Confucius Quotes from The Analects

Confucius (551 B.C. – 479 B.C.) was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher, whose teachings and philosophy have deeply influenced Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese thought and life.

The philosophy of Confucius emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity.

The Analects (論語Lúnyǔ; literally “Selected Sayings”[1], also known as the Analects of Confucius, is an ancient Chinese book composed of a collection of sayings and ideas attributed to the Chinese philosopher Confucius and his contemporaries, traditionally believed to have been compiled and written by Confucius’s followers.

See also: Confucius, Quotes From Confucius, Confucius Quotes

This is a collection of Confucius quotes from The Analects to put his wisdom at your finger tips. Confucius was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher with a knack for nailing some big ideas for life.

Enjoy these quotes by Confucius and may they serve you well in the journey of life.

Confucius Quotes from The Analects

Selections From the Analects (Mostly Confucius Quotes), with Commentary

Book 1

  • 1:2 Yu Tzu said: The chun tzu deals with the root. Once the root is established, tao unfolds. …
    • They are few who, being filial and fraternal, are fond of offending against their superiors. There have been none, who, not liking to offend against their superiors, have been fond of stirring up confusion. The superior man bends his attention to what is radical. That being established, all practical courses naturally grow up. Filial piety and fraternal submission!–are they not the root of all benevolent actions? (James Legge)
    • The wise man attends to the root; for if this be properly set, virtue will spring from it. (Lionel Giles)
    • The true philosopher devotes himself to the fundamentals, for when those have been established right courses naturally evolve… (William Edward Soothill)
    • A wise man devotes his attention to what is essential in the foundation of life. When the foundation is laid, wisdom will come. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • A gentleman nurses the roots: when the root has taken, the truth will grow… (Harvard Classics)
    • The man of superior virtue bends his undivided attention to the fundamental principles. Once established in these, virtuous practice naturally follows. (David Collie)
    • Men of superior mind busy themselves first in getting at the root of things; and when they have succeeded in this the right course is open to them. (William Jennings)
    • The gentleman nourishes the roots. With the roots established, the way grows. CP
    • Commentary: The chun tzu always deals with the root, because the root is what everything else springs from. If the root is in disorder, and one merely attends to what springs from the root, tao cannot fully evolve.
  • 1:3 Confucius said: Slick talk and an insinuating appearance seldom go-with/express jen.
    • Fine words and an insinuating appearance are seldom associated with true virtue. (James Legge)
    • True virtue rarely goes with artful speech and insinuating looks. (Lionel Giles)
    • Artful speech and an ingratiating demeanour rarely accompany virtue. (William Edward Soothill)
    • With plausible speech and fine manners will seldom be found moral character. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • Honeyed words and flattering looks seldom speak of love. (Harvard Classics)
    • A plausible tongue and fascinating expression are seldom associated with true virtue. (Hebrert A. Giles)
    • Commentary: jen is a quality of the real self.
  • 1:4 Tseng Tzu said: A few times a day, I examine myself to see if I’ve been chung in my dealings with others, if I’ve been hsin in my interactions with associates and friends, and if I’ve put teachings into practice.
    • I daily examine myself on three points:–whether, in transacting business for others, I may have been not faithful;–whether, in intercourse with friends, I may have been not sincere;–whether I may have not mastered and practiced the instructions of my teacher. (James Legge)
    • There are three points on which I daily examine myself: Have I been conscientious in working for others? Have I been truthful in my intercourse with my friends? Have I practised what I preach? (Lionel Giles)
    • 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? (William Edward Soothill)
    • I daily examine into my personal conduct on three points:–First, whether in carrying out the duties entrusted to me by others, I have not failed in conscientiousness. Secondly, whether in intercourse with friends, I have not failed in sincerity and trustworthiness. Thirdly, whether I have not failed to practice what I profess in my teaching. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • Thrice daily I ask myself: ‘Have I been unfaithful in dealing for others? Have I been untrue to friends? Do I practise what I preach?’ (Harvard Classics)
    • Each day I examine myself in three ways: in doing things for others, have I been disloyal? In my interactions with friends, have I been untrustworthy? Have not practiced what I have preached? (Charles Muller)
    • Commentary: The chun tzu makes proper self-assessments. The main concern is ultimately geared towards exemplary actions. At the end of the day an awakened person contemplates thus: What noble deeds have I done and what have I not done? What good deeds remain to be done which I could have but have not accomplished?
  • 1:5 Confucius said: The tao to rule a major state: reverently attend to business, be hsin, be economical in expenditures, love people, and employ the people at the proper seasons.
    • To rule a country of a thousand chariots, there must be reverent attention to business, and sincerity; economy in expenditure, and love for men; and the employment of the people at the proper seasons. (James Legge)
    • In ruling a country of a thousand chariots there should be scrupulous attention to business, honesty, economy, charity, and employment of the people at the proper season. (Lionel Giles)
    • 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. (William Edward Soothill)
    • When directing the affairs of a great nation, a man must be serious in attention to business and faithful and punctual in his engagements. He must study economy in the public expenditure, and love the welfare of the people. He must employ the people at the proper time of the year. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • To guide a land of a thousand chariots, honour business, be true and sparing, love the people, and time thy claims upon them. (Harvard Classics)
    • A country of a thousand war-chariots cannot be administered unless the ruler attends strictly to business, punctually observes his promises, is economical in expenditure, shows affection towards his subjects in general, and uses the labour of the peasantry only at the proper times of year. (Arthur Waley)
  • 1:6 Confucius said: A youth should be hsiao at home and respectful in his community. He should be earnest and hsin. He should overflow in love to all, but cultivate close relationships with the jen. After fulfilling these, he should learn wen.
    • A youth, when at home, should be filial, and, abroad, respectful to his elders. He should be earnest and truthful. He should overflow in love to all, and cultivate the friendship of the good. When he has time and opportunity, after the performance of these things, he should employ them in polite studies. (James Legge)
    • He should be circumspect but truthful. (Lionel Giles)
    • When a youth is at home let him be filial, when abroad respectful to his elders: let him he 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. (William Edward Soothill)
    • A voting man, when at home, should be a good son; when out in the world, a good citizen. He should he circumspect and truthful. He should be in sympathy with all men, but intimate with men of moral character. If he has time and opportunity to spare, after the performance of those duties, he should then employ them in literary pursuits. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • A youth should be filial at home, respectful abroad. He should be earnest and truthful. He should overflow in love to all, but cultivate the friendship of the good. Then, whatsoever of energy may be left to him, he should devote to the improvement of his mind (Herbert A. Giles)
  • 1:7 Tzu Hsia said: If a man applies himself to/esteems character/worthiness like it is/more than sex, is thorough in serving his parents, life-devoted in serving his prince, and hsin in his interaction with friends, then even if others say he is not learned, I would by all means call him learned.
    • If a man withdraws his mind from the love of beauty, and applies it as sincerely to the love of the virtuous; if, in serving his parents, he can exert his utmost strength; if, in serving his prince, he can devote his life; if, in his intercourse with his friends, his words are sincere:– although men say that he has not learned, I will certainly say that he has. (James Legge)
    • –such a man, though the world may call him untaught, has in my opinion received the best and highest education. (Lionel Giles)
    • He who transfers 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. (William Edward Soothill)
    • A man who can love worthiness in man as he loves beauty in woman; who in his duties to his parents is ready to do his utmost, and in the service of his prince is ready to give up his life; who in intercourse with friends is found trustworthy in what he says,–such a man, although men may say of him that he is an uneducated man, I must consider him to be really an educated man. (Ku Hung-Ming)
  • 1:8 Confucius said: Do not have low friends. If you make a mistake, do not be afraid to correct it.
    • If the scholar be not grave, he will not call forth any veneration, and his learning will not be solid. Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles. Have no friends not equal to yourself. When you have faults, do not fear to abandon them. (James Legge)
    • Make conscientiousness and sincerity your grand object. Have no friends not equal to yourself. If you have done wrong, be not ashamed to make amends. (Lionel Giles)
    • A scholar who is not grave will not inspire respect, and his learning will therefore lack stability. His chief principles should he conscientiousness and sincerity. Let him have no friends unequal to himself. And when in the wrong let him not hesitate to amend. (William Edward Soothill)
    • When you have bad habits do not hesitate to change them. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • Of a gentleman who is frivolous none stand in awe, nor can his learning be sound. Make faithfulness and truth thy masters: have no friends unlike thyself: be not ashamed to mend thy faults. (Harvard Classics)
    • Be ruled by fidelity and sincerity. Have not a friend inferior to yourself. If you err, fear not to reform. (David Collie)
    • Commentary: The chun tzu chooses a good environment and surrounding, endeavors as much as he can to draw towards people who are highest in merit and character, advances his character through friendship, and rectifies himself through the right company. The chun tzu seeks to avoid avoidable mistakes, but when he makes one, he rectifies it. He does not defend past wrongs, or allow shame of them to increase their severity.
  • 1:10 Tzu Ch’in said to Tzu Kung, “When Confucius comes to any state, he always learns about its policy. Does he ask for it, or is it given to him?” Tzu Kung said, “Confucius is gracious, proper, respectful, restrained/modest, and unassuming–thus he gets his information. Confucius’s mode of asking information–isn’t it different from that of others?
    • Tsze-ch’in asked Tsze-kung, saying, “When our master comes to any country, he does not fail to learn all about its government. Does he ask his information? or is it given to him?”
    • Tsze-kung said, “Our master is benign, upright, courteous, temperate, and complaisant and thus he gets his information. The master’s mode of asking information!–is it not different from that of other men?” (James Legge)
    • Tzu Ch’in asked Tzu Kung, saying: Whenever our Master comes to any new country, he is sure to findout all about its method of government. Does he seek this information himself, or is it voluntarily proffered?
    • Tzu Kung replied: Our Master gains his information because he is so genial and good, so full of deference, modesty and regard for others. In seeking information, how differently does he behave from ordinary men! (Lionel Giles)
    • Tzu Ch’in inquired of Tzu Kung saying: “When the Master arrives at any State he always hears about its administration. Does he ask for this 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!” (William Edward Soothill)
    • Commentary: Confucius attracts information this way.
  • 1:12 Yu Tzu said: In practicing li, harmony is to be valued. In the tao of the Ancient Kings, harmony is excellent with li. Follow harmony in matters both small and great–but do not use it indiscriminately without li, or else you will miss what is ideal.
    • In practicing the rules of propriety, a natural ease is to be prized. In the ways prescribed by the ancient kings, this is the excellent quality, and in things small and great we follow them. Yet it is not to be observed in all cases. If one, knowing how such ease should be prized, manifests it, without regulating it by the rules of propriety, this likewise is not to be done. (James Legge)
    • 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 deriving therefrom. 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 riot permissible. (William Edward Soothill)
    • In the practice of art, what is valuable is natural spontaneity. According to the rules of art held by the ancient kings it was this quality in a work of art which constituted its excellence; in great as well as in small things they were guided by this principle. But in being natural there is something not permitted. To know that it is necessary to be natural without restraining the impulse to be natural by the strict principle of art,–that is something not permitted. (Ku Hung-Ming)
  • 1:13 Yu Tzu said: When truthfulness is according to yi, what is said can be followed. When respect is according to li, we can keep far from shame and disgrace. When our close relationships are with people of integrity, we can make them our role models.
    • When agreements are made according to what is right, what is spoken can be made good. When respect is shown according to what is proper, one keeps far from shame and disgrace. When the parties upon whom a man leans are proper persons to be intimate with, he can make them his guides and masters. (James Legge)
    • When you make a promise consistent with what is right, you can keep your word. When you show respect consistent with good taste, you keep shame and disgrace at a distance. When he in whom you confide is one who does not fail his friends, you may trust him fully. (William Edward Soothill)
    • If you make promises within the bounds of what is right, you will be able to keep your word. If you confine earnestness within the bounds of judgment and good taste, you will keep out of discomfiture and insult. If you make friends of those with whom you ought to, you will be able to depend upon them. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • If promises hug the right, word can be kept: if attentions are bounded by courtesy, shame will be banished: heroes may be worshipped, if we choose them aright. (Harvard Classics)
    • He who makes just agreements can fulfil his promises. He who behaves with reverence and propriety, puts shame and disgrace to a distance. He who loses not those whom he ought to treat with kindness and respect, may be a master. (David Collie)
    • When pledges are in accord with conscience, words can be made good. When deference is in accord with the law of fitness, shame can be avoided. If your intimates are well chosen, you should be able to look up to them. (H, 54)
  • 1:14 Confucius said: The chun tzu, rather than seeking a full belly and ease in his dwelling, is diligent in his actions and discreet in his speech, and pursues tao company in order to rectify himself. Such a person may indeed be said to love hsueh.
    • He who aims to be a man of complete virtue in his food does not seek to gratify his appetite, nor in his dwelling place does he seek the appliances of ease; he is earnest in what he is doing, and careful in his speech; he frequents the company of men of principle that he may be rectified: — such a person may be said indeed to love to learn. (James Legge)
    • In the matter of food and lodging, the nobler type of man does not seek more repletion and comfort. He is earnest in his affairs and cautious in his speech, and frequents virtuous company for his own improvement. He may be called one truly bent on the study of virtue. (Lionel Giles)
    • The scholar who in his food does not seek the gratification of his appetite, nor in his dwelling is solicitous of comfort, who is diligent in his work, and guarded in his speech, who associates with the high-principled, and thereby directs himself aright,–such a one may really be said to love learning. (William Edward Soothill)
    • A wise and good man, in matters of food, should never seek to indulge his appetite; in lodging, he should not be too solicitous of comfort. He should be diligent in business and careful in speech. He should seek for the company of men of virtue and learning, in order to profit by their lessons and example. In this way he may become a man of real culture. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • A gentleman who is not a greedy eater, nor a lover of ease at home, who is earnest in deed and careful of speech, who seeks the righteous and profits by them, may be called fond of learning. (Harvard Classics)
    • The superior man seeks not to pamper his appetite, nor to live at ease; he is diligent in the practice of his duty, cautious in his words, and comes to men of right principles that he may be corrected. Such a man may be said to be a lover of learning. (David Collie)
    • The man of greater mind who, when he is eating, craves not to eat to the full; who has a home, but craves not for comforts in it; who is active and earnest in his work and careful in his words; who makes towards men of high principle, and so maintains his own rectitude;–that man may be styled a devoted student. (William Jennings)
    • The superior man, who does not seek in his food satiety, nor in his dwelling place comfort, but is earnest in what he is doing and careful in his speech, frequents the company of men of principle that he may be rectified; such a person may be said indeed to be a friend of study. (Faber, 56)
    • Commentary: The chun tzu, bent on yi and eager to hsueh, does not care about the pleasures of eating or about living in grand wealth, is diligent in his actions and is discreet in what he says, and is eager to be in tao company and rectify his faults.
  • 1:15 Tzu Kung said, “‘Poor and not groveling,’ ‘rich and not vain/arrogant’–what do you say about those?” Confucius said, “They will do, but they are not equal to ‘poor and enjoys tao,’ ‘rich and loves li.'”
    • Tsze-kung said, “What do you pronounce concerning the poor man who yet does not flatter, and the rich man who is not proud?” The Master replied, “They will do; but they are not equal to him, who, though poor, is yet cheerful, and to him, who, though rich, loves the rules of propriety.”
      Tsze-kung replied, “It is said in the Book of Poetry, ‘As you cut and then file, as you carve and then polish.’–The meaning is the same, I apprehend, as that which you have just expressed.” The Master said, “With one like Ts’ze, I can begin to talk about the odes. I told him one point, and he knew its proper sequence.” (James Legge)
    • Tzu Kung said: What do you say of the poor man who refuses to flatter, and of the rich man who is free from pride?
      They are well enough, replied the Master; but better still is the poor man who is cheerful, and the rich man who cherishes the inner principle of harmony and self-control.
      Tzu Kung said: One must cut and then carve, chisel and then polish,” as the Odes have it. Does not this passage illustrate what you say?
      The Master exclaimed: Here is somebody at last with whom I can really discuss the Odes. Refer him to any old verse, and he will see its application. (Lionel Giles)
    • Tzu-kung said: “Poor, but no flatterer; rich, but not proud. How were that?”
      “Good,” said the Master; “but better still were poor, yet merry; rich, yet courteous.”
      Tzu-kung said: “Where the poem says: ‘If ye cut, if ye file, If ye polish and grind’; is that what is meant?”
      The Master said: “Now I can talk of poetry to thee, Tz’u. Given a clue, thou canst find the way.” (Harvard Classics)
  • 1:16 Confucius said: Do not care about whether others know you. Care about whether you are capable, and whether you know.
    • [Alternate Text] Do not care about whether others know you. Care about whether you know others.
    • I will not be afflicted at men’s not knowing me; I will be afflicted that I do not know men. L
    • I will not be grieved that other men do not know me; I will be grieved that I do not know other men. (Lionel Giles)
    • One should not be concerned not to be understood of men; one should be concerned not to understand men. K
    • Not to be known should not grieve you: grieve that ye know not men.
    • Be not sorry that men do not know you, but be sorry that you are ignorant of men. C
    • (the good man) does not grieve that other people do not recognize his merits. His only anxiety is lest he should fail to recognize theirs. W
  • 2:1 Confucius said: He who governs by te can be compared to the Pole Star: the Pole Star keeps its place while all the other stars position themselves around it.
    • He who exercises government by means of his virtue may be compared to the north polar star, which keeps its place and all the stars turn towards it. (James Legge)
    • A virtuous ruler is like the Pole-star, which keeps its place, while all the other stars do homage to it. (Lionel Giles)
    • 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. (William Edward Soothill)
    • The people are influenced through one’s own te. This does not always happen instantly, but it does happen eventually.
    • Commentary: If you set an example, the people will imitate you. The people are influenced through one’s own te. This does not always happen instantly, but it does happen eventually.
  • 2:2 Confucius said: There are hundreds of verses in the Shih Ching [a collection of ancient ballads/poems], but they can be summed up in one phrase: “[the sturdy horses and their chariots] go mightily without straying/deviating.” [Ode 297]
    • In the Book of Poetry are three hundred pieces, but the design of them all may be embraced in one sentence–‘Having no depraved thoughts.’ (James Legge)
    • The Odes are three hundred in number, but their purport may be summed up in a word:–Have no depraved thoughts. (Lionel Giles, p.93)
    • Though the Odes number three hundred, one phrase can cover them all, namely, ‘With purpose undiverted.’ S
    • The Book of Ballads, Songs and Psalms contains three hundred pieces. The moral of them all may be summed up in one sentence ‘Have no evil thoughts.’ K
    • The Book of Odes contains three hundred pieces, but one expression in it may be taken as covering the purport of all, viz. “Unswerving mindfulness.” J
    • If out of the three hundred Songs I had to take one phrase to cover all my teaching, I would say ‘Let there be no evil in your thoughts.’ W
  • 2:3 Confucius said: Tao them with laws/rules/government and control/regulate/order them with punishments, and the people will [merely] seek to avoid/escape/evade them, but have no sense of shame [over wrongdoing]. Tao them with te and control/regulate/order them with li, and the people will have/retain/feel/acquire their own sense of shame [over wrongdoing], and guide themselves/live up/emulate/advance/orderly [to what is right].
    • If the people be led by laws, and uniformity sought to be given them by punishments, they will try to avoid [the punishment], but have no sense of shame. If they be led by virtue, and uniformity sought to be given them by the rules of propriety, they will have the sense of shame, and moreover will become good. (James Legge)
    • People despotically governed and kept in order by punishments may avoid infraction of the law, but they will lose their moral sense. People virtuously governed and kept in order by the inner law of self-control will retain their moral sense, and moreover become good. (Lionel Giles)
    • 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. But if you govern them by your moral excellence, and keep them in order by your dutiful conduct, they will retain their sense of shame, and also live up to this standard. (William Edward Soothill)
    • If in government you depend upon laws and maintain order by enforcing those laws by punishments, you can also make the people keep away from wrong-doing, but they will lose the sense of shame for wrong-doing. If, on the other hand, in government you depend upon the moral sentient, and maintain order by encouraging education and good manners, the people will have a sense of shame for wrong-doing and, moreover, will emulate what is good. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • If you lead the people by laws and regulate them by penal infliction, they will escape punishment, but be void of shame; but lead them by virtue, and regulate them by propriety; then they will feel ashamed of vice and advance in virtue. (David Collie)
    • If one tries to guide the people by means of rules, and keep order by means of punishments, the people will merely seek to avoid the penalties without having any sense of moral obligation. But if one leads them with virtue (both by precept and by example), and depends upon li to maintain order, the people will then feel their moral obligation and correct themselves. (Creel, 150)
    • If one guides by means of decrees, and regulates by means of punishments, the people evade and have no conscience. If one guides through the force of personality and through morals, the people have conscience, and attain the good. (Wilhelm)
    • Govern the people by regulations, keep order among them by chastisements, and they will flee from you, and lose all self-respect. Govern them by moral force, keep order among them by ritual and they will keep their self-respect and come to you of their own accord. W
    • Ideal society is trooted in individuals’ own self-cultivation. The chun tzu does yi personally for the sake of doing so, rather than from mere external coercion.
    • If someone is induced to doyi solely due to external coercions–whether it be society’s laws, or even religious belief in a deity who enforces obedience through reward and punishment–then the person’s yi lacks personal sincerity and does not come from himself; and should he be under an external stimulus to do wrong, he would do it.
    • Commentary: Pure leadership uses positive example, education, cooperation, and mutual understanding, and ultimately leads to making individuals’ characters the foundation that guides them into good. Laws and punishments are only a beginning point, and using them without inculcating what makes others do right out of their own self-integrity–this will not produce the ideal. Rather than relying on ideal laws and ideal presiding over lawsuits, it is best to use te and li in order to have ideal people, and prevent litigations from occurring among the people. This is dealing with the root, rather than dealing with what comes from the root. And, it is preventative of problems rather than dealing with already occurring problems. It only occurs when there is social harmony, rather than individual selfishness.
  • 2:4 Confucius said: At fifteen, I had my heart/mind set on learning. At thirty, I stood firm. At forty, I had no doubts. At fifty, I knew T’ien’s Decree. At sixty, my ear was attuned. At seventy, I could follow what my heart desired without transgressing the boundaries.
    • At fifteen, I had my mind bent on learning. At thirty, I stood firm. At forty, I had no doubts. At fifty, I knew the decrees of Heaven. At sixty, my ear was an obedient organ for the reception of truth. At seventy, I could follow what my heart desired, without transgressing what was right. (James Legge)
    • At fifteen, my mind was bent on learning. At thirty I stood firmly. At forty, I was free from delusions. At fifty, I understood the laws of Providence. At sixty, my ears were attentive to the truth. At seventy, I could follow the promptings of my heart without overstepping the mean. (Lionel Giles)83
    • At fifteen I had made up my mind to give myself up to serious studies. At thirty I had formed my opinions and judgment. At forty I had no more doubts. At fifty I understood the truth in religion. At sixty I could understand whatever I heard without exertion. At seventy I could follow whatever my heart desired without transgressing the law. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • 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 ear was docile.
      At seventy I could follow the desires of my heart without transgressing the right. (William Edward Soothill)
  • 2:7 Tzu Yu asked about hsiao. Confucius said, “Nowadays, support of one’s parents is enough to be considered hsiao. But dogs and horses are given this support as well–so without reverence, what is there to distinguish one from the other?”
    • The filial piety nowadays means the support of one’s parents. But dogs and horses likewise are able to do something in the way of support;–without reverence, what is there to distinguish the one support given from the other? (James Legge)*
    • The filial piety of the present day merely means to feed one’s parents; but even one’s dogs and horses receive their food; — without reverence wherein lies the difference?” (William Edward Soothill)
  • 2:9 Confucius said: I have [sometimes] talked with Hui all day without him making any objections/criticism/dissent–as though he was stupid. But then when he has withdrawn and I have examined his private conduct, he exemplifies [correct practice]. Hui is certainly not stupid!
    • I have talked with Hui for a whole day, and he has not made any objection [to anything I said];–as if he were stupid. He has retired, and I have examined his conduct when away from me, and found him able to illustrate [my teachings]. Hui!–He is not stupid. (James Legge)
    • I may talk all day to Hui without his putting in a word of criticism or dissent–just as though he were deficient in understanding. But after he has left me, I find, on examining his private conduct, that he knows for all that how to exemplify my teaching. No! Hui is not deficient in understanding. (Lionel Giles)71
    • I could talk to Hui for a whole day and, as if he were stupid, he never raised an objection; 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. (William Edward Soothill)
    • I have talked with him for one whole day, during which he has never once raised one single objection to what I have said, as if he were dull of understanding. But when he has retired, on examining into his life and conver貞ation I find he has been able to profit by what I have said to him. No–he is not a man dull of understanding. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • I converse with Hwuy the whole day, and he never calls in question my doctrines. He appears dull, but when he retires, he investigates in secret, so that he can illustrate my doctrines. Hwuy is not dull. C
    • I can talk to Yen Hui a whole day without his ever differing from me. One would think he was stupid. But if I enquire into his private c
  • 2:10 Confucius said: Obseve what he does. Mark/observe/contemplate his motives/traveled-path/ways-and-means. Examine in what he rests. How can a person conceal himself? How can a person conceal himself?
    • See what a man does.
      Mark his motives.
      Examine in what things he rests.
      How can a man conceal his character? How can a man conceal his character? (James Legge)
    • Observe a man’s actions; scrutinise his motives; take note of the things that give him pleasure.
      How then can he hide from you what he really is? (Lionel Giles, p.94)
    • Observe what he does; look into his motives; find out in what he is at peace.
      Can a man hide himself? Can a man hide himself? (William Edward Soothill)
    • You look at how a man acts; consider his motives; find out his tastes. How can a man hide himself; how can he hide himself from you? (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • Look closely into his aims, observe the means by which he pursues them, discover what brings him content–and can the man’s real worth remain hidden from you, can it remain hidden from you? W
    • These are the three best ways to know a person’s character.
      Note the non-inclusion of considering what he says.
  • 2:11 Confucius said: Warming up the old and acquiring the new–this can be an adequate teacher.
    • If a man keeps cherishing his old knowledge, so as continually to be acquiring new, he may be a teacher of others. (James Legge)
    • Acquire new knowledge whilst thinking over the old, and you may become a teacher of others. (Lionel Giles)94
    • He who keeps on reviewing his old and acquiring new may become a teacher of others. (William Edward Soothill)
    • If a man will constantly go over what he has acquired and keep continually adding to it new acquirements, he may become a teacher of men. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • Make yourself completely master of what you know and constantly learn new ideas, then you may be a teacher of others. (David Collie)
    • Commentary: Warming up the old and acquiring the new is the way to attain complete wisdom.
  • 2:12 Confucius said: The chun tzu is not a utensil.
    • The accomplished scholar is not a utensil. (James Legge)
    • The higher type of man is not like a vessel which is designed for some special use. (Lionel Giles, p. 94)
    • The higher type of man is not a machine. (William Edward Soothill)
    • A wise man will not make himself into a mere machine fit only to do one kind of work. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • The superior man is not a mere machine, which is fit for one thing only. (David Collie)
    • A gentleman is not an implement. W
    • Commentary: The chun tzu does not exist just to be used, nor is he a one-sided person.
  • 2:13 Tzu Kung asked about the chun tzu. Confucius said, “He puts walking the walk ahead of talking the talk, and aims to have his speech correspond to his actions.”
    • He acts before he speaks, and afterwards speaks according to his actions. (James Legge)
    • The higher type of man is one who acts before he speaks, and professes only what he practices. (Lionel Giles, p.55)
    • He first practises what he preaches and afterwards preaches according to his practice. (William Edward Soothill)
    • A wise and good man is one who acts before he speaks, and afterwards speaks according to his actions. (Ku Hung-Ming)
  • 2:16 Confucius said: Attacking unsuitable teachings ends their harm.
    • Committing oneself to heterodox teachings is harmful.
    • Going at a task from the wrong-persepective/wrong part harms.
    • The study of strange doctrines is injurious indeed! (James Legge)
    • Absorption in the study of the supernatural is most harmful. (Lionel Giles)94
    • To devote oneself to irregular speculations is decidedly harmful. (William Edward Soothill)
    • To give oneself up to the study of metaphysical theories–that is very injurious indeed. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • Oppose false principles, for they are injurious. (David Collie)
  • 2:18 Tzu Chang was learning with a view to official office.
    Confucius said, “Hear much, put aside the doutful points, and speak cautiously of the others–then you will afford few occasions for blame. See much, put aside the things that seem perilous, and be cautious in carrying the others into practice–then you will have few occasions for repentance. When one gives few occasions for blame in his words, and few occasions for repentance in his conduct, he is in the way to get emolument.”

