Analects of Confucius

Compile staring 22nd September 2002

Volume 1 Book 1

1. The Master said: 'Learning is pleasant, recognition pleasanter, but the true philosopher loves learning for its own sake.'

2. The philosopher Yu said: 'He who lives a filial and respectful life, yet who is disposed to give offence to those above him is rare; and there has never been any one indisposed to offend those above him who yet has been fond of creating disorder. The true philosopher devotes himself to the fundamental, for when that has been established right courses naturally evolve; and are not filial devotion and respect for elders the very foundation of an unselfish life?'

3. The Master said: 'Artful speech and an ingratiating demeanour rarely accompany virtue.'

4. The philosopher Tseng said: 'I daily examine myself on three points. In planning for others have I failed in conscientiousness? In intercourse with friends have I been insincere? And have I failed to practise what I have been taught?'

5 The Master said: 'To conduct the government of a state of a thousand chariots there must be religious attention to business and good faith, economy in expenditure and love of the people, and their employment on public works at the proper seasons.'

6. The Master said: 'When a youth is at home let him be filial, when abroad respectful to his elders; let him be circumspect and truthful, and while exhibiting a comprehensive love for all men, let him ally himself with the good. Having so acted, if he have energy to spare, let him employ it in polite studies.'

7. Tzu Hsia said: 'He who transfer his mind from feminine allurement to excelling in moral excellence; who in serving his parents is ready to do so to the utmost of his ability; who in the service of his prince is prepared to lay down his life; and who in intercourse with his friends is sincere in what he says,--though others may speak of him as uneducated, I should certainly call him educated.'

8. The Master said: 'A scholar who is not grave will not inspire respect, and his learning will therefore lack stability. His chief principles should be conscientiousness and sincerity. Let him have no friends unequal to himself. And when in the wrong let him not hesitate to amend.'

9. The philosopher Tseng said: 'Solicitude on the decease of parents, and the pursuit of them for long after, would cause an abundant restoration of the people's morals.'

10. Tzu Ch'in enquired of Tzu Kung saying: 'When the Master arrives at any state he always hears about its administration. Does he ask for his information, or, is it tendered to him?' 'The Master,' said Tzu Kung, 'is benign, frank, courteous, temperate, deferential and thus obtains it. The Master's way of asking,--how different it is from that of others!'

11. The Master said: 'While a man's father lives mark his tendencies; when his father is dead mark his conduct. If for three years he does not change from his father's ways he may be called filial.'

12. The philosopher Yu said: 'In the usages of decorum it is naturalness that is of value. In the regulations of the ancient kings this was the admirable feature, both small and great arising there from. But there is a naturalness that is not permissible; for to know to be natural, and yet to be so beyond the restraints of decorum, is also not permissible.'

13. The philosopher Yu said: 'When you make a promise consistent with what is right, you can keep your word. When you show respect consistent with goof taste, you keep shame and disgrace at a distance. When he in whom you confide is not one who fails his friends, you may trust him fully.'

14. The Master said: 'The scholar who in his food does not seek the gratification of his appetite, nor in his dwelling is solicitous of conduct, who is diligent in his work, and guarded in his speech, who associates with the high-principled and thereby rectifies himself,--such a one may really be said to love learning.'

15. "What do you think," asked Tzu Kung, "of the man who is poor yet not servile, or who is rich yet not proud?" "He will do," replied the Master, "but he is not equal to the man who is poor and yet happy, or rich and yet loves courtesy." Tzu Kung remarked: "The Ode says:-- 'Like cutting, then filing; like chiseling, then grinding.' That is the meaning of your remark, is it not?" "Tzu!" said the Master. "Now indeed I can begin to talk with him about the Odes, for when I tell him the premise he knows the conclusion."

16. The Master said: "I will not grieve that men do not know me; I will grieve that I do not know men."

Volume 1 Book 2

1. The Master said: "He who governs by his moral excellence may be compared to the Pole-star, which abides in its place, while all the stars bow towards it."

2. The Master said: "Though the Odes number three hundred, one phrase can cover them all, namely, 'With un-diverted thoughts.'"

3. The Master said: "If you govern the people by laws, and keep them in order by penalties, they will avoid the penalties, yet lose their sense of shame. Bit if you govern them by your moral excellence, and keep them in order by your decorous conduct, they will retain their sense of shame, and also live up to standard."

4. The Master said: "At fifteen I set my mind upon wisdom. At thirty I stood firm. At forty I was free from doubts. At fifty I understood the laws of heaven. At sixty my ears are docile. At seventy I could follow the desires of my heart without transgressing the right."

5. When Meng I Tzu asked what filial duty meant, the Master answered: "It is not being disobedient." Afterwards when Fan Ch'ih was driving him the Master told him saying: "Meng Sun asked me what filial piety meant, and I replied: 'Not being disobedient.'" Fan Ch'ih thereupon asked: "What did you mean?" The Master answered: "While parents live serve them with decorum; when they are dead bury them with decorum, and sacrifice to them with decorum."

6. When Meng Wu Po asked what filial duty meant the Master answered: "Parents should only have anxiety when their children are ill."

7. When Tzu Yu asked the meaning of filial piety the Master said: "The filial piety of the present day merely means to feed one's parents; but even one's dogs and horses all get their food;--without reverence wherein lies the difference?"

8. When Tzu Hsia asked the meaning of filial piety the Master said: "The demeanour is the difficulty. When there is anything to be done, that the young should undertake the burden of it; when there is wine and food that they should serve them to their seniors;--is this to be considered filial piety?"

9. The Master said: "I could talk to Hui for a whole day and he never raised an objection, as if he were stupid; but when he withdrew and I examined into his conduct when not with me, I nevertheless found him fully competent to demonstrate what I had taught him. Hui! he was not stupid."

10. The Master said: "Observe what he does; look into his motives; find out in what he rests. Can a man hide himself! Can a man hide himself!"

