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Visiting Confucius


Nanjing, May 15, 2013

“How would you describe Nanjing people?” I asked Yibin, my Nanjing’s friend. “I would say people here are more hospitable, friendly and honest” said Yibin. Though I know Nanjing used to be the capital of the Ming Dynasty, I would not take anything for granted and expect too much from modern China. Glorious history and admirable ancient arts and culture never seem to prosper in today’s material world.

2 days in Nanjing is simply not enough especially when the meetings are back-to-back. Yibin insists however that I visit Confucius Temple. “You can’t say you’ve been to Nanjing without visiting Confucius”, said Yibin. That makes perfect sense and I’ve always been eager to pay respect to the great man who a few thousand years later still spreads his profound knowledge around the world. That is called Greatness. When we leave this world, how many of us can be remembered? It’s never been the wealth, the power, nor the struggles to get to the top. It’s always been the knowledge, the love, the kindness willingly shared. Success is what one achieves for oneself but greatness is what one achieves for others.

The walk-way to Confucius Temple is masked with earthly desires, food, drinks, clothing, accessories, gifts, dry goods, even dry salted ducks on display racks along the walk-way. Man I was thinking more of literature and culture related stuff like books, brushes, calligraphy, Chinese paintings…. “Do you think it hurts Confucius to see this?” I asked Yibin. “Definitely” answered Yibin without a blink. “But there are a lot of Chinese people here, and they need to eat, drink, and shop. Simple as that!”. Fair enough! Being a great man, I am sure he wouldn’t mind the little things.

The actual examination site of the Ming Dynasty is closed today, so we only get to enter the small newly-built museum in the area. There is no one here except myself and a few old Chinese couples sitting along the resting area. People are obviously busy shopping outside, millions of them. I notice a minibar display of sodas, iced tea, water, and soymilk outside the Great Emperor Kangxi’s calligraphy display though there is no service staff. Have a coke on him if that makes you stop and appreciate the Emperor’s philosophy. I am sure he wouldn’t mind either.

There is very little to see, so I make my way out after 20 minutes. The walk-way is still packed. People are still eating, drinking, and shopping…. Yibin makes me stop for stinky tofu which I have learned to accept as I travel across China. This whole destination looks and feels more like a night market than anything. I walk on, feeling for Confucius. He must have been all lonely like I am now amidst the sea of people coming here every day to take photos, shopping, and getting a tick on their travel list. We learn to love them any way. “Wherever you go, go with all your heart”.

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