    • Tsze-chang was learning with a view to official emolument.
      The Master said, “Hear much and put aside the points of which you stand in doubt, while you speak cautiously at the same time of the others:– then you will afford few occasions for blame. See much and put aside the things which seem perilous, while you are cautious at the same time in carrying the others into practice:– then you will have few occasions for repentance. When one gives few occasions for blame in his words, and few occasions for repentance in his conduct, he is in the way to get emolument.” (James Legge)*
    • Tzu Chang was studying with a view to official preferment.
      The Master said to him: “Among the various things you hear said, reserve your judgment on those which seem doubtful, and give cautious utterance to the rest then you will seldom fall into error. Among the various things you see done, set aside those which seem dangerous, and cautiously put the others into practice: then you will seldom have occasion for repentance. If you seldom err in your speech, and seldom have to repent of your actions, official preferment will come of itself.” (Lionel Giles)
    • Tzu Chang was studying with a view to preferment.
      The Master said to him: “Hear much, be reserved in what causes you doubt, and speak guardedly of the rest; you will then suffer little criticism. See much, be reserved in what seems imprudent, 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.” (William Edward Soothill)
    • A disciple was studying with a view to preferment.
      Confucius said to him, “Read and learn every負hing, but suspend your judgment on anything of which you are in doubt; for the rest, be careful in what you say in that way you will give few occasions for men to criticise what you say. Mix with the world and see everything, but keep away and do not meddle with anything which may bring you into trouble; for the rest, be careful in what you do: in that way you will have few occasions for self-reproach. Now if in your conversation you give few occasions for men to criticise you, and in your conduct you have few occasions for self-reproach, you cannot help getting preferment, even if you would.” (Ku Hung-Ming)
  • 2:20 Confucius said, “Preside over them with dignity, and they will be revering. Be hsiao and kind, and they will be chung. Advance the adept/good and teach the incompetent, and they will be eager.”
    • Chi K’ang asked how to cause the people to reverence their ruler, to be faithful to him, and to go on to nerve themselves to virtue.
      The Master said, “Let him preside over them with gravity;–then they will reverence him. Let him be final and kind to all;–then they will be faithful to him. Let him advance the good and teach the incompetent;–then they will eagerly seek to be virtuous.” (James Legge)
    • Chi K’ang Tzu asked by what means he might cause his people to be respectful and loyal, and encourage them in the path of virtue.
      The Master replied: Conduct yourself towards them with dignity, and you will earn their respect; be a good son and a kind prince, and you will find them loyal; promote the deserving and instruct those who fail short, and they will be encouraged to follow the path of virtue. (Lionel Giles)
    • 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 also he dutiful; be filial and kind and they will be loyal; promote those who excel and teach the incompetent, and they will encourage each other.” (William Edward Soothill)
    • A noble who was the minister in power in the government in Confucius’ native State asked him what should be done to inspire a feeling of respect and loyalty in the people, in order to make them exert themselves for the good of the country.
      Confucius answered, “Treat them with seriousness and they will respect you. Let them see that you honour your parents and your prince, and are considerate for the welfare of those under you, and the people will be loyal to you. Advance those who excel in anything and educate the ignorant, and the people will exert them貞elves.” (Ku Hung-Ming)
  • 2:21 Someone said to Confucius, “Sir, how come you do not take part in government?”
    Confucius said, “The Shu Ching says, ‘So filial and dutiful to elders and juniors–exerting influence on government.’ Thus these are also government–so why must someone actually ‘participate in government.'”

    • Some one addressed Confucius, saying, “Sir, why are you not engaged in the government?”
      The Master said, “What does the Shu-ching say of filial piety? – “You are filial, you discharge your brotherly duties. these qualities are displayed in government.’ This then also constitutes the exercise of government. Why must there be THAT — making one be in the government?” (James Legge)*
    • Some one, addressing Confucius, said: Why, Sir, do you take no part in the government?
      The Master replied: What does the Book of History say about filial piety? Do your duty as a son and as a brother, and these qualities will make themselves felt in the government. This, then, really amounts to taking part in the government. Holding office need not be considered essential. (Lionel Giles)
    • 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 your idea alone be considered as constituting public service?” (William Edward Soothill)
    • Somebody asked Confucius, saying, “Why are you not taking part in the government of the country?”
      Confucius answered, “What does the ‘Book of Records’ say of the duties of a good son? ‘Be dutiful to your parents; be brotherly to your brothers discharge your duties in the government of your family.’ These, then, are also duties of government. Why then must one take part in the government of the country in order to discharge the duties of government?” (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • One said to Confucius: “Why are you not in power, sir?” Confucius answered: “What does the book say of a good son? An always dutiful son, who is a friend to his brothers, showeth the way to trule. This is also to tule. What need to be in power?” (Hsieh)
  • 2:22 I do not know how men get along without good faith. A cart without a yoke and a carriage without harness,–how could they go?” (Ku Hung-Ming)
  • 2:24 Confucius said: Seeing what is yi and not doing it, is a lack of intrepidity.
    • For a man to sacrifice to a spirit which does not belong to him is flattery. To see what is right and not to do it is want of courage. (James Legge)*
    • To shirk your duty when you see it before you, shows want of moral courage. (Lionel Giles)
    • To see the right and not do it is cowardice. (William Edward Soothill)
    • To see what is right and to act against one’s judgment shows a want of courage. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • To know a thing is right and not to do it, is weakness. (David Collie)
    • If one sees what is yi, he should think sincerely about it, have pure desire and resolve, and the intrepidity to do yi
    • Just like a driver who knowingly discards a smooth road and takes a rough one later laments when his axle breaks, so also does someone who foolishly abandons yi and laments from the non yi

Book 3

  • 3:15 When Confucius entered the grand temple, he asked about everything.
    Someone said, “Who said that this son of the man from Tsou thoroughly knows about li? He has entered the grand temple and asks about everything!”
    Confucius heard the remark and said, “That is li.”

    • The Master, when he entered the grand temple, asked about everything.
      Some one said, “Who say that the son of the man of Tsau knows the rules of propriety! He has entered the grand temple and asks about everything.”
      The Master heard the remark, and said, “This is a rule of propriety.” L *
    • The Master having gone up into the Grand Temple, asked questions shout everything.
      Some one remarked: “Who says that the son of the citizen of Tsou has any knowledge of ceremonial observances? He comes to the Temple and asks about everything he sees.”
      Hearing the remark, the Master said: “This in itself is a ceremonial observance.” (Lionel Giles)
    • 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.” (William Edward Soothill)
    • Chee entered the great temple, frequently enquiring about things.
      One said, “Who says that the son of the Chou man understands propriety? In the great temple he is constantly asking questions.”
      Chee heard and replied–“This is propriety.” M
      The man from Tsou (a section of Lu): Confucius’s father Shu Liang He
  • 3:19 Duke Ting of Lu said, “How should a prince employ his ministers, and how should ministers serve their prince?”
    Confucius said, “A prince should employ his minister through li, and ministers should serve their prince with chung.”

    • The duke Ting asked how a prince should employ his ministers, and how ministers should serve their prince.
      Confucius replied, “A prince should employ his minister according to according to the rules of propriety; ministers should serve their prince with faithfulness.” (James Legge)*
  • 3:26 Confucius said: High position without magnanimity,li without reverence, and mourning without sorrow–how can I even bear to view such things?
    • High station filled without indulgent generosity; ceremonies performed without reverence; mourning conducted without sorrow;– wherewith should I contemplate such ways? (James Legge)*
    • Possession of power without generosity; courtesy without seriousness; mourning without grief,–I have no desire to look at such a state of things. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • High station filled without magnanimity, religious observances performed without reverence, and ‘mourning’ conducted without grief,–from what standpoint shall I view such ways? (William Edward Soothill)

Book 4

  • 4:4 Confucius said: If a person’s will is set to jen, he will be free of [self] hatred.”
    • If the will be set on virtue, there will be no practice of wickedness. (James Legge)
    • If you fix your mind upon a moral life, you will be free from evil. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • He who has really set his mind on virtue will do no evil. (William Edward Soothill)
    • If the mind be sincerely inclined to virtue, the man will not do any thing that is vicious. (David Collie)
    • Commentary: When the will rests upon set purpose, based upon purified desire, born of knowledge and discriminating investigation of phenomena, nothing can undermine it. jen comes naturally and easily if the purpose has been rectified and the will is clear and strong
  • 4:7 Confucius said: People’s faults stem from their environment. By observing these faults, you can know jen.
    • The faults of men are characteristic of the class to which they belong. By observing a man’s faults, it may be known that he is virtuous. (James Legge)*
    • Men’s faults are characteristic. It is by observing a man’s faults that one may come to know his virtues. (Lionel Giles)
    • Men’s faults are characteristic. By observing a man’s failings you can judge of his moral character. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • A man’s faults all conform to his type of mind. Observe his faults and you may know his virtues. (William Edward Soothill)
    • A man’s transgression partakes of the nature of his company. M
  • 4:8 Confucius said: If you hear tao in the morning, you can die content in the evening.
    • If a man in the morning hear the right way, he may die in the evening without regret. (James Legge)
    • When a man has learnt wisdom in the morning, he may be content to die in the evening before the sun sets. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • He who heard the truth in the morning might die content in the evening. (William Edward Soothill)
    • If in the morning you hear divine truth, in the evening you may die. (David Collie)
    • Commentary: tao is satisfying.
    • Hear it and your life will flow in a wu wei manner, you will live your appointed time, and be able to die without regrets.
    • You will not be living in vain.
  • 4:9 Confucius said: A shi who aims at tao, but is ashamed of bad clothes and bad food, is not worthy of discoursing with.
    • A scholar, whose mind is set on truth, and who is ashamed of bad clothes and bad food, is not fit to be discoursed with. (James Legge)
    • The scholar who is bent on studying the principles of virtue, yet is ashamed of bad clothes and coarse food, is not yet fit to receive instruction. (Lionel Giles)
    • It is useless to speak to a gentleman who wants to give himself up to serious studies and who yet is ashamed because of his poor food or bad clothes. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • The student who aims at wisdom, and yet who is ashamed of shabby clothes and poor food, is not yet worthy to be discoursed with. (William Edward Soothill)
    • Commentary: Someone ashamed of bad clothes and bad food does not know what is essential.
    • People who value tao and pursue it will not worry about bad clothes and bad food, and will be above being ashamed of poverty.
  • 4:12 Confucius said: With a sole aim of gain, much resentment will be incurred.
    • He who acts with a constant view to his own advantage will be much murmured against. (James Legge)
    • Where there is habitual going after gain, there is much ill-will. (William Jennings)
  • 4:13 Confucius said: If you can govern a state by complying with li and deference, what difficulty will you have? If you cannot govern a state by complying with li, what have you to do with li ?
    • If [a prince] is able to govern his kingdom with the complaisance proper to the rules of propriety, what difficulty will he have? If he cannot govern it with that complaisance, what has he to do with the rules of propriety? (James Legge)
    • He who can rule a country by real courtesy and good manners that are in him, will find no difficulty in doing it. But a ruler who has no real courtesy and good manners in him, what can the mere rules of etiquette and formality avail him. K
    • If 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? (William Edward Soothill)
  • 4:15 Confucius said, “Shen, my tao has one underlying connection.”
    Tseng Tzu replied, “Yes.”
    Confucius went out, and the other disciples asked, “What do his words mean?”
    Tseng Tzu said, “Confucius’s tao is just this: chung and shu.”

    • The Master said, “Shan, my doctrine is that of an all-pervading unity.”
      The disciple Tsang replied, “Yes.”
      The Master went out, and the [other] disciples asked, saying, “What do his words mean?”
      Tsang said, “The doctrine of our master is to be true to the principles of our nature and the benevolent exercise of them to others,–this and nothing more.” (James Legge)*
    • The Master said: “Shen, a single principle runs through all my teaching.”
      Tseng Tzu answered, “Yes”
      When the Master had gone out, the dis苞iples asked, saying: “What principle does he mean?
      Tseng Tzu said: “Our Master’s teaching simply amounts to this: “loyalty to oneself and charity to one’s neighbour.” (Lionel Giles)
    • Confucius remarked to a disciple, “In all my life and teaching there is one underlying connected principle.
      “Even so,” answered the disciple.
      Afterwards, when Confucius had left, the other disciples asked the disciple who was above spoken to, “What did the master mean by what he said just now?”
      “The principle in the masters life and teaching,” answered the disciple, “is comprised in the two words: conscientiousness and charity.” (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • Conscientiousness within and consideration for others. (William Edward Soothill)
    • Addressing his disciple Tsang Sin, the Master said, “Tsang Sin, the principles which I inculcate have one main idea upon which they all hang.”
      “Ay, surely,” he replied.
      When the Master was gone out the other disciples asked what was the purport of this remark.
      Tsang’s answer was, “The principles of our Master’s teaching are these–whole-heartedness and kindly forbearance; these and nothing more.” (William Jennings)
  • 4:18 Confucius said: In serving parents, remonstrate with them gently [against the wrong they do]. If you see they do not listen to you, maintain reverence/deference and do not distance yourself. Persevere without being a whiner.
    • In serving his parents, [a son] may remonstrate with them, but gently; when he sees that they do not incline to follow [his advice], he shows an increased degree of reverence, but does not abandon [his purpose]; and should they punish him, he does not allow himself to murmur. (James Legge)
    • In serving his parents a son should seldom remonstrate with them; but if he was obliged to do so, and should find that they will not listen, he should yet not fail in respect nor dis訃egard their wishes; however much trouble they may give him, he should never complain. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • 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. (William Edward Soothill)
    • Proper and genuine loyalty, respect, and regard, in the case of a child-parent relationship
      ‘Tis undutiful to merely acquiesce to what someone does, even if they are your parents
      However, remonstrations must be performed the proper way, taking into consideration your relationship with the person.
      And with anyone, whether a friend, prince, parent, or anyone else, it is not proper to be a constant whiner.
      It is enough to carry out your principles and not hide your virtue, and to lead, remonstrate, or discuss broad-minded points with others only in a way that is yi
  • 4:21 Confucius said: A son should always keep in mind the age of his parents, as a matter for thankfulness as well as for anxiety.
    • A son should always keep in mind the age of his parents, as a matter for thankfulness as well as for anxiety. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • The age of one’s parents should ever be kept in mind, as an occasion at once for joy and for fear. (William Edward Soothill)
  • 4:22 Confucius said: The ancients were uneager to say things, because they considered it shameful for their actions to fail to come up to what they said.
    • The reason why the ancients did not readily give utterance to their words, was that they feared lest their actions should not come up to them. (James Legge)
    • The ancients hesitated to give their thoughts utterance: they were afraid that their actions might not be equal to their words. (Lionel Giles)
    • Men of old kept silence for fear lest what they said should not come up to what they did. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • The men of old were reserved in speech out of shame lest they should come short in deed. (William Edward Soothill)
    • People in olden times were loth to speak out, fearing the disgrace of not being themselves as good as their words. (William Jennings)
    • Commentary: Most people nowadays seldom exercise this un-eagerness to speak.
    • The chun tzu gives value to and concerns his efforts to what he is and does, and considers it personally shameful to talk big and not perform much. He does not merely say whatever he thinks in regards to himself–it takes more for him to actually express verbal statements. What he says has sound foundation in what he does.
  • 4:23 Confucius said: The disciplined seldom err.
    • The cautious seldom err. C, (James Legge)
    • Few are those who err on the side of self-restraint. (Lionel Giles)
    • The self-restrained seldom err. (William Edward Soothill)
    • He who wants little seldom goes wrong. K
    • He who confines his sphere seldom goes wrong. K – Alternate
    • Those who keep within restraints are seldom losers. (William Jennings)
    • Who contains himself goes seldom wrong. (Harvard Classics)
    • It seldom happens that a man errs through excess of moderation. (Wade)
    • Commentary: With self-control and keeping to the essentials, there will be few major errors.
      Though one should avoid extremes, overzealous self-restraint and asceticism is generally better than extreme indulgence.
      It is not good to have too much liberty, and/or to have all you want.
      Soul greatness is not so much in soaring high and in pressing forward, as in knowing how to adapt and limit yourself.
  • 4:24 Confucius said: The chun tzu wants to be slow to speak and earnest/prompt in his conduct.
    • The superior man wishes to be slow in his speech and earnest in his conduct. (James Legge)*
    • The wise man will be slow to speak but quick to act. (Lionel Giles)
    • A wise man wants to be slow in speech and diligent in conduct. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • The wise man desires to be slow to speak but quick to act. (William Edward Soothill)
    • To be slow to speak, but prompt to act, is the desire of the superior man. (William Jennings)
    • Commentary: Actions are most important.
  • 4:25 Confucius said: Te cannot not remain orphaned. It is sure to attract neighbors.
    • Virtue is not left to stand alone. [He who practices it] will have neighbors. (James Legge)
    • Virtue cannot live in solitude: neighbours are sure to grow up around it. (Lionel Giles)
    • Moral worth is never left alone; society is sure to grow round him. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • Virtue never dwells alone; it always has neighbours. (William Edward Soothill)
    • Virtue dwells not alone: she must have neighbours. (William Jennings)
    • Good is no hermit. It has ever neighbours. (Harvard Classics)
    • Te is not one-sided, it begets te, and/or it brings in te company of others.
  • 4:26 Tzu Yu said: In serving a prince, counting/enumerating/repetitiveness leads to disgrace. With friends, counting leads to becoming separated.
    • In serving a prince, frequent remonstrances lead to disgrace. Between friends, frequent reproofs make the friendship distant. (James Legge)*
    • Too much fault-finding with princes entails disgrace; with friends, it brings estrangement. (Lionel Giles)
    • In the service of your prince, if you keep constantly pointing out his errors it will lead to your disgrace; if you act in the same way to your friends it will estrange them. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • In serving one’s prince importunity results in disgrace; as importunity between friends results in estrangement. (William Edward Soothill)
    • Reproof must be confined within the proper bounds.

