in the world today. They are there because they constantly and iteratively innovate to increase productivity, bottom line etc. Teaching people helps in imbibing better skill sets to think creatively to address problems at hand.
Coming back to the life of Confucius, Confucius lost his father when he was young and was brought up by his mother. The untimely death of his father brought poverty for Confucius and his mother. I read somewhere that Confucius mother used to stay outside classrooms to listen to lectures of school teachers and taught her son at home. Confucius grew up to become a very successful in his career and was absolutely incorruptible. He renounced everything to lead a very moral life educating the masses in China.
Confucius lost all his loved ones in his life. His son and his close followers had died and during the last few hours of his life, his disciples tried to cheer him up through various means. They portrayed heaven to motivate Confucius but this did not affect Confucius. He is a subtle manner admonished his followers and until the end lived in the present moment with a tranquil mind. This is one of the greatest barometer and litmus tests of spiritual leaders. Confucius also had the ability to prophesied the future and that’s why maybe fortune cookie so much ingrained in Chinese Culture. Confucius will always be more than a philosopher. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were great philosophers and humans and among them, Aristotle did give a lot of importance to look within oneself. I am not an expert on lives of all the philosophers, however, Confucius went a further in his spirituality.
I came to know about the life of Confucius very late in life. An incident happened in my life which made me take a very close look at his life. I hope equanimity between China and India prevails. Two of the oldest civilizations flourished because they lived in peace. China’s history is replete with many similarities and stunning respect for each other’s culture. I hope it remains that way. I wanted to write something on this topic for some time and it fit well with the theme.
Confucius was a spiritual leader and a great philosopher whose of the Analects still hold. If you do not economize you will agonize.
If I do not economize this website, I will surely agonize. I write arctiles which I find inspirational and thsi one was pending for sometime.