11. The Master said: "He who keeps on reviewing his lod and acquiring new knowledge may become a teacher of others."

12. The Master said: "The higher type of man is not a machine."

13. On Tzu Kung asking about the nobler type of man the Master said: "He first practises what he preaches and afterwards preaches according to his practice."

14. The Master said: "The nobler type of man is broad-minded and not partisan. The inferior man is partisan and not broad-minded."

15. The Master said: "Learning without thought is useless. Thought without learning is dangerous."

16. The Master said: "To devote oneself to irregular speculations is decidedly harmful."

17. The Master said: "Yu! Shall I teach you the meaning of knowledge? When you know a thing to recognise that you know it, and when you do not know that you do not know,--that is knowledge."

18. Tzu Chang was studying with a view to preferment. The Master said to him: "Hear much, reserve whatever causes you doubt, and speak guardedly of the rest; you will then suffer little criticism. See much, reserve whatever seems impudent, and act guardedly as to the rest; you will then have few regrets. With little for criticism in your speech, and little to regret in your conduct,--herein you will find preferment."

19. Duke Ai enquired saying: "What should I do to ensure the contentment of the people?" "If you promote the upright and dismiss the ill-doer," replied Confucius, "the people will be contented; but if you promote the ill-doer and dismiss the upright, the people will be discontented."

20. When Chi K'ang Tzu asked how to inspire the people with respect and loyalty, so that they might be mutually emulous (for the welfare of the state), the Master said: "Lead them with dignity and they will be respectful; be filial and kind and they will be loyal; promote those who excel and teach the incompetent, and they will encourage each other."

21. Some one addressed Confucius with the remark: "Why, Sir, are you not in the public service?" The Master answered: "Does not the Book of History say concerning filial duty,--'But one's duty as a son and friendliness to one's brethren are shown forth in the public service'? These then are also public service. Why should that idea of yours be considered as constituting public service?"

22. The Master said: "A man who is without good faith--I do not know how he is to get on. A wagon without its yoke-bar for the ox, or a carriage without its collar-bar for the horses, how can it be made to go?"

23. Tzu Chang asked whether the condition of things ten ages hence could be foreknown. The Master answered: "The Yin dynasty perpetuated the civilisation of the Hsia; its modifications and accretions can be known. The Chou perpetuated the civilisation of the Yin, and its modifications and accretions can be known. Whatever others may succeed the Chou, their character, even a hundred ages hence, can be known."

24. The Master said: "To sacrifice to a spirit not one's own is sycophancy. To see the righteousness and not do it is cowardice."

Volume 2 Book 3

1. Confucius said of the head of the House of Chi, who had eight rows of dancers performing in his temple: "If he can bear to do this, what can he not bear to do?"

2. The members of the three great houses of Lu used the Yung Ode at the removal of the sacrifices. The Master said: "'Assisted by princes and noblemen, solemnly stands the Son of Heaven,' What application can this have in the Hall of the three families!"

3. The Master said: "A man who is not virtuous, what has he to do with worship? A man who is not virtuous, what has he to do with the music (of the temple)?"

4. Lin Fang asked what was the chief principle in ceremonial observances. The Master answered: "A great question indeed! In ceremonies in general, it is better to be simple than lavish; and in the rites of mourning, heartfelt distress is better than observance of detail."

5. The Master said: "The tribes of the east and north have their princes, and are not, like all our great land, without."

6. When the chief of the Chi family was going to sacrifice on Mount T'ai, the Master addressing Jan Yu said: "Can you not save him from this?" "I cannot," he replied. "Alas!" said the Master, "is that not saying that the spirit of Mount T'ai is not equal to Lin Fang?"

7. The Master said: "A gentleman never contends in anything he does--except perhaps in archery. Even then, he bows to his rival and yields him the way as they ascend the pavilion; in like manner he descends and offers him the penalty cup,--in his contentions he is still a gentleman."

8. Tzu Hsia asked: "What is the meaning of the passage,--'As she artfully smiles what dimples appear! Her bewitching eyes show their colours so clear, ground spotless and candid for tracery splendid!?'" "The painting comes after the groundwork," answered the Master. "Then manners are secondary?" said Tzu Hsia. "'Tis Shang who unfolds my meaning," replied the Master. "Now indeed, I can begin to discuss the poets with him."

9. The Master said: "I can describe the civilisation of the Hsia dynasty, but the descendant state of Ch'i cannot render adequate corroboration. I can describe the civilisation of the Yin dynasty, but the descendant state of Sung cannot render adequate corroboration. And all because of the deficiency of their records and wise men. Were those sufficient then I could corroborate my views."

10. The Master said: "At the quinquennial sacrifice (in the Lu ancestor temple), after the libation has been sprinkled, I have no further wish to look on."

11. When some one asked the meaning of the quinquennial sacrifice, the Master replied: "I do not know. He who knew its meaning, would he not find himself in regard to the whole empire as if he were looking upon this?" --pointing to his palm.

12. He sacrificed (to his forefathers) as if they were present; he sacrificed to the gods as if the gods were present. The Master said: "For me not to be present at a sacrifice is as if I did not sacrifice."

13. Wang-sun Chia enquired, "What is the meaning of the saying, 'It is better to pay court to the god of the hearth than to the god of the hall'?" "Not so," answered Confucius, "He who sins against heaven has no where left for prayer."

14. The Master said: "Chou had the advantage of surveying the two preceding dynasties. How replete was its culture! I follow Chou."

15. When the Master first entered the grand temple he asked about everything, whereupon some one remarked: "Who says the son of the man of Tsou knows the correct forms? On entering the grand temple he asks about everything." The Master hearing (of) it remarked: "This too is correct form."

16. The Master said: "In archery (piercing) the target is not the essential, for men are not of equal strength. Such was the rule of yore."

17. Tzu Kung wished to dispense with the live sheep presented in the Ducal temple at the announcement of the new moon. The Master said: "Tzu! You care for the sheep. I care for the ceremony."