Book 5

  • 5:1 Confucius remarked about Kung Yeh Ch’ang, “He is fit for marriage. Though he was imprisoned, he did not commit any crime.” He gave him his daughter in marriage.
    Confucius remarked about Nan Jung, “If tao prevails in the state, he does not become overlooked; if tao is absent in the state, he escapes major punishment.” He gave him his elder brother’s daughter in marriage.

    • The Master said of Kung-Ye Ch’ang that he might be wived; although he was put in bonds, he had not been guilty of any crime. [Accordingly], he gave him his own daughter to wife.
      Of Nan Yung he said that if the country were well governed he would not be out of office, and if it were ill governed, he would escape punishment and disgrace. He gave him the daughter of his own elder brother to wife. (James Legge)
    • Confucius remarked of a disciple, saying, “No man need hesitate to give his daughter to such a man to wife. It is true he has been in prison, but it was through no crime of his.” Confucius accordingly gave him his own daughter to wife.
      Confucius remarked of another disciple, saying, “When there is order and justice in the government of the country, he will not be neglected. But should there be no order and justice in the government of the country, he will escape persecution.” Confucius accordingly gave his niece to him to wife. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • 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 him his elder brother’s daughter to wife. (William Edward Soothill)
    • Kung Yeh Ch’ang & Nan Jung: disciples of Confucius and/or principled men who Confucius knew personally
      In Ancient China, being imprisoned had a huge stigma attached to it.
      The chun tzu regards the true qualities of an individual, and not merely the conventional judgment on him.
  • 5:3 Tzu Kung said, “What do you say of Tz’u?”
    Confucius said, “You are a utensil.”
    Tzu Kung said, “What kind of utensil?”
    Confucius said, “A valuable sacrificial utensil.”

    • Tsze-kung asked, “What do you say of me, Ts’ze!”
      The Master said, “You are a utensil.”
      “What utensil?”
      “A gemmed sacrificial utensil.” (James Legge)
    • Tzu Kung asked, saying: What, Sir, is your opinion of me?
      I would liken you, Tz’u, replied the Master, to a vessel limited in its function.
      What sort of vessel? asked Tzu Kung.
      A richly ornamented sacrificial vessel, was the reply. (Lionel Giles)
    • Tzu Kung asked: “What is your opinion of me?”
      “You are a vessel,” said the Master.
      “What sort of a vessel?” he asked.
      “A jewelled temple-vessel” was the reply. (William Edward Soothill)
    • The chun tzu is not a utensil.
      Tzu Kung had exceptional qualities, but generally applied himself to lesser pursuits
  • 5:4 Someone said, “[Jan] Yung is jen, but he is not ready with his tongue. Confucius said, “What is so great about being ready with the tongue? … I do not know whether or not he is jen, but why should he show readiness of the tongue?”
    • Artful speech is not a requirement of jen.
  • 5:5 Confucius encouraged Ch’i Tiao K’ai to get employment as an official. He replied: “I am not yet sincere enough.” Confucius was pleased. M
  • 5:6 Confucius said, “If tao cannot prevail, I will get on a raft and float about on the sea. He that will accompany me will be Yu, I dare say.”
    Tzu Lu, hearing this, was delighted.
    Confucius said, “Yu is more daring than I am, but he lacks discretion.”

    • The Master said, “My doctrines make no way. I will get upon a raft, and float about on the sea. He that will accompany me will be Yu, I dare to say.”
      Tsze-lu hearing this was glad, upon which the Master said, “Yu is fonder of daring than I am. He does not exercise his judgment upon matters.” (James Legge)
    • The Master said: “My teaching makes no head趴ay. How and if I were to board a raft and float away over the sea? My friend Yu would come with me, I feel sure.”
      Tzu Lu, hearing this, was glad.
      The Master continued: “Yu surpasses me in his love of daring, but he lacks discretion and judgment.” (Lionel Giles)
    • Confucius on one occasion remarked, “There is no order and justice now in the government in China. I will betake me to a ship and sail over the sea to seek for it in other countries. If I take anybody with me, I will take Yu,” referring to a disciple.
      The disciple referred to, when he heard of what Confucius said, was glad, and offered to go.
      My friend,” said Confucius then to him, “You have certainly more courage than I have; only you do not exercise judgment when using it.” (Ku Hung-Ming)
  • 5:7 Meng Wu Po asked if Tzu Lu was jen.
    Confucius said, “I do not know.”
    He asked again.
    Confucius said, “Yu can manage the military of a large state, but I do not know whether or not he is jen.”
    “And what do you say of [Jan] Ch’iu?”
    Confucius said, “Ch’iu can govern a town or city, but I do not know whether or not he is jen.”
    “And what do you say of [Kong Hsi] Ch’ih [a.k.a. Tzu Hua]?”
    Confucius said, “Ch’ih can officially entertain court guests, but I do not know whether or not he is jen.”

    • Mang Wu asked about Tsze-lu, whether he was perfectly virtuous.
      The Master said, “I do not know.”
      He asked again, when the Master replied, “In a kingdom of a thousand chariots, Yu might be employed to manage the military levies, but I do not know whether he be perfectly virtuous.”
      “And what do you say of Ch’iu?”
      The Master replied, “In a city of a thousand families, or a clan of a hundred chariots, Ch’iu might be employed as governor, but I do not know whether he is perfectly virtuous.”
      “What do you say of Ch’ih?”
      The Master replied, “With his sash girt and standing in a court, Ch’ih might be employed to converse with the visitors and guests, but I do not know whether he is perfectly virtuous.” (James Legge)
    • Meng Wu Po asked whether Tzu Lu had true moral virtue.
      The Master replied: I do not know.
      Asked a second time, the Master said: Yu might be trusted to organize the military levies of a large and powerful State, but whether he is possessed of true virtue I cannot say.
      And what is your opinion with regard to Ch’iu?
      The Master said: Ch’iu might be entrusted with the government of a district numbering a thousand households or a hundred war-chariots, but whether he has true virtue I cannot say.
      And Ch’ih, what of him?
      The Master said: Ch’ih might be employed to stand in his official dress at a royal levee and converse with the visitors and guests; whether he has true virtue I cannot say (Lionel Giles)
    • A member of a powerful family of nobles in Confucius’ native State asked Confucius if his disciple, the above mentioned Chung Yu, was a moral character.
      “I cannot say,” answered Confucius.
      But on being pressed, Confucius said, “In the government of a State of even the first-rate power the man could be entrusted with the organisation of the army. I cannot say if he could be called a moral character.”
      The noble then put the same question with regard to another disciple.
      Confucius answered, “In the government of a large town or in the direction of affairs in a small principality, the man could be entrusted with the chief authority. I cannot say if he could be called a moral character.”
      The noble went on to put the same question with regard to another disciple.
      Confucius answered, ” At Court, in a gala-dress reception, he could be entrusted with the duty of entertaining the visitors. I cannot say if he could be called a moral character.” (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • jen is a deep and complete quality of character and soul, and cannot merely be gauged by the presence of certain signs, skills, and talents.
      Meng Wu Po: a member of a powerful family of nobles in Lu
  • 5:8 Confucius said to Tzu Kung, “Who is superior, you or Hui?”
    Tzu Kung said, “How can I venture to compare myself with Hui? Hui hears one thing and knows ten. I hear one thing and knows two.”
    Confucius said, “You are not equal to him. Neither of us is equal to him.”

    • The Master said to Tsze-kung, “Which do you consider superior, yourself or Hui?”
      Tsze-kung replied, “How dare I compare myself with Hui? Hui hears one point and knows all about a subject; I hear one point, and know a second.”
      The Master said, “You are not equal to him. I grant you, you are not equal to him.” L
    • The Master addressing Tzu Kung said: “Which of the two is the better man, you or Hui?”
      Tzu Kung replied: “How can I venture to compare myself with Hui? Hui hears one point and promptly masters the whole. I hear one point and am only able to feel my way to a second.”
      The Master agreed: “No, you are not equal to Hui; neither of us two is equal to Hui.” (Lionel Giles)
    • Confucius once said to a disciple, “You and Hui (the favourite Yen Hui), who is the abler man?”
      The disciple answered, “How should I dare compare myself with him. When he has learnt one thing he immediately understands its application to all eases; whereas I, when I have learnt one thing I can only follow out its bearing and applications to one or two particular cases.” (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • Yen Hui would, upon hearing one thing, rapidly see its applications, distinctions, angles, and advanced knowledge. Tzu Kung, who himself possessed great ability, claimed that his immediate perception was not nearly as far reaching. And even Confucius added that he also was not Yen Hui’s equal.
  • 5:10 Confucius said, “I am not seeing people who are tough.
    Someone said, “Shen Ch’eng.”
    Confucius said, “What Ch’eng has is much desire and emotion–how can that be the same as toughness?”

    • The Master said, “I have not seen a firm and unbending man.”
      Some one replied, “There is Shan Ch’ang.”
      “Ch’ang,” said the Master, “is under the influence of his passions; how can he be pronounced firm and unbending?” (James Legge)*
    • Confucius once remarked, “I do not now see a man of strong character.”
      “There is So-and-so,” said somebody.
      “No,” replied Confucius, “he is a man of strong passions; he is not a man of strong character.” (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • The Master said: “I have met no firm man.”
      One answered: “Shen Ch’ang.”
      The Master said: “Ch’ang is passionate: how can he be firm?” (Harvard Classics)
    • Ch’ang is wanton; where do you get at his inflexibleness?” (William Jennings)
    • Shen Ch’eng: most likely a disciple of Confucius.
    • Commentary: Emotion and desire are necessary, but must be controlled, properly directed, and shed of superfluities.
  • 5:12 Tzu Kung said: Confucius’s displays of wen can be heard, but Confucius’s discourses about hsing and “T’ien tao cannot be heard.
    • The Master’s [personal] displays [of his principles] and [ordinary] descriptions of them may be heard. His discourses about [man’s] nature, and the way of Heaven, cannot be heard. (James Legge)
    • You will often hear the master speak on the subjects of art and literature, but you will never hear him speak on the subjects of metaphysics or theology. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • Commentary: Confucius’s tao is non-speculative, and is based on what is at hand in human life and in human control.
  • 5:13 When Tzu Lu was known for something, but had not actually practiced it, he feared being further known for it.
    • When Tsze-lu heard anything, if he had not yet succeeded in carrying it into practice, he was only afraid lest he should hear [something else]. (James Legge)
    • Tzu Lu did not want to have renown for good traits he did not really possess.
    • Commentary: Tzu Lu did not want to have renown for good traits he did not really possess. Tzu Lu has an urgent focus and aim to properly putting teachings into practice, whereas as most others who have heard many teachings lack a pressing need to focus on putting them into practice, yet are still self-satisfied.
  • 5:14 Tzu Kung said, “On what ground was K’ung Wen Tzu called wen?” Confucius said, “He was active and loved hsueh, and he was not ashamed to consult his inferiors–thus he has been styled wen. .”
    • He was a man of great industry, who applied himself to self-culture K
    • Because, though a man of an active nature, he was yet fond of study, and he was not ashamed to stoop to put questions to his inferiors. (William Jennings)
    • Commentary: Kung Wen Tzu / Kung Yu was a contemporary of Confucius and a high minister of Wei State. Though he was reputed to be rather dishonorable and disloyal, he had certain qualities that made him deserving of the wen title, notwithstanding the rest of his character.
  • 5:15 Tzu Ch’an had four characteristics of the chun tzu‘s tao: he treated/conducted himself well/respectfully/courteously/graciously/gravely/earnestly, he was respectful/reverent/attentive/serious in serving superiors, he was magnanimous in attending to the people, and he wasyi in dealing with the people.
    • in his conduct of himself, he was humble; in serving his superior, he was respectful; in nourishing the people, he was kind; in ordering the people, he was just. L / in his personal demeanour he was grave, in serving those above him he was attentive, in his care for the people ho was kind, in his ordering of the people he was just. (Lionel Giles)/ He showed himself to be a good and wise man in four ways. In his conduct of himself he was earnest, and in serving the interests of his prince he was serious. In providing for the wants of the people, he was generous, and in dealing with them he was just.” K /
    • Commentary: Tzu Ch’an [a.k.a. Gongsun Qiao] (?-521 BC) was a highly principled and intelligent prime Minister of Ch’eng State. He caused great moral improvement of his state after just three years of rule, and went on to complete thirty total years of virtuous rule.

 

  • 5:18Tzu Chang said, “Prime Minister Tzu Wen was appointed as prime minister several times, and exhibited no joy; and he was removed from office several times, and exhibited no resentment. And he always made sure to inform the new minister of his government methods. What do you say of him?”
    Confucius said, “He was chung.”
    Tzu Chang said, “Was he jen ?”
    Confucius said, “I do not know. How can he be pronounced jen ?”
    [Tzu Chang said,] “When Ts’ui Tzu [a high officer in Ch’i State] killed the Lord of Ch’i, Ch’en Wen Tzu [another high officer in Ch’i State] abandoned his wealth and left the state. And coming to another state, he said, ‘They here are just like our [evil] high minister Ts’ui Tzu,’ and he left it. And then coming to another state, he [again] said ‘They here are just like our [evil] high minister Ts’ui Tzu,’ and he left it [as well]. What do you say of him?”
    Confucius said, “He was uncorrupt.”
    Tzu Chang said, “Was he jen ?”
    Confucius said, “I do not know. How can he be pronounced jen ?”

    • Tsze-chang asked, saying, “The minister Tsze-wan thrice took office, and manifested no joy in his countenance. Thrice he retired from office, and manifested no displeasure. He made it a point to inform the new minister of the way in which he had conducted the government;–what do you say of him?”
      The Master replied, “He was loyal.”
      “Was he perfectly virtuous?”
      “I do not know. How can he be pronounced perfectly virtuous?”
      [Tsze-chang] proceeded, “When the officer Ch’ui killed the prince of Ch’i, Ch’an Wan, though he was the owner of forty horses, abandoned them and left the country. Coming to another state, he said, ‘They are here like our great officer, Ch’ui,’ and left it. He came to a second state, and with the same observation left it also;–what do you say of him?”
      The Master replied, “He was pure.”
      “Was he perfectly virtuous?”
      “I do not know. How can he be pronounced perfectly virtuous?” (James Legge)
    • Tzu Chang asked, saying: “The Prime Minister Tzu Wen [of the Ch’u State] held office three times, but showed no joy; he lost it three times, but testified no concern. When he ceased to be Prime Minister, he was careful to explain the political situation to successor. What is your opinion of him?”
      The Master said: “He was loyal and conscien負ious.”
      “Had he not the highest degree of moral virtue?”
      “That I do not know how can one judge of his moral virtue?”
      Tzu Chang continued: “When Ts’ui Tzu [a high officer in Ch’i, the state adjoining Lu] slew the Prince of Chi, Ch’en Wen Tzu, though the possessor of ten teams of war-horses, forsook his wealth and turned his hack on the country. Having come to another state, he said: ‘Here they are as had as our own minister Ts’ui Tzu,’ and departed. And he repeated this proceeding each time that he came to a new state. What is your opinion of him?
      The Master said: “He was pure and incorruptible.”
      “Had he not the highest degree of virtue?”
      “I cannot say; how is one to judge?” (Lionel Giles)
    • Commentary: Minister Tzu Wen: minister of Chu State in the 600s BC, known for his integrity and loyalty.
      Ts’ui Tzu’s assassination of the Lord of Ch’i is said to have occurred in 548 BC.
      People are generally very sensitive to property or position loss or gain–but Minister Tzu Wen and Ch’en Wen Tzu carried right principles into practice, and experienced no distress from a loss of position and wealth.
      In their examples, these two people showed exemplary character.
      However, jen implies a completeness and comprehensiveness, and thus, these two descriptions cannot be sufficient to warrant determining if these two people are jen.
  • 5:22 They forgave old wrongs: therefore they had little to complain of the world. K / They did not think of men’s former vices, hence men did not feel deeply offended with them. (David Collie)
    • They could not bear to come into contact with bad men, but if men reformed and abandoned their former vices they received them into their society and thought no more of their former improper conduct: bad people knowing this was their disposition did not feel a deep antipathy towards them.
  • 5:24 Slick talk, an obsequious appearance, and superfluous respect/courtesy/ deference–Tso Ch’iu Ming was ashamed of these, and Ch’iu is also ashamed of them.
    Befriending someone while concealing resentment harbored towards him–Tso Ch’iu Ming was ashamed of this, and Ch’iu is also ashamed of it.

    • Fine words, an insinuating appearance, and excessive respect;–Tso Ch’iu-ming was ashamed of them. I also am ashamed of them. To conceal resentment against a person, and appear friendly with him;–Tso Ch’iu-ming was ashamed of such conduct. I also am ashamed of it. (James Legge)
    • Plausible speech, fine manners and studied earnestness are things of which a friend of mine was ashamed; I am also ashamed of such things. To conceal resentment against a person and to make friends with him: that is also something of which my same friend was ashamed; I am also ashamed to do such a thing. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • Tsao Kew Ming was ashamed to use fine speeches, put on a fair countenance, and shew excessive respect, and Mow (Confucius) is likewise ashamed of such things. Tso Kew Ming was ashamed to conceal enmity under the mask of friendship, and of such conduct, Mow is also ashamed. (Collie)
    • Honeyed words, flattering looks and overdone humility, Tso Ch’in-ming thought shameful, and so do I. To hide ill-will and ape friendship, Tso Ch’in-ming thought shameful, and so do I. (Harvard Classics)
    • Fine speech, and studied mien, and superfluous show of deference, –of such things Tso-k’iu Ming was ashamed. I too am ashamed of such things. Also of hiding resentment felt towards an opponent and treating him as a friend –of this kind of thing he was ashamed, and so too am I. (William Jennings)
    • Commentary: Tso Ch’iu Ming: a disciple of Confucius and Grand Historian of Lu, or an ancient worthy who lived before Confucius’s time
      The chun tzu might be tactful, but he is vigilant against insincerity and lack of self-loyalty, and he does not conduct himself in disgraceful ways.
  • 5:26: Alas! I am not finding people who perceive their own faults and inwardly accuse themselves. / It is all over. I have not yet seen one who could perceive his faults, and inwardly accuse himself. L / Alas! I have never met a man who could see his own faults and arraign himself at the bar of his own conscience. (Lionel Giles)/ Alas! I do not see now a man who can see his own failing or is willing to bring a suit against himself before his own conscience. K / It is finished! I have met no one who can see his own faults, and arraign himself within. H / Ah, ’tis hopeless! I have not yet seen the man who can see his errors, so as inwardly to accuse himself. (William Jennings)
    • Commentary: People seldom goes far in perceiving and realizing their real faults and mistakes, laying the charge on themselves.
    • Perceiving an accusing yourself of your real faults results in a profound and urgent sense of repentance, and feeling of necessity to rectify the self of any wrong.
    • A lover of learning does not misdirect anger or repeat mistakes.
  • 5:27 In [even] a small district there is bound to be someone as chung and hsin as Ch’iu–but I doubt there will be someone who loves learning as much as Ch’iu.
    • In a hamlet of ten families, there may be found one honorable and sincere as I am, but not so fond of learning. (James Legge)
    • In any hamlet of a dozen houses you will surely find men as honest and conscientious as myself, though they may not be so devoted to ethical study. (Lionel Giles)
    • Even in a very small town there must be men who are as conscientious and honest as myself: only they have not tried to cultivate themselves as I have done. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • In a hamlet of ten households there must be men faithful and true as I: why is there no one as fond of learning? (Harvard Classics)
    • In a small cluster of houses there may well be some whose integrity and sincerity may compare with mine; but I yield to none in point of love of learning. (William Jennings)

Book 6

  • 6:3 I have heard that the chun tzuhelps the distressed, but does not add to the wealth of the rich.
    Yuan Ssu was made a governor, and given nine hundred measures of grain [as salary].
    Ssu declined them.
    Confucius said, “Do not do so. Can’t you give it to your neighbors and villagers?”

