道场 Dào·Chǎng

Notes of a lifelong learner and perpetual beginner on martial arts, mindfulness, Chinese calligraphy…and many, many cups of tea.

Yen Hui: The Virtue of Learning and Living with Joy

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An exemplary figure and a short lesson about the virtue of maintaining a positive attitude and joy in living. Yen Hui (or Yen Yuan) was a disciple of Confucius. He was not only the one disciple most fond of learning, but he was good at it too. He was described as the one who would “know ten after hearing one.”

Confucius said of Yen Hui: “Admirable indeed was the virtue of Hui! With a single bamboo dish, a gourd for a cup, and living in a narrow lane, while others could not have endured the distress, he did not allow his joy to be affected by it.”

Thinking about Yen Hui, some questions come to my mind: Which came first? Yen Yuan’s joy or his amazing ability to learn and infer? Did Yen Yuan attain an insight about life and then arrived at joy? Or did Yen Yuan’s joy in living make it easier for him to learn and understand? Perhaps joy and insight come hand in hand? How do I apply that in my study of martial arts, calligraphy, and my life?

Conf+2-01

Yen Yuan
Kano Tan’yu
Japan, 17th cent.

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Author: Tom Delaney

See my website at http://www.dao-chang.com.

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