Where Is True Wisdom Found?

“True wisdom is found in the rice bowl.”
~ Confucius

In ancient China, a high state official asked Confucius about the wisdom of governing the country, Confucius replied, “ True wisdom is found in the rice bowl.” It means that, to govern a state is to feed people with the delicious steamed rice.  When your people are replete, they follow the rules, and so your ruling becomes easy. When there is no rice in their bowls, people start to rebel. In other words, revolution starts from an empty rice bowl.

Confucius also said the wisdom of governing a country applies to raising a family as well. In a family, the househead (the husband and father) is responsible for keeping everyone’s rice bowl full. A man earns royalty from his wife and obedience from his children by filling up their rice bowls day by day. It is a hard work, but that was how families stay strong from generation to generation in China. In other words, a broken family starts from a broken rice bowl.

However, modern scholars often challenge the rice bowl concept. Is the rice all people want? What about freedom? Between food and freedom, what do you take first? Have you heard Americans saying “give me freedom or give me death?” How would Confucius respond to these questions?

Unlike many spiritual masters and self-help gurus, Confucius is a pragmatic, down-to-earth teacher. Thus he replied, let’s have a full bowl of rice first. then let’s work out the freedom. When you empty your rice, you’ll see what’s there. - Is freedom also found in rice bowl?


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