    • Tsze-hwa being employed on a mission to Ch’i, the disciple Zan requested grain for his mother.
      The Master said, “Give her a fu.”
      [Yen] requested more.
      “Give her an yu,” said the Master.
      Yen gave her five ping.
      The Master said, “When Ch’ih was proceeding to Ch’i, he had fat horses to his carriage, and wore light furs. I have heard that a superior man helps the distressed, but does not add to the wealth of the rich.”
      Yuan Sze being made governor [of his town by the Master], he gave him nine hundred measures of grain, but Sze declined them.
      The Master said, “Do not decline them. May you not give them away in the neighborhoods, hamlets, towns, and villages?” (James Legge)
    • Tzu Hua having been sent on a mission to the Chi State, Jan Ch’iu bogged for a gift of grain for his mother. The Master said: “Give her a peck.” The disciple asking for more, he said: “Give her then a bushel.” But Jan Ch’iu eventually gave her as much as five hundredweight of grain. Then the Master rebuked him, saying: “When Ch’ih went to the Chi State, he was conveyed by a team of sleek horses and was wearing costly fur garments. Now I have heard that the princely man succours the distressed, but will not add to the opulence of the wealthy.” (Lionel Giles)
    • I have learnt that the superior man should help those whose needs are urgent, not help the rich to be more rich. (William Jennings)
    • Commentary: Yuan Ssu [a.k.a. Hsien], a highly principled disciple of Confucius, considered it proper to decline the official salary. However, in the broader scope of matters, it would have been better for him to accept the salary in this case–if not for his own use, for distributing it to those he knows who are most in need.
  • 6:5 Hui was the type of person who could keep his heart free of non jen for months, whereas the others can only do so for shorter spurts. / Such was Hui that for three months there would be nothing in his mind contrary to perfect virtue. The others may attain to this on some days or in some months, but nothing more. L / For the space of three months together Hui would not deviate in spirit from the path of perfect virtue. My other disciples may attain this height once in a day or in a month, but that is all. (Lionel Giles)
    • Many aspirants can sometimes remain focused on jen, but few can do it month-after-month.
  • 6:6 Chi K’ang Tzu asked whether Chung Yu [a.k.a. Tzu Lu] was fit for office.
    Confucius said, “Yu is ta [decisive/efficient/character/aware/penetrating]. Why shouldn’t he be in office?
    “Is Tz’u [a.k.a. Tzu Kung] fit for office?”
    “Tz’u is intelligent. Why shouldn’t he be in office?”
    “Is Ch’iu [a.k.a. Jan Yu] fit for office?”
    “Ch’iu has multiple-abilities/cultivation/accomplished. Why shouldn’t he be in office?”

    • Commentary: Chi K’ang Tzu: a Lu official in charge of administration
  • 6:7 The chief of the Chi Family [Government] wanted Min Tzu Ch’ien to be governor of Pi.
    Min Tzu Ch’ien said [to the messenger], “Skillfully decline the offer for me. If they send for me again, I must be at the northern shore of the Wen River.”

    • The chief of the Chi family sent to ask Min Tsze-ch’ien to be governor of Pi.
      Min Tsze ch’ien said, “Decline the offer for me politely. If any one come again to me with a second invitation, I shall be [obliged to go and live] on the banks of the Wan.” (James Legge)
    • The Chi sent to make Min Tzu-ch’ien governor of Pi.
      Min Tzu-ch’ien said: “Make some good excuse for me. If he send again, I must be across the Wen.” (Harvard Classics)
    • Min Tzu Ch’ien, a principled disciple of Confucius, will not work for a corrupt family that ruled the government, unless he has a very righteous purpose for doing so.
    • Commentary: Here, he tactfully declines an offer to work for such a corrupt government, and indicates that he will have no choice but to leave his area of residence in Lu and move to a new region of Ch’i [the Wen River was the boundary between Lu State and Ch’i State] if they will not accept his decision.
      It was common for corrupt governments of the time to attempt to employ virtuous and talented people like Min Tzu Ch’ien–not with the intention of putting the person’s virtue and talents to righteous uses–but usually just to benefit from his reputation for purity, use his ability to use towards less than honorable pursuits, and prevent him from supporting anything that opposed the corrupt government leadership and policies.
  • 6:9 Hui is certainly hsien. Living in a narrow lane with a dish of rice and a bowl of water–though others could not even endure such hardship, his serenity remains entirely unaffected by it. Hui is certainly hsien.
    • Admirable indeed was the virtue of Hui! With a single bamboo dish of rice, a single gourd dish of drink, and living in his mean narrow lane, while others could not have endured the distress, he did not allow his joy to be affected by it. Admirable indeed was the virtue of Hui! L / Hui was indeed a philosopher. Other men living as he did, in a miserable alley, with a single dish of food awl a single bowl of drink, could not have endured the distress. But Hui was invariably cheerful. He was a philosopher indeed! (Lionel Giles)/ How much heroism is in that man! Living on one single meal a day, with water for his drink, and living in the lowest hovels of the city,–no man could have stood such hardships, yet he–he did not lose his cheerfulness. How much heroism is in that man! K / A wise and good man was Hooi. A piece of bamboo was his dish, a cocoa-nut his cup, his dwelling a miserable shed. Men could not sustain the sight of his wretchedness; but Hooi did not change the serenity of his mind. A wise and good man was Hooi. (Marshman)
    • The chun tzu is content with the yi of every moment, considers what is important, and forgets and discards what is superfluous and unimportant.
      What a person is and does are the most essential elements in his living a satisfying, meaningful, and peaceful life.
    • Commentary: One must rise above all conditions to follow tao.
      Human existence must be transformed to jen, and not vain pleasures.
      One who thoroughly examines himself will disregard external things, and use them rather than being used by them.
  • 6:15 Confucius said: Who can go out but by the door? Why don’t people follow this tao?
    • Who can go out but by the door? How is it that men will not walk according to these ways? L / Who can go out of a house except by the door? In life, why not pass likewise through the door of virtue? (Lionel Giles)/ Who can go out except by the door? Why is it no one keeps to the way? H / Who can go out without using the door? So why doesn’t any body follow the Tao? M
    • Commentary: tao at hand is right here, and ultimately the only legitimate way to escape troubles and live a live a proper and divinely satisfying human life where one realizes the ideal in oneself and life. Why neglect it for a one-sided way that trades this for a few benefits?
  • 6:10 Jan Ch’iu said, “It’s not that I don’t enjoy your tao. I don’t have sufficient ability [for it].” Confucius said, “The person who does not have sufficient ability gives up somewhere along the tao –but you are drawing a line.”
    • It is not that I do not delight in your doctrines, but my strength is insufficient. – Those whose strength is insufficient give over in the middle of the way but now you limit yourself. L / It is not that I have no joy in my Master’s teaching, it is my strength that fails me. – Those whose strength fails them fall fainting by the way. What you do is to set up bounds which you will not attempt to pass. (Lionel Giles)/ Pleasure in the Master’s path I do not lack: I lack strength. – Who lacks strength faints by the way; thou puttest a curb upon thee. H / It is not,” Yen Yu once apologized, “that I do not take pleasure in your doctrines; it is that I am not strong enough.” The Master rejoined, “It is when those who are not strong enough have made some moderate amount of progress that they fail and give up; but you are now drawing your own line for yourself.” (William Jennings)
    • Commentary: As humans, we must simply devote ourselves to carrying out tao without concern over whether we will make it all the way.
  • 6:11 Confucius said to Tzu Hsia: Be a chun tzu ju. Do not be a hsiao jen ju.
    • Do you be a scholar after the style of the superior man, and not after that of the mean man. (James Legge)
    • Commentary: An true aspirant seeks broad learning in order to put tao into practice, rather than pedantic learning for the sake of vain gains.
  • 6:14 / Without the eloquence/specious-speech of Chu/Priest T’uo or the beauty of [Prince] Sung Chao, it is difficult nowadays to escape [from troubles in society].
    • Without the specious speech of the litanist T’o and the beauty of [the prince] Chao of Sung, it is difficult to escape in the present age. L / Unless glib as the reader T’o, and handsome as Chao of Sung, escape is hard in the times that be! H / Whoever has not the glib utterance of the priest T’o, as well as the handsomeness of (prince) Chau of Sung, will find it hard to keep out of harm’s way in the present age. (William Jennings)
    • Commentary: Priest T’uo: a minister renowned for his speaking skill. Sung Chao: a minister renowned for his physical beauty
      Society genrally places a very high value on good looks and fancy speech, but seldom places much attention on valuing character.
  • 6:20 jen places the difficulty first, and success second. This is what ought to be referred to as jen.
    • The man of virtue makes the difficulty to be overcome his first business, and success only a subsequent consideration;–this may be called perfect virtue. (James Legge)
    • The virtuous man thinks of the difficult thing first, and makes material advantage only a secondary consideration. This may be said to constitute moral virtue. (Lionel Giles)
  • 6:21 The wise find pleasure in water; the jen find pleasure in hills. The wise are active; the jen are tranquil. The wise are joyful; the jen are long-lived.
    • The wise find pleasure in water; the virtuous find pleasure in hills. The wise are active; the virtuous are tranquil. The wise are joyful; the virtuous are long-lived. L / The man of knowledge finds pleasure in the sea, the man of virtue finds pleasure in the mountains. For the man of knowledge is restless and the man of virtue is calm. The man of knowledge is happy, and the man of virtue is long-lived. (Lionel Giles)
  • 6:24 Tsai Wo said, “If someone tells a jen person that ‘there is jen in the bottom of the well,’ will he jump in after it?” Confucius said, “Why should he? The chun tzu may be made to go, but he cannot be made to go down. He may be imposed upon, but he cannot be led astray.”
  • 6:25 The chun tzu, broadly hsueh and wen , and restraining himself with li, may thus likewise not betray.
    • The superior man, extensively studying all learning, and keeping himself under the restraint of the rules of propriety, may thus likewise not overstep what is right. L / The higher type of man, having gathered wide objective knowledge from the branches of polite learning, will regulate the whole by the inner rule of conduct, and will thus avoid overstepping the limit. (Lionel Giles)/ Be extensively acquainted with literature and maintain what is important with propriety, then you will not oppose reason. (David Collie)
    • Commentary: The chun tzu desires broadness as well as restraint and discipline.
  • 6:26 Confucius visited Nan Tzu. Tzu Lu was displeased. Confucius swore a solemn oath, saying, “If I have done anything wrong, may T’ien dislike/reject/abandon/punish me! May T’ien reject me!
    • The Master having visited Nan-tsze, Tsze-lu was displeased, on which the Master swore, saying, “Wherein I have done improperly, may Heaven reject me! may Heaven reject me!” L / The Master having gone to visit Nan Tzu, Tzu Lu was displeased. Thereupon Confucius swore a solemn oath, saying: In whatsoever I have sinned, may I be abominable in the sight of God! (Lionel Giles)/ The Master saw Nan-tzu. Tzu-lu was displeased. The Master took an oath, saying: “If there were sin in me may Heaven forsake me, may Heaven forsake me!” H / Once when the Master had had an interview with Nan-tsz, which had scandalized his disciple Tsz-lu, he uttered the solemn adjuration, “If I have done aught amiss, may Heaven reject me! may Heaven reject me!” (William Jennings)
    • Nan Tzu: wife/concubine/consort of the Duke Ling of Wei. She was influential in state affairs, but also widely notorious for her intrigues, and even accused of incest.
    • Commentary:  Tzu Lu was displeased that Confucius had visited her–perhaps suspecting that Confucius had sexual intercourse with her, or that he was attempting political advancement in a dishonorable way. Confucius declares that he had not done any wrong during his visit–he was obliged to go for whatever reason, but did not have unrighteous intentions for going, and he did not engage in improper conduct while there.
  • 6:27 Confucius said: “Even over a long period of time, there have been few people who have actualized the Mean into Manifest Virtue.”

Book 7

  • 7:1 Transmitting rather than making/forging-new-paths, believing-in-and/confidently loving the ancients, I venture to compare myself with our Lao P’eng.
    • [Selectively] transmitting rather than forming new paths, believing in and confidently loving the ancients, I venture to compare myself with our Lao P’eng. / Following the proper way rather than forging new paths, believing-in-and/confidently loving the ancients, I venture to compare myself with our Lao P’eng. A transmitter and not a maker, believing in and loving the ancients, I venture to compare myself with our old P’ang. L / My function is to indicate rather than to originate. Regarding antiquity as I do with trust and affection, I would venture to compare myself with our ancient patriarch P’eng Tsu. (Lionel Giles)/ A teller and not a maker, one who trusts and loves the past; I may be likened to our old P’eng. (Harvard Classics)
    • Lao P’eng: Old P’eng, a worthy long-lived recluse who lived several centuries before Confucius,
      OR
      Lao [Tzu / Tan] [and] P’eng
      Lao Tzu: author of the Tao Te Ching, who, according to some traditions, transmitted teachings attributed to Ancient Sage Kings such as the Yellow Emperor.
    • Commentary: The chun tzu seeks out the wisdom of all the ancients, and is occupied in the Sages.
  • 7:2 Silently treasuring up ideas, insatiably learning (hsueh), and never being wearied/tired of instructing others–don’t these characterize me?
    • The silent treasuring up of knowledge; learning without satiety; and instructing others without being wearied:–which one of these things belongs to me? L / A silent communer, an ever hungry learner, a still unflagging teacher; am I any of these? H / What find you indeed in me?–a quiet brooder and memorizer; a student never satiated with learning; an unwearied monitor of others! J / To meditate on what one has learned–to learn without satiety, and teach without being wearied; how can I attain these! C / To sit in silence and recall past ideas, to study and feel no anxiety, to instruct men without weariness;–have I this ability within me? (Marshman) / Keeping silent and thinking; studying without satiety, teaching others without weariness: these things come natural to me. (Muller)
  • 7:4 During Confucius’s leisure, he was composedly relaxed and kind/enjoying/cheerfully-alert/agreeable/relaxed/open.
    • When the Master was unoccupied with business, his manner was easy, and he looked pleased. L / In his moments of leisure, the Master’s manner was uniformly cheerful and smiling. (Lionel Giles)/ In his free moments the Master was easy and cheerful. H / In his hours of recreation and refreshment the Master’s manner was easy and unconstrained, affable and winning. (William Jennings)
    • Commentary: This characteristic of Confucius at leisure is indicative of his wu wei manner.
  • 7:5 I must have regressed! It’s been a long time since I’ve dreamt of seeing the Duke of Chou.
    • Extreme is my decay. For a long time, I have not dreamed, as I was wont to do, that I saw the duke of Chau. L / Alas! what a falling-off is here! Long is it since I dreamt of Chou Kung. (Lionel Giles)/
    • Commentary: The Duke of Chou (?-1105 BC) established the Chou Dynasty along with his father King Wen and older brother King Wu. During his reign, he devoted himself to carrying out tao, and was able to purify the people.
      Our thoughts, spirit, emotions, will, focus, and concentration should be so immersed with our role models that they show up frequently in our dreams.
  • 7:6 Set your will/sights on tao, stick to te , pursue jen, and find relaxing enjoyment in the arts.
    • Let the will be set on the path of duty. Let every attainment in what is good be firmly grasped. Let perfect virtue be accorded with. Let relaxation and enjoyment be found in the polite arts. (James Legge)
  • 7:7 I would not refuse instruction even to someone who on his own accord brings me only a token payment.
    • From the man bringing his bundle of dried flesh [for my teaching] upwards, I have never refused instruction to any one. (James Legge)
    • There is no one, from the man who brings me dried meat as payment upwards, to whom I have refused my instruction. (Lionel Giles)
    • I have never withheld instruction from any, even from those who have come for it with the smallest offering [lit. with their packets of dried meat]. (William Jennings)
  • 7:10 Confucius said to Yen Yuan, “‘When called [to office], to go/practice-it; when dismissed, to store-it’–have only you and I attained this?” [same wording as 8:13]
    Tzu Lu said, “If you, Confucius, were to lead the Combined Army, who would you go with?”
    Confucius said, “I would not go with someone who will [without preparation] ‘attack a tiger or swim the [Yellow] River,’ and be willing to die without any regret. My associate must be the person who proceeds to action with proper solicitude/hate of failure, and who is fond of adjusting his plans and then carrying them into successful execution.”

    • The Master said to Yen Yuan, “When called to office, to undertake its duties; when not so called, to lie retired;–it is only I and you who have attained to this.”
      Tsze-lu said, “If you had the conduct of the armies of a great state, whom would you have to act with you?”
      The Master said, “I would not have him to act with me, who will unarmed attack a tiger, or cross a river without a boat, dying without any regret. My associate must be the man who proceeds to action full of solicitude, who is fond of adjusting his plans, and then carries them into execution.” (James Legge)
    • The Master addressing Yen Yuan said: “It is only you and I who would be content to accept public employment when it was offered to us, and to retire into obscurity when we were dismissed.”
      Tzu Lu then said: “If you, Sir, had the conduct of three legions, whom would you associate with yourself in the command?”
      “I would not,” replied the Master, “choose a man who would attack a tiger unarmed, cross a river without a boat, or sacrifice his life without a moment’s regret. Rather should it be one who would not embark on an enterprise without anxiety, and who was accustomed to lay his plans well before putting them into execution.” (Lionel Giles)
    • Addressing his favourite disciple, he said, “To you only and myself it has been given to do this, –to go when called to serve, and to go back into quiet retirement when released from office.”
      Tsz-lu (hearing the remark) said, “But if, sir, you had the handling of the army of one of the greater States, whom would you have associated with you in that case?”
      The Master answered: ‘Not the one ‘who’ll rouse the tiger,’ Not the one ‘who’ll wade the Ho;’ not the man who can die with no regret. He must be one who should watch over affairs with apprehensive caution, a man fond of strategy, and of perfect skill and effectiveness in it.” (William Jennings)
    • Commentary: Confucius and Yen Hui were principled enough to not be greedy for position or take it in the wrong way, and they were timely and adaptable enough to not have a predilection for being or not being recluses. If they could act on their principles and take office, they would, but if not, they would be content with not being in office.
      Tzu Lu apparently wants to point out his strength of intrepidity after hearing Confucius praise Yen Hui, and he thus asks his question in hopes of drawing Confucius’s praise. Confucius, however, rebukes him for his one-sided and excessive intrepidity–this very extreme excess perhaps being the main flaw that prevented Tzu Lu from reaching the stage of being a very worthy and exemplary person like Yen Hui.
  • 7:11 If it were suitable to seek wealth, I would by all means pursue it, even if it meant taking up any ordinary profession to do so. But since it is not suitable to seek wealth, I follow what I love.
    • If the search for riches is sure to be successful, though I should become a groom with whip in hand to get them, I will do so. As the search may not be successful, I will follow after that which I love. (James Legge)
    • If the pursuit of riches were a commendable pursuit, I would join in it, even if I had to become a chariot-driver for the purpose. But seeing that it is not a commendable pursuit, I engage in those which are more to my taste. (Lionel Giles)
    • If it were proper to seek riches, although I should become a groom to obtain them, I would do it; but as it is improper to seek them, I will rest in that which I love. (David Collie)
    • Commentary: The chun tzu preserves life and what is genuine, and confines his pursuits only to what is essential and yi.
      He uses external things, and does not allow them to use or entangle him.
      He can have joy with ordinary food, water, and conditions, and remain unaffected even by very meager living conditions.
      Why spend life chasing money and possessions while neglecting what is more important and better, and living your life right now?
      It is unwise to deem wealth and possessions to be your protectors, and believe that you and them mutually belong to one another.
  • 7:12 Confucius approached these three subjects with special caution: fasting, war, and illness.
    • The things in reference to which the Master exercised the greatest caution were–fasting, war, and sickness. (James Legge)
  • 7:14 [Tzu Kung said,] “What sort of men were Po-I and Shu Ch’i?”
    [Confucius] said, “They were ancient worthies.”
    “Did they repine/ill-will/complain/regrets [due to their course]?”
    [Confucius said], “They sought jen, and they attained jen–so what/how was there for them to repine about?”

    • Yen Yu said, “Is our Master for the ruler of Wei?”
      Tsze-kung said, “Oh! I will ask him.”
      He went in [accordingly], and said, “What sort of men were Po-i and Shu-ch’i?”
      “They were ancient worthies,” said the Master.
      “Did they have any repinings [because of their course]?”
      The Master again replied, “They sought to act virtuously, and they did so; what was there for them to repine about?”
      On this, [Tsze-kung] went out and said, “Our Master is not for him.” (James Legge)
    • They sought and obtained complete virtue;–how then could they be discontented? M
  • 7:15 With simple food to eat, water to drink, and my bent arm for a pillow–I can still find joy in the midst of this.
    The opportunity to acquire riches and honors through non yi–this is [something that I am content with allowing to pass and go] like a floating cloud.

    • With coarse rice to eat, with water to drink, and my bended arm for a pillow; — I have still joy in the midst of these things. Riches and honors acquired by unrighteousness, are to me as a floating cloud. (James Legge)
    • With coarse food to eat, water to drink, and the bended arm as a pillow, happiness may still exist. Wealth and rank unrighteously obtained seem to me as insubstantial as floating clouds. (Lionel Giles)
    • Living on coarse rice and water, with bent arm for pillow, mirth may be ours; but ill-gotten wealth and honours are to me a wandering cloud. (Harvard Classics)
    • With a meal of coarse rice, and with water to drink, and my bent arm for my pillow, –even thus I can find happiness. Riches and honours without righteousness are to me as fleeting clouds. (William Jennings)
    • Coarse rice for food, water to drink, and the bended arm for a pillow–happiness may be enjoyed even in these. Without virtue, riches and honor seem to me like a passing cloud. M
    • Commentary: The chun tzu is concerned with and has joy through pursuing tao, and is indifferent to and wholly independent from wealth and honors acquired by nonyi.
      It is not that he goes out of his way to have poor accommodations and public contempt–it’s just that he focuses on the essentials of living a right life, and in doing so he is not discomposed and does not experience distress over considerations solely for wealth and honor.
      A man may be happy here and hereafter without much fame or wealth.
  • 7:16 If I could live for a few more decades, I would [continue] learning and eliminate my major faults.
    • If some years were added to my life, I would give fifty to the study of the Yi, and then I might come to be without great faults. (James Legge)
  • 7:18 The Duke of She asked Tzu Lu about Confucius.
    Tzu Lu did not answer.
    Confucius said, “Why did you not say: ‘He is a man, who in his eagerness/hard-work/absorbment forgets his food, who in his joy/enraptured forgets his sorrows/worries, and who does not perceive that/when old age is coming on/soon be at hand’?”

