Holy Confucian Canon
Holy Confucian Canon
English translation by James Legge
Part I Part
The disciples did bury him in great style.
The Master said, "Hui behaved towards me as his father. I have
not been able to treat him as my son. The fault is not mine; it belongs
to you, O disciples."
Chi Lu asked about serving the spirits of the dead. The Master said, "While
you are not able to serve men, how can you serve their spirits?" Chi
Lu added, "I venture to ask about death?" He was answered, "While
you do not know life, how can you know about death?"
The disciple Min was standing by his side, looking bland and precise;
Tsze-lu, looking bold and soldierly; Zan Yu and Tsze-kung, with a
free and straightforward manner. The Master was pleased.
He said, "Yu, there!-he will not die a natural death."
Some parties in Lu were going to take down and rebuild the Long
Min Tsze-ch'ien said, "Suppose it were to be repaired after
its old style;-why must it be altered and made anew?"
The Master said, "This man seldom speaks; when he does, he
is sure to hit the point."
The Master said, "What has the lute of Yu to do in my door?"
The other disciples began not to respect Tszelu. The Master said, "Yu
has ascended to the hall, though he has not yet passed into the inner
Tsze-kung asked which of the two, Shih or Shang, was the superior.
The Master said, "Shih goes beyond the due mean, and Shang does
not come up to it."
"Then," said Tsze-kung, "the superiority is with
Shih, I suppose."
The Master said, "To go beyond is as wrong as to fall short."
The head of the Chi family was richer than the duke of Chau had
been, and yet Ch'iu collected his imposts for him, and increased
The Master said, "He is no disciple of mine. My little children,
beat the drum and assail him."
Ch'ai is simple. Shan is dull. Shih is specious. Yu is coarse.
The Master said, "There is Hui! He has nearly attained to perfect
virtue. He is often in want.
"Ts'ze does not acquiesce in the appointments of Heaven, and
his goods are increased by him. Yet his judgments are often correct."
Tsze-chang asked what were the characteristics of the good man.
The Master said, "He does not tread in the footsteps of others,
but moreover, he does not enter the chamber of the sage."
The Master said, "If, because a man's discourse appears solid
and sincere, we allow him to be a good man, is he really a superior
man? or is his gravity only in appearance?"
Tsze-lu asked whether he should immediately carry into practice
what he heard. The Master said, "There are your father and elder
brothers to be consulted;-why should you act on that principle of
immediately carrying into practice what you hear?" Zan Yu asked
the same, whether he should immediately carry into practice what
he heard, and the Master answered, "Immediately carry into practice
what you hear." Kung-hsi Hwa said, "Yu asked whether he
should carry immediately into practice what he heard, and you said,
'There are your father and elder brothers to be consulted.' Ch'iu
asked whether he should immediately carry into practice what he heard,
and you said, 'Carry it immediately into practice.' I, Ch'ih, am
perplexed, and venture to ask you for an explanation." The Master
said, "Ch'iu is retiring and slow; therefore I urged him forward.
Yu has more than his own share of energy; therefore I kept him back."
The Master was put in fear in K'wang and Yen Yuan fell behind. The
Master, on his rejoining him, said, "I thought you had died." Hui
replied, "While you were alive, how should I presume to die?"
Chi Tsze-zan asked whether Chung Yu and Zan Ch'iu could be called
The Master said, "I thought you would ask about some extraordinary
individuals, and you only ask about Yu and Ch'iu!
"What is called a great minister, is one who serves his prince
according to what is right, and when he finds he cannot do so, retires.
"Now, as to Yu and Ch'iu, they may be called ordinary ministers."
Tsze-zan said, "Then they will always follow their chief;-win
The Master said, "In an act of parricide or regicide, they
would not follow him."
Tsze-lu got Tsze-kao appointed governor of Pi.
The Master said, "You are injuring a man's son."
Tsze-lu said, "There are, there, common people and officers;
there are the altars of the spirits of the land and grain. Why must
one read books before he can be considered to have learned?"
The Master said, "It is on this account that I hate your glib-tongued
Tsze-lu, Tsang Hsi, Zan Yu, and Kunghsi Hwa were sitting by the
He said to them, "Though I am a day or so older than you, do
not think of that.
"From day to day you are saying, 'We are not known.' If some
ruler were to know you, what would you like to do?"
Tsze-lu hastily and lightly replied, "Suppose the case of a
state of ten thousand chariots; let it be straitened between other
large cities; let it be suffering from invading armies; and to this
let there be added a famine in corn and in all vegetables:-if I were
intrusted with the government of it, in three years' time I could
make the people to be bold, and to recognize the rules of righteous
conduct." The Master smiled at him.
Turning to Yen Yu, he said, "Ch'iu, what are your wishes?" Ch'iu
replied, "Suppose a state of sixty or seventy li square, or
one of fifty or sixty, and let me have the government of it;-in three
years' time, I could make plenty to abound among the people. As to
teaching them the principles of propriety, and music, I must wait
for the rise of a superior man to do that."
"What are your wishes, Ch'ih," said the Master next to
Kung-hsi Hwa. Ch'ih replied, "I do not say that my ability extends
to these things, but I should wish to learn them. At the services
of the ancestral temple, and at the audiences of the princes with
the sovereign, I should like, dressed in the dark square-made robe
and the black linen cap, to act as a small assistant."
Last of all, the Master asked Tsang Hsi, "Tien, what are your
wishes?" Tien, pausing as he was playing on his lute, while
it was yet twanging, laid the instrument aside, and "My wishes," he
said, "are different from the cherished purposes of these three
gentlemen." "What harm is there in that?" said the
Master; "do you also, as well as they, speak out your wishes." Tien
then said, "In this, the last month of spring, with the dress
of the season all complete, along with five or six young men who
have assumed the cap, and six or seven boys, I would wash in the
I, enjoy the breeze among the rain altars, and return home singing." The
Master heaved a sigh and said, "I give my approval to Tien."
The three others having gone out, Tsang Hsi remained behind, and
said, "What do you think of the words of these three friends?" The
Master replied, "They simply told each one his wishes."
Hsi pursued, "Master, why did you smile at Yu?"
He was answered, "The management of a state demands the rules
of propriety. His words were not humble; therefore I smiled at him."
Hsi again said, "But was it not a state which Ch'iu proposed
for himself?" The reply was, "Yes; did you ever see a territory
of sixty or seventy li or one of fifty or sixty, which was not a
Once more, Hsi inquired, "And was it not a state which Ch'ih
proposed for himself?" The Master again replied, "Yes;
who but princes have to do with ancestral temples, and with audiences
but the sovereign? If Ch'ih were to be a small assistant in these
services, who could be a great one?
Yen Yuan asked about perfect virtue. The Master said, "To subdue
one's self and return to propriety, is perfect virtue. If a man can
for one day subdue himself and return to propriety, an under heaven
will ascribe perfect virtue to him. Is the practice of perfect virtue
from a man himself, or is it from others?"
Yen Yuan said, "I beg to ask the steps of that process." The
Master replied, "Look not at what is contrary to propriety;
listen not to what is contrary to propriety; speak not what is contrary
to propriety; make no movement which is contrary to propriety." Yen
Yuan then said, "Though I am deficient in intelligence and vigor,
I will make it my business to practice this lesson."
Chung-kung asked about perfect virtue. The Master said, "It
is, when you go abroad, to behave to every one as if you were receiving
a great guest; to employ the people as if you were assisting at a
great sacrifice; not to do to others as you would not wish done to
yourself; to have no murmuring against you in the country, and none
in the family." Chung-kung said, "Though I am deficient
in intelligence and vigor, I will make it my business to practice
Sze-ma Niu asked about perfect virtue.
The Master said, "The man of perfect virtue is cautious and
slow in his speech."
"Cautious and slow in his speech!" said Niu;-"is
this what is meant by perfect virtue?" The Master said, "When
a man feels the difficulty of doing, can he be other than cautious
and slow in speaking?"
Sze-ma Niu asked about the superior man. The Master said, "The
superior man has neither anxiety nor fear."
"Being without anxiety or fear!" said Nui;"does this
constitute what we call the superior man?"
The Master said, "When internal examination discovers nothing
wrong, what is there to be anxious about, what is there to fear?"
Sze-ma Niu, full of anxiety, said, "Other men all have their
brothers, I only have not."
Tsze-hsia said to him, "There is the following saying which
I have heard-'Death and life have their determined appointment; riches
and honors depend upon Heaven.'
"Let the superior man never fail reverentially to order his
own conduct, and let him be respectful to others and observant of
propriety:-then all within the four seas will be his brothers. What
has the superior man to do with being distressed because he has no
Tsze-chang asked what constituted intelligence. The Master said, "He
with whom neither slander that gradually soaks into the mind, nor
statements that startle like a wound in the flesh, are successful
may be called intelligent indeed. Yea, he with whom neither soaking
slander, nor startling statements, are successful, may be called
Tsze-kung asked about government. The Master said, "The requisites
of government are that there be sufficiency of food, sufficiency
of military equipment, and the confidence of the people in their
Tsze-kung said, "If it cannot be helped, and one of these must
be dispensed with, which of the three should be foregone first?" "The
military equipment," said the Master.
