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What are the Analects?

Imoportance of Rongo

Have you ever heard of the Analects of Confucius (Ch. Lun yu; J. Rongo)? Do you know what they are? And why should studying the Analects help you to understand Japanese culture?

Below is the text of a famous passage from the Analects that Prof. Takahashi introduces in the video. This quote still frequently pops up in everyday conversation in Japan. What do you think about this quote? Is there a similar saying in your country?

Original Chinese text


Japanese reading:


Modern Japanese translation:


English Translation

The Master said, “At fifteen, I had my mind bent on learning. At thirty, I stood firm. At forty, I had no doubts. At fifty, I knew the decrees of Heaven. At sixty, my ear was an obedient organ for the reception of truth. At seventy, I could follow what my heart desired, without transgressing what was right.” (Analects, II: 4; trans. James Legge)
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