    • The Duke of Sheh asked Tsze-lu about Confucius, and Tsze-lu did not answer him.
      The Master said, “Why did you not say to him, — He is simply a man, who in his eager pursuit of knowledge forgets his food, who in the joy [of its attainment] forgets his sorrows, and who does not perceive that old age is coming on?” (James Legge)
    • The Duke of She questioned Tzu Lu about Confucius.
      Tzu Lu made no reply.
      The Master said to him afterwards: Why did you not say: “He is a man whose zeal for self-improvement is such that he forgets to eat; whose happiness in this pursuit is so great that he forgets his troubles and does not perceive old age stealing upon him”? (Lionel Giles)
    • Commentary: The Duke of She was a high minister from the She district of Chu State who most likely was interested in recruiting Confucius for non yi reasons.
      Confucius’s identity is not mysterious and indescribable–he can simply be described as someone who loves his pursuit of hsueh and tao.
      Ordinary people’s passions are confined to rewards, fame, wealth, and honors.
      As for Confucius, his passion is directed towards a more worthy object.
  • 7:19 I am not someone born with knowledge, but I love and have diligently sought out the [teachings of the] Ancients.
    • I am not one who was born in the possession of knowledge; I am one who is fond of antiquity, and earnest in seeking it there. (James Legge)
    • In me, knowledge is not innate. I am but one who loves antiquity and is earnest in the study of it. (Lionel Giles)
  • 7:20 Confucius did not speak about mystery/prodigies/extraordinary/strange things/happenings, force/unnatural power, disorder/rebellion, or the spirits.
    • The subjects on which the Master did not talk, were–extraordinary things, feats of strength, disorder, and spiritual beings. (James Legge)
    • Commentary: These things are not integral to the human tao.
  • 7:21 When I am with a few others, they are my teachers. I can select/focus/identify their good points/parts/qualities and emulate/follow them, and select their bad points and avoid/change/correct/reform them.
    • When I walk along with two others, they may serve me as my teachers. I will select their good qualities and follow them, their bad qualities and avoid them. (James Legge)
    • If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself. (Lionel Giles)
    • Let there be three men walking together: from that number I should be sure to find my instructors; for what is good in them I should choose out and follow, and what is not good I should modify. (William Jennings)
    • Walking three together I am sure of teachers. I pick out the good and follow it; I see the bad and shun it. (Harvard Classics)
  • 7:23 Do you disciples think I conceal things? I do not conceal anything from you. There is nothing I do that I do not express to you. This is Ch’iu.
    • Do you think, my disciples, that I have any concealments? I conceal nothing from you. There is nothing which I do that is not shown to you, my disciples;–that is my way. (James Legge)
    • My disciples, do you think that I have any secrets? I have no secrets from you. It is my way to do nothing without communicating it to you, my disciples. (Lionel Giles)
    • My boys, do ye think that I hide things from you? I hide nothing. One who keeps from his boys nought that he does, such is Ch’iu. (Harvard Classics)
    • Do you look upon me, my sons, as keeping anything secret from you? I hide nothing from you. I do nothing that is not manifest to your eyes, my disciples. That is so with me. (William Jennings)
    • Commentary: Confucius shares all of himself with his disciples, and does not have any secret theoretical teaching.
  • 7:24 Confucius taught four things: wen, hsing [proper/correct action/conduct/comportment], chung, and hsin.
    • There were four things which the Master taught,–letters, ethics, devotion of soul, and truthfulness. (James Legge)
  • 7:27 There may be those who act without knowing. I do not do so. Hearing much and selecting what is good and following it; seeing much and retaining it–this is the second category of attaining it.
    • There may be those who act without knowing why. I do not do so. Hearing much and selecting what is good and following it; seeing much and keeping it in memory:–this is the second style of knowledge. (James Legge)
    • There are men, I daresay, who act rightly without knowing the reason why, but I am not one of them. Having heard much, I sift out the good and practise it; having seen much, I retain it in my memory. This is the second order of wisdom. (Lionel Giles)
    • Commentary: The wisest men are act intuitively, without having to find their way by any conscious mental process. Others must be obliged to rely largely on objective experience, as acted upon by the critical and receptive powers of their mind.
      Perfect knowledge ought to be followed by a choice of what is good.
      There are some who do not understand a subject, but go ahead and invent things form their own head. I am not like them. One can come to be wise by hearing a great deal and following it, and by seeing a great deal and remembering it.
  • 7:29 Is jen remote? I desire jen, and lo–jen is at hand.
    • Is virtue a thing remote? I wish to be virtuous, and lo! virtue is at hand. L / Is virtue then so remote? I have only to show a desire for virtue, and lo! it is here. (Lionel Giles)/ Is the philanthropic spirit far to seek, indeed? I wish for it, and it is with me! J /
    • The practice of jen and the desire to seek jen originates and exists in one’s self. Only wish for it, and it comes.
    • The tao of jen is not far off. Why consider it to be far off? If we tread it, we will arrive. By returning to li, loving and approving of jen for its own sake, and doing so completely and with wholehearted sincerity, jen will be at hand. This commitment, devotion, love for, and eventual natural ease for jen must come from the individual himself.
    • Commentary: A desire for and love of jen is necessary in order for us to increase our jen and become a jen person
  • 7:30 Ch’iu is fortunate! If I make mistakes, people are sure to know them.
    • The minister of crime of Ch’an asked whether the duke Chao knew propriety, and Confucius said, “He knew propriety.
      Confucius having retired, the minister bowed to Wu-ma Ch’i to come forward, and said, “I have heard that the superior man is not a partisan. May the superior man be a partisan also? The prince married a daughter of [the house of] Wo, of the same surname with himself, and called her, — ‘The elder [Tsze] of Wu.’ If the prince knew propriety, who does not know it?”
      Wu-ma Ch’i reported these remarks, and the Master said, “I am fortunate! If I have any errors, people are sure to know them.” (James Legge)
    • Commentary: The chun tzu rejoices when others correctly tell him of his faults, and he hates to have people conceal his mistakes form him.
  • 7:31 When Confucius was in company of a person who was singing well, he always asked the person to repeat the song, and joined the harmony.
    • When the Master was in company with a person who was singing, if he sang well, he would make him repeat the song, while he accompanied it with his own voice. (James Legge)
    • If the Master happened to be with singers, and they sang a piece well, he would get them to repeat it, when ho would also join in the song himself. (Lionel Giles)
  • 7:32 When it comes to wen, I might be up to par; but when it comes to being and living as a chun tzu, I am still attaining.
    • In letters I am perhaps equal to other men, but [the character of] the superior man, carrying out in his conduct what he professes, is what I have not yet attained to. (James Legge)
    • In literary accomplishments I am perhaps equal to other men; but I have not yet succeeded in exhibiting the conduct of the princely man in my own person. (Lionel Giles)
    • Although in letters I may have none to compare with me, yet in my personification of the ‘superior man’ I have not as yet been successful. (William Jennings)
    • I have no more culture than others: to live as a gentleman is not yet mine. (Harvard Classics)
  • 7:33 Confucius said, “The Sage or jen person–I would not dare label myself these. Striving to become such without satiety, and teaching/encouraging others without weariness–this may be said of me.”
    Kung-hsi Hua [a.k.a. Tzu Hua] said, “It is this complete sincerity that we disciples have not yet learned.”

    • The Master said, “The sage and the man of perfect virtue;– how dare I [rank myself with them]? It may simply be said of me, that I strive to become such without satiety, and teach others without weariness.”
      Kung-hsi Hwa said, “This is just what we, the disciples, cannot imitate you in.” (James Legge)
    • The Master said: “To divine wisdom and perfect virtue I can lay no claim. All that can be said of me is that I never falter in the course which I pursue and am unwearying in my instruction of others–this and nothing more.”
      Kung-hsi Hua said: “But those are just the qualities that we, your disciples, are unable to acquire.” (Lionel Giles)
    • The Master said: “How dare I lay claim to holiness or love? A man of endless craving I might be called, an unflagging teacher; but nothing more.”
      “That is just what we disciples cannot learn,” said Kung-hsi Hua. (Harvard Classics)
  • 7:34 Confucius was very sick.
    Tzu Lu asked to go pray.
    Confucius said, “Is this done?”
    Tzu Lu said, “It is. The Eulogies say, ‘Prayer has been made for you to the gods/spirits of the upper and lower.'”
    Confucius said, “Ch’iu has been praying for a long time.”

    • The Master being very sick, Tsze-lu asked leave to pray for him. He said, “May such a thing be done?” Tsze-lu replied, “It may. In the Eulogies it is said, ‘Prayer has been made for thee to the spirits of the upper and lower worlds.'” The Master said, “My praying has been for a long time.” (James Legge)
    • The Master being grievously sick, Tzu Lu proposed the offering up of a prayer
      “Is there a precedent for this?” asked the Master.
      Tzu Lu replied: “There is. In the Eulogies it is written: ‘We pray unto you: O spirits of Heaven and Earth.'”
      The Master said: “My prayers began long ago.” (Lionel Giles)
    • The Master being very ill, Tzu-lu asked leave to pray.
      The Master said: “Is it the custom?”
      “It is,” answered Tzu-lu. “The Memorials say, ‘Pray to the spirits in heaven above and on earth below.'”
      The Master said: “Long lasting has my prayer been.” (Harvard Classics)
    • Commentary: The Eulogies :most likely a collection of prayers, rituals for the dead, or panegyrics on the departed
      The chun tzu makes his life his prayer. He focuses on his actions and life that are at hand. Living a life of humility, respectfulness, and discipline, he directs this towards his life and thereby that is his praying, rather than directing it at the supernatural.
      In this higher sense his whole life had been one long prayer–so why should he need a mediatior between himself and God.
  • 7:35 Extravagance leads to indiscipline/arrogance/selfishness/non-humility, and frugality leads to stinginess. [Though neither is ideal,] stinginess is preferable to indiscipline.
    • Extravagance leads to insubordination, and parsimony to meanness. It is better to be mean than to be insubordinate. L / Prodigality begets arrogance, parsimony begets niggardliness. But it is better to he niggardly than arrogant. (Lionel Giles)/ Extravagance leads to sin; thrift makes men mean: but it is better to be mean than to sin. (Sir Chaloner Alabaster)
  • 7:36 The chun tzu is calm/poised/self-possessed/confident/broad and composed/unruffled/relaxed.
    The hsiao jen is continuously dithered/worried/distressed/narrow/emotional.

    • The superior man is satisfied and composed; the mean man is always full of distress. (James Legge)
    • The higher type of man is calm and serene; the inferior man is constantly agitated and worried. (Lionel Giles)
    • A gentleman is calm and spacious: the vulgar are always fretting. (Harvard Classics)
    • The man of superior mind is placidly composed; the small-minded man is in a constant state of perturbation. (William Jennings)
    • Commentary: The chun tzu is composed because he is sustained by tao and has cultivated his te.htm . This calm poise comes from within, and is harmony with life’s ideals–a self-possessed, self-controlled, self-reliant quality, and oneness of purpose, confidence, and power that comes from knowing you have done your best, and remains in the face of externals that tempts it away. It is a poised proactive manner of life where he is prepared and ready for what goes on.
      The hsiao jen is constantly worried over and tied to vain things he contends for, such as glory and vain gains.
      The chun tzu’s method is sound like a business that has a monopoly; the hsiao jen’s is unsound like a speculative investment.

Book 8

  • 8:4 Tzu Tsang said, “In regards to tao, there are three principles that the chun tzu should consider especially important: In his attitude he is dignified and avoids rashness/violence and disrespectfulness/rancor/heedlessness; in regulating his expression he keeps near to sincerity/trust and confidence; and in his words and tones/expressions he avoids vulgarity and impropriety.”
  • 8:5 Tseng Tzu said:
    Able/talented/clever, yet consulting about abilities lacked; possessed/ informed/versatile/talented/abundance yet consulting about what is not/little/limited possessed; having, yet as if he had not/lacked; substantial/full/satiated/solid, yet as if empty; offended/assailed/wronged against, yet not rattled/contesting/squabbling/swallowing–I formerly had a friend who pursued/devoted these.

    • Gifted with ability, and yet putting questions to those who were not so; possessed of much, and yet putting questions to those possessed of little; having, as though he had not; full, and yet counting himself as empty; offended against, and yet entering into no altercation; formerly I had a friend who pursued this style of conduct. (James Legge)
    • Ability asking instruction of incompetence, abundance sitting at the feet of insufficiency, a man of every virtue who thought he had none, solid in character yet making himself out a cypher, trespassed against but never re負aliating–such was the humble state of mind in which my late friend spent his life. (Lionel Giles)
  • 8:7 Tseng Tzu said:
    The shih should have strength/broadness/generosity/magnanimous-intrepidity/broad-minded/open-minded and stamina/resolution/stout-of-heart/courage. His burden/responsibility/duty is heavy/important and his tao is long. jen is his personal burden/responsibility–is it not heavy? Only with death does his tao stop–is it not long?

    • The officer may not be without breadth of mind and vigorous endurance. His burden is heavy and his course is long. Perfect virtue is the burden which he considers it is his to sustain;–is it not heavy? Only with death does his course stop;–is it not long? (James Legge)
    • Commentary: Few are up to taking up jen and treading it the whole way.
  • 8:9 The people can be made to follow it, but they cannot be made to know it.
    • The people may be made to follow a path of action, but they may not be made to understand it. (James Legge)
    • The people can be made to follow a certain path, but they cannot be made to know the reason why. (Lionel Giles)
    • The people may be put into the way they should go, though they may not be put into the way of understanding it. (William Jennings)
    • Commentary: The people can be forced to follow any course of action, but they cannot be forced to understand it.
      People of the multitude take very little of a proactive role in forming habits or pursuing a path of life and seeing where it leads. They generally wait for external coercion before feeling roused and exerting themselves.
      Those distinguished from the mass will rouse themselves, put forth their strength, and exert themselves to yi even if there is no such external coercion.
  • 8:10 Love of intrepidity with dissatisfaction/hate of poverty becomes insubordinate/unruly/troublesome/rebellious. A person who lacks/excessively-hates-non jen and is extremely despised/criticized/suffering/resents others will become insubordinate.
  • 8:11 Even if someone’s abilities/talents/intelligence are as fine as the Duke of Chou’s, if he is also conceited and greedy, then there is not enough for his recommendation.
    • Though a man have abilities as admirable as those of the duke of Chau, yet if he be proud and niggardly, those other things are really not worth being looked at. (James Legge)
    • If a man is proud and avaricious, though his other qualities may embrace all that was fine in the character of Chou Kung, they are not worth taking into account. (Lionel Giles)
  • 8:13 Earnest/firm/dependable hsin/faithful/believing, love hsueh, persist until death in the good tao. Do not enter an endangered state, and do not live in a disordered state. Reveal yourself when tao prevails in the world, but be reclusive when tao does not prevail in the world. …
    • With sincere faith he unites the love of learning; holding firm to death, he is perfecting the excellence of his course. [Such a one] will not enter a tottering state, nor dwell in a disorganized one. When right principles of government prevail in the kingdom, he will show himself; when they are prostrated, he will keep concealed. When a country is well governed, poverty and a mean condition are things to be ashamed of. When a country is ill governed, riches and honor are things to be ashamed of. (James Legge)
    • With sincerity and truth unite a desire for self-culture. Lay down your life rather than quit the path of virtue. Enter not the state which is tottering to its fall. Abide not in the state where sedition is rampant. When law obtains in the Empire, let yourself be seen; when lawlessness reigns, retire into obscurity. In a state governed on right principles, poverty and low station are things to be ashamed of; in an ill-governed state, riches and rank are things to be ashamed of. (Lionel Giles)
    • The really faithful lover of learning holds fast to the Good Way till death. He will not go into a State in which a downfall is imminent, nor take up his abode in one where disorder reigns. When the empire is well ordered he will show himself; when not, he will hide himself away. … (William Jennings)
  • 8:16 Ardent/impetuous/forward and yet tricky/not-upright/indiscipline, stupid/ingenuous/slow and yet dishonest/not attentive/not-cautious; simple/empty and yet not-sincere/faithful/dishonest–such persons I do not understand.
    • Ardent and yet not upright, stupid and yet not attentive; simple and yet not sincere:–such persons I do not understand. (James Legge)
  • 8:17 Learn as if you could not reach it, and were always fearing you should lose it.
    • Learn as if you could not reach your object, and were always fearing also lest you should lose it. (James Legge)
    • Pursue the study of virtue as though you could never reach your goal, and were afraid of losing the ground already gained. (Lionel Giles)
    • Study as if you were following someone you could not overtake, and were afraid of losing. (Creel, p. 141)
  • 8:18 How majestic was the manner in which Shun and Yu governed the Empire without holding it!

Book 9

  • 9:1 Confucius seldom spoke on these subjects: gain, propensity of circumstances, and jen.
    • The subjects of which the Master seldom spoke were — profitableness, and also the appointments of Heaven, and perfect virtue. (James Legge)
  • 9:6 A Grand Official asked Tzu Kung, “Your Master is a Sage, isn’t he? How come he has so many varied abilities?
    Tzu Kung said, “T’ien certainly gave him course to be a Sage, yet he also has many varied abilities.”
    When Confucius heard of this, he said, “Does that Grand Official know me? When I was young, we were poor, and thus I learned many menial abilities. Must the chun tzu have these abilities? No.”
    Lao said, “Confucius said, ‘Since I have not been put to use, I have learned these arts.'”

    • “Certainly Heaven is allowing him full opportunities of becoming a sage, in addition to the fact that his abilities are many and varied.” (William Jennings)
  • 9:7 Do I possess knowledge? No, I do not. But if an ordinary person asks anything of me, through emptiness I set it forth from all sides and go through it.
  • 9:16 Confucius, standing by a river, said, “It passes on just like this, not ceasing day or night!”
    • Commentary: Time, life, tao, and hsueh passes on just like a river’s moving, not ceasing day or night. It is going by, and one must find out for himself, and simply get on. We practice it, but we do not make it move. Like nature’s revolutions are unceasing, so also should man be in his application to hsueh.
  • 9:17 I am not finding people who love te as much as they love sex/appearances.
    • I have not seen one who loves virtue as he loves beauty. (James Legge)
    • I have not met one whose love of virtue was equal to his love of sensual beauty. (Lionel Giles)
    • Rare are they who prefer virtue to the pleasures of sex. (HA. Giles)
    • Commentary: If people loved te like they love sex, wouldn’t they be on tao?
  • 9:18 In raising a mound, if I stop when there is a single basket missing, it is my own stopping.
    In leveling ground, if I throw a single basketful, it is my own going forward.
  • 9:19 Never becoming weary during my discourses with him–ah, that is Hui!
    • Never flagging when I set forth anything to him; — ah! that is Hui. (James Legge)
  • 9:20 Confucius said of Yen Yuan, “Alas that I saw his constant advance but did not see how far he could go!”
    • Alas! I saw his constant advance. I never saw him stop in his progress. (James Legge)
  • 9:21 There are cases in which it sprouts, but does not go on to flower.
    There are cases in which it flowers, but does not go on to fruit.
  • 9:23 Can’t anyone agree with words of worthy/correct/exemplary/upright/just/model admonition/directives/maxims? Their value, however, is in cultivation.
    Can’t anyone delight in words of gentle/kindly/choice/select/deferential/reverent promotion/praise/compliments/advice? Their value, however, is in practice/live-up-to/progress/reflection?
    As for someone who delights without progressing, and agrees without cultivating–I can really do nothing with him.

    • Can men refuse to assent to the words of strict admonition? But it is reforming the conduct because of them which is valuable. Can men refuse to be pleased with words of gentle advice? But it is unfolding their aim which is valuable. If a man be pleased with these words, but does not unfold their aim, and assents to those, but does not reform his conduct, I can really do nothing with him. (James Legge)
    • Words of just admonition cannot fail to command a ready assent. But practical reformation is the thing that really matters. Words of kindly advice cannot fail to please the listener. But subsequent meditation on them is the thing that really matters. I can make nothing of the man who is pleased with advice but will not meditate on it, who assents to admonition but does not reform. (Lionel Giles)
    • Commentary: In studying teachings, one should reflect, search for the truth within oneself, and find its application and corroboration there. One must gain understanding through self-application. Only when we take teachings and apply them to ourselves can we really get it.
  • 9:27 Ony when the year becomes cold do we know/realize how/that the pine and the cypress are the last to lose their leaves/fade/wither.
    • When the year becomes cold, then we know how the pine and the cypress are the last to lose their leaves. (James Legge)
    • Commentary: Certain abilities (of the chun tzu) are only apparent in certain conditions.
  • 9:29 Some apply themselves to learning but do not approach tao ; some approach tao but do not establish themselves in it; some establish themselves in it but do not weigh.
    • There are some with whom we may study in common, but we shall find them unable to go along with us to principles. Perhaps we may go on with them to principles, but we shall find them unable to get established in those along with us. Or if we may get so established along with them, we shall find them unable to weigh occurring events along with us. (James Legge)
    • Some men there are with whom you can share your knowledge of facts, but who cannot follow you in arriving at principles. Some can follow you to particular principles, but they cannot arrive with you at general principles. Some can arrive with you at general principles but they cannot apply the general principles under exceptional circumstances. (Ku Hung-Ming)
  • 9:30 “How the flowers of the aspen-plum flutter and turn! Do I not think of you? But your house is distant.”
    Confucius said, “It is the want of thought about her. How is it distant?”

Book 11

  • 11:3 Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing I say that does not delight him.
    • Commentary: Yen Hui simply practices Tao.
  • 11:8 When Yen Yuan died, Confucius said, “Alas! T’ien is killing/destroying me! T’ien is killing/destroying me!”
    • God has forsaken me, God has forsaken me! (Lionel Giles)
  • 11:9 When Yen Yuan died, Confucius grieved intensely.
    The disciples who were there remarked, “Your grief is too intense!”
    Confucius said, “Is it? If I am not to grive intensely for this kind of person, then for whom should I do so?”

    • bewailed him exceedingly
      “If I am not to mourn bitterly for this man, for whom should I mourn?” (James Legge)
    • wept with passionate grief,
      “Master, your sorrow is too passionate.”
      “Whose death should be a cause for violent grief, if not this man’s?” (Lionel Giles)
  • 11:11 Chi Lu asked about serving the ghosts and spirits.
    Confucius said, “If you do not serve people, how can you [serve] ghosts and spirits?
    “I venture to ask about death?”
    Confucius said, “If you do not know life, how can you know death?”

    • Chi Lu inquired concerning men’s duty to spirits.
      The Master replied: “Before we are able to do our duty by the living, how can we do it by the spirits of the dead?”
      Chi Lu went on to inquire about death.
      The Master said: “Before we know what life is, how can we know what death is?” (Lionel Giles)
    • Commentary: tao has its foundation in practical matters at hand.
  • 11:13 The [governing] men of Lu were going to rebuild the Main Treasury.
    Min Tzu Ch’ien said, “Why not simply renovate it? Is it necessary to reconstruct it from scratch?”
    Confucius said, “This man seldom speaks–but when he does, he hits the mark.”

    • but when he does speak, he speaks to the purpose. (Lionel Giles)
  • 11:15 Tzu Kung asked whether Shih [a.k.a. Tzu Chang] or Shang [a.k.a. Tzu Hsia] was superior/worthier.
    Confucius said, “Shih goes too far/beyond; Shang does not go far enough/falls short.”
    Tzu Kung said, “Then Shih is superior?”
    Confucius said, “Going too far is like not going far enough.”
  • 11:16 The head of the Chi family was wealthier than the Duke of Chou.
    [And yet,] Ch’iu collected imposts for him and increased his wealth.
    Confucius said, “He is no disciple of mine. Young men, you may beat the drum and assail him.”

