Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Words of a Junzi

Most Yi students, Confucians and Daoists would know or have heard about the Junzi or the superior man in their studies. There are many things that a person needs to do and/or cultivate before he or she can become a Junzi. It is not easy otherwise Confucius would not have elaborated so much about the ways of a Junzi as recorded in the Analects and said that he aspired to be one. If you have not discerned it, the Judgments, Images and the lines in the Yijing delved into the proper conduct of a Junzi and the ways to master his or her fate.

If one aspires to become a Junzi apart from watching one’s actions, we also need to be discreet with our words.

More so if the words are to be spoken to the general public at large in forums, blogs and websites, via books or to reporters. It is a heavy responsibility for any aspirant Junzi. Mr. Ban, the new UN chief from South Korea, probably found out the hard way on his first day of work when he spoke on the legitimate execution of Saddam Hussein in Iraq while the UN is against capital punishment.

Perhaps he has not read or has forgotten about what Confucius had taught. “The reason why the ancients did not readily give utterance to their words was that they feared lest their actions should not come up to them.” ‘The cautious seldom err.’ And ‘The superior man (Junzi) wishes to be slow in speech and earnest in conduct.’ [Analects 4. 22, 23 & 24 Legge]

Hopefully, Mr. Ban holding such a high public office will aspire to be a Junzi or even a Da Ren and be a bit more circumspect when he next speaks on the same or other global issues. We need good leaders to help generate world peace and not words to spark more conflicts.

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