18. The Master said: "If one were to serve one's prince with perfect homage, people today would deem it sycophancy."

19. When Duke Ting asked how a prince should employ his ministers, and how ministers should serve their prince, Confucius replied saying: "A prince should employ his ministers with courtesy. A minister should serve his prince with loyalty."

20. The Master said: "The Kuan Chu ode is passionate without being sensual, is plaintive without being morbid."

21. When Duke Ai asked Tsai Wo concerning the Altars to the tutelary deities of the land, Tsai Wo responded: "The sovereign of Hsia adopted the pine, the men of Yin the cypress, but the men of Chou the chestnut, intimating that the people should stand in awe." On the Master hearing of this he said: "When deed is done it is useless to discuss it, when a thing has taken its course it is useless to remonstrate, what is past and gone it is useless to blame."

22. The Master said: "The calibre of Kuan Chung's mind was but limited!" Some one observed: "Do you mean that Kuan Chung was economical?" "Kuan," he replied, "maintained his San Kuei palace, and the members of his staff performed no double duties,--how can he be considered economical?" "But surely Kuan Chung understood etiquette?" "The prince of a state," said Confucius, "has a screen to mask his gate,--Kuan too had his gate screen. Princes of state, when two of them have a friendly meeting, use a stand for their inverted pledge-cups,--Kuan too used such a cup-stand. If Kuan understood etiquette who does not understand it?"

23. The Master discoursing to the state band master of Lu on the subject of music said: "The art of music may be readily understood. The attack should be prompt and united, and as the piece proceeds it should do so harmoniously, with clearness of tone, and continuity of time, and so on to its conclusion."

24. The officer in charge of the frontier town of I requested an interview, saying: "Whenever a man of virtue has come here I have never failed to obtain an interview,"--whereupon the followers of the sage introduced him. On coming out he observed: "Why do you grieve, gentlemen, over this loss of office? The empire for long has been without light and leading; but heaven is now going to use your Master as an arousing Tocsin."

25. The Master spoke of the Shao as perfectly beautiful in its form and perfectly good in its influence. He spoke of the Wu as perfectly beautiful in its form but not perfectly good in its influence.

26. The Master said: "High station filled without magnanimity, religious observances performed without reverence, and 'mourning' conducted without grief,--from what standpoint shall I view such ways!"

Volume 2 Book 4

1. The Master said: "It is the moral character of a neighbourhood that constitutes its excellence, and how can he be considered wise who does not elect to dwell in moral surroundings?"

2. The Master said: "A man without virtue cannot long abide in adversity, nor can he long abide in happiness; but the virtuous man is at rest in virtue, and the wise man covets it."

3. The Master said: Only the virtuous are competent to love or to hate men."

4. The Master said: :He who has really set his mind on virtue will do no evil."

5. The Master said: "Wealth and rank are what men desire, but unless they be obtained in the right way they are not to be possessed. Poverty and obscurity are what men detest; but unless it can be brought about in the right way, they are not to be abandoned. If a man of honour forsake virtue how is he to fulfill the obligations of his name! A man of honour never disregards virtue, even for the space of a single meal. In moments of haste he cleaves to it; in seasons of peril he cleaves to it."

6. The Master said: "I have never seen one who loved virtue, nor one who hated what was not virtuous. He who loved virtue would esteem nothing above it; and he who hated what is not virtuous would himself be so virtuous that he would allow nothing evil to adhere to him. Is there any one able for a single day to devote his strength to virtue? I have never seen such a one whose ability would be insufficient. If perchance there be such I have never seen him."

7. The Master said: "A man's faults all conform to his type of mind. Observe his faults and you may know his virtues.'

8. The Master said: "He who heard the Truth in the morning might die content in the evening."

9. The Master said: "The student who aims at wisdom, and yet who is ashamed of shabby clothes and poor food, is not yet worthy to be discourse with."

10. The Master said: "The wise man in his attitude towards the world has neither predilections for prejudices. He is on the side of what is righteous."

11. The Master said: "The man of honour thinks of his character, the inferior man of his position. The man of honour desires justice, the inferior man favour."

12. The Master said: "He who works for his own interests will arouse much animosity."

13. The Master said: "Is a prince able to rule his country with courtesy and deference,--then what difficulty will he have? And if he cannot rule his country with courtesy and deference, what use are the forms of courtesy to him?"

14. The Master said: "One should not be concerned at lack of position; but should be concerned about what will fit him to occupy it. One should not be concerned at being unknown; he should seek to be worthy of being known."

15. The Master said: "Shen! My teaching contains one all-pervading principle." "Yes," replied Tseng Tzu. When the Master had left the room the disciples asked, "What did he mean?" Tseng Tzu replied, "our Master's teaching is simply this: conscientiousness to self and consideration for others."

16. The Master said: "The wise man is informed in what is righteous. The inferior man is informed in what will pay."

17. The Master said: "When you see a man of worth, think how to rise to his level. When you see an unworthy man, then look within and examine yurself."

18. The Master said: "In his duty to his parents a son may gently remonstrate with them. If he see that they are not inclined to yield, he should be increasingly respectful but not desist, and though they deal hardly with him he must not complain."

19. The Master said: "While a father or mother are alive, a son should not travel far. If he travel he must have a stated destination."

20. The Master said: "If for three years a son does not change from his father's ways, he may be called filial."

21. The Master said: "The age of one's parents should ever be kept in mind, as an occasion at once for joy and for fear."

22. The Master said: "The men of old were reserved in speech out of shame lest they should come short in deed."

23. The Master said: "The self-restrained seldom err."

24. The Master said: "The wise man desire to be slow to speak but quick to act."

25. The Master said: "Virtue never dwells alone; it always has neighbours."

26. Tzu Yu said: "In serving one's prince importunity results in disgrace; as importunity between friends results in estrangement."

Volume 3 Book 5

1. The Master said of Kung Yeh Ch'ang that he was a suitable man to marry, for though he had been in prison it was through no wrong doing of his. So he gave him his own daughter to wife. The Master said of Nan Yung that when the country was well governed he would not be set aside, and when the country was ill governed he would escape suffering and death. So he gave his elder brother's daughter to wife.

