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The Essential Confucius: The Heart of Confucius' Teachings in Authentic I Ching Order Hardcover – February, 1998
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Cleary presents the core teachings of the great Chinese philosopher, educator, and social critic in a convenient, easy-to-read format. Sayings from Confucius's Analects, or collection of aphorisms, are arranged in small groups by topic following his commentaries on the I Ching, or Book of Changes, the most profound of the Chinese classics. These remarks, which were incorporated into the I Ching itself, afford, as Cleary says, "the most convenient lens through which to view the ideas of Confucius systematically." This elegant organization makes it simple for the reader to consult the great sage readily on the wide variety of subjects with which he was concerned--including morality, etiquette, diplomacy, and social responsibility. Cleary's translation captures all the simplicity and directness of Confucius's eminently practical approach to life: "Be dutiful at home, brotherly in public; be discreet and trustworthy, love all people, and draw near to humanity. If you have extra energy as you do that, then study literature." The introduction provides solid philosophical and historical background, and notes on each of the 64 sections provide further insight into the subtleties of Confucian wisdom. --Uma Kukathas
Top customer reviews
As an example.
On page 86; the author lists trigram #36
Then on page 87 lists the following analects 6:11, 14:32, 1:16, 2:17, 8:1, and 15:29.
I would suggest that you leave this book alone, and buy a book with the full analects.
The book consists of sayings from the Book of Change that are complimented by the dialogues from Confucius's from the Analects. Although these two works are from different authors, Confucius's Analects was heavily influenced by The Book of Change and these two works meld together in Cleary's fluid arrangement. Thomas Cleary assists the reader in the understanding of the main elements of Confucianism by providing notes in the back of the book and a short writing explaining the historical context of the two works in the introduction.
Following the success of the book on the Tao, Cleary turned to another pillar of ancient Chinese thought, and developed this further volume in the 'Essentials' series, The Essential Confucius, the heart of Confucius' teachings in authentic I Ching order.
Confucius is a confusing character to classify. He does not fit the characterisation of the typical religious leader. He certainly did not mean to found a religion. Confucius was an educator, a social critic, a politician, and philosopher.
'"The Analects of Confucius" are a basic source for a wide range of advice on human affairs--from governing nations and managing enterprises to dealing with society and getting along with others.'
Confucius is much more than the author of fortune-cookie proverbs. In this work, Cleary has set forth the sayings of Confucius in the order of the sixty-four classic I Ching hexagrams. Many of these sayings are reduced (and likewise dismissed) as fortune-cookie sayings; however, taken together with the commentaries of Confucius, these give profound insight into the human condition. The I Ching, or literally, Book of Change, is a book which Confucius studied and promoted. Thus, to use it as a guide to Confucius' own writings is appropriate and authentic.
Confucius tried to stimulate people into original thinking, into independent thinking. It is ironic that so many times in history that original thinking has been suppressed in favour of Confucian purity -- a perennial danger in any religion.
An example of Cleary's technique is in order:
Book of Change
Good people examine themselves and cultivate virtue
- Confucius said, 'Study as though you will not reach, as if you may lose it.' (8:17)
- Confucius said, 'The virtue of balanced normalcy is consummate, it seems, but it has been scarce among the people for a long time.' (6:29)
Cleary presents the I Ching, the setting of Confucius proverb, and then various commentaries upon it. Through the sixty-four sayings and commentaries, one gets a sense of exegesis similar in character to Mishnah and Talmud as well as various Christian commentators.
Confucius above all believed in the responsibility of the learned to the ignorant, the powerful to the weak, and the wealthy for the poor. Each individual is entrusted with potential to serve the greater good of all, not just himself or herself. These are words that are worthy hearing and elevating, and not dismissing as after-dinner quips.
May your reading be truly enlightened in the virtues of humanity, justice, courtesy and wisdom.
On the other hand, I do think that this is an excellent place to begin your Confucian search. If you just need a little prod or poke of his truths, then this is a nice, concise handbook. Nothing, however, can be substituted for the full Analects.