Traditional Chinese Culture: “Compassionate People Enjoy Mountains While Wise People Enjoy Water”

By Qing Yan

Confucius told his students, "Wise people enjoy water while compassionate
people enjoy mountains. Wise people have a personality that is as lively as
water while compassionate people are as quiet as a mountain. Wise people live
happily while compassionate people enjoy longevity."

Zizhang asked Confucius, "Why is it that compassionate people enjoy seeing

Confucius said, "Mountains are lofty and majestic. Then, why is it that
compassionate people enjoy seeing them? This is because mountains have abundant
bushes and trees and numerous birds and animals, and they produce all things
that people need; the resources are inexhaustible in supply and always available
for use, and yet the mountains never ask people for anything in return. People
from far and near come to get what they need, and mountains always generously
offer what they have. Mountains can also stir up winds and thunder and create
clouds and rain to link heaven and earth and harmonize Yin and Yang energies,
bringing rain to water all things on earth, so that they can grow and people
can have food and clothes as a result. This is the reason why compassionate
people enjoy to see mountains."

Zigong then asked, "Why is it that wise people enjoy seeing water?"

Confucius said, "Water naturally moistens all living things on earth,
like people’s moral virtues. Water runs downstream, winding its way, but keeping
a certain direction; it is like justice, surging with turbulent waves without
ending, and even if it falls into an abyss ten thousand feet deep, it shows
no fear. It is soft, and yet it gets everywhere; all things become fresh and
clean after being washed with water, as if it is good at educating people. Isn’t
this the character of wise people?"

"Compassionate people enjoy mountains, while wise people enjoy water"
is a classical doctrine of the Confucian school, which uses the offering of
mountains without asking anything back to symbolize the characters of compassionate
people and the soft and far-reaching quality of water to symbolize the characters
of wise people.

Posting date: 13/Dec/2006
Original article date: 11/Dec/2006
Category: Insight


Leave a Comment