    • Commentary: The Duke of Chou mentioned here is a wealthy descendant of the Ancient Sage King the Duke of Chou.
  • 11:18 Hui!–he has nearly attained it, [yet] is often poor.
    • Commentary: Tz’u [Tzu Kung] is not content with Mandate, and applies himself to business–and in doing so his judgments are often correct.
  • 11:19 Tzu Chang asked about the Good Person’s tao.
    Confucius said, “He does not tread the beaten path, and he does not enter the inner sanctum.”

    • He does not tread in the footsteps of others, but moreover, he does not enter the chamber of the sage. (James Legge)
    • Commentary: does not can’t, neither does he profess esoterism [i.e. the secret of any -ism]. (Ku Hung-Ming)
  • 11:20 A person who is earnest/sides with sincerity in what he professes–is he really a chun tzu, or is he only serious in appearance?
    • If, because a man’s discourse appears solid and sincere, we allow him to be a good man, is he really a superior man? or is his gravity only in appearance? (James Legge)
    • Men now are earnest in what they profess. Are they really good and wise men? or are they serious only in appearance? That is what I should like to know. (Ku Hung-Ming)
  • 11:21 Tzu Lu said, “Should I immediately practice what I hear?”
    Confucius said, “Your father and elder brothers are alive [and to be consulted]. Why should you immediately practice what you hear?”

    • [Later,] Jan Yu said, “Should I immediately practice what I hear?”
      Confucius said, “Yes, immediately practice what you hear.”
    • [Later,] Kung-hsi Hwa said, “Yu [a.k.a. Tzu Lu] asked whether he should immediately practice what he hears, and Confucius said: ‘Your father and elder brothers are alive.’ Ch’iu [a.k.a. Jan Yu] asked whether he should immediately practice what he heard, and Confucius said: ‘Yes, immediately practice what you hear.’ I, Ch’ih, am confused, and venture to ask you why/for an explanation.”
      Confucius said, “Ch’iu [a.k.a. Jan Yu] is retiring and slow/tends to hold back; therefore I urged him forward/on. Yu [a.k.a.] has the energy/courage of two men; therefore I kept him back.”
    • Commentary: Confucius dealt with his disciples according to their individual characteristics.
      The lazy are to be urged, the overzealous are to be restrained.
      He gave one the Confucisn equivalent of cocaine, and the other marijuana.
  • 11:22 The Master was put in fear in K’wang.
    Yen Yuan fell behind [and later rejoined].
    The Master said, “I thought you had died.”
    Hui said, “While you are alive, how should I dare die?”
Wise Words

Confucius Quotes

Book 12

  • 12:3 Ssu Ma Niu asked about jen.
    Confucius said, “The jen person is cautious in his speech [about jen].”
    Ssu Ma Niu said, “Cautious in his speech! Is this what is meant by jen?”
    Confucius said, “When a person feels the difficulty [of jen], can he be other than cautious in his speech?”
  • 12:5 Sze Ma Niu, full of anxiety, said, “All of you have brothers; only I do not.”
    Tzu Hsia said, “… The chun tzu is reverent in his actions [conducts himself with reverence and does nothing amiss], respectful, and observes li–thus, all within the Four Seas is his brother. What has the chun tzu to do with being distressed because he has no brothers?”

    • 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?” (James Legge)
    • The higher type of man is unfailingly attentive to his own conduct, and shows respect and true courtesy to others. Thus all within the four seas are his brethren. How then should he grieve at having no brothers? (Lionel Giles)
    • Ssu-ma Niuactually did have several brothers, all of who lived very recklessly and/or unprincipled, and one whom (Hwan T’ui) once tried to kill Confucius. Ssu-ma Niutherefore disowned his brothers.
    • Commentary: Tzu Hsia, however, replies that having brothers is not a matter of importance to the chun tzu –and this is because ____ makes the world his brothers.
  • 12:6 Tzu Chang asked what constituted clear-sightedness.
    The Master said, “When soaking slanders and dirty/skin-pricking accusations cannot overtake someone, he may be called clear-sighted. When soaking slanders and dirty accusations cannot overtake someone, he may also be called far-sighted/magnanimous.”
  • 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.” (James Legge)
  • Tzu Chang asked a question about clearness of mental vision.
    The Master said: “He whose mind is proof against the slow-soaking poison of slander and the sharp stings of calumny, may be called clear-sighted, and far-seeing as well.” (Lionel Giles)
  • 12:8 Chi Tzu-ch’eng said, “The chun tzu only needs native simplicity. What’s the use of wen ?”
    Tzu Kung said, “Alas that you have thus spoken of the chun tzu, for ‘four horses cannot overtake the tongue.’ wen is native simplicity; native simplicity iswen . When the hair is taken off the hide of a tiger or leopard, it is like the hide of a dog or sheep”

    • Ornament is as substance; substance is as ornament. (James Legge)
    • The value of the ornament and the value ofthe substance are closely connected. Stripped of hair, the hide of a tiger or a leopard is very like the hide of a dog or a sheep. (Lionel Giles)
    • Chi Tzu Chang said: “All the Superior Man needs is to have his substance. Why should he need external refinement?” M
    • Commentary: When we have intelligence resulting from sincerity, this condition is to be ascribed to nature; when we have sincerity resulting from intelligence, this condition is to be ascribed to instruction. But given the sincerity, and there shall be the intelligence; given the intelligence, and there shall be the sincerity.
      A person without wen will overall not be any better than the average sort of person.
      Native simplicity cannot really be separated from wen .
  • 12:9 Duke Ai inquired of Yu Zo, “The year is one of scarcity, and the revenues are not enough. What is to be done?”
    Yu Zo said, “Why not simply tax the people [the ancient rate of] ten percent?”
    He said, “With twenty percent I [currently] find it not enough–so how could I do with ten percent”
    Yu Zo said, “If the Hundred Surnames [the common people] have plenty/enough, how can the sovereign alone not have enough? If the Hundred Surnames do not have enough, how can the sovereign alone have plenty/enough?
  • 12:10 Tzu Chang asked how to exalt/elevate virtue and dispel/discern delusions.
    Confucius said, “Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles, and be moving continually to what isyi –this is the way to exalt one’s virtue. To love and wish for life and hate and wish against death; but wishing for life, also wishing to die–this is delusion. ‘It was not on account of her being rich, but merely for a change. ‘”

    • 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.’ L
    • Tzu Chung asked how to increase virtue and dispel confusion.
      Confucius said, “Base yourself in loyalty and trust and permeate yourself with Rightness, and your virtue will be paramount. We want life for the things we love, and death for the things we hate. But if we have already desired life for something and now we want it to die, we are confused. ‘Really, it was not for wealth. Just for a change.'” M
    • The quoted line is from the Shi Ching
      105, in a story of a man who leaves his wife for another woman just for the sake of change–an example of delusion.
    • Commentary: dealing with the root, rather than dealing with what comes from the root. And, it is preventative of problems rather than dealing with already occurring problems. It only occurs when there is social harmony, rather than individual selfishness.
  • 12:13 Confucius said: Like many others, I preside over lawsuits. But what’s best/imperative is to avoid lawsuits.
    • In hearing litigations, I am like any other body. What is necessary [, however,] is to cause [the people] to have no litigations. L / In hearing litigations, I am like any one else. I differ, in wishing to prevent these litigations. (HA. Giles)
    • Commentary: Confucius probably said this during the time he was Minister of Justice in Lu.
      Some people might be able to decide lawsuits well, but do not govern the country with te and li, and cannot prevent litigations from occurring among the people.
  • 12:14 Tzu Chang asked about government.
    Confucius said, “The art of governing is to keep its affairs before the mind without weariness, and to practice them with undeviating consistency.”
  • 12:19 Chi K’ang asked Confucius about government, saying, “What do you say to killing the anti tao people for the benefit of the tao people?”
    Confucius replied, “Sir, why should your system of government depend on killing others? Let your displayed desires be for goodness, and the people will be good. The relation between the ?? and the ?? is like that between the wind and the grass: the grass must bend when the wind blows across it.”

    • Ought not I to cut off the lawless in order to establish law and order? …
      If you showed a sincere desire to be good, your people would likewise be good. The virtue of the prince is like unto wind that of the people, like unto grass. For it is the nature of grass to bend when the wind blows upon it. (Lionel Giles)
    • Commentary: The government does not require a harsh system of punishments, rewards, and laws in order to maintain order.
      When the chun tzu are virtuous for long enough, it will influence the masses to be so.
  • 12:20 Tzu Chang asked, “What must the shih be in order to be called ‘penetrating’?” Confucius said, “What do you mean by ‘penetrating’?” Tzu Chang replied, “Being famous through your state, and famous through your own private circle.” Confucius said, “That is [mere] ‘fame,’ not ‘penetration.’ The penetrating person is upright and loves rightness. He weighs people’s words and observes at their countenances. He is anxious to defer/humble to others. Such a person is penetrating through his state, and penetrating through his own private circle. As to the person who is [merely] famous, he assumes an outward show of jen while acting contrary to it, and is remains satisfied with himself. Such a person will be famous through his state, and famous through his own private circle.”
    • Neither in private nor in public life does he achieve more than notoriety.” (Lionel Giles)
    • Commentary: The chun tzu bends his undivided attention to reality, and does not allow the love of fame to come near him. Someone who covets mere fame will seldom keep most of the fundamental principles of genuine tao.
  • 12:21 Fan Chih, strolling with Confucius under the trees about the rain dance altars, said, “I venture to ask how to exalt/heighten/elevate virtue, overcome/correct/eliminate wickedness/cherished-evil/malice, and resolve/discover delusions?”
    Confucius said, “Truly a good/excellent question! Consider doing what should be done first, and making gain/success a secondary consideration [place duties before reward]–isn’t this a way to heighten your virtue? Attacking/assailing your own evil rather than assailing the evil of others–isn’t this how to correct cherished evil? But allowing a moment’s anger to make you disregard your own life and that of your parents–isn’t this a case of delusion?”

    • Fan Ch’ih rambling with the Master under the trees about the rain altars, said, “I venture to ask how to exalt virtue, to correct cherished evil, and to discover delusions.”
      The Master said, “Truly a good question! If doing what is to be done be made the first business, and success a secondary consideration:–is not this the way to exalt virtue? To assail one’s own wickedness and not assail that of others;–is not this the way to correct cherished evil? For a morning’s anger to disregard one’s own life, and involve that of his parents;–is not this a case of delusion?” (James Legge)
  • 12:22 Fan Ch’ih asked about jen.
    Confucius said, “Love people”
    He asked about knowledge.
    Confucius said, “Know people.”
    He did not immediately understand [these answers].
    Confucius said, “Advance the upright and set aside the crooked, and the crooked will be made upright.”
    Fan Ch’ih retired, and, seeing Tzu Hsia, said, “A little while ago, I had an interview with Confucius, and asked him about knowledge. Confucius said: ‘Advance the upright and set aside the crooked, and the crooked will be made upright.’ What did he mean?”
    Tzu Hsia said, “Truly rich is his saying! Shun, being in possession of the kingdom, selected from among all the people and advanced Kao Yao–and thus, all who were anti jen stayed away. T’ang, being in possession of the kingdom, selected from among all the people and advanced I Yin–and thus, all who were anti jen stayed away.”

    • Fan Ch’ih asked about benevolence.
      The Master said, “It is to love all men.”
      He asked about knowledge.
      The Master said, “It is to know all men.”
      Fan Ch’ih did not immediately understand these answers.
      The Master said, “Employ the upright and put aside all the crooked; in this way the crooked can be made to be upright.”
      Fan Ch’ih retired, and, seeing Tsze-hsia, he said to him, “A little while ago, I had an interview with our Master, and asked him about knowledge. He said, ‘Employ the upright, and put aside all the crooked;– in this way, the crooked will be made to be upright.’ What did he mean?”
      Tsze-hsia said, “Truly rich is his saying! Shun, being in possession of the kingdom, selected from among all the people, and employed Kao-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 all who were devoid of virtue disappeared.” (James Legge)
    • Commentary: Thoush it seems as if knowing people thoroughly for what they are will result in us knowing their flaws and shortcomings so well that we will be unable to “love” them, true love for humanity lies in
      will make you acaunted with their bad points, you cannot love them. But Confucius’s method of advancing the upright and putting aside the crooked can fulfill both knowing and loving people.
  • 12:24 Tseng Tzu said:
    The chun tzu useswen to associate with his friends, and by friendship advances jen.

    • The superior man on grounds of culture meets with his friends, and by friendship helps his virtue. (James Legge)

Confucius Quotes

Book 13

  • 13:1 lead them encourage them
  • 13:3 Tzu Lu said, “Sir, The ruler of Wei is anticipating your assistance in the administration of his state. What will be your top priority?”
    Confucius said, “Rectifying terms.”
    Tzu Lu said, “Are you serious/can you be so impractical! Can that be so important/why must you rectify terms?”
    Confucius said, “You are being na鴳e, Iou.
  • 13:4 Fan Chih wanted to ask about agriculture.
    Confucius said, “Why don’t you ask an old farmer?”
    Fan Chih then said that he would like to learn about gardening.
    Confucius said, “Why don’t you ask an old gardener?” Fan Chih left. Confucius said, “Fan is really simple, isn’t he? If the men in charge love propriety, the people can’t stand to be disrespectful. If the men in charge love Rightness, then the people can’t stand not to follow them. If the men in charge love trust, then the people cannot stand not to respond with their emotions. If you were to govern in this way, the people would come flocking to your kingdom, carrying their babies on their backs. Why do you have to worry about agriculture?”
  • 13:5 If someone can recite hundreds of the Odes, but is ineffective when in a position, or cannot answer questions unassisted when sent on a mission, then although his knowledge of the Odes is extensive, what is the use of it?
    • 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?” (James Legge)
    • A man may know the three hundred odes by heart, but if he proves himself incapable when given a post in the government, or cannot make a speech unaided when sent on a foreign mission, of what use to him is all his learning? (Lionel Giles)
  • 13:6 When you are correct, matters will be accomplished even without the issuing of orders. When you are not correct, even if orders are issued, they will not be obeyed.
  • 13:9 Jan Yu was driving for Confucius on a trip to Wei.
    Confucius said, “What an abundant population!”
    Jan Yu said, “being that they are so abundant, what should be done for them?”
    Confucius said, “Enrich them.”
    Jan Yu said, “And after having enriched them, then what?”
    Confucius said, “Educate them.”

    • When the Master went to Wei, Zan Yu acted as driver of his carriage.
      The Master observed, “How numerous are the people!”
      Yu said, “Since they are thus numerous, what more shall be done for them?”
      “Enrich them,” was the reply.
      “And when they have been enriched, what more shall be done?”
      The Master said, “Teach them.” (James Legge)
    • When the Master went to Wei, Jan Yu drove his carriage.
      The Master said: “What an abundant population!”
      Jan Yu said: “Now that the people are so abundant, what is the next thing to be done?”
      “Enrich them,” said Confucius
      “And having enriched them, what then?”
      “Teach them,” was the reply. (Lionel Giles)
  • 13:10 Confucius said: “If any of the rulers were to employ me, I would have control of the situation within a month, and would have everything straightened out within three years.”
  • 13:11 Confucius said: “If good men were to govern a country for a hundred years, they could overcome cruelty and do away with killing. How true this saying is!”
  • 13:16 The Duke of Sheh asked about government.
    Confucius said, “Make those close to you happy, and those far away will come to you.”
  • 13:17 Tzu Hsia was governor of Chu Fu.
    He asked about government.
    Confucius said, “Do not desire to complete things hastily; do not be obsessed with petty gains. Desire to do things hastily prevents them from being done penetratingly; being obsessed with minor advantages prevents great affairs from being accomplished.”

    • 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.” (James Legge)
    • Tzu Hsia, when governor of Chu-fu, asked for advice on government.
      The Master said: “Do not try to do things in a hurry. Do not be intent on small gains. What is done quickly is not done thoroughly; and if small gains are considered, great things remain unaccomplished.” (Lionel Giles)
    • Do not wish for speedy results. Do not look at trivial advantages. If you wish for speedy results, they will not be far-reaching; and if you regard trivial advantages you will not successfully deal with important affairs. (William Jennings)
    • Commentary: Naught done in a hurry is thorough, and an eye for small things leaves big things undone. Hsieh
      Chu-fu: a small city in Lu.
  • 13:21 Since I’m not finding people who’ll follow the chung yung, I’ll settle for the eager and prudent. The tao of eagerness is advancing and laying hold, and that of prudence is keeping oneself from what is wrong.
    • 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 wrong. (James Legge)
  • 13:24 Tzu Kung asked, “‘All the people in the neighborhood approve/love of him’–how about that/what do you think about such a person?” Confucius said, “That is insufficient.” “‘All the people in the neighborhood disapprove of/hate him’–how about that?” Confucius said, “That is insufficient. It would be better if the good people in the neighborhood approve [of him], and if the bad people disapprove [of him].”

    Tsze-kung asked, saying, “What do you say of a man who is loved by all the people of his neighborhood?”
    The Master replied, “We may not for that accord our approval of him.”
    “And what do you say of him who is hated by all the people of his neighborhood?”
    The Master said, “We may not for that conclude that he is bad. It is better than either of these cases that the good in the neighborhood love him, and the bad hate him.” (James Legge)

    The honest person finds satisfaction in being rightly approved of, but is not anxious to please the multitude, and does not seek to please others improperly.

    Be what you ought to be, rather than merely presenting a false image with the aim of gaining acceptance and avoiding rejection. If someone is not willing to accept you as your real self, then so be it–by why merely mold yourself to conform to another person’s beliefs of correctness, no matter what they are?

    Many will hate you if you if you make a right character.

    The eminent are especially subject to undeserved praise and criticism.

    The opinion of one individual or of an entire multitude by no means comprises the complete and absolute criteria of what is right or wrong.

    Following yi leads to some people’s various types of criticism, hate, etc., and he will also at the same time incur some people’s approval, love, commendation, and so on.

    And in order to gain the approval of the wisest and most upright opinions, it is often necessary to gain the disapproval.

    This is all unavoidable.

    Of course, in certain situations it is acceptable to make compromises for the sake of the greater good–for instance, using discretion and exercising a proper amount of tactfulness in regards to others, such as refraining from verbally expressing viewpoints that will cause more problems than benefits [14:4], and to not “waste words” by speaking to those people you should not speak to [15:7] regarding certain matters.

    But essentially, in the larger scope of right life, you must be willing to do what is yi [right], no matter what the external world is going to think of you.

    Each person has undergone his own set of training, and has his own set of beliefs, and thereby comes with his own particular types and amounts of personal delusion, including delusion that makes him unwilling to relinquish delusion.

    You do not need to make yourself feel responsible for other people’s delusion.

    You only need to put tao [the Way] into practice, and feel satisfied with doing so.

    Some people will approve, and others will disapprove–but what is important is that you approve of yi and follow it, and undergo consequences of doing so

    This is being and remaining possessed of your self and your integrity and principles.

    And also keep in mind and reconcile yourself with the fact that no matter what delusions, vulgar biases, and unjust disproval people have or engage in, in the long run they will eventually in some way submit to someone’s yi.

    When a person is determined to stick to what is yi, and when he accumulates yi, this brings accumulated te that exerts a personal influence on others–and though this influence will impact the good and willing to do good quicker and more than those who are not so, others, it will even have a gradual effect on those others. Therefore, even those who do disapprove of a person’s yi will eventually in some way perceive of the yi he is and does.

    Of course, since this is usually not a rapid process, one must be resolute and committed to yi by all means, and do so day in and day out, regardless of whether he incurs other’s approval and disapproval.

    The human heart has a natural desire for approval, and this desire can be conducive to fulfilling yi–however, when this desire it taken out of the proper bounds, in can lead to all sorts of problems.

    It is a great delight do yi and have others second you and share in your exemplary characteristics and conduct.

    However, what you really should be thinking of is to first avoid the reproaches of your own heart that loves yi and hates non yi, and then to avoid others’ reproaches–and should these two aims ever be in conflict with each other, you should by all means be willing to relinquish the avoidance of people’s reprobation in order to avoid his own personal reprobation for violating yi.

    To switch the propriety of these two aims and be willing to betray yourself and yi for the sake of external judgments–this is a terrible trade off, and one that trades your own integrity, pure self, and yi all in order to avoid the disapproval of people perspectives that are confined to a vulgar sphere of biases.

    How can that be proper conduct, proper employment of time, and the uplifting and respecting of yourself and others?

    How can that be tao?

    Not only does such conduct betray, disrespect, and damage yourself, it also does so to those very people who have unjustly disapproved of you–because if you are not at your best and if you do not stand for what isyiin the face of those people, all you are doing is contributing to them retaining and perpetuating their own vulgar biases, and hindering tao from being practiced in yourself and in the world in general. Thus, you are not doing your part.

    It is an individual’s divine responsibility to persist in what is yi [right], and even incur others’ contempt for doing so when this unjust contempt does occur.

    Despite the fact that the world often represents itself as being for the most part made up of constancy among its individuals, and despite the fact that some individuals often contribute to this homogeneity by various acts of conformance to the external environment that he lives in, the reality is that the difference between one individual and another is immeasurable, and that despite our similarities and our various viewpoints that are in agreement, it really takes all sorts of people to make up a world.

    What the multitude likes or hates is fickle, and is not necessarily what is right or wrong.

    There are all sorts of people in a world, and among these people there are all sorts of unjust prejudices–prejudices that differ from people to people, as well as those that are shared among the overwhelming majority of a large group of people.

    Thus, it is apparent that the opinions of the multitude or of a random individual should not necessarily be relied upon as determinants of what is right and wrong.

    This does not mean that it is necessary to disrespect someone because he has a faulty opinion. However, it is important not to respect a person’s or multitude’s certain faulty opinion.

    An individual has a personal responsibility–both to himself and to others, to stand for what is yi, regardless of the public opinion. It is un-exemplary to forgo this responsibility and sacrifice your integrity and right conduct in order to be a mere “village worthy” [17:13]

    The “village worthy” and mere praise coveter–his is a thief of te [17:13 (n/i).

    A “village worthy” is a conformist whose main concern is agreeing with any current customs and acceptances, putting on an appearance of what is right, and having the multitude approve of him. In doing so, he forgets about te [virtue power], and is willing to consent to what is wrong–and moreover, since he is praised by the multitude, he believes he is right, is content with vulgar ways, and is not only a thief of his own te, but perpetuates this false contentment to others. He does not practice what he preaches, and requires much of others but little of himself. It is difficult to blame or ciriticize them, since they accord with current customs and opinions, and consent with the age’s impurities.

Book 14

  • 14:2 [Hsien said,] “Not being competitive, boastful, envious, or greedy–can this be considered jen ?”
    Confucius said, “It can be considered difficult, but I do not know whether or not it can be considered jen.”

