Asian Philosopher's Digest

Oriental philosophy has been the bedrock of Asian literature since the dawn of recorded history. It is best summed-up by the Latin phrase Ex Oriente Lux, Ex Occidente Flux – from the east light, from the west fruit.
Confucius is one of the most influential philosophers from the Orient. His teachings on leadership and guidelines for harmonious coexistence antedates Christianity by thousand of years. Classics, a compilation of his teachings, has two volumes: Five Classics and Four Books. His Chinese name was Kung fu-tze: Kung his family name; fu, his first name and tze, which means Master. Born in the province of Lu (now Shantung), he showed great promise when had already mastered the wisdom of his age while still a boy. His father died when he was three and he became the overseer of a large estate at 17. His mother’s death threw him in despair and seclusion. It was during this self imposed exile when his philosophy was largely formed. He became the governor of his province in his fifties but resigned after four years because of political back stabbing.
· Let loyalty and truth be paramount with you. If you have faults, shirk not from correcting them.
· The faults of men are characteristic of themselves. By observing a man’s faults, you infer what his values are
· The superior man is slow in his words and earnest in his conduct
· Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising everytime we fall
· To see what is right and not do it, is want of courage
Born Siddharta Gautama, he was the founder of one the world’s oldest religions. Gautama grew up as a wealthy prince for his father was the ruler of a small kingdom in northern India. Then by chance he saw the poverty of the people outside. He felt miserable because man is eternally bound to be reborn after death. He turned his back on his life of luxury to find a way out of that cycle. It was said that he achieved the blissful state of Nirvana while meditating under a bo tree. His teachings are based on strict rules for living in order to reach Nirvana and thus, for the soul to rest in peace and escape reincarnation. The hallmarks of a good Buddhist are: service to parents, justice to all, compassion for all living things and simple living. The qualities Buddhists look for in a leader are strength of character, firmness, courage and tact. Right conduct demands patience and perserverance for it is the foundation of a strong character. Here is slice of wisdom from the Dhammapada:
· Rouse thyself! Do not be idle! Follow the law of virtue! The virtous rest in bliss in this life and in the next. Come, look at the world, glittering like a royal chariot! The foolish are immersed in it, but the wise do not touch it. The first and last step is the conquest of the Self
According to legend, Lao-tze was the keeper of the archives at the Chinese imperial court. It is said that when he had reached the age of eighty, he set out to what is now Tibet. He became sad and disillusioned because people refuse to follow the natural path to goodness. At the western border, he was requested to record his teachings and that was how the Tao Te Ching came to be. The essence of the messages is simplicity and ideas about life appear in the form if epigrams. It teaches humility and shows the futility of obsessing for power, among other eternal truths.
· He who knows does not speak. He who speaks does not know.
· To be chief among people, one must speak like their inferior To be foremost among people one must walk behind them
· He who knows that he does not know is the highest. He who pretends to know what does not is sick-minded. He who recognizes sick-mindedness as sick-mindedness is not sick-minded
· Rule a big country as you would fry a small fish Leave it alone, otherwise it will become paste from over turning
· He who stands on tiptoe does not stand firm He who strains his stride does not walk well He who reveals himself is not luminous He who justifies himself is far- famed He who boasts of himself is not given credit He who prides himself is not chief among men Confucius photo courtesy of Mantraco. This story originally appeared in Philippine Panorama. Your comments and links are welcome