Confucius' mat
Philosophy of Confucius and Mencius     Our Bridge Club

Reading and writing about Confucius' philosophy provides me with an opportunity to raise a small (you may think : trivial) point which I have been wanting to express for some time.

The absolute top priority of our Social Bridge Club in Darwin is to create and maintain a harmonious and enjoyable atmosphere at the bridge tables, so that everyone is having a really good time.
We are quite successful at this.
There are always smiles at the tables all round and enthusiastic discussions about the game (without unpleasant recriminations) whenever time allows.
Dinner in Ubud, September 2015
Our socials (especially those were we spend more time together - Ubud, Tumbling Waters, Candidasa), enhance our feeling of togetherness.
The regular lessons and coaching sessions too, improve our understanding and skill level of the game, which in turn makes playing bridge an ever more joyful experience.   This is great and everybody is contributing well to this!

However, it is my belief that this harmonious and very positive environment should not be locked away just within our club.
On the contrary, we should also project our sense of generosity and "goodness" (as Confucius would call it) to the outside world. Especially towards our generous hosts, the PINT, the BUFF, Trailer Boat and Tracy Village Clubs.
But how can we express this in an appropriate way ?

Confucius, 551-479 BC When reading a book or watching a documentary about the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, invariably the story about Confucius' mat is included.

Before Confucius engages in any discussion with his pupils or visitors he always first straightens his mat (on the floor) before he sits down on it.

This is often interpreted as Confucius having a neat and tidy personality. But this is entirely missing the point which Confucius is making!

Confucius is straightening the wrinkles out off his mat in order to present a pleasing image for the one(s) sitting opposite him.
It is a so-called "as if " situation, where Confucius is placing himself mentally in his visitor's position and acts from that perspective to please.

How can we apply this simple example of Confucius's teaching in our bridge club ?

We are at the Trailer Boat Club.
Before play starts we usually sit on one of the large tables in the main area, having a chat before moving into the Conference room.

When it is time to go in, we stand up and walk away from the table.
Here is an opportunity !
Do not carelessly push your chair back and just walk away!
Instead, stand up, then place your chair neatly underneath and against the table, exactly as it was before you sat down !

What have you just done ?
You have executed a simple act of kindness. You thought about the person who may sit next on your spot at the table, and you left it as if you would be that person yourself !
An act of goodness, the thought of someone else, not just yourself.

Like other Clubs and Pubs the DTBC employ staff to clean up the tables and straighten up chairs, but that is besides the point !
It is our attitude towards others that matters, and when we as a club all think and act together like this it sends a subtle, yet important message.

As children our parents taught us to push back our chair properly after leaving the dinner table. It was part and parcel of developing "good manners", but it contained the important message to be thoughtful of others.
Unfortunately here in Darwin this appears to be the exception rather than the norm !

At the PINT and BUFF Clubs too, we should clean up and rearrange tables and chairs at the end of our bridge session the same way we found them when we arrived. I always make a point of doing that myself, often assisted by one or two like minded club members. This is no big deal and I am happy to do this.

But again, this is an opportunity for you to help, and by doing so display a small act of kindness and thoughtfulness towards others. In the process you make a tiny step forward towards becoming a better person yourself.
Especially in this selfish modern world we live in we badly need more of that !

© 2016 Michael Furstner