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Written ca. 500 B.C.E
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 this lesson."
Sze-ma Niu asked about perfect virtue.
The Master said, "The man of perfect virtue is cautious and slow in
"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
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 brothers?"
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 farseeing."
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
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
Yu Zo replied to him, "Why not simply tithe the
"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
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 is
"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 settle
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 no
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
Tsze-chang asked, "What must the officer be, who may be said to
The Master said, "What is it you call being
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 his clan.
"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
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
Fan Ch'ih did not immediately understand these
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
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
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
Tsze-lu asked about government. The Master said, "Go before the
people with your example, and be laborious in their
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
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
"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
"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
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
The Master said, "The governments of Lu and Wei are
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
When the Master went to Weil Zan Yu acted as driver of his
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
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
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
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
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
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.'
"Inconstant in his virtue, he will be visited with
The Master said, "This arises simply from not attending to the
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
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,
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
"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
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
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
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
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
Some one asked about Tsze-ch'an. The Master said, "He was a kind
He asked about Tsze-hsi. The Master said, "That man! That
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 man."
The Master asked Kung-ming Chia about Kung-shu Wan, saying, "Is
it true that your master speaks not, laughs not, and takes
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
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
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
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 to
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 side.
"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
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 his state?"
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 it."
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
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
Chu Po-yu sent a messenger with friendly inquiries to
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 indeed!"
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
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
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
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
"Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with
The Master said, "Alas! there is no one that knows
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
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
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 in them."
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
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 without
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
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 this."
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
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
"No," was the answer; "I seek a unity all pervading."
The Master said, "Yu I those who know virtue are
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
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
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
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
Yen Yuan asked how the government of a country should be
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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 little matters."
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
The Master said, "The superior man is correctly firm, and not firm
The Master said, "A minister, in serving his prince, reverently
discharges his duties, and makes his emolument a secondary
The Master said, "In teaching there should be no distinction of
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 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."