    • “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 virtue.” (James Legge)
    • Hsien said: “To refrain from self-glorification, to subdue feelings of resentment, to control selfish desire–may this be held to constitute perfect virtue?”
      The Master said: “These things may certainly be considered hard to achieve, but I am not so sure that they constitute perfect virtue.” (Lionel Giles)
    • Commentary: Confucius’s disciple Hsien [a.k.a. Yuan Si; also mentioned in 6:3] was a principled man, and possibly a recluse and ascetic.
      Though his principled-ness is commendable, his standards here will miss the mark in certain ways.
      jen is a “root” whereby many solid personal attributes are secure in place and regulated so that they are all in proper proportions.
      Hsien’s list of attributes is more based on certain standards prone to be one-sided, rather than being based on reality and what is most important and fundamental.
  • 14:3 The shih who cherishes comfort/dwelling/leisure/sitting is not fit/worthy to be deemed a shih.
    • The scholar who cherishes the love of comfort is not fit to be deemed a scholar. (James Legge)
    • Commentary: Cherishing the love of comfort is paying too much attention to petty things, and this will prevent a person from full being devoted to tao. The aspirant should be set on tao, and not comforts of dwelling, living, and finances.
  • 14:5 The te have something to say, but those who have something to say are not necessarily te. The jen are intrepid, but those who are intrepid are not necessarily jen. .

    The virtuous will be sure to speak correctly, but those whose speech is good may not always be virtuous.
    Men of principle are sure to be bold, but those who are bold may not always be men of principle. (James Legge)

    A man of inward virtue will have virtuous words on his lips, but a man of virtuous words is not always a virtuous man.

    The man of perfect goodness is sure to possess courage, but the courageous man is not necessarily good. (Lionel Giles)

    jen is a balanced and complete set of virtues.

    Commentary: Being an exemplary person has a characteristic of balanced and complete virtues. By taking a one-sided look at someone, you cannot say that he is a chun tzu and/or jen. Just sayings or intrepidity will not indicate the greater whole of a person’s character.
    A te person accumulates it in himself internally, and it thereby eventually comes forth verbally.
    But those who have something to say might be talkers who do are not necessarily te.
    A jen person is concerned with himself doing what is right, and thus intrepidly must do it.
    But those who are intrepid might not necessarily be jen.

  • 14:7 There have been chun tzu who have not attained jen, but there have never been hsiao jen who have attained jen.
    • Superior men, and yet not always virtuous, there have been, alas! But there never has been a mean man, and, at the same time, virtuous. (James Legge)
  • 14:8 With love, shouldn’t there be strictness?
    With chung, shouldn’t there be instruction?

    • 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? (James Legge)
    • Can true love be anything but exacting?
      How can our sense of duty allow us to abstain from admonition? (Lionel Giles)
    • Where there is affection, exertion is made easy; where there is disinterestedness, instruction will not be neglected. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • Commentary: Can one love, yet take no pains? Can he be faithful who gives no counsel? (Harvard Classics)
  • 14:12 Mang Kung Ch’o is more than fit to be chief officer in the Chao and Wei Families, but he is not fit to be great officer of Tang or Hsieh State.
    • 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. (James Legge)
    • Commentary: He was well fit for certain positions [chief officer of households of nobility that gained much power], but not others [great officer of small states].
    • Even in the case of positions that seem very similar, they may require significantly differing abilities.
  • 14:13 Tzu Lu asked what constitutes a Total Person.
    Confucius said, “Someone with the wisdom of Tsang Wu Chung, the un-greediness of Kung Ch’o, the intrepidity of Pien Chuang Tzu, and the abilities of Jan Ch’iu, and refined by li and music–such a person might be considered a Total Person. … “

  • 14:14 Confucius asked Kung Ming Chia about Kung Shu Wen Tzu, saying, “Is it true that your Master does not speak, does not laugh, and does not take?”
    Kung Ming Chia said, “That is an exaggeration. My Master speaks when it is time to speak, and thus people do not get tired of his speaking. He laughs when there is occasion to do so, and thus people do not get tired of his laughing. He takes when it is yi to do so, and thus people do not get tired of his taking.”
    Confucius said, “Is that so? Is that really so?”
  • The Master asked Kung-ming Chia about Kung-shu Wan, saying, “Is it true that your master speaks not, laughs not, and takes not?”
    Kung-ming Chia replied, “This has arisen from the reporters going beyond the truth. — My master speaks when it is the time to speak, and so men do not get tired of his speaking. He laughs when there is occasion to be joyful, and so men do not get tired of his laughing. He takes when it is consistent with righteousness to do so, and so men do not get tired of his taking.”
    The Master said, “So! But is it so with him?” (James Legge)
  • Commentary: Kung Shu Wan was known for his principled restraints.
    Attributes of not speaking, not laughing, and not taking–these are characteristic of principled people who often stick to set one-sided standards even when it is not necessarily yi to do so.
    But according to Kung Ming Chia, his Master Kung Shu Wan uses the superior method of using timeliness, adaptableness, and discretion.
    Upon hearing this response, Confucius’s interest is further aroused.
  • 14:21 From people who have no shame/modesty in what they say, ’tis difficult to expect much in the way of action.
    • He who speaks without modesty will find it difficult to make his words good. (James Legge)
    • From a man who is not bashful in his talk, it is difficult to expect much in the way of action. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • Commentary: Those who talk unrestrainedly big are seldom those who perform the most.
  • 14:23 Tzu Lu asked how to deal with a ruler.
    Confucius said, “If you have to oppose him, don’t do it by deceit.”
  • 14:24 The ?? penetrates the high.
    The ?? penetrates the low.

    • The progress of the superior man is upwards; the progress of the mean man is downwards. (James Legge)
    • The nobler sort of man tends upwards; the baser sort tends downwards. (Lionel Giles)
    • A gentleman’s life leads upwards; a vulgar life leads down. (Harvard Classics)
    • The minds of superior men trend upwards; those of inferior men trend downwards. (William Jennings)
    • Great Man reaches complete understanding of the main issues; Petty Man reaches complete understanding of the minute details. (Ware)
  • 14:25 The ancients learned for the sake of themselves. Nowadays people learn for the sake of others.
    • In ancient times, men learned with a view to their own improvement. / Nowadays, men learn with a view to the approbation of others. L / The men of olden times who studied virtue had only their own improvement in view; those who study it now have an eye to the applause of others. (Lionel Giles)/ The ancients studied for their own good, the moderns that they may gain a name from others. C / Men of old learned for their own sake: the men of to-day learn for show. H / Students of old fixed their eyes upon themselves: now they learn with their eyes upon others. (William Jennings)
    • hsueh that is not for our own sakes is not true hsueh
    • The ?? hsueh directly for the sake of perfecting his self, actions, and knowledge.
    • Commentary: Nowadays, a large percentage of the world’s “learning” merely amounts to our engaging in scholarly activities that for the most part neglect this very end, and instead are aimed at the personal acquisition of social approval, credentials, credibility, accomplishments, eminence, positions, and money that comes as a result of this scholarly activity itself (, and not of our exemplifying our selves, knowledge, and actions.)
    • The neglect of our own self-cultivation is not just an offense against ourselves–it is also an offense against all of humanity.
    • Our own personal self-cultivation is the root of our duty to assist others people’s cultivation.
  • 4:26 Chu Po-yu sent a messenger with friendly inquiries to Confucius.
    Confucius sat with him and asked, “What is your Master engaged in?”
    The messenger replied, “My Master is anxious to make his faults fewer, but he has not yet succeeded in doing so.”
    After he left, Confucius said, “What a messenger! What a messenger!”

    • Chu Po-yu sent a messenger with friendly inquiries to Confucius.
      Confucius sat with him, and questioned him. “What,” said he! “is your master engaged in?”
      The messenger replied, “My master is anxious to make his faults few, but he has not yet succeeded.”
      He then went out, and the Master said, “A messenger indeed! A messenger indeed!” (James Legge)
    • Commentary: Chu Po-yu a minister of Wei
  • 14:29 The chun tzu is ashamed to say more than he does.
    • The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions. (James Legge)
    • The princely type of man is modest in his speech, but liberal in his performance. (Lionel Giles)
    • A wise man is ashamed to say much; he prefers to do more. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • A gentleman is shamefast of speech: his deeds go further. H
    • Commentary: Actions are more to the chun tzu than words.
  • 14:31 Tzu Kung [habitually] compared people.
    The Master said, “Tzu must be superhuman! I do not have the time to spare for dong this.”

    • Tsze-kung was in the habit of comparing men together.
      The Master said, “Tsze must have reached a high pitch of excellence! Now, I have not leisure for this.” (James Legge)
  • 14:34 Wei-sheng Mou said to Confucius, “Ch’iu, why do you keep roosting/cleaving about? Are you merely being a slick talker?”
    Confucius said, “I would not dare play the part of such a talker. I am just addicted to hating [what is not good in the world].”

    • Wei-shang Mau said to Confucius, “Ch’iu, how is it that you keep roosting about? Is it not that you are an insinuating talker?
      Confucius said, “I do not dare to play the part of such a talker, but I hate obstinacy.” (James Legge)
    • Wei-sheng Mou, addressing Confucius, said, “Ch’iu, why is it you keep hopping about thus from place to place? Is it not in order to show off your fine rhetoric?”
      Confucius replied, “I do not allow myself to indulge in fine rhetoric; no, it is because I consider obstinacy a fault.” (Lionel Giles)
    • A practical character of the time said once to Confucius, “What do you mean by rambling about with your talk? I am afraid you are also but a self-seeking good talker.”
      “I do not wish,” replied Confucius, “to be a good talker; but I hate narrow-minded bigotry in men.” (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • Commentary: The jen person adheres to high ideals of moral purity that are uncommon among the masses, but more common among recluses and hermits.
      However, rather than ridigly adhering to one-sided standards of reclusiveness the way those types of individuals do, the jen person, aiming to do what is appropriate in each situation, has broader and more adaptive principles when it comes to his interaction with others–and thus, he might aim to become involved in governemtn type affairs like Confucius did.
      Wei Cheng Mou (–most likely a recluse who believed that getting involved in government and macro-society was by all means a futile proceeding– ) questioned why the recluse-like Confucius was traveling from region to region and involve himself in government affairs, and was merely a vain exercise in slick talk.
      Confucius that he is not one of the mere slick talkers. Rather, he is devoted to tao, and strongly compelled and addicted to set an example for the world–and though he might appear to be a slick talker, he is actually a principled person, but not one who, like most other principled people of the time, sees it fitting to go and live in recluse.
  • 14:35 A horse is called a chi, not because of its strength, but because of its te.
  • 14:36 Someone said, “‘Injury/evil/harm should be recompensed with te’–how about that?”
    Confucius said, “Then what will you recompense te with? Recompense injury with yi, and recompense te with te.”

    • Some one said, “What do you say concerning the principle that injury should be recompensed with kindness?”
      The Master said, “With what then will you recompense kindness? Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with kindness.” (James Legge)
    • Some one asked: “How do you regard the principle of returning good for evil?”
      The Master said: “What, then, is to be the return for good? Rather should you return justice for injustice, and good for good.” (Lionel Giles)
  • 14:37 Confucius said, “No one knows me!”
    Tzu Kung said, “Confucius, what do you mean by [saying] no one knows you?”
    Confucius said, “I am not bitter against T’ien, and I do not blame people. My learning goes from what is at-hand-/low and penetrates to the high. Perhaps the only one who knows me is T’ien!”

    • The Master said, “Alas! there is no one that knows me.”
      Tsze-kung said, “What do you mean by thus saying–that no one knows you?”
      The Master replied, “I do not murmur against Heaven. I do not grumble against men. My studies lie low, and my penetration rises high. But there is Heaven;– that knows me!” (James Legge)
    • I make no complaint against Heaven, neither do I blame my fellow-men. In the study of virtue I begin at the bottom and tend upwards. Surely Heaven knows me for what I am. (Lionel Giles)
    • Commentary: The jen person’s learning goes from the fundamentals and penetrate to the high, whereas those who learn for the sake of others begin with grandiose ideals and high-flown utterances.
      People might not know, but T’ien does.
  • 14:39-40 The worthy withdraw from the world, the next withdraw from a land, the next withdraw from an attitude/meetings, and the next withdraw from words.
    • Seven people have done this.
  • 14:41 Tzu Lu was passing the night in Shih-men.
    The gatekeeper said, “Whom do you come from?”
    Tzu Lu said, “From Mr. K’ung.”
    The gatekeeper said, “K’ung–isn’t he the one who persistently does what he knows cannot be achieved?”

    • Tsze-la 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.” (James Legge)
    • Oh, is he not the man who is trying to do what he knows to be impossible? (Lionel Giles)
    • Oh, isn’t he the one who knows the impracticalness of the times, and is yet trying to do something. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • Commentary: The gatekeeper is most likely a principled recluse. In those days, such people retired form the world, and took employments such as gatekeeper in order to earn an honest living.
      ‘Tis impossible to actually spread tao –but even so, the jen person continues his quest to do so.
  • 14:44 When rulers love to observe li, the people respond readily to commands.
    • When rulers love to observe the rules of propriety, the people respond readily to the calls on them for service. (James Legge)
    • If the ruler cherishes the principle of self-control, the people will be docile to his commands. (Lionel Giles)

Book 15

  • 15:1 … The chun tzu may indeed have to endure want, but the hsiao jen, when he is in want, gives way to unbridled license.”
    • 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 ill 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.” (James Legge)
  • 15:2 The Master said, “Ts’ze, you think, I suppose, that I am one who learns many things and keeps them in memory?”
    Tsze-kung replied, “Yes, — but perhaps it is not so?”
    “No,” was the answer; “I seek a unity all pervading.” (James Legge)
  • 15:3 Yu, those who know te are few.
  • 15:4 Shun was indeed one who governed by wu wei. What did he do? He simply gravely and reverently occupied his royal throne.
    • 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. (James Legge)
    • Shun was one who did nothing, yet governed well. For what, in effect, did he do? Religiously self-observant, he sat gravely on his throne, and that is all. (Lionel Giles)
  • 15:5 Tzu Chang asked how a person should conduct himself in order to be appreciated everywhere.

    Confucius 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 careful, 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.”

    Commentary: Tsze-chang wrote these counsels on the end of his sash.

  • 15:6 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.” (James Legge)

  • 15:7 Not talking to someone who is worth talking to–this is losing a person.
    Talking to someone not worth talking to–this is losing words.
    The wise person does not lose people, nor does he lose words.

    • 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. (James Legge)
    • Refusal to instruct one who is competent to learn entails the waste of a man. Instruction of one who is incompetent to learn entails waste of words. The wise man is he who wastes neither men nor words. (Lionel Giles (104))
    • Commentary: The chun tzu does not merely discuss all matters with all people. He exercises discretion in choosing who he speaks to, and in what matters he discusses with each person.
      But should there be someone he ought to talk to about something, he is sure to do so.
  • 15:9 
    Tzu Kung asked about the practice/cultivation of jen.
    Confucius said, “The mechanic who wishes to do his work well must first sharpen his tools. When you are living in any state, serve take service/imitate with the most worthy among its great officers, and make friends of the most ?jen among its scholars.”

    • Tsze-kung asked about the practice of virtue.
      The Master said, “The mechanic, who wishes to do his work well, must first sharpen his tools. When you are living in any state, take service with the most worthy among its great officers, and make friends of the most virtuous among its scholars.” (James Legge)
    • Tzu Kung asked for advice on the practice of moral virtue.
      The Master replied: “If an artisan wants to do his work well, he must begin by sharpening his tools. Even so, among the great men of your country, you should serve the wise and good, and make friends of men who have this moral virtue.” (Lionel Giles)
  • 15:11 Confucius said: “If a man is not far-sighted, then suffering will be close to him.”
  • 15:12 It is all over! I am not finding people who love te as [much as] they love sex.
    • It is all over! I have not seen one who loves virtue as he loves beauty. (James Legge)
  • 15:13 Tsang Wan–wasn’t he a thief of position! He knew the worthiness of Liu-hsia Hui, but did not give him a position.
    • 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. (James Legge)
  • 15:14 He who requires much from himself and little from others will avoid resentment.
    • He who requires much from himself and little from others, will keep himself from being the object of resentment. (James Legge)
    • He who requires much from himself and little from others will be secure from hatred. (Lionel Giles)
    • A man who expects much from himself and demands little from others will never have any enemies. (Ku Hung-Ming)
  • 15:15 If a person is not in the habit of asking, “What is this? What is this?” then I cannot do anything for him.
    • When a man is not in the habit of saying — ‘What shall I think of this? What shall I think of this?’ I can indeed do nothing with him! (James Legge)
    • If a man is not in the habit of asking, ‘What do you make of this? what do you make of that?’ I can make nothing of him. (Lionel Giles)If a man does not constantly ask himself, “What is the right thing to do?” I really don’t know what is to be done about him.” (Creel, 141)
  • 15:16 When a group of people are together all day without their conversation turning on yi, and when they are fond of carrying out the suggestions of petty shrewdness, they indeed are in a difficult state.
    • 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. (James Legge)
    • Hopeless indeed is the case of those who can herd together all day long without once letting their conversation reach a higher plane, but are content to bandy smart and shallow wit. (Lionel Giles)
    • When a number of men club together and during the whole day converse not on the principles of justice, but delight in little, crafty schemes, it is difficult for such to become virtuous. (David Collie)
    • Commentary: Merely discussing petty things while never considering and seeking to enlargeyi is indeed characteristic of vain living.
  • 15:17 The ?? , in everything, takes yi to be the native substance, acts according to li, brings it forth with unselfishness/humility/reticence, and completes it all with sincerity. This indeed is a ?? .
    • 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. (James Legge)
    • The higher type of man makes a sense of duty the groundwork of his character, blends with it in action a sense of harmonious proportion, manifests it in a spirit of unselfishness, and perfects it by the addition of sincerity and truth. Then indeed is he a noble character. (Lionel Giles)
  • 15:18 The ?? cares about whether or not he has ability.
    He does not care about whether or not people know him.

    • The superior man is distressed by his want of ability. He is not distressed by men’s not knowing him. (James Legge)
    • The superior man is grieved at his on want of ability, not that men do not know him. (David Collie)
  • 15:19 The chun tzu hates to die without having done anything to distinguish himself.
    • The superior man dislikes the thought of his name not being mentioned after his death. (James Legge)
    • The chun tzu hates to die without having done anything to distinguish himself from having lived in vain and/or conformity
    • Commentary: He that will not strive in this world should not have come into it.
  • 15:20 The chun tzu seeks it in himself. The hsiao jen seeks it in others.
    • What the superior man seeks, is in himself. What the mean man seeks, is in others. L / The higher type of man seeks all that he wants in himself; the inferior man seeks all that he wants from others. (Lionel Giles)
  • 15:21 The chun tzu is dignified [jin er], but does not fight for it. He is sociable, but not clannish.
    • The superior man is dignified, but does not wrangle. He is sociable, but not a partisan. L / The higher type of man is firm but not quarrelsome; sociable, but not clannish. (Lionel Giles)/ A wise man is proud but not vain; he is sociable, but belongs to no party. K / The superior man acts with firmness, without wrangling–lives in harmony with others, without intriguing with them. C / A gentleman is proud, but not quarrelsome, allies himself with individuals, but not with parties. (Arthur Waley)
  • 15:22 The chun tzu does not appreciate a person solely on account of his words, nor does he disregard a person’s words solely on account of the person.
    • The superior man does not promote a man simply on account of his words, nor does he put aside good words because of the man. L / The wise man does not esteem a person more highly because of what he says, neither does he undervalue what is said because of the person who says it. (Lionel Giles)/ Those who have something good to say might overall not be good, and those who are great people might have poor things to say.
    • Commentary: If the counsel is good, it does not matter who gave it.
    • The ?? regards what is yi. yi is what it is, and cannot be altered.
  • 15:25 Even in my early days, a historiographer would leave a blank in his text [when not sure, rather than making something up], and he who had a horse would lend it to another to ride. Now, alas! there are no such things.
    • 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. (James Legge)
    • Commentary: Society had degenerated in certain ways during Confucius’s time.
  • 15:26 Specious/sweet words confound virtue.
    A lack of patience/self-control/tolerance in trifling matters can lead to the disruption great projects.

    • Specious words confound virtue. Want of forbearance in small matters confounds great plans. (James Legge)
    • Sophistry confounds truth, and falsehood; he who cannot bear with little things, will ruin great undertakings. (David Collie)
  • 15:27 When the masses hate something, it is necessary to examine it.
    When the masses like something, it is necessary to examine it.

    • 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. (James Legge)
    • When a man is generally detested, or when he is generally beloved, closer examination is necessary. (Lionel Giles)
    • Although the multitude hate a person, still you should investigate, and although men in general love a man, it is nevertheless necessary to examine. (David Collie)
    • What is disliked by the masses needs inquiring into; so also does that which they have a preference for. (William Jennings)
    • Commentary: It is not yi to merely accept or reject public opinion–and in fact, it is very irresponsible to do so.
      True knowledge and discrimination can only consist of acquaintance with what something is, rather than what something is reputed to be.
      A person’s reputation contains numerous inaccuracies and exaggerations, and seldom tells much about what a person is really like.
  • 15:28 The individual can make tao great.
    tao does not make the individual great.

    • A man can enlarge the principles which he follows; those principles do not enlarge the man. (James Legge)
    • It is the man that is able to develop his virtue, not virtue that develops the man. (Lionel Giles)
    • It is the man that can make his religion or the principles he professes great; and not his religion or the principles which he professes, which can make the man great. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • Man may enlarge the path of virtue, but it cannot enlarge him. (David Collie)
    • A man may give breadth to his principles: it is not principles (in themselves) that give breadth to the man. (William Jennings)
    • Men can enlarge the Way; but the Way cannot [of itself] enlarge the man. (Creel, 168)
    • Commentary: The ?? is the source of yi.
      Carrying out, practicing, guarding, studying, and loving yi is the source of the chun tzu.
      tao is merely theory until an individual puts it into practice.
      There is no tao beyond the indivudal, and no individual beyond tao.
      tao cannot by itself enlarge the individual.
      A jen person is better than jen, and a non jen person is worse than non jen .
  • 15:31 The chun tzu thinks/plans/seeks of tao, not making a living/food.
    Though farming sometimes results in shortage/poverty, and though learning sometimes results in pay, the chun tzu is concerned about [whether or not he gets] tao, and is not concerned about [whether or not he avoids] poverty.

