Mencius’ teachings now and then

Students nowadays complain about the abundance of books we must buy during the school year. I definitely wasn’t prepared to have to buy more than five hundred dollars worth of books for my first year of university. The only plus side I found besides getting to read new books were the fact that they were not ancient, bulky bamboo scrolls that I would have to lug around campus. In the time period where Mengzi (Mencius) was originally taught, Mencius the philosopher’s ideas were not presented through a book but through speech that later turned into writings on bamboo strips and much later into translated books like The Essential Mengzi that we have today. Mencius engaged with his students directly and his collection of anecdotes and conversations on political philosophy and moral were put together in later days by his followers to continue these beliefs onto later generations. His teachings were passed down successfully as he is someone we continue to read from all over the world due to followers who chose to translate and share his knowledge. Although the book The Essential Mengzi isn’t exactly how Mencius may have explained his teachings before the fourth century BC, his values and ideas were not lost in translation. His ideas on human nature, goodness, and social order are relatable to people in all generations and is what keeps his practices going. Thankfully, we are able to learn Mencius’ beliefs without having to carry around fourteen scrolls that would likely equal to this one short book with commentary that we are able to have in the palm of our hands.

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