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In book 1 of the Confucian Analects, Confucius is adamant in bolstering the Chinese philosophies of faithfulness, respect, and sincerity among all followers of the Confucian religion. According to him, listening and adhering to the advice of superiors who are knowledgeable of both the Chinese righteous ways of life and the religiousness of action are tantamount to leading a meaningful life of prosperity, respect, and virtue. In chapter 2 of the Dao De Jing, Lao Zi seeks to instill discipline into followers of the Chinese philosophies of Tao. According to Lao Zi, nature is a system of high calling that is cognizant of the acts and actions of individuals. Lao Zi describes a ‘Saint’ who appraises the deeds of man by accounting for his efforts, conducts, and comportments. By describing the righteous path that manifests in the nature of life, Lao Zi ascribes various manifestations to both Heaven and Earth that may be beheld by man by following the righteousness of life.
Both Lao Zi and Analects provide advice that is based on the traditional Chinese culture, philosophy, and wisdom. In both their accounts, the philosophers merit the need for following righteousness and virtue in acting and performing deed. For instance, Confucius professes that a man will be filial and respected by his elders if he is truthful and earnest in doing three things:
1) If he removes his mind from the fallacy of beauty and instead applies the sincerity of virtuous action;
2) If he takes to learning through the principles of sincerity, faithfulness, and avoids unorthodox veneration;
3) And that he is faithful to his parents, colleagues, elders, and the society at large, his life shall be rid of shame, disgrace, and dishonor and he shall walk in the paths of honor, prosperity, and reverence.
On his part, Lao Zi is not as overt as Confucius in his expressions, advice, and counsel. Instead of relying on prose and anecdotal writings, he advises his readers with analogy, sayings, rhetoric, symmetrical writing, and poetry. For instance, Lao Zi rhetorical analogy that good transforms into evil and that the ‘Saint’ stimulates the vitality of all beings can be interpreted to mean that wisdom and perception in life are guiding principles for a righteous life.
From the two sources of Chinese philosophy, it is clear that the two philosophers apply different methodologies of providing insight for normal living that place considerable prominence to virtue, morality, Chinese tradition, and the proper way for governance and livelihood.
In book 4 of the Confucian Analects, Confucius highlights the misgivings and consequences of rejecting the way of the Chinese traditions of morality, virtue, and ethics. He cautions that wickedness, haste, and evil result not in riches and honor but in regret and disdain. Confucius insists that all followers of the Confucian ideals must let virtue and morality prevail for the acquisition of good neighborliness, the avoidance of counterproductive remonstrance, and the elevation of reverence in the community and by nature. Similarly, in chapter 20 of the Dao De Jing, Lao Zi highlights the disgrace of acting shrewdly and selfishly. He infers that acting in one’s best interest without enlightenment will be the source of sorrow, worries, and evil. Lao Zi deduces that there is a narrow difference between evil and good – and that acting in the most insignificant of ways with minimal deference will lead to less than joyful lives.
In these chapters, both Lao Zi and Confucius continual providing counsel to the followers of the Dao De Jing and Analects by illuminating the need for self-awareness, intellect, and wisdom in following the ways of the elders. Both philosophers utilize the philosophies of old in illuminating that the paths of selfishness, disrespect, impishness, and disregard represent sowing seeds of discourse in nature and in society – the resultant being a life of melancholy, pain, and dissatisfaction. Both Lao Zi and Confucius make general counsel that is targeted for common men following the religious beliefs such Confucianism or Taoism, but they place considerable emphasis not on religion but on traditional cultural respect, adherence to the rules of the Chinese traditions, and on commonsense practices such as respect, honor, and integrity. What is more, they are both specific in addressing their readers and apprentices on ways of governance and administration by relying on the fact that their eruditions are meant to be the tenets of counsel to future leaders, elders, and administrators.
In comparing the divergent methodologies utilized in relying on Chinese philosophy in providing counsel, direction, and guidance to the followers of Taoism and Confucianism, Laozi and Confucius affirm the need for proper governance of people from the personal discipline and self-control mastered by people seeking to live righteously and virtuously. In book 6 of the Confucian Analects, Confucius provides an anecdote of how tranquil virtuousness may be applied in governance by the tale that seeks to challenge intelligence and logic. Similarly, in chapter 9 of the Dao De Jing, Lao Zi provides an anecdote of how dangerous it would be to polish the edge of a blade too well. In their anecdotes, they infer that intelligence is a gift of nature that should be used with caution and attentiveness that is derived from tradition, philosophy, and logic. Although both philosophers utilize divergent and dissimilar tools, styles, and panaches, their message is similar – the prominence of virtue, honor, and respect in life and religion.