Standing firm against temptation

By Dr. Henry Wong Meng Yeong | Thursday, August 1, 2013 at 1:18AM

We've discussed Confucius’ management creed, where needs are secondary to self-actualization.

This leads us now to examining one’s needs proposed by Maslow, such as financial needs, sexual needs and the need for status or esteem. Instead of seeing these as needs, Confucius considers them as desires or wants, which can come under the guise of ambition.

Confucius recognizes the desire to acquire wealth, fame and status. But he stated emphatically that if they cannot be attained by proper means, one is better off without them. To resist the craving for money and status, he states that one has to remain steadfast and stand firm on one’s principles.

In addition to cautioning against avarice (appetency for wealth and material gain), Confucius also warns against esurience (craving for food), rapacity (consumed with greed), covetousness (pursuit for power and status), hedonism (longing for pleasure and comfort) and concupiscence (lusting for sex).

He warns against sexual lust especially when one is young and hot-blooded, as restraint has not been tempered, and he warns that lust will erode one’s virtues. By this he is referring to the eight cornerstones discussed in previous posts. In other words, the pursuit for sexual pleasure will cause one to be dishonorable to one’s parents, disrespectful, disloyal, untrustworthy, lose one’s sense of right and wrong, unrighteous, corrupt, and without a sense of shame.

Self examination of our own passions and motivations and an unwavering resolve to stand steadfast and firm against the above temptations should be our aim. Confucius warns that we should not be under the influence of such passions which can conveniently be mistaken as needs.