Analects of Confucius Book 6 — Book 10: five remarks on ritual from Confucius

Ritual keeps you centered. It prevents your emotions from swinging too far in one direction or the other. Ritual maximizes the intensity of your experiences. It imbues every action with purpose and meaning. These are the two most significant messages that Confucius communicates in these five remarks on ritual in Book 6 to Book 10 of the Analects.

Remarks on ritual
“A leader who expands their learning through culture and keeps their behavior in check through ritual is unlikely to go wrong.

“Reverence unregulated by ritual descends into indifference; cautiousness unregulated by ritual descends into timidity; boldness unregulated by ritual descends into disorder; frankness unregulated by ritual descends into hurtfulness.”

“Find inspiration with the Book of Songs; build character with ritual; achieve perfection with music.”

“According to ritual, the ceremonial cap should be made of hemp; these days it’s made of silk. This is more economical and I follow the general practice. According to ritual, you should make your bow at the bottom of the steps; nowadays people make their bow at the top of the steps. This is arrogant, and even though it goes against the general practice I make my bow at that bottom of the steps.”

“Serving the duke and his ministers at court; serving my elders at home; mourning the dead with proper reverence; not being troubled by drink: how could I find any of these things difficult?”

Book 6, Chapter 27
Book 8, Chapter 2
Book 8, Chapter 8
Book 9, Chapter 3
Book 9, Chapter 16

I took this image in the ancient water town of Wuzhen, which is located just a couple of hours from Shanghai by High Speed Train.



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Richard Brown

I live in Taiwan and am interested in exploring what ancient Chinese philosophy can tell us about technology and the rise of modern China.