Home » Blog » Persuasion » Important thoughts from Confucius, from Wolfe Lowenthal

Important thoughts from Confucius, from Wolfe Lowenthal

Call Us: 703-383-1100

Wolfe Lowenthal is a biographer of t’ai chi master Cheng Man Ch’ing, with two biographies of Professor Cheng, entitled There Are No Secrets: Professor Cheng Man Ch’ing and His T’ai Chi Chuan and Gateway to the Miraculous: Further Explorations in the Tao of Cheng Man Ch’ing.

Wolfe produces an emailed Taichi Thoughts Internet Journal, which can be subscribed to here.

Wolfe’s latest Taichi Thoughts discusses Confucius in several entries, including Confucius on Ren (benevolence) as addressed by Professor Cheng: "’Confucius offered a recommended method for the study of Ren, four phrases:

"1. If it’s not according to principle, don’t say it.

2. If it’s not according to principle, don’t listen to it.

3. If it’s not according to principle, don’t look at it.

4. If it’s not according to principle, don’t do it.’"

Wolfe’s quote is lengthier (subscribe to read the rest, including a see/speak/hear no evil photo spoof) than the above admonition to be mindful of what we say, listen to, watch, and do, including an admonition to neither waste words nor speak foolishness. 

I am not sure which principle(s) is/are being discussed in the above quote beyond Ren (benevolence) and Jung Yung (principle of balance), which Wolfe calls a "central Confucian idea." Applying the foregoing lessons to trial law as a pursuit to balance a client’s unbalanced situation, the first item ("If it’s not according to principle, don’t say it") remains particularly critical.

Similarly, as Beopjeong Sunim aptly advised: "If an idea comes to you, and you hastily speak of it, it does not ripen inside. Because of this, one’s insides remain empty. In order to allow the meanings of our words to ripen inside, we must be able to purify these meanings, waiting until they have passed through the filter of silence." Of course, being in the moment at trial — or in improvisational music or improvisational acting — does not always give us long timeframes for ideas to ripen. Nevertheless, by fully preparing for trial, through experience and ability, and through being fully in the uncluttered present, a trial lawyer can enhance the speaking of ripened ideas.

ADDENDUM: Among Wolfe’s interesting disclosures in Gateway to the Miraculous is his heavy antiwar activity. Paul Krassner says Lowenthal was a Yippie organizer. At the Chicago Seven trial, the late singer Phil Ochs testified about having been arrested at the 1968 Chicago Democratic convention along with Lowenthal, a pig, Jerry Rubin, Stew Albert, and three others.