2. The Master said of Tzu Chien: "An honourable man indeed is such a one as he! Were Lu without men of honour how could he have acquired this excellence!"

3. Tzu Kung asked: "What is your opinion of me?" "You are a vessel," said the Master. "What sort of a vessel?" he asked. "A jeweled temple vessel," was the reply.

4. Some one remarked: "A virtuous man is Yung, but he is not ready of speech." "What need has he of ready speech?" said the Master. "The man who is always ready with his tongue to others will often be disliked by them. I do not know about his virtue, but what need has he of ready speech?"

5. The Master wanted to engage Ch'i-tiao K'ai in office, but he replied: "I still lack confidence for this." Whereat the Master was pleased.

6. The Master said: "My doctrine make no progress. I will get upon a raft and float away upon the sea. If any one accompanies me will it not be Yu?" Tzu Lu on hearing this was pleased; whereupon the Master said: "Yu is fonder of daring than I; he also exercises no discretion."

7. Meng Wu Po asked whether Tzu Lu was a man of virtue. The Master answered: "I do not know." On his repeating the question the Master said: "Yu! In a kingdom of a thousand chariots he might be appointed to the administration of its levies, but I do not know about his virtue." "What about Ch'iu?" he asked, to which the Master replied: "Ch'iu! Over a city of a thousand families, or a household of a hundred chariots, he might be appointed as controller; but I do not know about his virtue." "And what about Ch'ih?" he asked. "Ch'ih!" said the Master, "girded with his sash and standing in a court, he might be appointed to converse with its guests; but I do not know about his virtue."

8. The Master addressing Tzu Kung said: "Which is the superior, you or Hui?" "How dare I look at Hui!" he answered, "Hui hears one point and from it apprehended the whole ten. I hear one point and apprehend a second there from." The Master said: "You are not equal to him, I grant you, you are not equal to him."

9. Tsai Yu spending the daytime in sleep, the Master said: "Rotten wood is unfit for carving, and a wall of dirt unfit for plastering. As to Yu,--what is the use of reproving him!" "Formerly," he continued, "my attitude towards others was to hear what they said and give them credit for their deeds. Now my attitude towards others is to listen to what they say and note what they do. It is through Yu that I have made this change."

10. The Master said: "I have never seen a man of strong character." Some one remarked: "There is Shen Ch'eng." "Ch'eng!" said the Master, "He is under the influence of his passions, and how can he be possessed of strength of character?"

11. Tzu Kung said: "What I do not wish others to do to me, that also I wish not to do to them." "Tzu!" observed the Master, "that is a point to which you have not attained."

12. Tzu Kung said: "Our Master's culture and refinement (all) may hear; but our Master's discourse on the nature of man and the Laws of Heaven it is not given (to all) to hear."

13. When Tzu Lu heard any precept and had not yet been able to put it into practice, he was only afraid lest he should hear some other.

14. Tzu Kung asked: "On what ground has K'ung Wen Tzu received his posthumous title of Wen?" "He was clever and fond of learning," replied the Master, "and he was not ashamed to seek knowledge from his inferiors;--that is why he has been styled 'cultured'."

15. The Master remarked of Tzu Ch'an that he had four of the ideal man's characteristics;--in his personal conduct he was serious, in his duty to his superior he was deferential, in providing for the people he was beneficent, and in directing them he was just.

16. The Master said: "Yen P'ing Chung was gifted in the art of friendship. Whatever the lapse of time he maintained towards his friends the same consideration."

17. The Master said: "Tsang Wen Chung kept a large tortoise in an edifice, on whose pillar tops were representations of hills, and on its king-posts of water plants,--of what sort was his wisdom!"

18. Tzu Chang asked: "The prime minister Tzu Wen thrice took office as prime minister with never a sign of elation, and, though thrice retired from it, showed never a sign of annoyance; the policy also of his late ministry he never failed to explain to the new minister;--what would say of him?" "He was conscientious," answered the Master. "Was he a man of ideal virtue?" asked the disciple. "I do not know," said the Master. "Why should he be deemed a man of ideal virtue?" "When Ts'ui Tzu put to death the prince of Ch'i, although Ch'en Wen Tzu held a fief of tem chariots he abandoned all and left the country. On reaching another state he said: 'They are like our minister Ts'ui Tzu', and left it. On reaching another state, he again said: 'They are like our minister Ts'ui Tzu', and left it. What would you say of him?" "He was clean-handed," said the Master. "Was he a man of ideal virtue?" asked the disciple. "I do not know," answered the Master. "Why should he be deemed a man of ideal virtue?"

19. Chi Wen Tzu used to think thrice before acting. The Master hearing of it said: "Twice would do."

20. The Master said: "While good order prevailed in his state Ning Wu Tzu was a wise man. When the state fell into disorder he was a fool. His wisdom may be equaled, his folly cannot be equaled."

21. When the Master was in the state of Ch'en he said: "Let us return! My young people at home are ambitious and hasty; their culture acquires elegance, but they do not know where to draw the line."

22. The Master said: "Po I and Shu Ch'i never bore ills in mind; hence those who bore them resentment were few."

23. The Master said: "Who says that Wei-shang Kao is upright? Someone begged vinegar of him, whereupon he begged it of a neighbour and gave it him."

24. The Master said: "Plausible speech, an ingratiating demeanour, and fulsome respect,--Tso Ch'iu Ming was ashamed of them; I, Ch'iu, also am ashamed of them. To conceal one's resentment and yet appear friendly with the man,--Tso Ch'iu Ming was ashamed of it; I, Ch'iu, also am ashamed of it."

25. Once when Yen Yuan and Tzu Lu were standing by him the Master said: "Suppose each of you tells his wishes?" "I should like," said Tzu Lu, "to have carriages and horses and light furs to wear, so as to share them with my friends, nor would I feel any annoyance if they spoilt them." "I should like," said Yen Yuan, "never to make a display of my good qualities, nor a parade of my merits." "May we hear the Master's wishes?" asked Tzu Lu. "They would be," said the Master, "to comfort the aged, be faithful to my friends, and cherish the young."