Tsze-kung again asked, "If it cannot be helped, and one of
the remaining two must be dispensed with, which of them should be
foregone?" The Master answered, "Part with the food. From
of old, death has been the lot of an men; but if the people have
no faith in their rulers, there is no standing for the state."
Chi Tsze-ch'ang said, "In a superior man it is only the substantial
qualities which are wanted;-why should we seek for ornamental accomplishments?"
Tsze-kung said, "Alas! Your words, sir, show you to be a superior
man, but four horses cannot overtake the tongue. Ornament is as substance;
substance is as ornament. The hide of a tiger or a leopard stripped
of its hair, is like the hide of a dog or a goat stripped of its
The Duke Ai inquired of Yu Zo, saying, "The year is one of
scarcity, and the returns for expenditure are not sufficient;-what
is to be done?"
Yu Zo replied to him, "Why not simply tithe the people?"
"With two tenths, said the duke, "I find it not enough;-how
could I do with that system of one tenth?"
Yu Zo answered, "If the people have plenty, their prince will
not be left to want alone. If the people are in want, their prince
cannot enjoy plenty alone."
Tsze-chang having asked how virtue was to be exalted, and delusions
to be discovered, the Master said, "Hold faithfulness and sincerity
as first principles, and be moving continually to what is right,-this
is the way to exalt one's virtue.
"You love a man and wish him to live; you hate him and wish
him to die. Having wished him to live, you also wish him to die.
This is a case of delusion. 'It may not be on account of her being
rich, yet you come to make a difference.'"
The Duke Ching, of Ch'i, asked Confucius about government. Confucius
replied, "There is government, when the prince is prince, and
the minister is minister; when the father is father, and the son
"Good!" said the duke; "if, indeed, the prince be
not prince, the not minister, the father not father, and the son
not son, although I have my revenue, can I enjoy it?"
The Master said, "Ah! it is Yu, who could with half a word
Tsze-lu never slept over a promise.
The Master said, "In hearing litigations, I am like any other
body. What is necessary, however, is to cause the people to have
Tsze-chang asked about government. The Master said, "The art
of governing is to keep its affairs before the mind without weariness,
and to practice them with undeviating consistency."
The Master said, "By extensively studying all learning, and
keeping himself under the restraint of the rules of propriety, one
may thus likewise not err from what is right."
The Master said, "The superior man seeks to perfect the admirable
qualities of men, and does not seek to perfect their bad qualities.
The mean man does the opposite of this."
Chi K'ang asked Confucius about government. Confucius replied, "To
govern means to rectify. If you lead on the people with correctness,
who will dare not to be correct?"
Chi K'ang, distressed about the number of thieves in the state,
inquired of Confucius how to do away with them. Confucius said, "If
you, sir, were not covetous, although you should reward them to do
it, they would not steal."
Chi K'ang asked Confucius about government, saying, "What do
you say to killing the unprincipled for the good of the principled?" Confucius
replied, "Sir, in carrying on your government, why should you
use killing at all? Let your evinced desires be for what is good,
and the people will be good. The relation between superiors and inferiors
is like that between the wind and the grass. The grass must bend,
when the wind blows across it."
Tsze-chang asked, "What must the officer be, who may be said
to be distinguished?"
The Master said, "What is it you call being distinguished?"
Tsze-chang replied, "It is to be heard of through the state,
to be heard of throughout his clan."
The Master said, "That is notoriety, not distinction.
"Now the man of distinction is solid and straightforward, and
loves righteousness. He examines people's words, and looks at their
countenances. He is anxious to humble himself to others. Such a man
will be distinguished in the country; he will be distinguished in
"As to the man of notoriety, he assumes the appearance of virtue,
but his actions are opposed to it, and he rests in this character
without any doubts about himself. Such a man will be heard of in
the country; he will be heard of in the clan."
Fan Ch'ih rambling with the Master under the trees about the rain
altars, said, "I venture to ask how to exalt virtue, to correct
cherished evil, and to discover delusions."
The Master said, "Truly a good question!
"If doing what is to be done be made the first business, and
success a secondary consideration:-is not this the way to exalt virtue?
To assail one's own wickedness and not assail that of others;-is
not this the way to correct cherished evil? For a morning's anger
to disregard one's own life, and involve that of his parents;-is
not this a case of delusion?"
Fan Ch'ih asked about benevolence. The Master said, "It is
to love all men." He asked about knowledge. The Master said, "It
is to know all men."
Fan Ch'ih did not immediately understand these answers.
The Master said, "Employ the upright and put aside all the
crooked; in this way the crooked can be made to be upright."
Fan Ch'ih retired, and, seeing Tsze-hsia, he said to him, "A
Little while ago, I had an interview with our Master, and asked him
about knowledge. He said, 'Employ the upright, and put aside all
the crooked;-in this way, the crooked will be made to be upright.'
What did he mean?"
Tsze-hsia said, "Truly rich is his saying!
"Shun, being in possession of the kingdom, selected from among
all the people, and employed Kai-yao-on which all who were devoid
of virtue disappeared. T'ang, being in possession of the kingdom,
selected from among all the people, and employed I Yin-and an who
were devoid of virtue disappeared."
Tsze-kung asked about friendship. The Master said, "Faithfully
admonish your friend, and skillfully lead him on. If you find him
impracticable, stop. Do not disgrace yourself."
The philosopher Tsang said, "The superior man on grounds of
culture meets with his friends, and by friendship helps his virtue."
Tsze-lu asked about government. The Master said, "Go before
the people with your example, and be laborious in their affairs."
He requested further instruction, and was answered, "Be not
weary in these things."
Chung-kung, being chief minister to the head of the Chi family,
asked about government. The Master said, "Employ first the services
of your various officers, pardon small faults, and raise to office
men of virtue and talents."
Chung-kung said, "How shall I know the men of virtue and talent,
so that I may raise them to office?" He was answered, "Raise
to office those whom you know. As to those whom you do not know,
will others neglect them?"
Tsze-lu said, "The ruler of Wei has been waiting for you, in
order with you to administer the government. What will you consider
the first thing to be done?"
The Master replied, "What is necessary is to rectify names."
"So! indeed!" said Tsze-lu. "You are wide of the
mark! Why must there be such rectification?"
The Master said, "How uncultivated you are, Yu! A superior
man, in regard to what he does not know, shows a cautious reserve.
"If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with
the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth
of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success.
"When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties
and music do not flourish. When proprieties and music do not flourish,
punishments will not be properly awarded. When punishments are not
properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot.
"Therefore a superior man considers it necessary that the names
he uses may be spoken appropriately, and also that what he speaks
may be carried out appropriately. What the superior man requires
is just that in his words there may be nothing incorrect."
Fan Ch'ih requested to be taught husbandry. The Master said, "I
am not so good for that as an old husbandman." He requested
also to be taught gardening, and was answered, "I am not so
good for that as an old gardener."
Fan Ch'ih having gone out, the Master said, "A small man, indeed,
is Fan Hsu! If a superior man love propriety, the people will not
dare not to be reverent. If he love righteousness, the people will
not dare not to submit to his example. If he love good faith, the
people will not dare not to be sincere. Now, when these things obtain,
the people from all quarters will come to him, bearing their children
on their backs; what need has he of a knowledge of husbandry?"
The Master said, "Though a man may be able to recite the three
hundred odes, yet if, when intrusted with a governmental charge,
he knows not how to act, or if, when sent to any quarter on a mission,
he cannot give his replies unassisted, notwithstanding the extent
of his learning, of what practical use is it?"
The Master said, "When a prince's personal conduct is correct,
his government is effective without the issuing of orders. If his
personal conduct is not correct, he may issue orders, but they will
not be followed."
The Master said, "The governments of Lu and Wei are brothers."
The Master said of Ching, a scion of the ducal family of Wei, that
he knew the economy of a family well. When he began to have means,
he said, "Ha! here is a collection-!" When they were a
little increased, he said, "Ha! this is complete!" When
he had become rich, he said, "Ha! this is admirable!"
When the Master went to Weil Zan Yu acted as driver of his carriage.
The Master observed, "How numerous are the people!"
Yu said, "Since they are thus numerous, what more shall be
done for them?" "Enrich them, was the reply.
"And when they have been enriched, what more shall be done?" The
Master said, "Teach them."
The Master said, "If there were any of the princes who would
employ me, in the course of twelve months, I should have done something
considerable. In three years, the government would be perfected."
The Master said, "'If good men were to govern a country in
succession for a hundred years, they would be able to transform the
violently bad, and dispense with capital punishments.' True indeed
is this saying!"
The Master said, "If a truly royal ruler were to arise, it
would stir require a generation, and then virtue would prevail."
