A Cup of Li

by cheri block sabraw

Joe and I got together last week to discuss the Analects of Confucius.

Our conversation took a detour when a sinewy male waiter approached our cramped table, under which Joe’s sore knee waited in an angle of repose.

Hello, my name is Mahid, he said. His thick silver and black glass frames distracted me.

You don’t look like a Mahid, Joe barked.

You look like an Ernest. An earnest Ernest. Joe winked at me.

Mahid missed the word play, robotically delivering the daily specials in a high pitch.

Our soup is creamed asparagus. If you are willing to take a survey right now, you can get a free appetizer. Would you like nachos with artichoke-cheese dip?

Screw the survey, Joe’s aching knee said through Joe’s mouth.

Mahid backed off.

I tried to wink at him to let him know that Joe was cranky, but he missed that signal, too.

You know Joe, from Confucius I understand that learning teaches one how to moderate inner passions. By being good, people will follow. The education of the leader is to be a role model for the followers. Do you agree with those beliefs?

I don’t think that by being good, people will follow. No, baby, I don’t buy that, Joe concluded.

That’s what I like about you Joe. I like your Qi. My Qi likes your Qi, I said, enjoying the sound of the syllables. I always know where you stand on all issues. You are straightforward and frank. Why here in our booth today, the vital energy of the universe  swirls around in a natural way. That’s Qi, right?

It’s Qi, but it’s a little Li, Joe added.

Lunch arrived, just in time for my Li.

I like the ritual of our Li and our lunch, I said, as I put my napkin in my lap.

Ritual is what keeps Qi under control, Cheri, Joe added, pushing the cream across the table for my coffee.

The Analects of Confucius is about Li– how to behave as a civilized person. Did you read 3.8 in the Analects? In a nutshell it says that you cannot hide the real Qi of a person by covering it with Li, or make-up.

I missed that one, Joe.  Let’s finish up with Run. What is Run as opposed to Qi and Li?

Before Joe could answer, Mahid was back. He looked at Joe with worried eyes, hidden behind those damn rims.

Would you like a refill of coffee? He squeaked.

Joe’s crustiness flaked off as he considered Run.

Yes, son, thank-you. Thank-you Mahid.

Run is the Golden Rule, a sense of reciprocity. Do unto others….baby.

Mahid, would you please bring the check? I gotta run.

About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
This entry was posted in Life, People. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to A Cup of Li

  1. andreaskluth says:

    My contention–and I am eager to have you prove it wrong–is that Confucius is the most shallow, most banal of all the “great” thinkers. Ie, not a thinker at all.

    What shocking insight did he ever come up with? That stability requires us to observed, to a fault, certain hierarchies (ruler-subject, husband-wife, etc).

    This was stating the obvious when he said it, and is now dated, to say the least.

    I have asked the Sinologists I know if there was more to him, but no, it appears not.

    I have the Analects on my shelf. Every time I open them, hoping to me surprised, I am bored.

  2. Cheri says:

    Before the Analects, I had only read the words of Confucius in the Analects of Hallmark.

    I found him repetitive, out-dated, and hierarchal.
    His views on filial piety, elders, superiors and the like did remind me of Ancient Rome, though.

    He does not have a place in your pantheon at

    Here, I am having fun with Qi, Li, and Run.

    By the way, speaking of high octane intellects or lack thereof, I could use your intellectual assistance in the later comments on my Nietzsche post Blamers and Warriors . Maybe.

  3. Phil says:

    “…..Confucius is the………most banal of all the “great” thinkers…….”.

    For a moment I thought you were referring to Clay Christensen!!!

    “…….That stability requires us to observe, to a fault, certain hierarchies (ruler-subject, husband-wife, etc)……..”.

    Is this Confucius’s old-fashioned way of saying that when observing couples, or those in any other sort of relationship, we should observe which party has the power? For what it’s worth, I, myself, always look for this dynamic when with, or observing, people together.

    “……..learning teaches one how to moderate inner passions. By being good, people will follow. The education of the leader is to be a role model for the followers………”.

    These, and the other sayings of Confucius, are sometimes true, sometimes not. Does not the real truth of anything, the real wisdom, lie almost always in the middle of two extremes?

    Regarding Confucius and role models, is not being a good role model about the most important thing in being a good parent?

  4. Richard Manchester says:

    I wish I knew how to put in italics, Phil!

    “Does not the real truth of anything, the real wisdom, lie almost always in the middle of two extremes”

    Half good plus half bad, for example?

    I’m glad I failed as a good role model for my children. They’re much better than me!

    I can’t help looking for the power dynamic either. That’s a shame, because all the trouble in the world is caused by the power-seekers.

  5. Foreign Toe says:

    You old hypocrite, Richard!

    You know you take credit for your children’s successes and disown their failings.

    And what about all that “Compromise” you keep spouting about?

    Are you sure you don’t like to get the upper hand?

  6. Cheri says:

    Confucius says: Phil, Richard, and Foreign Toe have much wisdom, wit, and at times, silliness.

    Confucius says: To use italics, hit the following keys before the quotable lines: Less than, lower case letter i, greater than. To end quotable line, hit less than, forward slash,lower case i, and greater than.

    • Foreign Toe says:

      Ever the teacher, thanks, Cheri though I’m still at a loss. Now, how do I get my Physog iin the box?\i

      • Cheri says:

        To post your mug, go to your account at wordpress. There you will find your settings, or thereabouts. They call your pix, your gravatar.
        Put a picture on your desktop and upload to your gravatar. You can think crop.
        Hope this helps. Will it be a toe?

  7. Foreign Toe says:

    What’ll yer have?
    Mine’s a gin.

    You’re taking the Mickey!
    That’s too sticky.
    It’s a key function.

  8. Cheri says:

    Judge Blah will have vodka tonic,
    The dog, water.

    Cheri will have a red blend,
    The cat, water.

    27 friends this morning will target shoot,
    Bloody Mary’s for all.
    Happy Turkey Day!

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