26. The Master said: "It is all in vain! I have never yet seen a man who could perceive his own faults and bring the charge home against himself."

27. The Master said: "Even in a hamlet of ten houses there must be men as conscientious and sincere as myself, but none as fond of learning as I am."

Volume 3 Book 6

1. The Master said: "Yung! He is fit to occupy a ruler's seat." Chung Kung thereupon asked concerning Tzu-sang Po-Tzu. "He will do," said the Master, "but he is easy going." "For a man who is strict in his own life," observed Chung Kung, "to be easy in conduct in the surveillance of the people may, I suppose be allowed? But he who is easy going in private and easy going in public,--that surely is sheer laxity?" "Yung's statement is correct," said the Master.

2. Duke Ai asked which of the disciples was fond of learning. Confucius answered him: "There was Yen Hui,--he was fond of learning; he never visited his anger on another, and he never repeated a fault. Unfortunately his life was short and he died. Now there is none like him, nor have I heard of one who is fond of learning."

3. Tzu Hua having been sent on a mission to the Ch'i state, Jan Tzu asked for grain for his mother. The Master said, "Give her a fu." He asked for more. "Give her a yu then," was the reply. Jan Tzu gave her five ping. The Master remarked: "On Ch'ih setting out for Ch'i he drove sleek horses and wore light furs. I have heard that the wise man succours the needy; he does not add to the rich." When Yuan Ssu was made governor of a certain place, the Master allowed him nine hundred measures of grain, which he declined. "Do not decline it," said the Master. "Can you not bestow it in your courts and hamlets, parishes and villages?"

4. The Master speaking of Chung Kung said: "If the offspring of a brindled ox be ruddy and clean-horned, although men may not wish to use it, would the gods of the hills and streams reject it?"

5. The Master said: "Hui! His heart for three months together never departed from virtue. As to the others, on some day or in some month they reached it, but that was all."

6. Chi K'ang Tzu asked whether Chung Yu were suited for employment in the administration. "Yu is a man of decision," said the Master. "What difficulty would he find in the administration?" "And T'zu?" he said, "is he suitable for the administration?" "T'zu is a man of penetration," was the answer. "What difficulty would he find therein?" "And Ch'iu?" he asked, "is he suitable for the administration?" "Ch'iu is a man of much proficiency," was the answer. "What difficulty would he find therein?"

7. The head of the Chi clan sent to ask Min Tzu Ch'ien to be governor of Pi. Min Tzu Ch'ien replied: "Courteously decline the offer for me. If any one comes for me again, then I shall certainly be on the banks of the Wen."

8. When Po Niu was ill the Master went to enquire about him. Having grasped his hand through the window he said: "We are losing him. Alas! It is the will of heaven. That such a man should have such a disease! That such a man should have such a disease!"

9. The Master said: "What a man of worth was Hui! A single bamboo bowl of millet; a single ladle of cabbage soup; living in a mean alley! Others could not have borne his distress, but Hui never abated his cheerfulness. What a worthy man was Hui!"

10. Jan Ch'iu remarked: "It is not that I have no pleasure in your teaching, Sir, but I am not strong enough." "He who is not strong enough," answered the Master, "gives up half way, but you are drawing the line already."

11. The Master speaking to Tsu Hsia said: "Be you a scholar of the nobler type, not a scholar of the inferior man's type."

12. When Tzu Yu was governor of the city of Wu the Master asked him: "Have you been able to obtain men?" "There is one T'an-t'ai Mieh-ming," was the reply, "who when walking takes no short cuts, and who, except on public business, has never yet come to my abode."

13. The Master said: "Meng Chih-fan is no boaster. When they were fleeing he brought up the rear, and only when about to enter the gate did he whip up his horse, saying: 'It is not that I dare to be in the rear; my horse would not come on.'"

14. The Master said: "Without the eloquence of T'o, the temple reader, and the beauty of prince Chao of Sung, it is hard to escape in the present generation."

15. The Master said: "Who can go forth except by the door? Why will not men go by this Way?"

16. The Master said: "When nature exceeds training you have the rustic. When training exceeds nature you have the clerk. It is only when nature and training are proportionately blended that you have the higher type of man."

17. The Master said: "Man is born for uprightness. Without it he is lucky to escape with his life."

18. The Master said: "He who knows the Truth is not equal to him who loves it, and he who loves it is not equal to him who delights in it."

19. The Master said: "To men above the average one may discourse on higher things; but to those who are below the average one may not discourse on higher things."

20. When Fan Ch'ih asked what constituted wisdom the Master replied: "To devote oneself earnestly to one's duty to humanity and, while respecting the spirits, to avoid them, may be called wisdom." On his asking bout virtue, the Master replied: "The man of virtue puts duty first, however difficult, and makes what he will gain thereby and after consideration,--and this may be called virtue."

21. The Master said: "The clever delight in water, the virtuous in hills; the clever are restless, the virtuous calm; the clever enjoy life, the virtuous prolong life."

22. The Master said: "The state of Ch'i, at one reform, could attain to the standard of Lu; but Lu, at one reform, could attain to ideal government."

23. The Master exclaimed: "A wassail-bowl that is not a bowl! What a bowl! What a bowl!"

24. Tsai Wo asked, saying: "An altruist, even if some one said to him: 'There is a man in the well,' would, I suppose, go in after him?" "Why should he act like that?" answered the Master. "The higher type of man might hasten to the well, but not precipitate himself into it; he might be imposed upon, but not utterly hook-winked."

25. The Master said: "The scholar who becomes widely versed in letters and who restrains his learning within the bounds of good taste, is not likely to get off the track."

26. When the Master went to see Nan-tzu, Tzu Lu showed his displeasure, on which the Sage swore to him saying: "If I have in any way done wrong, may heaven reject me! May heaven reject me!"

