There is a famous passage from Confucius that goes like this:
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.”
This is section 2.4 of the Analects, Confucius’s selected sayings. The translation is an old one from James Legge, which is freely available online. I’m not claiming that Legge is a particularly good translation, but it’s adequate for my purposes today, because the details of the translation aren’t what I’m interested in.
Instead the point I want to make today is just this: this passage can be a real inspiration in middle age.Continue reading