The Nine Considerations for the Gentleman by Confucius

Book 16, verse 10 in the Analects of Confucius offers some sagely advice for the aspiring gentleman in the form of the Nine Considerations (九思, jiǔ​sī​ in modern Mandarin). Included here is the translation provided by Tsai Chih-Chung’s illustrated version of the Analects, translated by Brian Bruya.

  1. When looking, be mindful of clarity.
  2. When listening, be mindful of acuity.
  3. For facial expression, be mindful of geniality.
  4. For demeanor, be mindful of deference.
  5. When speaking, be mindful of sincerity.
  6. When acting, be mindful of reverence.
  7. When confused, be mindful of inquiring.
  8. When angry, be mindful of the consequences.
  9. When seeing the chance of gain, be mindful of what is right.

And an alternate translation is provided by Prof. Charles A.C. Muller online:

[16:10] Confucius said: “There are nine patterns which are awarenesses of the Gentleman. In seeing, he is aware of clarity; in listening, he is aware of sharpness; in faces, is aware of warmth; with behavior he is aware of courtesy; in speech, sincerity; in service, reverence. In doubt, he is inclined to question; when angry, he is aware of the inherent difficulties. When he sees an opportunity for gain, he thinks of what would be Just.”

Good words to live by. :)

P.S. This is another one of my “reference” posts I like to put for readers and Google searches.


9 Comments on “The Nine Considerations for the Gentleman by Confucius”

  1. Paula says:

    Next post ‘Considerations for a Lady by Confucius’? ;-)

  2. I like the repeated use of ‘be mindful’. I’m a fan of Thay Nhat Hanh, and his gentle clarity has helped me many times in the past.

  3. yrene yuhmi says:

    I really liked it, I’m going to keep it in my mind forever ^_^ thank you!

  4. Doug M says:

    Hello everyone!

    Paula: Yes, I really wish Confucius talked more about advice for women, but frankly there’s practically nothing there, not even anything sexist or misogynistic. His disciples were all men (being the culture at the time), and thus his advice was for a male-audience only. Still, I think most of it is practical to people in general, and probably why Confucian teachings have endured so well across the ages.

    Bluewhitegreenred: It should be noted though that in Prof. Muller’s translation, mindful isn’t explicitly used, so that may simply be translator’s disgression. I am not sure. :-/ But awareness in general is about the best thing one can do for their lives.

    Yrene: Glad to be of help. :)

  5. I have TCC’s ‘Zen Speaks’, also translated by Brian Bruya. I’ve always been a fan of sequential art to help tell a story, esp manga… so add to this my time in Buddhist cloister, and of course it was going to be in my collection of Zen books. :)

    Mindfulness is something one should practice as a routine, like brushing your teeth, and there doesn’t even need to be mantra recited during it. Just pay attention to what you’re feeling…

    BTW… it’s getting cold on Bainbridge, brr! ;)

  6. Doug M says:

    Excellent advice indeed. I never really understood this for a long time until I read Thich Nhat Hanh’s book called the Miracle of Mindfullness, which turned out to be a solid book. I once owned the Zen Speaks book that you mentioned but it never resonated with me, but generally Zen things seldom do anymore. Just not for I me guess. :-p

  7. It is somewhat cryptic… and populated, as I’ve read in your own disdain for some of those in your sect, with jack boffins who do one thing and claim another, which is discouraging to those seeking a way.

    One of the Buddha’s many teachings, is to light your own lamp. I never grew up indoctrinized by childhood piety to Buddhism (which for me would’ve been Joudoushuu or Nichiren Buddhism), but found solace in adulthood with Thich Nhat Hanh’s Heart of the Buddha’s Teachings, and Anger, with its clarity, calmness, and lack of dogma. Anger esp, as it’s a facet of my personality that’s causing me much suffering.

    I’ve never become part of a sangha (except the short time in cloister), just for the reason in the first paragraph. It’s frustrating. But Zen seems to resonate with me quite a bit more strongly than others, so that’s the path I choose. However, I’ve not restricted myself to the truths in only one line. If I learn the truth if it, it becomes my teaching. :)

  8. Doug M says:

    Yeah, oddly I came to Zen first as a teenager, but was ultimately frustrated by some of it’s manifestations here in the West, and even Japan, and found the devotional, compassionate side expressed in Pure Land Buddhism more my taste, but I also found this frustrating in that it only practices and teaches one particular aspect of Buddhism. I wanted something that had the beauty of Pure Land but a more balanced approach, and this is where I am at now.

  9. Often Doug, it seems sects seem to symbolise the tendency for people to promote only one line of teaching as superior to another, and deemphasize the truths, no matter how useful and practical, of other lines. Part of this was that people in antiquity were probably very different than modern human beings, technoogically, socially, and interpersonally… perhaps such segregation was necessary to accommodate the lay sangha and junior monks of a Way… but that kind of demarcation isn’t necessary today, but it’s upheld as tradition cemented in hundreds of years of practice. Not 100% sure, but it could be.

    Being about as lay a practitioner as they come, I accept there are additional truths to be found once you transcend the so-called ‘entry truths’ or conditional ‘mumonkan’ truths necessary to grasp higher levels of understanding, but many present practices are completely in opposition to accepted understandings of his teachings, such as in Rinzai Zen (my line), where killing is acceptable. Perhaps this just reflects my layman’s grasp of that Way, but it seems many present lines of Buddhism have evolved to make acceptable things that directly oppose the Eightfold Path. It’s in those circumstances I try to use my intelligence and re-examine the teachings of both ways, to find a solution. It can be dangerous to practice without a sangha, as many psychopaths have demonstrated with demented and distorted dogma from their traditions, but it also avoids blind piety and stagnation, when your tanden tightens up at some crossroads in the future. :)

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