27. The Master said: "The virtue that accords with the golden mean, how perfect it is! For long has it been rare among the people."

28. Tzu Kung said: "Suppose there were one who conferred benefits far and wide upon the people, and who was able to succour the multitude, what might one say of him? Could he be called a philanthropist?" "What has he to do with philanthropist?" said the Master. "Must he not be a sage? Even Yao and Shun felt their deficiency herein. For the philanthropist is one who desiring to maintain himself sustains others, and desiring to develop himself develops others. To be able from one's own self to draw a parallel for the treatment of others,--that may be called the rule of philanthropy."

Volume 4 Book 7

1. The Master said: "A transmitter and not an originator, a believer in and lover of antiquity, I venture to compare myself with our ancient worthy P'eng."

2. The Master said: "The meditative treasuring up of knowledge, the unwavering pursuit of wisdom, the tireless instruction of others,--which of these is found in me?"

3. The Master said: "Neglect in the cultivation of character, lack of thoroughness in study, incompetence to move towards recognised duty, inability to correct my imperfections,--these are what caused me solicitude."

4. In his leisure hours the Master relaxed his manner and wore a cheerful countenance.

5. The Master said: "How utterly fallen off I am! For long I have not dreamed as of yore that I saw the Duke of Chou."

6. The Master said: "Fix your mind on the Truth; hold fast to virtue; follow it up in kindness to others; take your recreation in the polite arts."

7. The Master said: "From him who has brought his simple present of dried flesh seeking to enter my school I have never withheld instruction."

8. The Master said: "I expound nothing to him who is not earnest, nor help out any one not anxious to express himself. When I have demonstrated one angle and he cannot bring me back the other three, then I do not repeat my lesson."

9. When the Master dined by the side of a mourner he never ate to the full. On the same day that he had been mourning he never sing.

10. The Master addressing Yen Yuan said: "To accept office when required, and to dwell in retirement when set aside,--only you and I have this spirit." "But, suppose," said Tzu Lu, "that the Master had the conduct of the armies of a great state, whom would he associate with him?" "The man," replied the Master, "who bare-armed would beard a tiger, or rush a river, dying without regret,--him I would not have with me. If I must have a colleague he should be one who on the verge of an encounter would be apprehensive, and who loved strategy and its successful issue."

11. The Master said: "If wealth were a thing one could (count on) finding, even though it meant my becoming a whip-holding groom, I would do it. As one cannot (count on) finding it, I will follow the quests that I love better."

12. The subjects which the Master treated with great solicitude were: fasting, war and disease.

13. When the Master was in Ch'i he heard the Shao and for three months was unconscious of the taste of meat. "I did not imagine," said he, "that music had reached such perfection as this."

14. Jan Yu asked: "Is our Master for the prince of Wei?" "Ah!" said Tzu Kung, "I will just ask him." On entering he said: "What sort of men were Po I and Shuh Ch'i?" "Worthies of old," was the reply. "Did they repine?" he asked. "They sought virtue and they attained to virtue," answered the Master; "why then should they repine?" Tzu Kung went out and said: "The Master is not for the prince."

15. The Master said: "With coarse food to eat, water for drink, and a bent arm for a pillow,--even in such a state I could be happy, for wealth and honour obtained unworthily are to me as a fleeting cloud."

16. The Master said: "Given a few more years of life to finish my study of the Book of Changes and I may be free from great errors."

17. The subjects on which the Master most frequently discoursed were,--the odes, the history, and the observances of decorum; --on all these he constantly dwelt.

18. The Duke of She asked Tzu Lu what he thought about Confucius, but Tzu Lu returned him no answer. "Why did you not say," said the Master, "he is simply a man so eager for improvement that he forgets his food, so happy therein that he forgets his sorrows, and so does not observe that old age is at hand?"

19. The Master said: "I am not one who has innate knowledge, but one who, loving antiquity, is diligent in seeking Truth therein."

20. The Master would not discuss prodigies, prowess, lawlessness, or the supernatural.

21. The Master said: "When walking in a party of three, my teachers are always present. I can select the good qualities of the one and copy them, and the unsatisfactory qualities of the other and correct them in myself."

22. The Master said: "Heaven begat the virtue that is in me. Huan T'ui,--what can he do to me?"

23. The Master said: "My disciples! Do you think I possess something occult? I have nothing occult from you. I do nothing that is not made known to you, my disciples,--that is the real Ch'iu."

24. The Master took four subjects for his teaching,--culture, conduct, conscientiousness (should be loyalty), and good faith.

25. The Master said: "An inspired man it is not mine to see. Could I behold a noble man I would be content." The Master said: "A really good man it is not for me to see. Could I see a man of constant purpose I would be content. Affecting to have when they have not, empty yet affecting to be full, in straits yet affecting to be prosperous,--how hard it is for such men to have constancy of purpose!"

26. The Master fished with a line but not with a net; when shooting he did not aim at a resting bird.

27. The Master said: "There are men, probably, who do things correctly without knowing the reason why, but I am not like that: I hear much, select the good and follow it; I see much and treasure it up. This is the next best thing to philosophical knowledge."

28. The people of Hu-hsiang were hard to get on with; hence when a youth from there had an interview with the sage the disciples wondered. "In sanctioning a man's entry here," said the Master, "I sanction nothing he may do on his withdrawal. Why, indeed, be so extreme? When a man cleanses himself and comes to me I may accept his present cleanliness without becoming sponsor for his past."

29. The Master said: "Is virtue indeed afar off? I crave for virtue and lo! Virtue is at hand." (virtue is inside us)

30. The minister of justice of the state of Ch'en asked whether Duke Chao knew the Regulations. "He knew them," replied Confucius. When Confucius had withdrawn the minister bowed to Wu-ma Ch'i to come forward and said: "I have heard that a man of noble parts is not a partisan. May then a noble man be also a partisan? Prince Chao took his wife from the house of Wu, of the same surname as himself, and spoke of her as the elder Lady Tzu of Wu. If the duke knew the Regulations who does not know them?" Wu-ma Ch'i reported this, whereupon the Master remarked: "I am fortunate. If I make a mistake people are sure to know of it."