The Master said, "If a minister make his own conduct correct,
what difficulty will he have in assisting in government? If he cannot
rectify himself, what has he to do with rectifying others?"
The disciple Zan returning from the court, the Master said to him, "How
are you so late?" He replied, "We had government business." The
Master said, "It must have been family affairs. If there had
been government business, though I am not now in office, I should
have been consulted about it."
The Duke Ting asked whether there was a single sentence which could
make a country prosperous. Confucius replied, "Such an effect
cannot be expected from one sentence.
"There is a saying, however, which people have -'To be a prince
is difficult; to be a minister is not easy.'
"If a ruler knows this,-the difficulty of being a prince,-may
there not be expected from this one sentence the prosperity of his
The duke then said, "Is there a single sentence which can ruin
a country?" Confucius replied, "Such an effect as that
cannot be expected from one sentence. There is, however, the saying
which people have-'I have no pleasure in being a prince, but only
in that no one can offer any opposition to what I say!'
"If a ruler's words be good, is it not also good that no one
oppose them? But if they are not good, and no one opposes them, may
there not be expected from this one sentence the ruin of his country?"
The Duke of Sheh asked about government.
The Master said, "Good government obtains when those who are
near are made happy, and those who are far off are attracted."
Tsze-hsia! being governor of Chu-fu, asked about government. The
Master said, "Do not be desirous to have things done quickly;
do not look at small advantages. Desire to have things done quickly
prevents their being done thoroughly. Looking at small advantages
prevents great affairs from being accomplished."
The Duke of Sheh informed Confucius, saying, "Among us here
there are those who may be styled upright in their conduct. If their
father have stolen a sheep, they will bear witness to the fact."
Confucius said, "Among us, in our part of the country, those
who are upright are different from this. The father conceals the
misconduct of the son, and the son conceals the misconduct of the
father. Uprightness is to be found in this."
Fan Ch'ih asked about perfect virtue. The Master said, "It
is, in retirement, to be sedately grave; in the management of business,
to be reverently attentive; in intercourse with others, to be strictly
sincere. Though a man go among rude, uncultivated tribes, these qualities
may not be neglected."
Tsze-kung asked, saying, "What qualities must a man possess
to entitle him to be called an officer? The Master said, "He
who in his conduct of himself maintains a sense of shame, and when
sent to any quarter will not disgrace his prince's commission, deserves
to be called an officer."
Tsze-kung pursued, "I venture to ask who may be placed in the
next lower rank?" And he was told, "He whom the circle
of his relatives pronounce to be filial, whom his fellow villagers
and neighbors pronounce to be fraternal."
Again the disciple asked, "I venture to ask about the class
still next in order." The Master said, "They are determined
to be sincere in what they say, and to carry out what they do. They
are obstinate little men. Yet perhaps they may make the next class."
Tsze-kung finally inquired, "Of what sort are those of the
present day, who engage in government?" The Master said "Pooh!
they are so many pecks and hampers, not worth being taken into account."
The Master said, "Since I cannot get men pursuing the due medium,
to whom I might communicate my instructions, I must find the ardent
and the cautiously-decided. The ardent will advance and lay hold
of truth; the cautiously-decided will keep themselves from what is
The Master said, "The people of the south have a saying -'A
man without constancy cannot be either a wizard or a doctor.' Good!
"Inconstant in his virtue, he will be visited with disgrace."
The Master said, "This arises simply from not attending to
The Master said, "The superior man is affable, but not adulatory;
the mean man is adulatory, but not affable."
Tsze-kung asked, saying, "What do you say of a man who is loved
by all the people of his neighborhood?" The Master replied, "We
may not for that accord our approval of him." "And what
do you say of him who is hated by all the people of his neighborhood?" The
Master said, "We may not for that conclude that he is bad. It
is better than either of these cases that the good in the neighborhood
love him, and the bad hate him."
The Master said, "The superior man is easy to serve and difficult
to please. If you try to please him in any way which is not accordant
with right, he will not be pleased. But in his employment of men,
he uses them according to their capacity. The mean man is difficult
to serve, and easy to please. If you try to please him, though it
be in a way which is not accordant with right, he may be pleased.
But in his employment of men, he wishes them to be equal to everything."
The Master said, "The superior man has a dignified ease without
pride. The mean man has pride without a dignified ease."
The Master said, "The firm, the enduring, the simple, and the
modest are near to virtue."
Tsze-lu asked, saying, "What qualities must a man possess to
entitle him to be called a scholar?" The Master said, "He
must be thus,-earnest, urgent, and bland:-among his friends, earnest
and urgent; among his brethren, bland."
The Master said, "Let a good man teach the people seven years,
and they may then likewise be employed in war."
The Master said, "To lead an uninstructed people to war, is
to throw them away."
Hsien asked what was shameful. The Master said, "When good
government prevails in a state, to be thinking only of salary; and,
when bad government prevails, to be thinking, in the same way, only
of salary;-this is shameful."
"When the love of superiority, boasting, resentments, and covetousness
are repressed, this may be deemed perfect virtue."
The Master said, "This may be regarded as the achievement of
what is difficult. But I do not know that it is to be deemed perfect
The Master said, "The scholar who cherishes the love of comfort
is not fit to be deemed a scholar."
The Master said, "When good government prevails in a state,
language may be lofty and bold, and actions the same. When bad government
prevails, the actions may be lofty and bold, but the language may
be with some reserve."
The Master said, "The virtuous will be sure to speak correctly,
but those whose speech is good may not always be virtuous. Men of
principle are sure to be bold, but those who are bold may not always
be men of principle."
Nan-kung Kwo, submitting an inquiry to Confucius, said, "I
was skillful at archery, and Ao could move a boat along upon the
land, but neither of them died a natural death. Yu and Chi personally
wrought at the toils of husbandry, and they became possessors of
the kingdom." The Master made no reply; but when Nan-kung Kwo
went out, he said, "A superior man indeed is this! An esteemer
of virtue indeed is this!"
The Master said, "Superior men, and yet not always virtuous,
there have been, alas! But there never has been a mean man, and,
at the same time, virtuous."
The Master said, "Can there be love which does not lead to
strictness with its object? Can there be loyalty which does not lead
to the instruction of its object?"
The Master said, "In preparing the governmental notifications,
P'i Shan first made the rough draft; Shi-shu examined and discussed
its contents; Tsze-yu, the manager of foreign intercourse, then polished
the style; and, finally, Tsze-ch'an of Tung-li gave it the proper
elegance and finish."
Some one asked about Tsze-ch'an. The Master said, "He was a
He asked about Tsze-hsi. The Master said, "That man! That man!"
He asked about Kwan Chung. "For him," said the Master, "the
city of Pien, with three hundred families, was taken from the chief
of the Po family, who did not utter a murmuring word, though, to
the end of his life, he had only coarse rice to eat."
The Master said, "To be poor without murmuring is difficult.
To be rich without being proud is easy."
The Master said, "Mang Kung-ch'o is more than fit to be chief
officer in the families of Chao and Wei, but he is not fit to be
great officer to either of the states Tang or Hsieh."
Tsze-lu asked what constituted a COMPLETE man. The Master said, "Suppose
a man with the knowledge of Tsang Wu-chung, the freedom from covetousness
of Kung-ch'o, the bravery of Chwang of Pien, and the varied talents
of Zan Ch'iu; add to these the accomplishments of the rules of propriety
and music;-such a one might be reckoned a COMPLETE man."
He then added, "But what is the necessity for a complete man
of the present day to have all these things? The man, who in the
view of gain, thinks of righteousness; who in the view of danger
is prepared to give up his life; and who does not forget an old agreement
however far back it extends:-such a man may be reckoned a COMPLETE
The Master asked Kung-ming Chia about Kung-shu Wan, saying, "Is
it true that your master speaks not, laughs not, and takes not?"
Kung-ming Chia replied, "This has arisen from the reporters
going beyond the truth.-My master speaks when it is the time to speak,
and so men do not get tired of his speaking. He laughs when there
is occasion to be joyful, and so men do not get tired of his laughing.
He takes when it is consistent with righteousness to do so, and so
men do not get tired of his taking." The Master said, "So!
But is it so with him?"
The Master said, "Tsang Wu-chung, keeping possession of Fang,
asked of the duke of Lu to appoint a successor to him in his family.
Although it may be said that he was not using force with his sovereign,
I believe he was."
The Master said, "The duke Wan of Tsin was crafty and not upright.
The duke Hwan of Ch'i was upright and not crafty."
Tsze-lu said, "The Duke Hwan caused his brother Chiu to be
killed, when Shao Hu died, with his master, but Kwan Chung did not
die. May not I say that he was wanting in virtue?"
The Master said, "The Duke Hwan assembled all the princes together,
and that not with weapons of war and chariots:-it was all through
the influence of Kwan Chung. Whose beneficence was like his? Whose
beneficence was like his?"
Tsze-kung said, "Kwan Chung, I apprehend was wanting in virtue.
