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Reflection, Imitation, & Experience - Methods Identified By Confucius

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The three methods identified by Confucius are reflection, imitation, and experience. Reflection is that we can enhance the ability to learn and absorb what we learn. With this, we can make a connection with what we already theorize and empower a transformation of what we have already experienced. Reflection allows us to grow and learn as an individual.

Our reflection needs consistency and takes time. Imitation is what we do as young children, we see, and we mimic. This is a means of learning. Just as we will do in the externship, we will watch how an image is taken and then, therefore, implement what we have learned and see and do on our own.

Experience. The easiest way to explain this one. I have a tattoo that says, “Turn your wounds into Wisdom”. In other words, our life experiences make us the unique person we are, learn from your mistake and move forward. We each have had and still have our own paths in life, and therefore how we tend to them and manage the up’s and down make us different than the person sitting next to us.

Reflection: Abusive relationship. Healing from the past experience and allowing myself to grow and love again.

Imitation: My kids don’t need to see me going through a situation like that, thus showing them I am strong, they will hold onto that and see that they are too.

Experience: although a horrible experience, because it is something I have gone through, I know I am a stronger person today because of it.

As for Confucius and the afterlife, he was not interested in the religious recluse of man. He believed that heaven was meant to instill one striving to live a life of “good conduct”. His lack of interest in serving a god was due to the fact that he claims, “we do not know how to serve man”. Confucius, unlike Buddhism, believed that thinking of punishment after death was merely a way for mankind to “cloak” their morality in the means of selfish-interest.

Not to mention the immortality of the Taoists was selfish and simply denying a man the natural order of things. He believed that the supernatural beliefs of man were a waste of time, and it is the effort of the man himself that can learn from his experiences, grow from what he learns and gives him the power to change things. The virtues that Confucius taught to those that followed were Ren (benevolence), Yi (righteousness/justice), Li (proper rite), Zhi (knowledge), and Xin (integrity). Confucius taught men to prioritize their social duties and to live honest to themselves.


1. Hays, J. (n.d.). CONFUCIAN BELIEFS. Retrieved September 17, 2018, from

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