31. When the Master was in company with any one who was singing and the piece was good, he always had it repeated, joining in the melody himself.

32. The Master said: "In letters perhaps I may compare with others, but as to my living the noble life, to that I have not yet attained."

33. The Master said: "As to being a sage, or a man of virtue, how dare I presume to such a claim! But as to striving thereafter un-wearying, and teaching others therein without flagging,--that can be said of me, and that is all." "And that," said Kung-hsi Hua, "is just what we disciples cannot learn."

34. Once when the Master was seriously ill Tzu Lu asked leave to have prayers offered. "Is there authority for such a step?" asked the Master. "There is," Tzu Lu replied. "In the litanies it is said: 'We pray to you, spirits celestial and terrestrial.'" The Master answered, "My praying has been for long."

35. The Master said: "If prodigal then uncontrolled; if frugal then narrow: but better be narrow than beyond control."

36. The Master said: "The nobler man is calm and serene, the inferior man is continually worried and anxious."

37. The Master was affable yet dignified, commanding yet not overbearing, courteous yet easy.

Volume 4 Book 8

1. The Master said: "T'ai Po may be described as possessing a character of the noblest. He resolutely renounced the imperial throne, leaving people no ground for appreciating his conduct."

2. The Master said: "Courtesy uncontrolled by the laws of good taste becomes laboured effort, caution uncontrolled becomes timidity, boldness uncontrolled becomes recklessness, and frankness uncontrolled becomes effrontery. When the highly placed pay generous regard to their own families, the people are stirred to mutual kindness. When they do not discard old dependents, neither will the people deal meanly with theirs."

3. When the philosopher Tseng was taken ill, he called his disciples and said: "Uncover my feet, uncover my arms. The Ode says: 'Be anxious, be cautious, as when near a deep gulf, as when treading thin ice.' From now henceforth I know I shall escape all injury, my disciples."

4. During Tseng Tzu's illness Meng Ching Tzu called to make enquiries. Tseng Tzu spoke to him saying: "When a bird is dying its song is sad. When a man is dying, what he says is worth listening to. The three rules of conduct upon which a man of high rank should place value are,--in his bearing to avoid rudeness and remissness, in ordering his looks to aim at sincerity, and in the tone of his conversation to keep aloof from vulgarity and impropriety. As to the details of temple vessels,--there are proper officers for looking after them."

5. Tseng Tzu said: "Talented, yet seeking knowledge from the untalented, of many attainments yet seeking knowledge from those with few, having, as though he had not, full yet bearing himself as if empty, offended against yet not retaliating,--once upon a time I had a friend who lived after this manner."

6. Tseng Tzu said: "The man to whom one could entrust a young orphan prince and delegate the command over a hundred li, yet whom the advent of no emergency, however great, could shake,--would he be a man of the nobler order? Of the nobler order he would certainly be."

7. Tseng Tzu said: "The scholar may not be without capacity and fortitude, for his load is heavy and the road is long. He takes virtue for his load, and is not that heavy? Only with death does his course end, and is not that long?"

8. The Master said: "Let the character be formed by the poets; established by the Laws of decorum; and perfected by music."

9. The Master said: "The people may be made to follow a course, but not to understand the reason why."

10. The Master said: "Love of daring and resentment of poverty drive men to desperate deeds; and men who lack moral character will be driven to similar deeds if resentment of them be carried too far."

11. The Master said: "If a man have gifts as admirable as those of Duke Chou, yet be vain and mean, his other gifts are unworthy of notice."

12. The Master said: "It is not easy to find a man who has studied for three years without aiming at pay."

13. The Master said: "The man of unwavering sincerity and love of moral discipline, will keep to the death his excellent principles. He will not enter a tottering state nor dwell in a rebellious one. When law and order prevail in the empire, he is evidence. When it is without law and order, he withdraws. When law and order prevail in his state, he is ashamed to be needy and of no account. When law and order fail, he is ashamed to be in affluence and honour."

14. The Master said: "He who does not occupy the office does not discuss its policy."

15. The Master said: "When the band-master Chih entered on his duty, how the closing strains of the Kuan Chu filled the ear with the grandeur of their volume!"

16. The Master said: "The impulsive and not straight-forward, the simple and not honest, the stupid and not truthful,--with such I hold no acquaintance."

17. The Master said: "Learn as if you are not reaching your goal, and as though you are afraid of missing it."

18. The Master said: "How sublime the way Shun and Yu undertook the empire, and yet as if it were nothing to them!"

19. The Master said: "Great indeed was the sovereignty of Yao! How sublime he was! Only heaven is  great, and only Yao responds to its stand. How vast he was! Beyond the power of the people to express. How sublime were his achievements! How brilliant his civilising regulations!" (should be writing or record of his saying)

20. Shun had five ministers and the empire was well ruled. King Wu remarked: "I have ten adjutants, able administrators." Confucius said: "Is it not a true saying that talent is hard to find? Yet only at the transition of the T'ang dynasty into the Yu was it more replete than in the founding of this of Chou, when indeed one of its ministers was a woman, so that in reality there were only nine men. Possessor of two of the empire's three parts, with which he submissively served the dynasty of Yin the virtue of the founder of the Chou may indeed be called perfect virtue." (with woman minister, how can China progress)

21. The Master said: "In Yu I can find no room for criticism. Simple in his own food and drink, he was unsparing in his filial offerings to the spirits. Shabby in his working day clothes he was most scrupulous as to the elegance of his kneeling apron and sacrificial crown. Humble as to the character of his palace, he spent his strength in the draining and ditching of the country. In Yu I find no room for criticism."

Volume 5 Book 9

1. The Master seldom spoke on profit, on the ordering of providence, and on perfection.

2. A man of the village of Ta-hsiang remarked: "What a great man is K'ung, the philosopher. Yet though his learning is vast, in nothing does he acquire a reputation." The Master on hearing it, addressing his disciples, said: "What shall I take up? Shall I take to driving? Or shall I take to archery? I will take to driving."