When the Duke Hwan caused his brother Chiu to be killed, Kwan Chung
was not able to die with him. Moreover, he became prime minister
The Master said, "Kwan Chung acted as prime minister to the
Duke Hwan made him leader of all the princes, and united and rectified
the whole kingdom. Down to the present day, the people enjoy the
gifts which he conferred. But for Kwan Chung, we should now be wearing
our hair unbound, and the lappets of our coats buttoning on the left
"Will you require from him the small fidelity of common men
and common women, who would commit suicide in a stream or ditch,
no one knowing anything about them?"
The great officer, Hsien, who had been family minister to Kung-shu
Wan, ascended to the prince's court in company with Wan.
The Master, having heard of it, said, "He deserved to be considered
WAN (the accomplished)."
The Master was speaking about the unprincipled course of the duke
Ling of Weil when Ch'i K'ang said, "Since he is of such a character,
how is it he does not lose his state?"
Confucius said, "The Chung-shu Yu has the superintendence of
his guests and of strangers; the litanist, T'o, has the management
of his ancestral temple; and Wang-sun Chia has the direction of the
army and forces:-with such officers as these, how should he lose
The Master said, "He who speaks without modesty will find it
difficult to make his words good."
Chan Ch'ang murdered the Duke Chien of Ch'i.
Confucius bathed, went to court and informed the Duke Ai, saying, "Chan
Hang has slain his sovereign. I beg that you will undertake to punish
The duke said, "Inform the chiefs of the three families of
Confucius retired, and said, "Following in the rear of the
great officers, I did not dare not to represent such a matter, and
my prince says, "Inform the chiefs of the three families of
He went to the chiefs, and informed them, but they would not act.
Confucius then said, "Following in the rear of the great officers,
I did not dare not to represent such a matter."
Tsze-lu asked how a ruler should be served. The Master said, "Do
not impose on him, and, moreover, withstand him to his face."
The Master said, "The progress of the superior man is upwards;
the progress of the mean man is downwards."
The Master said, "In ancient times, men learned with a view
to their own improvement. Nowadays, men learn with a view to the
approbation of others."
Chu Po-yu sent a messenger with friendly inquiries to Confucius.
Confucius sat with him, and questioned him. "What," said
he! "is your master engaged in?" The messenger replied, "My
master is anxious to make his faults few, but he has not yet succeeded." He
then went out, and the Master said, "A messenger indeed! A messenger
The Master said, "He who is not in any particular office has
nothing to do with plans for the administration of its duties."
The philosopher Tsang said, "The superior man, in his thoughts,
does not go out of his place."
The Master said, "The superior man is modest in his speech,
but exceeds in his actions."
The Master said, "The way of the superior man is threefold,
but I am not equal to it. Virtuous, he is free from anxieties; wise,
he is free from perplexities; bold, he is free from fear.
Tsze-kung said, "Master, that is what you yourself say."
Tsze-kung was in the habit of comparing men together. The Master
said, "Tsze must have reached a high pitch of excellence! Now,
I have not leisure for this."
The Master said, "I will not be concerned at men's not knowing
me; I will be concerned at my own want of ability."
The Master said, "He who does not anticipate attempts to deceive
him, nor think beforehand of his not being believed, and yet apprehends
these things readily when they occur;-is he not a man of superior
Wei-shang Mau said to Confucius, "Ch'iu, how is it that you
keep roosting about? Is it not that you are an insinuating talker?
Confucius said, "I do not dare to play the part of such a talker,
but I hate obstinacy."
The Master said, "A horse is called a ch'i, not because of
its strength, but because of its other good qualities."
Some one said, "What do you say concerning the principle that
injury should be recompensed with kindness?"
The Master said, "With what then will you recompense kindness?"
"Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with
The Master said, "Alas! there is no one that knows me."
Tsze-kung said, "What do you mean by thus saying-that no one
knows you?" The Master replied, "I do not murmur against
Heaven. I do not grumble against men. My studies lie low, and my
penetration rises high. But there is Heaven;-that knows me!"
The Kung-po Liao, having slandered Tsze-lu to Chi-sun, Tsze-fu Ching-po
informed Confucius of it, saying, "Our master is certainly being
led astray by the Kung-po Liao, but I have still power enough left
to cut Liao off, and expose his corpse in the market and in the court."
The Master said, "If my principles are to advance, it is so
ordered. If they are to fall to the ground, it is so ordered. What
can the Kung-po Liao do where such ordering is concerned?"
The Master said, "Some men of worth retire from the world.
Some retire from particular states. Some retire because of disrespectful
looks. Some retire because of contradictory language."
The Master said, "Those who have done this are seven men."
Tsze-lu happening to pass the night in Shih-man, the gatekeeper
said to him, "Whom do you come from?" Tsze-lu said, "From
Mr. K'ung." "It is he,-is it not?"-said the other, "who
knows the impracticable nature of the times and yet will be doing
The Master was playing, one day, on a musical stone in Weil when
a man carrying a straw basket passed door of the house where Confucius
was, and said, "His heart is full who so beats the musical stone."
A little while after, he added, "How contemptible is the one-ideaed
obstinacy those sounds display! When one is taken no notice of, he
has simply at once to give over his wish for public employment. 'Deep
water must be crossed with the clothes on; shallow water may be crossed
with the clothes held up.'"
The Master said, "How determined is he in his purpose! But
this is not difficult!"
Tsze-chang said, "What is meant when the Shu says that Kao-tsung,
while observing the usual imperial mourning, was for three years
The Master said, "Why must Kao-tsung be referred to as an example
of this? The ancients all did so. When the sovereign died, the officers
all attended to their several duties, taking instructions from the
prime minister for three years."
The Master said, "When rulers love to observe the rules of
propriety, the people respond readily to the calls on them for service."
Tsze-lu asked what constituted the superior man. The Master said, "The
cultivation of himself in reverential carefulness." "And
is this all?" said Tsze-lu. "He cultivates himself so as
to give rest to others," was the reply. "And is this all?" again
asked Tsze-lu. The Master said, "He cultivates himself so as
to give rest to all the people. He cultivates himself so as to give
rest to all the people:-even Yao and Shun were still solicitous about
Yuan Zang was squatting on his heels, and so waited the approach
of the Master, who said to him, "In youth not humble as befits
a junior; in manhood, doing nothing worthy of being handed down;
and living on to old age:-this is to be a pest." With this he
hit him on the shank with his staff.
A youth of the village of Ch'ueh was employed by Confucius to carry
the messages between him and his visitors. Some one asked about him,
saying, "I suppose he has made great progress."
The Master said, "I observe that he is fond of occupying the
seat of a full-grown man; I observe that he walks shoulder to shoulder
with his elders. He is not one who is seeking to make progress in
learning. He wishes quickly to become a man."
The Duke Ling of Wei asked Confucius about tactics. Confucius replied, "I
have heard all about sacrificial vessels, but I have not learned
military matters." On this, he took his departure the next day.
When he was in Chan, their provisions were exhausted, and his followers
became so in that they were unable to rise.
Tsze-lu, with evident dissatisfaction, said, "Has the superior
man likewise to endure in this way?" The Master said, "The
superior man may indeed have to endure want, but the mean man, when
he is in want, gives way to unbridled license."
The Master said, "Ts'ze, you think, I suppose, that I am one
who learns many things and keeps them in memory?"
Tsze-kung replied, "Yes,-but perhaps it is not so?"
"No," was the answer; "I seek a unity all pervading."
The Master said, "Yu I those who know virtue are few."
The Master said, "May not Shun be instanced as having governed
efficiently without exertion? What did he do? He did nothing but
gravely and reverently occupy his royal seat."
Tsze-chang asked how a man should conduct himself, so as to be everywhere
The Master said, "Let his words be sincere and truthful and
his actions honorable and careful;-such conduct may be practiced
among the rude tribes of the South or the North. If his words be
not sincere and truthful and his actions not honorable and carefull
will he, with such conduct, be appreciated, even in his neighborhood?
"When he is standing, let him see those two things, as it were,
fronting him. When he is in a carriage, let him see them attached
to the yoke. Then may he subsequently carry them into practice."
Tsze-chang wrote these counsels on the end of his sash.
The Master said, "Truly straightforward was the historiographer
Yu. When good government prevailed in his state, he was like an arrow.
When bad government prevailed, he was like an arrow. A superior man
indeed is Chu Po-yu! When good government prevails in his state,
he is to be found in office. When bad government prevails, he can
roll his principles up, and keep them in his breast."
The Master said, "When a man may be spoken with, not to speak
to him is to err in reference to the man. When a man may not be spoken
with, to speak to him is to err in reference to our words. The wise
err neither in regard to their man nor to their words."
The Master said, "The determined scholar and the man of virtue
will not seek to live at the expense of injuring their virtue. They
will even sacrifice their lives to preserve their virtue complete."
