living in the present with an even goldener rule

“…Confucius’ sayings, his wisdom and philosophy, had deeply influenced the way Chinatown raised first sons like me.

“What kind of human being was he to have established as one of the tenets of his philosophy, “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others”? How different the assumption that our fear of how others can harm us is the most specific and universal deterrent compared to what has filtered down to Western culture as “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” How dangerous to assume that whatever pleases you might please me. None of his teachings ever touched upon the afterlife, none considered the possibilities of a heaven or hell. His concern was with how one might live life in the present. Having survived my almost dying, I was moved by the answer he offered when one of his followers, speaking of death, asked, “But what comes next?”

“Confucius said, “If you do not understand life, how will you know about death?”

—from the memoir, Not Yet, by Wayson Choy, Random House

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