Confucius on Tolerance: One Will Have No Followers if He Sees Things Too Clearly

Hong Yi

PureInsight | November 5, 2006

[] Zi Zhang, one
of Confucius' student, asked Confucius about politics and
government.  Confucius said, "Gentlemen shouldn't set very high
standards when managing the ordinary people.  Do not guide them with goals
that are too far away from reality.  Do not force them to do what
they cannot achieve."

Zi Zhang said, "I will sincerely follow your teachings."

Confucius added, "You must remember.  If the water is too clear,
then there will be no fish.  If one sees too much too clearly then
one will not have disciples or followers.  In the ancient times,
emperors' crowns had strings of jade beads covering the emperors'
faces.  This is so they wouldn't see things too clearly. 
They had decorations to cover their ears and prevent them from hearing
too much.  Once evil appears in the mass, the emperors will
rectify the situations."

Confucius also said, "We should adopt generous policies to enable
people to see their weaknesses on their own.  You should impart
principles according to the public's receiving level.  Empower
them to think for themselves individually based on the principles and
find their own directions! When people make small mistakes, do not do
everything you can to identify their mistakes, but forgive them based
on their kind deeds in the past.  This will help them become
better and better, just like a dead person regaining birth.  This
is kind management."

Upon hearing this, Zi Zhang said sincerely to Confucius:  "What you said is so true."

Confucius said, "If you want others to believe your words, the best way
is to first modestly listen to others' opinions.  If you want a
policy to be implemented quickly, the best way is to act as an example
by yourself.  If you want the people to follow soon, the best way
is to teach them with right principles.  If you can achieve the
above instead of berating the public, you will become a good leader."

"No disciples if seeing too clearly" says that we should treat others
with tolerance and shouldn't berate others or hold others to too strict
requirements.  As human beings, we all have weaknesses one way or
another.  "No disciples if seeing too clearly" teaches us to be
kind and generous to others.  We should be sensitive to other
people's strengths and learn from them to constantly improve our own
quality and morality.

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