3. The Master said: "A linen cap is the prescribed form, but nowadays silk is worn. This saves expense and I follow the general usage. Salutation below (the audience hall) is the prescribed form, but now they salute above. This is going too far, and therefore, though infringing the general usage, I follow the rule of bowing below."

4. The Master was entirely free from four things: he had no preconceptions, no pre-determinations, no obduracy, and no egoism.

5. When the Master was intimidated in K'uang, he said: "Since King Wen is no longer alive, does not (the mantle of) enlightenment (wen) rest here on me? If heaven are going to destroy this enlightenment, a mortal like me would not have obtained such a connection with it. Since heaven is not ready to destroy this enlightenment, what can the men of K'uang do to me?"

6. A great minister enquired of Tzu Kung, saying: "Your Master,--he is surely inspired? What varied acquirements he has!" Tzu Kung answered, "Of a truth heaven has lavishly endowed him, to the point of inspiration, and his acquirements are also many." When the Master heard of it he said: "Does the minister really know me? In my youth I was in humble circumstances, and for that reason gained a variety of acquirements,--in common matters: but does nobleness of character depend on variety! It does not depend on variety." Lao says: "The Master used to say: 'I have not been occupied with an official life, and so became acquainted with the arts!'"

7. The Master said: "Am I indeed a man with (innate) knowledge? I have no knowledge, but when an uncultivated person, in al simplicity, comes to me with a question, I thrash out its pros and cons until I get to the bottom of it."

8. The Master said: "The phoenix comes not, the river gives forth no chart,--it is all over with me."

9. Whenever he saw a person in mourning, or in official cap and robes, or one who is blind, the Master on noticing him, even though the man was his own junior, always arose; or, if he was passing such a one, he always quickened his steps.

10. Yen Yuan heaved a deep sigh and said: "The more I look up at it the higher it rises. The more I probe it the more impenetrable it becomes. I catch a glimpse of it in front, and it is instantly behind. But our Master step by step skillfully lures men on. He has broadened me by culture, and restrained me by reverence. If I wished to stop I could not, and when at times I have exhausted all my powers, something seems to stand majestically before me, yet though I seek to pursue my path towards it, I find never a way."

11. Once when the Master was seriously ill, Tzu Lu set the disciples to act as if they were a statesman's officers. During a remission of the attack Confucius observed: "For what a long time has Yu carried on his imposition! In pretending to have retainers when I have none, whom do I deceive? Do I deceive heaven? Moreover, would I not sooner die in the arms of you my disciples than in the arms of officials? And, when if I did not have a grand funeral, should I be dying by the roadside?"

12. Tzu Kung asked: "If I had a lovely jewel here, should I shut it up in a casket and keep it, or seek a good price and sell it?" "By all means sell it! sell it!" answered the Master,--"But I myself would wait for a good offer."

13. The Master proposed to go and dwell among the nine uncivilized tribes of the east; whereupon some one remarked: "But they are so uncivilized, how can you do that?" The Master responded: "Were a man of noble character to dwell among them, what lack of civilization would there be?"

14. The Master said: "It was only after my return from Wei to Lu that music was revised, and that the secular and sacred pieces were properly discriminated."

15. The Master said: "In public life to do my duty to my prince or minister; in private life to do my duty to my father and brethren; in my duties to the departed never daring to be otherwise than diligent; and never to be overcome with wine,--in which of these am I successful?"

16. Once when the Master was standing by a stream he observed: "All is transient, like this! unceasing day and night!"

17. The Master said: "I have never yet seen a man whose love of virtue equaled his love of woman."

18. The Master said: "Suppose I am raising a mound, and, while it is still unfinished by a basketful, I stop short, it is I that stops short. Or, suppose I begin on the level ground,--although I throw down but one basketful, and continue to do so, then it is I that makes progress."

19. The Master said: "Ah! Hui was the one to whom I could tell things and who never failed to attend to them."

20. The Master, referring to Yen Yuan, said: "Alas! I ever saw him make progress, and never saw him stand still."

21. The Master said: "There are blades that spring up and never flower, and there are others that flower but never fruit."

22. The Master said: "The young should inspire one with respect. How do we know that their future will not equal our present? But if a man has reached forty or fifty without being heard of, he indeed, is incapable of commanding respect!"

23. The Master said: "To words of just admonition can anyone refuse assent? But it is amendment that is of value. With advice persuasively offered can anyone be otherwise than pleased? But it is the application that is of value. Mere interest without application, mere assent without amendment,--for such men I can do nothing whatever."

24. The Master said: "Make conscientiousness (loyalty) and sincerity your leading principles. Have no friends inferior to yourself. And when in the wrong do not hesitate to amend."

25. The Master said: "You may rob a three corps army of its commander-in-chief, but you cannot rob even a common man of his will."

26. The Master said: "Wearing a shabby, hemp-quilted robe, and standing by others dressed in fox and badger, yet in no way abashed,--Yu would be the one for that, eh? Unfriendly to none, and courting none, what does he do not excellent?" As Tzu Lu afterwards was perpetually intoning this, the Master observed: "How can those tow points be sufficient for excellence!"

27. The Master said: "Only when the year grows cold do we realise that the pine and the cypress are the last to fade."

28. The Master said: "The enlightened are free from doubt, the virtuous from anxiety, and the brave from fear."

29. The Master said: "There are some with whom one can associate in study, but who are not yet able to make common advance towards the Truth; there are others who can make common advance towards the Truth, but who are not yet able to take with you a like firm stand; and there are others with whom you can take such a firm stand, but with whom you cannot associate in judgment."

30. 'The blossoms on the cherry tree are changing and quivering, can I do aught but think of thee in thy far distant dwelling?' The Master said: "He had never really bestowed a thought. If he had, what distance would have existed?"

Analects 2  Analects 3  Daxue   Zhongyong

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Edited on 10th June 2008