First Loves: Kung Fu Tzu
Kung Fu Tzu is better known in the west by his Jesuit name, Confucius, and here is the story of how I met and fell in love with Kung:
I used to work in an employment agency in a trendy artistic area of Melbourne. Lunchtimes I would go down to the local bookshop and browse the new releases for curios. Tired from work one day, I saw a dark red-brown cover, the color of nutritious clay earth, and felt an instant connection.
It was the Sydney academic Simon Ley's tranlation of Confucius' Analects.
I opened to the first page and immediately got a shock. The voice of Kung spoke directly through my heart to me, unmistakeable and authoritative. Here was a man with a mission so burning and noble, I felt, that it could only be delayed by the demands of common courtesy and the everyday pursuit of happiness and satisfaction. That is to say, the means, goals, ideals and personality of Confucius were so perfectly bound up in the business of being human as to be indistinguishable.
I bought the book immediately.
Here is the passage which gave me an aesthetic and moral shock:
"The master said: to learn something and then to put it into practice at the right time, is not this a joy? To have friends coming from afar: is not this a delight? To not be upset when one's merits are ignored: is not this the mark of a gentlemen?"
And Karl Marx shall have no dominion, for here Kung Tsu out-patriarchs all modern patriarchs. Mao Tse Tung becomes an impudent child and Chang Kai-Shek an idealistic youth in the shadow of a man who puts the the happiness of learning and and the dropping by of beloved mates before anything else.