Think Often of One and Two

3 Aug

Not long ago I read a passage which I found to be wonderfully wise. Its depth lies in its clarity of thought and simplicity of expression. It was from a book on Confucius, one of China’s famous thinkers and philosophers. I share it with you below. 

May it help you focus on whatever is good in every situation and delight in those one or two things which go your way – every day! 

I once read an essay by the famous Taiwanese writer Lin Qingxuan, about a friend who asked him for a piece of calligraphy to hang in his study. The friend said to him: ‘Write me something that is extremely simple, but which will be helpful to me when I see it every day.’ He thought for a long time, and then wrote just four Chinese characters: ‘Think Often of One and Two.’

That friend did not understand, and asked what it meant. Lin Qingxuan said: ‘We all know the saying that “Out of every ten things in this world eight or nine will not go as I wish; and there is a mere handful of people I can communicate with.” Supposing we accept this, there will still be at least one or two things out of every ten that do go as we wish.

I can’t help you too much, all I can do is to tell you to think of those “one or two” things, to turn your mind to happy things, to magnify the light of happiness, to keep the sadness in your heart at bay. As a friend, this is the best thing I can do for you.’

(Excerpt from: Confucius from the Heart, by Yu Dan)


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5 Responses to “Think Often of One and Two”

  1. Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha August 6, 2010 at 7:38 am #

    Insightful. We can have all things in our lives, and I think its just good to focus on simple basics. Thanks for sharing.

  2. hoiden August 11, 2010 at 3:31 am #

    food for thought…

    • Atticus August 11, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

      It is, isn’t it? Maybe it can inspire one of your rousing poems ; )

  3. jobinmartin August 24, 2010 at 12:05 pm #

    These days more and more people are perfectionists or just act like one, because there is compulsion to do so. The mounting pressure from peers and members of family, will make anyone buckle. A simple failure can make a man more miserable in this modern era. We are losing the courage our forefathers had. To be happy with what we have is the greatest lesson in this regard.

    • Atticus August 25, 2010 at 12:46 am #

      Well said Jobin!

      I must agree, society is travelling in the direction of hyperinflated desires and a lust of luxury life. Not only is this unsustainable but somewhere along this journey, it’ll mushroom into a serious psychological pandemic.

      As you said, it was never like this during yester generations, but progressively and collectively we’ve become as nations and people consumed by such a culture. When we have a need for external approval and conform to other expectations, then we’re sure to be left disappointed.

      In our daily lives, we’ll do well to realise that it’s not happiness that makes us grateful, but the gratefulness that makes us happy. God has already provided us all for which we should be grateful… it’s for us to count those blessings, those which we already have!

      The added bonuses are the ones and twos in our day : )

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