Jan 26 2013

Nine Tests of Character – Do Your Friends Measure Up?

According to legends, Laozi leaves China on hi... According to legends, Laozi leaves China on his water buffalo. Renard, (2002), p. 16 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Vol. 185, Jan. 26

If you were to ask your best friend if they have character, you would hear them say things such as, “I do what I say I will do.” or “I don’t lie.” But, do they REALLY never lie and do what they say they are going to do? The biggest source of confusion is when the people around you say one thing and then do another. So, one of the most important thing in navigating life is to pay more attention to their actions then their words.

I have recently been reading The Truth of Tao by Alex Anatole in which he references a translation of the Tao Te Ching titled The Wisdom of Laotse by Yin Yutang. In metaphorical prose Chung Tse ascribes the following quotes and the subsequent 9 tests to Confucius.

Confucius teaches, “Man’s mind is more difficult to know than the sky. For with the sky you know what to expect in respect of the coming of spring, summer, autumn and winter, and the alternation of day and night. But man, hides his character behind an inscrutable appearance.”

Do your friends hide themselves behind some barrier keeping their true self a mystery to you and to others? If so, they may be hiding their true selves from you, is that okay with you?

“There are those who appear tame and self-effacing, but conceal terrible pride.”  Is your friend pretending to be an innocent waif, when indeed they are truly a person who feels superior to others instead of an equal? If so, they may be hiding their true selves from you, is that okay with you?

“There are those who have some special ability but appear to be stupid.”  Is your friend a person who pretends to be less knowledgable than they are to get out of doing something that they prefer not to, or perhaps to have someone feel the need to take care of them when they are indeed capable of doing so yourself? If so, they may be hiding their true selves from you, is that okay with you?

“There are those who are compliant and yielding but always get their objective.”  Is your friend a person who will do anything to have their way, even if it isn’t in the best interest of all who are concerned? If so, they may be hiding their true self from you, is that okay with you?

“Some are hard outside but soft inside and those who rush forward to do the righteous thing as if they were craving for it, drop it like something hot.”  Is your friend a person who will only go so far for the benefit of another pretending to care, when in reality they will not go that extra mile that is necessary to handle the problem? If so, they may be hiding their true self from you, is that okay with you?

“Therefore (in the judgment of men) a gentleman sends a man to a distant mission in order to test his loyalty. He employs him near by in order to observe his manners. He gives him a lot to do in order to judge his ability. He suddenly puts a question to him in order to test his knowledge and make a commitment with him under difficult circumstances to test his ability to live up to his word. He trusts him with money in order to test his heart, and announces to him the coming of crisis to test his integrity. He makes him drunk in order to see the inside of his character, and puts him in female company to see his attitude toward women. Submitted to these nine tests, a fool always reveals himself.”

So, according to Confucius one needs to demonstrate the ability to be loyal, have manners, the ability necessary, the knowledge required, be his word, be  trustworthy, and have integrity. By judging people by these circumstances we are able to tell who we are REALLY dealing with because words can LIE.

By seeing people around us for who they REALLY ARE it will explain much apparently contradictory behavior and give us a clear guide on how to best adjust our own actions.

When someone comes into work it is because their conscious mind, that part of their mind that thinks it knows what it wants will tell them one thing, while their unconscious mind, that part of the mind that is in control of what they do, will have them do the opposite. Milton Erickson, one of the most revered hypnotist ever explained that this is why people would come into to so any hypnotist – to get the conscious mind and unconscious mind working together to accomplish the clients desired outcome.

An example of this was working with a woman a few years ago who came in to stop smoking. The only problem was that her unconscious mind wanted to continue the smoking to upset her brothers who were constantly telling her that she needed to quit. Her feeling was that the whole time their mother was needing extra care during her elder years, the brothers were no where to be found while she did all the work to maintain her mothers wellbeing. It was only by bringing this client’s two minds together for the same goal, that she was able to successfully stop smoking.

These words go back to 136 BC at least according to Yin Yutang in his book The Wisdom of Laotse which I have quoted above. For a more understandable explanation of Taoism please read The Truth of Tao by Alex Anatole a true master with over 50 years of practicing the Tao, starting at the age of 7.




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