Strength Comes from Having No Desires

One day, when teaching his students, Confucius (1) could not help but sigh, "I
have not yet seen a truly strong person."

His young students felt strange
about these words because they thought students like Zilu and the young Shen Cheng
had strong willpower. In particular, Shen Cheng, though very young, would never
compromise easily. Even around his elders and fellow students, Shen Cheng would
not hide his tough attitude. Everyone gave in to him to a certain extent.

when the students heard Confucius sighing about having never seen a truly strong
person, they all responded spontaneously, "If you’re going to talk about
strength, Shen Cheng should deserve this title."

Confucius said, "Shen
Cheng has many desires. How can he be called strong?"

A student asked,
"Shen Cheng does not look like a greedy person. How could Teacher say that
he has many desires?"

Confucius replied, "So-called ‘desires’
do not necessarily mean craving for money. To put it simply, a selfish thought
that makes one struggle to have an advantage over others is a desire. Although
Shen Cheng is upright, he is fond of gaining superiority, and often becomes sentimental
easily. This in itself is a kind of desire. How could a person like him be called

Confucius continued, "So-called ‘strength’
does not mean gaining superiority; instead, it is the strength to forbear. Only
if one controls his desires, never goes against the ways of heaven, is consistent
in his mind, and does not change his principles easily, can he be called truly

From Lun Yu (2)

(1). Confucius (551 – 479 BC)
was a famous Chinese spiritual Master. His teachings about morality have deeply
influenced East Asian life and thought for two thousand years.

(2). Lun
Yu, or Analects of Confucius are a record of the words and acts of the Chinese
Sage and Saint Confucius and his disciples, as well as the discussions they held.
The Chinese title of Lun Yu literally means "Sayings of Confucius".

Posting date: 17/June/2006
Original article date: 17/June/2006
Chinese Culture


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