I have recently been reading a lot of books in association with Confucius & his teachings, especially the “Analects”. Confucius is a very famous Chinese sage (and teacher), whom lives during the 500 BCE (that is around 2500 years ago). His most famous contributions to the world is a book called “The Analects”. I have always wondered what it contains and have only had the opportunity to learn a little bit of it now.
To the little that I know of this book, I had an impression that it comprises of a series of events and happenings throughout Confucius life. Certain teachings make a whole lot of sense (more blowing) and are definitely applicable in today’s world but there are some which are kind of weird and perhaps even contradicts what we know of today. Hell, it even contradicts Confucius earlier story in earlier chapters. Anyway, I came upon this book by Prof Yudan. I really liked the book titled “Confucius from the Heart”. It is Prof Yudan’s interpretation of “The Analects”. The Analects is a series of books with many volumes. What Prof Yudan did was summarizing The Analects and focused on the essence of it.
Today, I am going to talk about what Confucius teaches with regards to choosing your friends. Ok, for those of you, who have never heard of this before, allow me to tell you this. Generally, Chinese believes in choosing their friends carefully. Friends that you mix with can aid or ruin you. So what are Confucius thoughts on this?
The 3 harmful friends found in The Analects of Confucius are flattering friends, two-faced friends and big-talking friends. On no account make friends with this 3 sort of person, or else you will end up paying a painful price. The first type is flattering friends (ingratiating in action type). Confucius meant flatterers & fawners – shameless toads. We often encounter this sort of person in our lives. No matter what you say, they will say, “That’s so brilliant”; whatever you do, they will always say: “That’s amazing”. This kind of friend has a talent for weighing your words and watching your expressions. They trim their sail to suit the wind, making sure they never do anything that they sense might displease you. They are the absolute opposite to the good straight friend. The hearts of these people are neither straight-forward nor honest, and they have no sense of right and wrong. Their aim is to make you happy, but only so that they can get something out of it. Of course, if you haven’t met any of this type, that is because you are not in the position to meet someone like that yet. As you climb higher in the social hierarchy, trust me, they will appear. And when they do, keep a lookout and keep away from them.
The second harmful friend is the two-faced type, or what Confucius called “the pleasant in appearance”. They will be all smiles and sweetness to your face, dishing out compliments and flattery to you. But behind your back they will spread rumors and malicious slander. We often hear people complain: “That friend of mine seemed so kind and loving, his speech was so gentle, his behavior very thoughtful, I believed he is my closest friend. I was genuine to helping him and pour out my heart to him, told him my innermost secrets. But he betrayed me, abusing my trust, started rumors about me, spread my secrets & destroy my character”. This kind of person is false and hypocritical, the opposite of honest & loyal friends. The danger is, such people often wear a mask of goodness. Because they have ulterior motive, they will be very friendly towards you; ten times more than someone without agenda. Therefore, be very careful when someone treats you extra nice, because they could be the two-faced type of friend.
The third kind is big-talking friend, or Confucius called them “plausible in speech”. We also know them as ‘fast-talkers’. There is nothing this kind of person doesn’t know, and no argument they don’t understand. They talk in endless stream, carrying you along with their momentum until you cant help but to believe them. But in actual fact, apart from the gift of gab, they have nothing else at all. Confucius was always suspicious of glib people and their sweet words. A junzi (gentleman) should speak less and do more. Confucius believed that it is not what a person says that matters, but what they do. Of course, in modern society there has been a change in attitudes and values. If people with real talent and true scholarship cannot communicate effectively and do not get their meaning across, it will obstruct their careers & lives. However, if someone can only talk and has no real skill, it is something far more harmful.