Tsze-kung asked about the practice of virtue. The Master said, "The
mechanic, who wishes to do his work well, must first sharpen his
tools. When you are living in any state, take service with the most
worthy among its great officers, and make friends of the most virtuous
among its scholars."
Yen Yuan asked how the government of a country should be administered.
The Master said, "Follow the seasons of Hsia.
"Ride in the state carriage of Yin.
"Wear the ceremonial cap of Chau.
"Let the music be the Shao with its pantomimes. Banish the
songs of Chang, and keep far from specious talkers. The songs of
Chang are licentious; specious talkers are dangerous."
The Master said, "If a man take no thought about what is distant,
he will find sorrow near at hand."
The Master said, "It is all over! I have not seen one who loves
virtue as he loves beauty."
The Master said, "Was not Tsang Wan like one who had stolen
his situation? He knew the virtue and the talents of Hui of Liu-hsia,
and yet did not procure that he should stand with him in court."
The Master said, "He who requires much from himself and little
from others, will keep himself from being the object of resentment."
The Master said, "When a man is not in the habit of saying-'What
shall I think of this? What shall I think of this?' I can indeed
do nothing with him!"
The Master said, "When a number of people are together, for
a whole day, without their conversation turning on righteousness,
and when they are fond of carrying out the suggestions of a small
shrewdness;-theirs is indeed a hard case."
The Master said, "The superior man in everything considers
righteousness to be essential. He performs it according to the rules
of propriety. He brings it forth in humility. He completes it with
sincerity. This is indeed a superior man."
The Master said, "The superior man is distressed by his want
of ability. He is not distressed by men's not knowing him."
The Master said, "The superior man dislikes the thought of
his name not being mentioned after his death."
The Master said, "What the superior man seeks, is in himself.
What the mean man seeks, is in others."
The Master said, "The superior man is dignified, but does not
wrangle. He is sociable, but not a partisan."
The Master said, "The superior man does not promote a man simply
on account of his words, nor does he put aside good words because
of the man."
Tsze-kung asked, saying, "Is there one word which may serve
as a rule of practice for all one's life?" The Master said, "Is
not RECIPROCITY such a word? What you do not want done to yourself,
do not do to others."
The Master said, "In my dealings with men, whose evil do I
blame, whose goodness do I praise, beyond what is proper? If I do
sometimes exceed in praise, there must be ground for it in my examination
of the individual.
"This people supplied the ground why the three dynasties pursued
the path of straightforwardness."
The Master said, "Even in my early days, a historiographer
would leave a blank in his text, and he who had a horse would lend
him to another to ride. Now, alas! there are no such things."
The Master said, "Specious words confound virtue. Want of forbearance
in small matters confounds great plans."
The Master said, "When the multitude hate a man, it is necessary
to examine into the case. When the multitude like a man, it is necessary
to examine into the case."
The Master said, "A man can enlarge the principles which he
follows; those principles do not enlarge the man."
The Master said, "To have faults and not to reform them,-this,
indeed, should be pronounced having faults."
The Master said, "I have been the whole day without eating,
and the whole night without sleeping:-occupied with thinking. It
was of no use. better plan is to learn."
The Master said, "The object of the superior man is truth.
Food is not his object. There is plowing;-even in that there is sometimes
want. So with learning;-emolument may be found in it. The superior
man is anxious lest he should not get truth; he is not anxious lest
poverty should come upon him."
The Master said, "When a man's knowledge is sufficient to attain,
and his virtue is not sufficient to enable him to hold, whatever
he may have gained, he will lose again.
"When his knowledge is sufficient to attain, and he has virtue
enough to hold fast, if he cannot govern with dignity, the people
will not respect him.
"When his knowledge is sufficient to attain, and he has virtue
enough to hold fast; when he governs also with dignity, yet if he
try to move the people contrary to the rules of propriety:-full excellence
is not reached."
The Master said, "The superior man cannot be known in little
matters; but he may be intrusted with great concerns. The small man
may not be intrusted with great concerns, but he may be known in
The Master said, "Virtue is more to man than either water or
fire. I have seen men die from treading on water and fire, but I
have never seen a man die from treading the course of virtue."
The Master said, "Let every man consider virtue as what devolves
on himself. He may not yield the performance of it even to his teacher."
The Master said, "The superior man is correctly firm, and not
The Master said, "A minister, in serving his prince, reverently
discharges his duties, and makes his emolument a secondary consideration."
The Master said, "In teaching there should be no distinction
The Master said, "Those whose courses are different cannot
lay plans for one another."
The Master said, "In language it is simply required that it
convey the meaning."
The music master, Mien, having called upon him, when they came to
the steps, the Master said, "Here are the steps." When
they came to the mat for the guest to sit upon, he said, "Here
is the mat." When all were seated, the Master informed him,
saying, "So and so is here; so and so is here."
The music master, Mien, having gone out, Tsze-chang asked, saying. "Is
it the rule to tell those things to the music master?"
The Master said, "Yes. This is certainly the rule for those
who lead the blind."
The head of the Chi family was going to attack Chwan-yu.
Zan Yu and Chi-lu had an interview with Confucius, and said, "Our
chief, Chil is going to commence operations against Chwan-yu."
Confucius said, "Ch'iu, is it not you who are in fault here?
"Now, in regard to Chwan-yu, long ago, a former king appointed
its ruler to preside over the sacrifices to the eastern Mang; moreover,
it is in the midst of the territory of our state; and its ruler is
a minister in direct connection with the sovereign: What has your
chief to do with attacking it?"
Zan Yu said, "Our master wishes the thing; neither of us two
ministers wishes it."
Confucius said, "Ch'iu, there are the words of Chau Zan, -'When
he can put forth his ability, he takes his place in the ranks of
office; when he finds himself unable to do so, he retires from it.
How can he be used as a guide to a blind man, who does not support
him when tottering, nor raise him up when fallen?'
"And further, you speak wrongly. When a tiger or rhinoceros
escapes from his cage; when a tortoise or piece of jade is injured
in its repository:-whose is the fault?"
Zan Yu said, "But at present, Chwan-yu is strong and near to
Pi; if our chief do not now take it, it will hereafter be a sorrow
to his descendants."
Confucius said. "Ch'iu, the superior man hates those declining
to say-'I want such and such a thing,' and framing explanations for
"I have heard that rulers of states and chiefs of families
are not troubled lest their people should be few, but are troubled
lest they should not keep their several places; that they are not
troubled with fears of poverty, but are troubled with fears of a
want of contented repose among the people in their several places.
For when the people keep their several places, there will be no poverty;
when harmony prevails, there will be no scarcity of people; and when
there is such a contented repose, there will be no rebellious upsettings.
"So it is.-Therefore, if remoter people are not submissive,
all the influences of civil culture and virtue are to be cultivated
to attract them to be so; and when they have been so attracted, they
must be made contented and tranquil.
"Now, here are you, Yu and Ch'iu, assisting your chief. Remoter
people are not submissive, and, with your help, he cannot attract
them to him. In his own territory there are divisions and downfalls,
leavings and separations, and, with your help, he cannot preserve
"And yet he is planning these hostile movements within the
state.-I am afraid that the sorrow of the Chi-sun family will not
be on account of Chwan-yu, but will be found within the screen of
their own court."
Confucius said, "When good government prevails in the empire,
ceremonies, music, and punitive military expeditions proceed from
the son of Heaven. When bad government prevails in the empire, ceremonies,
music, and punitive military expeditions proceed from the princes.
When these things proceed from the princes, as a rule, the cases
will be few in which they do not lose their power in ten generations.
When they proceed from the great officers of the princes, as a rule,
the case will be few in which they do not lose their power in five
generations. When the subsidiary ministers of the great officers
hold in their grasp the orders of the state, as a rule the cases
will be few in which they do not lose their power in three generations.
"When right principles prevail in the kingdom, government will
not be in the hands of the great officers.
"When right principles prevail in the kingdom, there will be
no discussions among the common people."
Confucius said, "The revenue of the state has left the ducal
house now for five generations. The government has been in the hands
of the great officers for four generations. On this account, the
descendants of the three Hwan are much reduced."
Confucius said, "There are three friendships which are advantageous,
and three which are injurious. Friendship with the uplight; friendship
with the sincere; and friendship with the man of much observation:-these
are advantageous. Friendship with the man of specious airs; friendship
with the insinuatingly soft; and friendship with the glib-tongued:-these
Confucius said, "There are three things men find enjoyment
in which are advantageous, and three things they find enjoyment in
which are injurious. To find enjoyment in the discriminating study
of ceremonies and music; to find enjoyment in speaking of the goodness
of others; to find enjoyment in having many worthy friends:-these
are advantageous. To find enjoyment in extravagant pleasures; to
find enjoyment in idleness and sauntering; to find enjoyment in the
pleasures of feasting:-these are injurious."
Confucius said, "There are three errors to which they who stand
in the presence of a man of virtue and station are liable. They may
speak when it does not come to them to speak;-this is called rashness.
They may not speak when it comes to them to speak;-this is called
concealment. They may speak without looking at the countenance of
their superior;-this is called blindness."
