Friday, 28 August 2015

Chinese Words of Wisdom

In 1647 a Dominican friar, Fernandez Navarette, was sent from Spain to the Philippines and then to China to serve the Christian communities there. He spent 26 years in this task and his account of the Empire of China is to be found in Vol1 of a 4 volume set called ‘Voyages and Travels’ in the Library of Innerpeffray. Contained in this account is an extensive discourse on the words of Chinese moral philosophers, in particular Confucius. Reading the sayings of these philosophers soon make you realise that parallel sentiments are to be found in the Bible and Shakespeare’s plays. The sayings were written in the centuries after 600 BC and here are but a few of these sayings. It is not difficult to recognise like sayings in the Bible and (if you know them) Shakespeare's plays.

1) The resolute and valorous Man fears not though he sees Death before his face…. (Julius Caesar to Calphurnia).

2) When a Man does good to others he does it to himself.

3) Do not trouble yourself to ask where Heaven is… have it in your heart. (The Kingdom of God is within you).

4) Let your Meat, Drink and Clothing be suitable to your condition. (Polonius’ advice to his son in Hamlet).

5) You must not because you are Noble despise those that are not. (Dost think that because thou art virtuous there shall be no more cakes and ale! Twelfth Night).

6) If hatred once takes root it is hard to pull it up.

7) Life and Death are always before our Eyes. There is nothing bad in this world but Man’s sin.

8) He that would know a Father must observe his Children. (He that has seen me has seen the Father.)

9) A good neighbour next door is better than a rich Relation afar off

10) It is easy to begin a law-suit but a hard matter to end it.

11) He that looks into other Men’s lives ought first to look into his own. ( Motes and planks in eyes? NT)

12) If you would know what is to come, examine what is past.

13) The greatest Joy ends in Sorrow.

And for the Library……

14) He that borrows a book is obliged to use it well!