Annotation and revised translation by Rodney L. Taylor, Ph.D. Skylight Illuminations, 135 pp. $16.99. Twenty-six centuries ago, long before the Buddha found enlightenment and the birth of Islam or Christianity, Confucius laid down principles in the "Analects." Here Taylor, a professor of religion at the University of Colorado and America's foremost researcher of Confucius, explains the teachings and "Way of Heave." "Confucius speaks in remarkably simple words and a gentle tone, yet the meaning of his teachings can occupy a lifetime of learning," Taylor writes.
(Boulder Daily Camera
In the West, the works of Confucius are frequently referenced, sometimes in jest, but too rarely actually read. Taylor (religious studies, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder) presents here a brief digest of selections from the fifth-century Chinese sage. He adapts the 19th-century translation by Legge and adds his own notes and commentary. VERDICT The ethical precepts of Confucius, with all their ambiguities, are finding new audiences in China, so this new selection has added importance for religious and non-religious readers alike. (Library Journal
During an extensive reporting trip to Asia in 2008, I joined a dozen journalists for an afternoon with some of the world's top China scholars. As journalists, one of our first questions was: "What should we read to understand China?" We assumed these scholars would recommend their own recent books. Instead, after a brief huddle, the scholars told us to read one book: The Analects.
One reporter asked: “Who’s that by?” Pens were poised around the room. The scholars blinked at us.
The truth is: Most Westerners only know the name Confucius from throw-away lines in American movies and TV shows with vaguely Asian themes. If an American wants to dive into the Analects, Amazon lists dozens of choices. Most are tough slogging for general readers. Now, Dr. Rodney Taylor—the scholar who wrote the Confucianism volume that you’re likely to find in a local library—has teamed up with SkyLight Paths to give us Confucius, the Analects: The Path of the Sage, Selections Annotated and Explained. Finally, we’ve got a friendly introduction in less than 150 pages. Taylor agrees with those scholars who addressed the journalists a few years ago, writing: “Confucianism is not a historical relic of a philosophical value system, but a living tradition of great religious and spiritual depth.” Its core principles revolve around the nature of moral goodness within ourselves, our families and our world. Confucius is essential reading for anyone hoping to understand the challenges and strains within China today. Thanks to Taylor and SkyLight, we’ve got a welcoming doorway into the Analects.
(Read The Spirit
Confucius (551-479 BCE) still reigns as one of the most notable figures in the history of human thought. He was a sage whose broad range of interests included philosophy, ethics, education, social criticism, and politics. In our time when corporations are violating the rights of workers and the poor, when government is caught up gridlock and both political parties are pawns of wealthy and powerful lobbyists, and when the gap between the rich and the poor is growing; it is edifying and illuminating to read once again the wise commentary of this ancient sage who believes in the virtues of humility, justice, courtesy, trust, learning, and respect for elders.
Rodney L. Taylor is the foremost American researcher of Confucius as a religious and spiritual figure. He has written the annotations which accompany the text in this volume in the SkyLight Illuminations series. The "path of the sage" or "the Way of Heaven" is grounded in goodness, which defines the proper relation between persons. In the Analects, Confucius says that to practice goodness (jen) is to practice "gravity, generosity, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness." Imagine a society where greed, selfishness, fear, anger, and hatred were replaced by these five virtues.
The book is divided into thematic sections on Confucius' humanity, the Noble Person, filial piety, ritual and music, learning, truthfulness and righteousness, the teaching of goodness, the single thread, tradition, the way of Heaven, and self-knowledge. At one point in the Analects, Confucius says, "There are three things of which the Noble Person stands in awe. He stands in awe of the ordinances of Heaven. He stands in awe of great men. He stands in awe of the words of the sages." Reading this passage and thinking about the contemporary over-use of the "awesome," we've concluded it would be helpful for more people to use the term "awe" as a spiritual one relating to the feeling of high regard for something grand, mysterious, or sublime.
(Spirituality & Practice
Confucius's wisdom was so strong, many consider it a religion in itself despite no claim of divinity from Confucius. "Confucius, the Analects: The Path of the Sage" discusses the wisdom of Confucius, who for thousands of years has had his words and philosophies studied. Rodney L. Taylor works with translator James Legge to explore one of his most famous works and help readers understand why Confucius and his studies are still very important in the modern day. "Confucius, The Analects: The Path of the Sage" is a must for anyone who wants to apply this ancient yet wise philosophy to their life. CONFUCIUS,
"Follow[s] in the footsteps of the best of the East Asian Confucian tradition in presenting a judicious, readable and creative commentary on the words of the master in order to introduce Confucian philosophy and spirituality to an expanded audience."
—Dr. John H. Berthrong, associate professor of comparative theology, Boston University School of Theology
"A lucid, heartfelt and succinct presentation … with special attention to the depth of [Confucian] teachings as a Way of life dedicated to learning the Way of Heaven…. Deftly brings to light layers of meaning and moral wisdom that address the human condition, both in the time of Confucius and today."
—Judith Berling, professor of Chinese and comparative religions, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley; past president, American Academy of Religion
"Rigorous in scholarship, and yet accessible to the general public. [Taylor's] exposition on the single thread, in particular, will greatly illuminate the unifying core of Confucian teachings for the reader."
—Derek Lin, translator and annotator, Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained
“Provide[s] us with valuable reflections on the significance of the Analects for our times…. A unique contribution [that] will become its own Way of Learning.”
—Mary Evelyn Tucker, Yale University; co-editor with Tu Weiming of Confucian Spirituality
“The most thoroughly researched and absorbing work of its kind on Confucian and indeed classical Chinese religious, educational, social and ethical thought in general known to me in my more than forty years of college-level teaching in religious studies.”
—Frederick M. Denny, professor emeritus of religious studies, University of Colorado at Boulder
“A timely and welcome addition to the growing corpus of books that highlight the relevance of Confucianism in the contemporary world…. Unabashedly personal … with an emphasis on [Confucianism's] religious dimensions.”
—Richard Shek, professor of humanities and religious studies, California State University, Sacramento
“Becoming morally mature while continuing to learn—what could be more relevant in the world today? Rodney Taylor's [volume] provides an inspiring guide to this goal in a new reading of the Chinese classic that also takes into account its profound practical relevance. A must read!”
—Livia Kohn, Boston University; translator and annotator, Chuang-tzu: The Tao of Perfect Happiness—Selections Annotated & Explained