Confucius said, "There are three things which the superior
man guards against. In youth, when the physical powers are not yet
settled, he guards against lust. When he is strong and the physical
powers are full of vigor, he guards against quarrelsomeness. When
he is old, and the animal powers are decayed, he guards against covetousness."
Confucius said, "There are three things of which the superior
man stands in awe. He stands in awe of the ordinances of Heaven.
He stands in awe of great men. He stands in awe of the words of sages.
"The mean man does not know the ordinances of Heaven, and consequently
does not stand in awe of them. He is disrespectful to great men.
He makes sport of the words of sages."
Confucius said, "Those who are born with the possession of
knowledge are the highest class of men. Those who learn, and so readily
get possession of knowledge, are the next. Those who are dull and
stupid, and yet compass the learning, are another class next to these.
As to those who are dull and stupid and yet do not learn;-they are
the lowest of the people."
Confucius said, "The superior man has nine things which are
subjects with him of thoughtful consideration. In regard to the use
of his eyes, he is anxious to see clearly. In regard to the use of
his ears, he is anxious to hear distinctly. In regard to his countenance,
he is anxious that it should be benign. In regard to his demeanor,
he is anxious that it should be respectful. In regard to his speech,
he is anxious that it should be sincere. In regard to his doing of
business, he is anxious that it should be reverently careful. In
regard to what he doubts about, he is anxious to question others.
When he is angry, he thinks of the difficulties his anger may involve
him in. When he sees gain to be got, he thinks of righteousness."
Confucius said, "Contemplating good, and pursuing it, as if
they could not reach it; contemplating evil! and shrinking from it,
as they would from thrusting the hand into boiling water:-I have
seen such men, as I have heard such words.
"Living in retirement to study their aims, and practicing righteousness
to carry out their principles:-I have heard these words, but I have
not seen such men."
The Duke Ching of Ch'i had a thousand teams, each of four horses,
but on the day of his death, the people did not praise him for a
single virtue. Po-i and Shu-ch'i died of hunger at the foot of the
Shau-yang mountains, and the people, down to the present time, praise
"Is not that saying illustrated by this?"
Ch'an K'ang asked Po-yu, saying, "Have you heard any lessons
from your father different from what we have all heard?"
Po-yu replied, "No. He was standing alone once, when I passed
below the hall with hasty steps, and said to me, 'Have you learned
the Odes?' On my replying 'Not yet,' he added, If you do not learn
the Odes, you will not be fit to converse with.' I retired and studied
"Another day, he was in the same way standing alone, when I
passed by below the hall with hasty steps, and said to me, 'Have
you learned the rules of Propriety?' On my replying 'Not yet,' he
added, 'If you do not learn the rules of Propriety, your character
cannot be established.' I then retired, and learned the rules of
"I have heard only these two things from him."
Ch'ang K'ang retired, and, quite delighted, said, "I asked
one thing, and I have got three things. I have heard about the Odes.
I have heard about the rules of Propriety. I have also heard that
the superior man maintains a distant reserve towards his son."
The wife of the prince of a state is called by him Fu Zan. She calls
herself Hsiao T'ung. The people of the state call her Chun Fu Zan,
and, to the people of other states, they call her K'wa Hsiao Chun.
The people of other states also call her Chun Fu Zan.
Yang Ho wished to see Confucius, but Confucius would not go to see
him. On this, he sent a present of a pig to Confucius, who, having
chosen a time when Ho was not at home went to pay his respects for
the gift. He met him, however, on the way.
Ho said to Confucius, "Come, let me speak with you." He
then asked, "Can he be called benevolent who keeps his jewel
in his bosom, and leaves his country to confusion?" Confucius
replied, "No." "Can he be called wise, who is anxious
to be engaged in public employment, and yet is constantly losing
the opportunity of being so?" Confucius again said, "No." "The
days and months are passing away; the years do not wait for us." Confucius
said, "Right; I will go into office."
The Master said, "By nature, men are nearly alike; by practice,
they get to be wide apart."
The Master said, "There are only the wise of the highest class,
and the stupid of the lowest class, who cannot be changed."
The Master, having come to Wu-ch'ang, heard there the sound of stringed
instruments and singing.
Well pleased and smiling, he said, "Why use an ox knife to
kill a fowl?"
Tsze-yu replied, "Formerly, Master, I heard you say,-'When
the man of high station is well instructed, he loves men; when the
man of low station is well instructed, he is easily ruled.'"
The Master said, "My disciples, Yen's words are right. What
I said was only in sport."
Kung-shan Fu-zao, when he was holding Pi, and in an attitude of
rebellion, invited the Master to visit him, who was rather inclined
Tsze-lu was displeased. and said, "Indeed, you cannot go! Why
must you think of going to see Kung-shan?"
The Master said, "Can it be without some reason that he has
invited ME? If any one employ me, may I not make an eastern Chau?"
Tsze-chang asked Confucius about perfect virtue. Confucius said, "To
be able to practice five things everywhere under heaven constitutes
perfect virtue." He begged to ask what they were, and was told, "Gravity,
generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness. If you
are grave, you will not be treated with disrespect. If you are generous,
you will win all. If you are sincere, people will repose trust in
you. If you are earnest, you will accomplish much. If you are kind,
this will enable you to employ the services of others.
Pi Hsi inviting him to visit him, the Master was inclined to go.
Tsze-lu said, "Master, formerly I have heard you say, 'When
a man in his own person is guilty of doing evil, a superior man will
not associate with him.' Pi Hsi is in rebellion, holding possession
of Chung-mau; if you go to him, what shall be said?"
The Master said, "Yes, I did use these words. But is it not
said, that, if a thing be really hard, it may be ground without being
made thin? Is it not said, that, if a thing be really white, it may
be steeped in a dark fluid without being made black?
"Am I a bitter gourd? How can I be hung up out of the way of
The Master said, "Yu, have you heard the six words to which
are attached six becloudings?" Yu replied, "I have not."
"Sit down, and I will tell them to you.
"There is the love of being benevolent without the love of
learning;-the beclouding here leads to a foolish simplicity. There
is the love of knowing without the love of learning;-the beclouding
here leads to dissipation of mind. There is the love of being sincere
without the love of learning;-the beclouding here leads to an injurious
disregard of consequences. There is the love of straightforwardness
without the love of learning;-the beclouding here leads to rudeness.
There is the love of boldness without the love of learning;-the beclouding
here leads to insubordination. There is the love of firmness without
the love of learning;-the beclouding here leads to extravagant conduct."
The Master said, "My children, why do you not study the Book
"The Odes serve to stimulate the mind.
"They may be used for purposes of self-contemplation.
"They teach the art of sociability.
"They show how to regulate feelings of resentment.
"From them you learn the more immediate duty of serving one's
father, and the remoter one of serving one's prince.
"From them we become largely acquainted with the names of birds,
beasts, and plants."
The Master said to Po-yu, "Do you give yourself to the Chau-nan
and the Shao-nan. The man who has not studied the Chau-nan and the
Shao-nan is like one who stands with his face right against a wall.
Is he not so?" The Master said, "'It is according to the
rules of propriety,' they say.-'It is according to the rules of propriety,'
they say. Are gems and silk all that is meant by propriety? 'It is
music,' they say.-'It is music,' they say. Are hers and drums all
that is meant by music?"
The Master said, "He who puts on an appearance of stern firmness,
while inwardly he is weak, is like one of the small, mean people;-yea,
is he not like the thief who breaks through, or climbs over, a wall?"
The Master said, "Your good, careful people of the villages
are the thieves of virtue."
The Master said, To tell, as we go along, what we have heard on
the way, is to cast away our virtue."
The Master said, "There are those mean creatures! How impossible
it is along with them to serve one's prince!
"While they have not got their aims, their anxiety is how to
get them. When they have got them, their anxiety is lest they should
"When they are anxious lest such things should be lost, there
is nothing to which they will not proceed."
The Master said, "Anciently, men had three failings, which
now perhaps are not to be found.
"The high-mindedness of antiquity showed itself in a disregard
of small things; the high-mindedness of the present day shows itself
in wild license. The stern dignity of antiquity showed itself in
grave reserve; the stern dignity of the present day shows itself
in quarrelsome perverseness. The stupidity of antiquity showed itself
in straightforwardness; the stupidity of the present day shows itself
in sheer deceit."
The Master said, "Fine words and an insinuating appearance
are seldom associated with virtue."
The Master said, "I hate the manner in which purple takes away
the luster of vermilion. I hate the way in which the songs of Chang
confound the music of the Ya. I hate those who with their sharp mouths
overthrow kingdoms and families."
The Master said, "I would prefer not speaking."
Tsze-kung said, "If you, Master, do not speak, what shall we,
your disciples, have to record?"
The Master said, "Does Heaven speak? The four seasons pursue
their courses, and all things are continually being produced, but
does Heaven say anything?"
