Observe a Fundamental Principle Throughout One’s Pursuit
One needs to observe a fundamental principle in the entire process of academic and other pursuits. According to Confucianism, to establish oneself, one should gain a good command of knowledge and skills in a wide range of areas and abide by moral principles and norms. Confucius himself stressed that there is a fundamental principle running through all such knowledge and skills as well as moral standards. He taught his disciples how to master this fundamental principle so as to meet the requirements for doing things with knowledge and skills acquired. Scholars of later generations have different interpretations about what this fundamental principle is. Zengzi believed that it is loyalty and forbearance.
Confucius said: “Zeng Shen, there is one thing that runs through my doctrine.” Zengzi said: “Yes.” When Confucius went out, other disciples asked him: “What did he mean?” Zengzi said: “Confucius’ doctrine is simply this: loyalty and forbearance.” (The Analects)
Confucius said: “Duanmu Ci, you think I have learned a lot and am able to remember them all, do you?” Zigong replied: “Yes. Don’t you think so too?” Confucius said: “No, what I have done is to master a fundamental principle that runs through them all.” (The Analects)