Confucius: The River Flows OnPosted: February 24, 2009 | Author: Doug 陀愚 | Filed under: Buddhism, Confucius, Philosophy, Religion | 2 Comments »
Standing by a stream, the Master [Confucius] said, It flows on like this—does it not?—never ceasing day or night.
Commentators for more than 2,000 years have pondered what Confucius meant by this. Confucius was pretty thoughtful with his words, so it’s not like him to just make idle chatter, so he probably had some deeper meaning behind this, but we may never know for sure.
I tend to see it form a somewhat Buddhist viewpoint which emphasizes a cosmology of “Big Time”, where universes expand and collapse in a near-infinite stream of time. This is generally in keeping with ancient India’s tendency to “think big” when it comes to philosophy. But Confucius I don’t think was familiar with Indian philosophy at the time. Maybe he just meant that Life just goes on and on, never stopping and no end in sight. Maybe he just meant problems and corruption keep arising in new forms.
What do you think he meant?
* – I finally figured out what this is called in Japanese: rongo (論語). I wanted to know because it came up in the movie Twilight Samurai a couple times, and I couldn’t quite understand what “rongo” was.