Zu Pei wished to see Confucius, but Confucius declined, on the ground
of being sick, to see him. When the bearer of this message went out
at the door, the Master took his lute and sang to it, in order that
Pei might hear him.
Tsai Wo asked about the three years' mourning for parents, saying
that one year was long enough.
"If the superior man," said he, "abstains for three
years from the observances of propriety, those observances will be
quite lost. If for three years he abstains from music, music will
be ruined. Within a year the old grain is exhausted, and the new
grain has sprung up, and, in procuring fire by friction, we go through
all the changes of wood for that purpose. After a complete year,
the mourning may stop."
The Master said, "If you were, after a year, to eat good rice,
and wear embroidered clothes, would you feel at ease?" "I
should," replied Wo.
The Master said, "If you can feel at ease, do it. But a superior
man, during the whole period of mourning, does not enjoy pleasant
food which he may eat, nor derive pleasure from music which he may
hear. He also does not feel at ease, if he is comfortably lodged.
Therefore he does not do what you propose. But now you feel at ease
and may do it."
Tsai Wo then went out, and the Master said, "This shows Yu's
want of virtue. It is not till a child is three years old that it
is allowed to leave the arms of its parents. And the three years'
mourning is universally observed throughout the empire. Did Yu enjoy
the three years' love of his parents?"
The Master said, "Hard is it to deal with who will stuff himself
with food the whole day, without applying his mind to anything good!
Are there not gamesters and chess players? To be one of these would
still be better than doing nothing at all."
Tsze-lu said, "Does the superior man esteem valor?" The
Master said, "The superior man holds righteousness to be of
highest importance. A man in a superior situation, having valor without
righteousness, will be guilty of insubordination; one of the lower
people having valor without righteousness, will commit robbery."
Tsze-kung said, "Has the superior man his hatreds also?" The
Master said, "He has his hatreds. He hates those who proclaim
the evil of others. He hates the man who, being in a low station,
slanders his superiors. He hates those who have valor merely, and
are unobservant of propriety. He hates those who are forward and
determined, and, at the same time, of contracted understanding."
The Master then inquired, "Ts'ze, have you also your hatreds?" Tsze-kung
replied, "I hate those who pry out matters, and ascribe the
knowledge to their wisdom. I hate those who are only not modest,
and think that they are valorous. I hate those who make known secrets,
and think that they are straightforward."
The Master said, "Of all people, girls and servants are the
most difficult to behave to. If you are familiar with them, they
lose their humility. If you maintain a reserve towards them, they
The Master said, "When a man at forty is the object of dislike,
he will always continue what he is."
The Viscount of Wei withdrew from the court. The Viscount of Chi
became a slave to Chau. Pi-kan remonstrated with him and died.
Confucius said, "The Yin dynasty possessed these three men
Hui of Liu-hsia, being chief criminal judge, was thrice dismissed
from his office. Some one said to him, "Is it not yet time for
you, sir, to leave this?" He replied, "Serving men in an
upright way, where shall I go to, and not experience such a thrice-repeated
dismissal? If I choose to serve men in a crooked way, what necessity
is there for me to leave the country of my parents?"
The duke Ching of Ch'i, with reference to the manner in which he
should treat Confucius, said, "I cannot treat him as I would
the chief of the Chi family. I will treat him in a manner between
that accorded to the chief of the Chil and that given to the chief
of the Mang family." He also said, "I am old; I cannot
use his doctrines." Confucius took his departure.
The people of Ch'i sent to Lu a present of female musicians, which
Chi Hwan received, and for three days no court was held. Confucius
took his departure.
The madman of Ch'u, Chieh-yu, passed by Confucius, singing and saying, "O
FANG! O FANG! How is your virtue degenerated! As to the past, reproof
is useless; but the future may still be provided against. Give up
your vain pursuit. Give up your vain pursuit. Peril awaits those
who now engage in affairs of government."
Confucius alighted and wished to converse with him, but Chieh-yu
hastened away, so that he could not talk with him.
Ch'ang-tsu and Chieh-ni were at work in the field together, when
Confucius passed by them, and sent Tsze-lu to inquire for the ford.
Ch'ang-tsu said, "Who is he that holds the reins in the carriage
there?" Tsze-lu told him, "It is K'ung Ch'iu.', "Is
it not K'ung of Lu?" asked he. "Yes," was the reply,
to which the other rejoined, "He knows the ford."
Tsze-lu then inquired of Chieh-ni, who said to him, "Who are
you, sir?" He answered, "I am Chung Yu." "Are
you not the disciple of K'ung Ch'iu of Lu?" asked the other. "I
am," replied he, and then Chieh-ni said to him, "Disorder,
like a swelling flood, spreads over the whole empire, and who is
he that will change its state for you? Rather than follow one who
merely withdraws from this one and that one, had you not better follow
those who have withdrawn from the world altogether?" With this
he fell to covering up the seed, and proceeded with his work, without
Tsze-lu went and reported their remarks, when the Master observed
with a sigh, "It is impossible to associate with birds and beasts,
as if they were the same with us. If I associate not with these people,-with
mankind,-with whom shall I associate? If right principles prevailed
through the empire, there would be no use for me to change its state."
Tsze-lu, following the Master, happened to fall behind, when he
met an old man, carrying across his shoulder on a staff a basket
for weeds. Tsze-lu said to him, "Have you seen my master, sir?" The
old man replied, "Your four limbs are unaccustomed to toil;
you cannot distinguish the five kinds of grain:-who is your master?" With
this, he planted his staff in the ground, and proceeded to weed.
Tsze-lu joined his hands across his breast, and stood before him.
The old man kept Tsze-lu to pass the night in his house, killed
a fowl, prepared millet, and feasted him. He also introduced to him
his two sons.
Next day, Tsze-lu went on his way, and reported his adventure. The
Master said, "He is a recluse," and sent Tsze-lu back to
see him again, but when he got to the place, the old man was gone.
Tsze-lu then said to the family, "Not to take office is not
righteous. If the relations between old and young may not be neglected,
how is it that he sets aside the duties that should be observed between
sovereign and minister? Wishing to maintain his personal purity,
he allows that great relation to come to confusion. A superior man
takes office, and performs the righteous duties belonging to it.
As to the failure of right principles to make progress, he is aware
The men who have retired to privacy from the world have been Po-i,
Shu-ch'i, Yuchung, I-yi, Chu-chang, Hui of Liu-hsia, and Shao-lien.
The Master said, "Refusing to surrender their wills, or to
submit to any taint in their persons; such, I think, were Po-i and
"It may be said of Hui of Liu-hsia! and of Shaolien, that they
surrendered their wills, and submitted to taint in their persons,
but their words corresponded with reason, and their actions were
such as men are anxious to see. This is all that is to be remarked
"It may be said of Yu-chung and I-yi, that, while they hid
themselves in their seclusion, they gave a license to their words;
but in their persons, they succeeded in preserving their purity,
and, in their retirement, they acted according to the exigency of
"I am different from all these. I have no course for which
I am predetermined, and no course against which I am predetermined."
The grand music master, Chih, went to Ch'i.
Kan, the master of the band at the second meal, went to Ch'u. Liao,
the band master at the third meal, went to Ts'ai. Chueh, the band
master at the fourth meal, went to Ch'in.
Fang-shu, the drum master, withdrew to the north of the river.
Wu, the master of the hand drum, withdrew to the Han.
Yang, the assistant music master, and Hsiang, master of the musical
stone, withdrew to an island in the sea.
The duke of Chau addressed his son, the duke of Lu, saying, "The
virtuous prince does not neglect his relations. He does not cause
the great ministers to repine at his not employing them. Without
some great cause, he does not dismiss from their offices the members
of old families. He does not seek in one man talents for every employment."
To Chau belonged the eight officers, Po-ta, Po-kwo, Chung-tu, Chung-hwu,
Shu-ya, Shuhsia, Chi-sui, and Chi-kwa.
Tsze-chang said, "The scholar, trained for public duty, seeing
threatening danger, is prepared to sacrifice his life. When the opportunity
of gain is presented to him, he thinks of righteousness. In sacrificing,
his thoughts are reverential. In mourning, his thoughts are about
the grief which he should feel. Such a man commands our approbation
Tsze-chang said, "When a man holds fast to virtue, but without
seeking to enlarge it, and believes in right principles, but without
firm sincerity, what account can be made of his existence or non-existence?"
The disciples of Tsze-hsia asked Tsze-chang about the principles
that should characterize mutual intercourse. Tsze-chang asked, "What
does Tsze-hsia say on the subject?" They replied, "Tsze-hsia
says: 'Associate with those who can advantage you. Put away from
you those who cannot do so.'" Tsze-chang observed, "This
is different from what I have learned. The superior man honors the
talented and virtuous, and bears with all. He praises the good, and
pities the incompetent. Am I possessed of great talents and virtue?-who
is there among men whom I will not bear with? Am I devoid of talents
and virtue?-men will put me away from them. What have we to do with
the putting away of others?"
