In Confucianism, all of us - men and women - are born soldiers. The soldier is the universal individual. No matter what you do for a living - doctor, lawyer, fisherman, thief - you are a fighter. Life is war. The war is to maintain personal integrity in a world that demands betrayal and corruption. All behavior is strategy and tactics. All relationships are martial. Marriages are military alliances.
All of our controlling behavior - our anger, blame, pouting, teaching, explaining, caretaking, compliance, and denial - comes from believing that we can control what others think of us and how they treat us, and that how they think of us and treat us defines us.
The relationship between moral action and spiritual knowledge is circular, as it were, and reciprocal. Selfless behavior makes possible an accession of knowledge, and the accession of knowledge makes possible the performance of further and more genuinely selfless actions, which in their turn enhance the agent’s capacity for knowing... A man undertakes right action (which includes, of course, right consciousness and right meditation), and this enables him to catch a glimpse of the Self that underlies his separate individuality. Having seen his own self as the Self, he becomes selfless (and therefore acts selflessly) and in virtue of selflessness he is to be conceived as unconditioned.
There is no outward sign of politeness which has not a deep, moral reason. Behavior is a mirror in which every one shows his own image. There is a politeness of the heart akin to love, from which springs the easiest politeness of outward behavior... Politeness is not always a sign of wisdom, but the want of it always leaves room for the suspicion of folly.
If only man could be induced to laugh more they might hate less, and find more serenity here on earth. If they cannot worship together, or accept the same laws, or tolerate the wonderful diversity of thought and behavior and physique with which they have been blessed, at least they can laugh together.
The laws of conscience, which we say are born of nature, are born of custom. Each man, holding in inward veneration the opinions and the behavior approved and accepted around him, cannot break loose from them without remorse, or apply himself to them without self-satisfaction.
Frequently when we get angry at someone we fail to realize that he sees the situation much differently than we do. While we think he is acting wrongly, he views his behavior as correct. Since he is acting in a manner he considers proper, we should not condemn him and become angry.
If thou desire to see thy child virtuous, let him not see his father’s vices; thou canst not rebuke that in children that they behold practiced in thee; till reason be ripe, examples direct more than precepts; such as thy behavior is before they children’s faces, such commonly is theirs behind their parents backs.
Things as they are are changed when we demonstrate a new reality. A very small change in perception can result in a change in behavior and, cumulatively, in a very large change in cultural patterns. Our purpose and destiny are encoded within us. But they do not automatically propel us to the next act in our day, let alone the next stage in our evolution. Our Fourth Instinct allows us to see that next stage, and our free will enables us to act on it so that it can become a reality.
All the philosophy... in the world and all the religion, which is nothing but a species of philosophy, will never be able to carry us beyond the usual course of experience, or give us measures of conduct and behavior different from those which are furnished by reflections on common life.