My dream project has always been to write a new code of conduct for seafarers — a credo that would lay down for them a path to self-realisation and a way of life, something similar to the Bushido of the samurai warriors. I am slowly working on it. This undertaking will take some time to finish. Meanwhile, let me share some words of wisdom from Confucius. Although the latter lived more than 2,000 years ago, his teachings should resonate with today’s ship officers and other merchant marine professionals.

The following sayings were taken from ‘The Analects of Confucius’ by William Edward Soothill, a Methodist missionary to China and a leading British sinologist. The book was pubished in 1910.

Ability

The noble man is pained over his own incompetency, he is not pained that others ignore him.
— Confucius: Analects

Broad-mindedness

The nobler type of man is broad-minded and not partisan. The inferior man is partisan and not broad-minded.
— Confucius: Analects

The wise man in his attitudes towards the world has neither predilections nor prejudices. He is on the side of what is right.
— Confucius: Analects

Character

Let the character be formed by the Poets; establshed by the Laws of Decorum; and perfected by Music.
— Confucius: Analects

Duty

The man of Virtue puts duty first, however difficult, and makes what he will gain thereby an after consideration, — and this may be called Virtue.
— Confucius: Analects

Foresight

Ponder untiringly over your plans, and then conscientiously carry them into execution.
— Confucius: Analects

Friends

There are three kinds of friends that are beneficial, and three that are harmful. To make friends with the upright, with the faithful, with the well-informed, is beneficial. To make friends with the plausible, with the insinuating, with the glib, is harmful.
— Confucius: Analects

Honour

The man of honour thinks of his character, the inferior man of his position. The man of honour desires justice, the inferior man favour.
— Confucius: Analects

A man of honour never disregards Virtue, even for the space of a single meal. In moments of haste, he cleaves to it; in seasons of peril he cleaves to it.
— Confucius: Analects

“The man of Virtue puts duty first, however difficult…”

Confucius at the “Apricot Altar”, mid-17th century
Kano Tanyu (Japanese, 1602–1674)
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Human nature

A man’s faults all conform to his type of mind. Observe his faults and you may know his virtues.
— Confucius: Analects

Humility

I will not grieve that men do not know me; I will grieve that I do not know them.
— Confucius: Analects

Knowledge and learning

Learning without thought is useless. Thought without learning is dangerous.
— Confucius: Analects

He who keeps on reviewing his old and acquiring new knowledge may become a teacher of others.
— Confucius: Analects

It is not easy to find a man who has studied for three years without aimng at pay.
— Confucius: Analects

Leadership

He who governs by his moral excellence may be compared to the Pole-star, which abides in its place, while all the stars bow towards it.
— Confucius: Analects

If you govern the people by laws, and keep them in order by penalties, they will avoid the penalties, yet lose their sense of shame. But if you govern them by your moral excellence, and keep them in order by your decorous conduct, they will retain their sense of shame, and also live up to standard.
— Confucius: Analects

Lead them with dignity and they will be respectful; be filial and kind and they will be loyal; promote those who excell and teach the incompetent, and they will encourage each other.
— Confucius: Analects

Personal conduct

The well-bred are dignified but not pompous. The ill-bred are pompous, but not dignified.
— Confucius: Analects

The nobler man is calm and serene, the inferior man is continually worried and anxious.
— Confucius: Analects

If not right and proper, do not look, if not right and proper do not listen, if not right and proper do not speak, if not right and proper do not move.
— Confucius: Analects

The Wise man has nine points of thoughtful care. In looking, his care is to observe distinctly; in listening, his care is to apprehend clearly; in his appearance, his care is to be kindly; in his manner, his care is to be respectful; in speaking, his care is to be conscientious; in his duties, his care is to be earnest; in doubt, his care is to seek information; in anger, he has care for the consequences; and when he has opportunity for gain, his care is whether it be right?
— Confucius: Analects

Self-restraint


The self-retrained seldom err.
— Confucius: Analects

The men of old were reserved in speech out of shame lest they should come short in deed.
— Confucius: Analects

 

“The nobler man is calm and serene…”

Statue of the Master at the Confucius Temple, Beijing
Photo credit: David Morrow

Social Relations

With respect you will avoid insult, with magnanimity you will win all, with sincerity men will trust you, with earnestness you will have success, and with kindness you will be well fitted to command others.
— Confucius: Analects

He who works for his own interests will arouse much animosity.
— Confucius: Analects

The man of noble mind seeks to perfect the good in others and not their evil. The little minded man is the reverse of this.
— Confucius: Analects

Status and Rank

One should not be concerned at lack of position; but should be concerned about what will fit him to occupy it. One should not be concerned at being unknown; he should seek to be worthy of being known.
— Confucius: Analects

Wealth and Money

With coarse food to eat, water for drnk, and a bent arm for a pillow, — even in such a state I could be happy, for wealth and honour obtained unworthily are to me as a fleeting cloud.
— Confucius: Analects

The Wise man is informed in what is right. The inferior may is informed in what will pay.
— Confucius: Analects

~ Barista Uno

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