Confucius (551 – 479 BC), also called Kong Qiu, was born in the kingdom of Lu (now Qufu City) during the period of Spring and Autumn Periods (770 – 476 BC). He was a great educator, statesman, and philosopher. He advocated the Confucianism philosophy for governing a country and serving the people, and he dedicated his whole life to promoting moral standards and urging kings to govern their countries with benevolence. He never wavered in his determination, in spite of all of the difficulties that he faced. He pursued the truth, ideals, and flawless moral character. He was righteous, kind, modest, and polite. He was loyal to the country and cared about the people. He greatly influenced his students and people of later generations. The following illustrates how Confucius guided his students to be true gentlemen.
Does a gentleman use a sword for self-defense?
When Zilu first met Confucius to seek knowledge, Zilu was dressed in full armor to greet his potential teacher. Upon meeting Confucius, Zilu pulled out his sword and exercised in front of him. Zilu asked, "Teacher, didn't ancient gentlemen use swords for self-defense too?"
Confucius said, "Ancient gentlemen pursued loyalty and righteousness as their goal in life and used benevolence for self-defense. They did not need to step out of their rooms to know about major affairs occurring a thousand miles away. They used loyalty and trust to inspire bad men and used righteousness and benevolence to calm evildoers. What did they need to use a sword for?"
Zilu admired what he heard very much and sighed, "Alas, this is the first time I have heard this. I want to be a humble student of yours from now on!"
Confucius planted the seeds of benevolence in Zilu right at the outset of his studies. He was careful to ensure a good start. Zilu followed Confucius all the way until the end, and his mindset kept improving all the while.