Chapter 11a

The Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder of Confucius

January 19, 2020

The Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder of Confucius

In his own village, Confucius presented a simple appearance and looked unlike a man who could talk. But in the ancestral temple, and at Court, he spoke with the fluency and accuracy of a debater, but ever guardedly.

At Court, he would talk to the lower order of great officials.

  • He spoke somewhat firmly and directly and spoke more affably with those of the higher order.

When the prince was present he was constrainedly reverent in his movements, and showed a serious dignity in demeanor.

Whenever the prince summoned him to act as usher to the Court, his look would change somewhat. He would make as though he were turning round to do obeisance.

He would salute those among whom he took up his position, using the right hand or the left, and holding the skirts of his robe in proper position before and behind.

He would make his approaches with quick step, and with elbows evenly bent outwards. When the visitor withdrew, he would not fail to report the execution of his commands, with the words, “The visitor no longer looks back.”

When he entered the palace gate, it was with the body somewhat bent forward, almost as though he could not be admitted.

When he stood still, this would never happen in the middle of the gateway. nor when moving about would he ever tread on the threshold. When passing the throne, his look would change somewhat, he would turn aside and make a sort of obeisance The words he spoke seemed as though he were deficient in utterance.

On going up the steps to the audience chamber, he would gather up with both hands the ends of his robe, and walk with his body bent somewhat forward, holding back his breath like one in whom respiration has ceased.

On coming out, after descending one step his countenance would relax and assume an appearance of satisfaction. Arrived at the bottom, he would go forward with quick step, his elbows evenly bent outwards, back to his position, constrainedly reverent in every movement.

When holding the sceptre in his hand, his body would be somewhat bent forward, as if he were not equal to carrying it.

Wielding it now higher, as in a salutation, now lower, as in the presentation of a gift. His look would also be changed and appear awestruck; and his gait would seem retarded, as if he were obeying some restraining hand behind.

When he presented the gifts of ceremony, he would assume a placid expression of countenance. At the private interview he would be cordial and affable.

He would use no purple or violet colors for the facings of his dress. Nor would he have red or orange color for his undress. For the hot season he wore a singlet, of either coarse or fine texture, but would also feel bound to have an outer garment covering it. For his black robe he had lamb’s wool. For his white one, fawn’s fur. For his yellow one, fox fur. His furred undress robe was longer, but the right sleeve was shortened. He would needs have his sleeping-dress one and a half times his own length. For ordinary home wear he used thick substantial fox or badger furs. When he left off mourning, he would wear all his girdle trinkets. His kirtle in front, when it was not needed for full cover, he must needs have cut down. He would never wear his (black) lamb’s-wool, or a dark-colored cap, when he went on visits of condolence to mourners. On the first day of the new moon, he must have on his Court dress and to Court. When observing his fasts, he made a point of having bright, shiny garments, made of linen. He must also at such times vary his food, and move his seat to another part of his dwelling-room.

As to his food, he never tired of rice so long as it was clean and pure, nor of hashed meats when finely minced.

Rice spoiled by damp, and sour, he would not touch, nor tainted fish, nor bad meat, nor aught of a bad color or smell, nor aught overdone in cooking, nor aught out of season. Neither would he eat anything that was not properly cut, or that lacked its proper seasonings. Although there might be an abundance of meat before him, he would not allow a preponderance of it to rob the rice of its beneficial effect in nutrition. Only in the matter of wine did he set himself no limit, yet he never drank so much as to confuse himself. Tradesmen’s wines, and dried meats from the market, he would not touch. Ginger he would never have removed from the table during a meal. He was not a great eater. Meat from the sacrifices at the prince’s temple he would never put aside till the following day. The meat of his own offerings he would never give out after three days’ keeping, for after that time none were to eat it.

At his meals, he would not enter into discussions.

When resting (afterwards) he would not utter a word. Even if his meal consisted only of coarse rice and vegetable broth or melons, he would make an offering and never fail to do so religiously. He would never sit on a mat that was not straight.

After a feast among his villagers, he would wait before going away until the old men had left.

When the village people were exorcising the pests, he would put on his Court robes and stand on the steps of his hall to receive them. When he was sending a message of inquiry to a person in another State, he would bow twice on seeing the messenger off.

Ki K’ang once sent him a present of some medicine.

He bowed, and received it, but remarked, “Until I am quite sure of its properties I must not venture to taste it.”

Once when the stabling was destroyed by fire, he withdrew from the Court, and asked, “Is any person injured? “�without inquiring as to the horses.

Whenever the prince sent him a present of food, he was particular to set his mat in proper order, and would be the first one to taste it.

If the prince’s present was one of raw meat, he must needs have it cooked, and make an oblation of it. If the gift were a live animal, he would be sure to keep it and care for it.