Tsze-hsia said, "Even in inferior studies and employments there
is something worth being looked at; but if it be attempted to carry
them out to what is remote, there is a danger of their proving inapplicable.
Therefore, the superior man does not practice them."
Tsze-hsia said, "He, who from day to day recognizes what he
has not yet, and from month to month does not forget what he has
attained to, may be said indeed to love to learn."
Tsze-hsia said, "There are learning extensively, and having
a firm and sincere aim; inquiring with earnestness, and reflecting
with self-application:-virtue is in such a course."
Tsze-hsia said, "Mechanics have their shops to dwell in, in
order to accomplish their works. The superior man learns, in order
to reach to the utmost of his principles."
Tsze-hsia said, "The mean man is sure to gloss his faults."
Tsze-hsia said, "The superior man undergoes three changes.
Looked at from a distance, he appears stern; when approached, he
is mild; when he is heard to speak, his language is firm and decided."
Tsze-hsia said, "The superior man, having obtained their confidence,
may then impose labors on his people. If he have not gained their
confidence, they will think that he is oppressing them. Having obtained
the confidence of his prince, one may then remonstrate with him.
If he have not gained his confidence, the prince will think that
he is vilifying him."
Tsze-hsia said, "When a person does not transgress the boundary
line in the great virtues, he may pass and repass it in the small
Tsze-yu said, "The disciples and followers of Tsze-hsia, in
sprinkling and sweeping the ground, in answering and replying, in
advancing and receding, are sufficiently accomplished. But these
are only the branches of learning, and they are left ignorant of
what is essential.-How can they be acknowledged as sufficiently taught?"
Tsze-hsia heard of the remark and said, "Alas! Yen Yu is wrong.
According to the way of the superior man in teaching, what departments
are there which he considers of prime importance, and delivers? what
are there which he considers of secondary importance, and allows
himself to be idle about? But as in the case of plants, which are
assorted according to their classes, so he deals with his disciples.
How can the way of a superior man be such as to make fools of any
of them? Is it not the sage alone, who can unite in one the beginning
and the consummation of learning?"
Tsze-hsia said, "The officer, having discharged all his duties,
should devote his leisure to learning. The student, having completed
his learning, should apply himself to be an officer."
Tsze-hsia said, "Mourning, having been carried to the utmost
degree of grief, should stop with that."
Tsze-hsia said, "My friend Chang can do things which are hard
to be done, but yet he is not perfectly virtuous."
The philosopher Tsang said, "How imposing is the manner of
Chang! It is difficult along with him to practice virtue."
The philosopher Tsang said, "I heard this from our Master:
'Men may not have shown what is in them to the full extent, and yet
they will be found to do so, on the occasion of mourning for their
The philosopher Tsang said, "I have heard this from our Master:-'The
filial piety of Mang Chwang, in other matters, was what other men
are competent to, but, as seen in his not changing the ministers
of his father, nor his father's mode of government, it is difficult
to be attained to.'"
The chief of the Mang family having appointed Yang Fu to be chief
criminal judge, the latter consulted the philosopher Tsang. Tsang
said, "The rulers have failed in their duties, and the people
consequently have been disorganized for a long time. When you have
found out the truth of any accusation, be grieved for and pity them,
and do not feel joy at your own ability."
Tsze-kung said, "Chau's wickedness was not so great as that
name implies. Therefore, the superior man hates to dwell in a low-lying
situation, where all the evil of the world will flow in upon him."
Tsze-kung said, "The faults of the superior man are like the
eclipses of the sun and moon. He has his faults, and all men see
them; he changes again, and all men look up to him."
Kung-sun Ch'ao of Wei asked Tszekung, saying. "From whom did
Chung-ni get his learning?"
Tsze-kung replied, "The doctrines of Wan and Wu have not yet
fallen to the ground. They are to be found among men. Men of talents
and virtue remember the greater principles of them, and others, not
possessing such talents and virtue, remember the smaller. Thus, all
possess the doctrines of Wan and Wu. Where could our Master go that
he should not have an opportunity of learning them? And yet what
necessity was there for his having a regular master?"
Shu-sun Wu-shu observed to the great officers in the court, saying, "Tsze-kung
is superior to Chung-ni."
Tsze-fu Ching-po reported the observation to Tsze-kung, who said, "Let
me use the comparison of a house and its encompassing wall. My wall
only reaches to the shoulders. One may peep over it, and see whatever
is valuable in the apartments.
"The wall of my Master is several fathoms high. If one do not
find the door and enter by it, he cannot see the ancestral temple
with its beauties, nor all the officers in their rich array.
"But I may assume that they are few who find the door. Was
not the observation of the chief only what might have been expected?"
Shu-sun Wu-shu having spoken revilingly of Chung-ni, Tsze-kung said, "It
is of no use doing so. Chung-ni cannot be reviled. The talents and
virtue of other men are hillocks and mounds which may be stepped
over. Chung-ni is the sun or moon, which it is not possible to step
over. Although a man may wish to cut himself off from the sage, what
harm can he do to the sun or moon? He only shows that he does not
know his own capacity.
Ch'an Tsze-ch' in, addressing Tsze-kung, said, "You are too
modest. How can Chung-ni be said to be superior to you?"
Tsze-kung said to him, "For one word a man is often deemed
to be wise, and for one word he is often deemed to be foolish. We
ought to be careful indeed in what we say.
"Our Master cannot be attained to, just in the same way as
the heavens cannot be gone up by the steps of a stair.
"Were our Master in the position of the ruler of a state or
the chief of a family, we should find verified the description which
has been given of a sage's rule:-he would plant the people, and forthwith
they would be established; he would lead them on, and forthwith they
would follow him; he would make them happy, and forthwith multitudes
would resort to his dominions; he would stimulate them, and forthwith
they would be harmonious. While he lived, he would be glorious. When
he died, he would be bitterly lamented. How is it possible for him
to be attained to?"
Yao said, "Oh! you, Shun, the Heaven-determined order of succession
now rests in your person. Sincerely hold fast the due Mean. If there
shall be distress and want within the four seas, the Heavenly revenue
will come to a perpetual end."
Shun also used the same language in giving charge to Yu.
T'ang said, "I the child Li, presume to use a dark-colored
victim, and presume to announce to Thee, O most great and sovereign
God, that the sinner I dare not pardon, and thy ministers, O God,
I do not keep in obscurity. The examination of them is by thy mind,
O God. If, in my person, I commit offenses, they are not to be attributed
to you, the people of the myriad regions. If you in the myriad regions
commit offenses, these offenses must rest on my person."
Chau conferred great gifts, and the good were enriched.
"Although he has his near relatives, they are not equal to
my virtuous men. The people are throwing blame upon me, the One man."
He carefully attended to the weights and measures, examined the
body of the laws, restored the discarded officers, and the good government
of the kingdom took its course.
He revived states that had been extinguished, restored families
whose line of succession had been broken, and called to office those
who had retired into obscurity, so that throughout the kingdom the
hearts of the people turned towards him.
What he attached chief importance to were the food of the people,
the duties of mourning, and sacrifices.
By his generosity, he won all. By his sincerity, he made the people
repose trust in him. By his earnest activity, his achievements were
great. By his justice, all were delighted.
Tsze-chang asked Confucius, saying, "In what way should a person
in authority act in order that he may conduct government properly?" The
Master replied, "Let him honor the five excellent, and banish
away the four bad, things;-then may he conduct government properly." Tsze-chang
said, "What are meant by the five excellent things?" The
Master said, "When the person in authority is beneficent without
great expenditure; when he lays tasks on the people without their
repining; when he pursues what he desires without being covetous;
when he maintains a dignified ease without being proud; when he is
majestic without being fierce."
Tsze-chang said, "What is meant by being beneficent without
great expenditure?" The Master replied, "When the person
in authority makes more beneficial to the people the things from
which they naturally derive benefit;-is not this being beneficent
without great expenditure? When he chooses the labors which are proper,
and makes them labor on them, who will repine? When his desires are
set on benevolent government, and he secures it, who will accuse
him of covetousness? Whether he has to do with many people or few,
or with things great or small, he does not dare to indicate any disrespect;-is
not this to maintain a dignified ease without any pride? He adjusts
his clothes and cap, and throws a dignity into his looks, so that,
thus dignified, he is looked at with awe;-is not this to be majestic
without being fierce?"
Tsze-chang then asked, "What are meant by the four bad things?" The
Master said, "To put the people to death without having instructed
them;-this is called cruelty. To require from them, suddenly, the
full tale of work, without having given them warning;-this is called
oppression. To issue orders as if without urgency, at first, and,
when the time comes, to insist on them with severity;-this is called
injury. And, generally, in the giving pay or rewards to men, to do
it in a stingy way;-this is called acting the part of a mere official."
The Master said, "Without recognizing the ordinances of Heaven,
it is impossible to be a superior man.
"Without an acquaintance with the rules of Propriety, it is
impossible for the character to be established.
"Without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know