    • The object of the superior man is truth. Food is not his object. There is plowing; — even in that there is [sometimes] want. So with learning; — emolument may be found in it. The superior man is anxious lest he should not get truth; he is not anxious lest poverty should come upon him. (James Legge)
    • Commentary: Following tao can lead to wealth, but the chun tzu does not follow it because it can.
  • 15:33 The chun tzu may lack petty cleverness, but can undertake major tasks.
    The hsiao jen may not be entrusted with great concerns, but may have petty cleverness.

    • 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. (James Legge)
    • A gentleman has no skill in trifles, but has strength for big tasks: the vulgar are skilled in trifles, but have no strength for big tasks. (Harvard Classics)
    • The superior man may not be conversant with petty details, and yet may have important matters put into his hands. The inferior man may not be charged with important matters, yet may be conversant with the petty details. (William Jennings)
    • A superior man sometimes can not do small things very well, but he can accomplish big missions. A mean man sometimes can do small things very well, but he can not accomplish a big mission. (Te-Wu Ma)
    • Commentary: The chun tzu may not have a great deal to show when it comes to minute talents, but has enough for what it takes to great responsibilities.
      And he does not over-attend to minor details while neglecting what is more important
  • 15:34 jen is more to a person than either water or fire.
    • I have seen people die from treading on water and fire, but I have never seen a person die from treading the course of jen.
    • 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. (James Legge)
  • 15:35 When it comes to jen, we should not yield its perfomance to anyone–even our teacher.
  •  15:35 Confucius said: “It is better to value humaneness than to passively follow your teacher.”
    • Let every man consider virtue as what devolves on himself. He may not yield the performance of it even to his teacher. (James Legge)
    • Maintain virtue and yield it not, even to your Teacher. (David Collie)
    • We must keep our consciences and surrender it to no one.
    • We must do our own thinking.
  • 15:39 Those whose ways are different cannot assist each other in their plans.
    • Those whose courses are different cannot lay plans for one another. (James Legge)
    • Men who differ in their principles cannot help each other in their plans. (Lionel Giles)
  • 15:40 Confucius said: In speech, it is enough to convey the meaning.
    • In language it is simply required that it convey the meaning. (James Legge)
    • If language is lucid, that is enough. (Lionel Giles, p. 105)
    • Language should be intelligible and nothing more. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • It is sufficient that your language be perspicuous. (David Collie)
    • Commentary: 
      The chun tzu’s discourses are wide-ranging in subject, but contain the essence of matters; simply presented, but right on target as far as applying to the subject; diverse in content and making distinctions, but having a unity; simplified and to the point, but not oversimplified.
      He rectifies the names and makes his words appropriate, so that his meaning and intention can be clarified.
      His names and words are the messengers of his meaning and intention. He stops when they are fully expressed and understood, and when they fully designate the actualities and make the ideas manifest.
      His speech is easy to understand when reflected on, readily produces security when acted on, and is easy to establish when upheld.
      He uses names correctly and makes his prepositions fit with the facts, in order to ensure having their meaning and intention be made plainly evident.
      His types of words and propositions act as messengers of intention and meaning.
      If these are enough to communicate, he does not explicate the matter any further.
      Thus he discards any laboriousness over speech, and does not belabor the point by explicating a matter further than making a name enough to point to its object, and if a proposition is enough to manifest the matter’s core.
      The hsiao jen seizes and treasures laboriousness in speech. His speech is hasty and coarse, boisterous and unsystematic, babbling and bubbling. He sophisticates the names and mystifies his words, without making any sense of them. His speech is hastily formulated, frivolous, crude, given to contention but not proper to the category of its subject, and endlessly babbles on and on and gushes forth. He uses words to seduce, and makes propositions deceptive, but there is no depth to their meaning and intentions. Though he might investigate and borrow with them, there is a lack of core meaning; though he may work hard, there is a lack of real results; though he may go far, there is no destination.
  • 15:41 The [blind] music master Mien, having called upon him, when they came to the steps, Confucius 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, Confucius said, “So and so is here; so and so is here.”
    After the music master Mien left, Tzu Chang said, “Is it the rule to tell those things to the music master?”
    Confucius said, “Yes. This is certainly the rule for those who lead the music master.”

    • 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.” (James Legge)
    • Mien, a blind musician, having called on Confucius, the Master said to him when he came to a flight of steps: “Here are the steps”; and when he came to the mat which was spread for burn: “Here is your mat.” When all the visitors were seated, the Master told him who they were, saying: “So-and-so is sitting bore, so-and-so is sitting there.”
      After Mien had gone, Tzu Chang asked, saying: “Is it the proper thing to speak thus to a musician?”
      The Master replied: “Assuredly it is right to give this help to a blind man.” (Lionel Giles)
    • Commentary: In Ancient China, all or almost all music masters were blind, and the vast majority of blind people were music masters.

Book 16

  • 16:4 There are three friendships that are beneficial, and three friendships that are harmful.
    Friendship with the upright, friendship with the truthful/considerate, and friendship with the heard-much–these are beneficial.
    Friendship with the fake/fop/excessively-respectful/clever-flatterers/unfair/ingratiating/snobs/partisan/fawning, friendship with the groveling/weak/subservient/obsequious/skilful-dissemblers/adulatory/good-at-seeming-pliant/feing-compliance/nice-softies/accomidators/who-prize-weakness/flattering, and friendship with the slick talking–these are injurious.

    • There are three friendships which are advantageous, and three which are injurious. Friendship with the upright; friendship with the sincere; and friendship with the man of much observation: — these are advantageous. Friendship with the man of specious airs; friendship with the insinuatingly soft; and friendship with the glib-tongued: — these are injurious. (James Legge)
    • There are three kinds of friendships which are profitable, and three which are detrimental. To make friends with the upright, with the trustworthy, with the experienced, is to gain benefit; to make friends with the subtly perverse, with the artfully pliant, with the subtle in speech, is detrimental. (William Jennings)
    • It is impossible to go without friends in life.
      In making friends, the chun tzu is selective.
    • Commentary: By befriending the right people, you will get objective assessment of yourself, learn new things, develop your strengths and rectify your faults, have a broader viewpoint, and make progress on tao. By befriending the unworthy, you will get biased assessments of yourself, will not have external encouragement and expectations towards rightness, will become self-complacent and arrogant, and not make progress on tao.
  • 16:5 There are three enjoyments that are advantageous, and three enjoyments that are injurious.
    • Finding enjoyment in the discriminating study of li, finding enjoyment in appreciating others people’s excellence, and finding enjoyment in having many worthy friends–these are advantageous.
    • Finding enjoyment in vanity, finding enjoyment in idleness/sloth-destituteness/loafing, and finding enjoyment in the pleasures of eating and drinking–these are injurious.
    • There are three things men find enjoyment in which are advantageous, and three things they find enjoyment in which are injurious. To find enjoyment in the discriminating study of ceremonies and music; to find enjoyment in speaking of the goodness of others; to find enjoyment in having many worthy friends:– these are advantageous. To find enjoyment in extravagant pleasures; to find enjoyment in idleness and sauntering; to find enjoyment in the pleasures of feasting:– these are injurious.” L
  • 16:6 There are three mistakes to avoid when speaking to the chun tzu :
    Speaking when it is not time to speak–this is “rash/careless.”
    Not speaking when it is time to speak–this is “unexpressive/concealing.”
    Speaking without studying the person’s expression–this is “unobservant/blindness.”

    • There are three errors to which they who stand in the presence of a man of virtue and station are liable. They may speak when it does not come to them to speak; –this is called rashness. They may not speak when it comes to them to speak; –this is called concealment. They may speak without looking at the countenance of their superior; –this is called blindness. (James Legge)
    • There are three errors to be avoided in the presence of a great man. The first is precipitancy–speaking before it is your turn to speak; the second is bashfulness–not speaking when your turn comes; and the third is heedlessness–speaking without observing the countenance of the listener. (Lionel Giles)
  • 16:8 There are three things that the chun tzu stands in awe of: He stands in awe of T’ien’s ordinances, he stands in awe of great people, and he stands in awe of the Sages’ words. The hsiao jen does not know and consequently does not stand in awe of T’ien’s ordinances, he is disrespectful/scorning to great people, and he mocks the Sages’ words.
    • There are three things of which the superior man stands in awe. He stands in awe of the ordinances of Heaven. He stands in awe of great men. He stands in awe of the words of sages. The mean man does not know the ordinances of Heaven, and consequently does not stand in awe of them. He is disrespectful to great men. He makes sport of the words of sages. (James Legge)
  • 16:9 Best is what you know innately.
    Next is what you know by learning.
    Next is what you are forced to learn.
    Worst is when you are forced to learn but do not.

    • Those who are born with the possession of knowledge are the highest class of men.
      Those who learn, and so, readily, get possession of knowledge, are the next.
      Those who are dull and stupid, and yet compass the learning, are another class next to these.
      As to those who are dull and stupid and yet do not learn;– they are the lowest of the people. (James Legge)
    • Commentary: [and instead choose to have faulty one-sided assumptions].
  • 16:10 The chun tzu has nine things to think about:
    In looking, thinking of clarity; in hearing, thinking of discernment; in expression, thinking of good nature; in attitude/appearance, thinking of respect; in speaking, thinking of chung?; in doing his duty, thinking of earnestness/reverence; in doubting, thinking of investigating; in anger, thinking of consequences; in potential gain, thinking ofyi.
  • 16:11 “Seeing good and pursuing it as if they could not reach it; seeing evil, and escaping it as if thrusting the hand into boiling water”–I see such people, and I hear such words. “Living in recluse to study their aims; practicing yi to carry out tao “–I hear such words, but I do not see such people.
    • Contemplating good, and pursuing it, as if they could not reach it; contemplating evil! and shrinking from it, as they would from thrusting the hand into boiling water:– I have seen such men, as I have heard such words. Living in retirement to study their aims, and practicing righteousness to carry out their principles:– I have heard these words, but I have not seen such men. (James Legge)
    • “When you see the good, act as though you could never quite come up with it; when you are brought face to face with evil, act as though you were trying the heat of boiling water”:–I have heard some such saying as this, and I have seen men live up to it. “Dwell in retirement, in order to work out your aims; practise right苟ousness, in order to apprehend the Truth”:–such a saying I have heard, but I have never seen a man live up to it. (Lionel Giles)

Book 17

  • 17:2 By hsing, [we are] near together.
    By practice, [we are] far apart.

    • By nature, men are nearly alike; by practice, they get to be wide apart. (James Legge)
    • Men’s natures are alike; it is their habits that carry them far apart. (Lionel Giles)
    • People are similar by nature, but through habituation become quite different from each other. M
    • Commentary: People’s differences in character are mainly due to living, training, influences, and most of all, to free will.
      A person must cultivate himself to be jen.
  • 17:6 Tzu Chang asked Confucius about jen.
    Confucius said, “Being able to practice five things everywhere constitutes jen.”
    Asked what they were, he said, “Dignity/respect [kung], tolerance/generosity-of-soul/magnanimity [kuan], hsin, diligence/earnestness, and good nature/kindness/generosity/benevolence [min].
    “If you are respectful, you will not be disrespected/insulted. If you are magnanimous, you will win over many [hearts]. If you are hsin, you will have people’s confidence. If you are earnest, you will accomplish/achieve much. If you are good natured, you can employ others.”

    • Tsze-chang asked Confucius about perfect virtue.
      Confucius said, “To be able to practice five things everywhere under heaven constitutes perfect virtue.”
      He begged to ask what they were, and was told, “Gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness. If you are grave, you will not be treated with disrespect. If you are generous, you will win all. If you are sincere, people will repose trust in you. If you are earnest, you will accomplish much. If you are kind, this will enable you to employ the services of others. (James Legge)
    • Tzu Chang asked Confucius a question about moral virtue.
      Confucius replied: “Moral virtue simply consists in being able, anywhere and everywhere, to exercise five particular qualities.”
      Asked what these were, he said: “Self-respect, magnanimity, sincerity, earnestness and bene赳olence. Show self-respect, and others will respect you; be magnanimous, and you will win all hearts; be sincere and men will trust you; be earnest, and you will achieve great things; be benevolent, and you will be fit to impose your will on others. (Lionel Giles)
  • 17:8 Confucius said, “Yu [/ Tzu Lu], have you ever heard of the six good qualities and the six becloudings.”
    He said, “No.”
    “Sit and I will tell you. Love of jen without a love of learning will be beclouded by foolishness/being-deceived. Love of knowledge/wisdom without a love of learning will be beclouded by vagueness/speculation/self-indulgence/instability/superficial-generalization. Love of hsin without a love of learning will be beclouded by deception/harm/insensibility. Love of straightforwardness/candor without a love of learning will be beclouded by rudeness/misdirected-judgment. Love of valor/boldness without a love of learning will be beclouded by unruliness/lack-of-control/turbulence. Love of persistence/firmness without a love of learning will be beclouded by stubbornness/foolishness/rashness.”
  • The Master said, “Yu, have you heard the six words to which are attached six becloudings?”
    Yu replied, “I have not.”
    “Sit down, and I will tell them to you. There is the love of being benevolent without the love of learning;–the beclouding here leads to a foolish simplicity. There is the love of knowing without the love of learning;–the beclouding here leads to dissipation of mind. There is the love of being sincere without the love of learning;–the beclouding here leads to an injurious disregard of consequences. There is the love of straightforwardness without the love of learning;–the beclouding here leads to rudeness. There is the love of boldness without the love of learning;–the beclouding here leads to insubordination. There is the love of firmness without the love of learning;–the beclouding here leads to extravagant conduct.” (James Legge)
  • Speaking to Tzu Lu, the Master said: “Have you ever heard, Yu, of the six shadows which attend six several virtues?”
    “No,” he replied.
    “Sit down, then, and I will tell you. Love of goodness without the will to learn casts the shadow called foolishness. Love of knowledge without the will to learn casts the shadow called instability. Love of truth without the will to learn casts the shadow called insensibility. Love of candour without the will to learn casts the shadow called rudeness. Love of daring without the will to learn casts the shadow called turbulence. Love of firmness without the will to learn casts the shadow called eccentricity.” (Lionel Giles)
  • 17:12 A grave/stern outward appearance with inward/heart weakness–isn’t this like a ?? , or even an intruding thief?
    • He who puts on an appearance of stern firmness, while inwardly he is weak, is like one of the small, mean people;–yea, is he not like the thief who breaks through, or climbs over, a wall? (James Legge)
    • Men who are grave and stern in appearance, but inwardly weak and unprincipled–are they not comparable to the lowest class of humanity–sneaking thieves that break into houses by night? (Lionel Giles)
    • They who assume an outward appearance of severity, being inwardly weak, may be likened to low common men; nay, are they not somewhat like thieves that break through walls and steal? (William Jennings)
  • 17:13 The “village worthy” is a thief/undermine of te.
    • Your good careful people of the villages are the thieves of virtue. (James Legge)
    • Your goody-goody people are the thieves of virtue. (Lionel Giles)
    • He who covets the praise of villagers, is the thief of virtue. (David Collie)
    • The plebeian (kind of) respect for piety is the very pest of virtue. (William Jennings)
    • Commentary: Hypocrites, mere conformists, and those who inwardly require much of others and little of themselves–such people are willing to consent to what is wrong; and since they are commonly praised and difficult to blame, they are self-satisfied, and encourage others to also have a false contentment with themselves.
  • 17:14 Hearing/listening on the tao and then telling [on the byways]–this is abandoning/rejecting te.
    • To tell, as we go along, what we have heard on the way, is to cast away our virtue. (James Legge)
    • He who bears any thing on the road and prates about it on the road, throws away virtue. (David Collie)
    • Listening on the road, and repeating in the lane,–this is abandonment of virtue. (William Jennings)
    • To apprehend the Tao and lecture on it before actualization is to throw away your accumulation of virtue. M
    • R廧彋er en chemin u tous les passants ce que l’on a appris de bon en chemin, c’est jeter la Vertu au vent.
  • 17:15 These base people–how can we work with them in doing our duty? When not in office, their worry is that they cannot get it; and when in office, their worry is not losing it–and with their worry being not losing it, there is nothing they are unwilling to do.
  • 17:16 In ancient times, the people had three kinds of imperfections that nowadays perhaps are not found.
    Ancient rashness/craziness was somewhat disregarding, whereas modern is total license/indiscipline.
    Ancient stern-dignity/pride/vanity was modest/smug/incorrupt, whereas the modern stern dignity is extreme quarrelsomeness/disorder.
    Ancient stupidity/simple-mindedness was straightforward/direct, whereas modern stupidity is deceitful.

    • Anciently, men had three failings, which now perhaps are not to be found. The high-mindedness of antiquity showed itself in a disregard of small things; the high-mindedness of the present day shows itself in wild license. The stern dignity of antiquity showed itself in grave reserve; the stern dignity of the present day shows itself in quarrelsome perverseness. The stupidity of antiquity showed itself in straightforwardness; the stupidity of the present day shows itself in sheer deceit. (James Legge)
    • Commentary: The faults and shortcomings of the ancients had more redeeming positive qualities than those of today’s people.
  • 17:18 … I hate how slick talk overthrows kingdoms and families.
    • I hate the manner in which purple takes away the luster of vermilion. I hate the way in which the songs of Chang confound the music of the Ya. I hate those who with their sharp mouths overthrow kingdoms and families. (James Legge)
  • 17:19 Confucius said, “I would prefer not speaking.”
    Tzu Kung said, “If you, Confucius, do not speak, what shall we, your disciples, have to record/tread?”
    Confucius said, “Does T’ien speak? The four seasons pursue their courses, and all things are continually being produced, but does T’ien speak?”

    • The Master said, “I would prefer not speaking.”
      Tsze-kung said, “If you, Master, do not speak, what shall we, your disciples, have to record?”
      The Master said, “Does Heaven speak? The four seasons pursue their courses, and all things are continually being produced, but does Heaven say anything?” (James Legge)
    • The Master said: “Would that I could do with觔ut speaking!”
      Tzu Kung said: “If our Master never spoke, how could we, his disciples, transmit his doctrines?
      The Master replied: “Does God speak? The four seasons hold on their course, and all things continue to live and grow. Yet, tell me, does God speak?” (Lionel Giles)
    • Commentary: The life and actions of the chun tzu are his lessons and explain his doctrine–not his words merely, for he who preaches well who lives well.
      Actions speak louder than words, and examples teach more and have more followers than precepts do.
      Additionally, certain aspects of tao cannot be expressed verbally.
  • 17:22 Those who spend the day stuffing themselves with food, without applying their heart–they are certainly in a difficult state! Aren’t there your gamester types? ‘Twoud be better to be one of them than to do nothing at all.
    • Hard is it to deal with who will stuff himself with food the whole day, without applying his mind to anything good! Are there not gamesters and chess players? To be one of these would still be better than doing nothing at all. (James Legge)
    • The man who spends the day in eating, without employing his mind about any thing, is in a bad state indeed! The common chess-player is superior to him. (David Collie)
    • Ah, it is difficult to know what to make of those who are all day long cramming themselves with food and are without anything to apply their minds to! Are there no dice and chess players? Better, perhaps, join in that pursuit than do nothing at all! (William Jennings)
  • 17:23Tzu Lu said: Does the ?? esteem intrepidity?
    Confucius said:
    The ?? holds yi to be most important.
    The ?? who is intrepid but not yi will be insubordinate/untruly/disorder.
    The ?? who is intrepid but not yi will steal.

    • Tsze-lu said, “Does the superior man esteem valor?”
      The Master said, “The superior man holds righteousness to be of highest importance. A man in a superior situation, having valor without righteousness, will be guilty of insubordination; one of the lower people having valor without righteousness, will commit robbery.” (James Legge)
    • Tzu Lu asked: “Does not the princely man value courage?”
      The Master said: He puts righteousness first. The man of high station who has courage without righteousness is a menace to the State; the common man who has courage without righteousness is nothing more than a brigand. (Lionel Giles)
  • 17:24 Tzu Kung said, “Does the chun tzu have hatreds?”
    Confucius said, “He has hatreds. He hates when people love to announce criticism of others, he hates when people slander their superiors, he hates when people are intrepid but neglect li, and he hates when people are resolute-and-daring/audacious but narrow-minded/inflexible/stubborn.”
    Confucius then said, “Tz’u, do you also have hatreds?”
    Tzu Kung replied, “I hate when people consider meddlesome-ness to be wisdom, I hate when people consider immodesty to be intrepidity, and I hate when people consider indiscreetness to be straightforwardness.”

    • Tsze-kung said, “Has the superior man his hatreds also?”
      The Master said, “He has his hatreds. He hates those who proclaim the evil of others. He hates the man who, being in a low station, slanders his superiors. He hates those who have valor merely, and are unobservant of propriety. He hates those who are forward and determined, and, at the same time, of contracted understanding.”
      The Master then inquired, “Ts’ze have you also your hatreds?”
      Tsze-kung replied, “I hate those who pry out matters, and ascribe the knowledge to their wisdom. I hate those who are only not modest, and think that they are valorous. I hate those who make known secrets, and think that they are straightforward.” (James Legge)
    • He hates those who publish the faults of others; he hates men of low condition who vilify those above them; he hates those whose courage is unaccompanied by self-restraint; he hates those who are audacious but narrow-minded.”
      “I hate,” replied the disciple,” those who think that wisdom consists in prying and meddling; courage, in showing no compliance; and honesty, in denouncing other men.” (Lionel Giles)
    • Commentary: take a little bit of clarity as wisdom; I hate those who take disobedience as courage; I hate those who take disclosing people’s weak points to be straightforwardness
  • 17:25 Petty people are very difficult to deal with.
    If you are familiar with them, they are disrespectful/immodest/insolent; if you maintain a distance, they are resentful.

    • Of all people, girls and servants are the most difficult to behave to. If you are familiar with them, they lose their humility. If you maintain a reserve towards them, they are discontented. (James Legge)
    • Girls and servants are the most difficult people to handle. If you treat them familiarly, they become disrespectful; if you keep them at a distance, they resent it. (James Legge)

Book 18

  • 18:5Chieh-yu, an eccentric man from Ch’u, passed by Confucius singing, “Phoenix! Phoenix! How te is degenerated! It is useless to reproof over the past–but the future can still be provided against. Give up! Give up! Official affairs are dangerous!
    Confucius alighted [from his carriage] and wished to converse with him, but Chieh-yu hastened away, so he could not talk with him.

    • The madman of Ch’u, Chieh-yu, passed by Confucius, singing and saying, “O FANG! O FANG! How is your virtue degenerated! As to the past, reproof is useless; but the future may still be provided against. Give up your vain pursuit. Give up your vain pursuit. Peril awaits those who now engage in affairs of government.”
      Confucius alighted and wished to converse with him, but Chieh-yu hastened away, so that he could not talk with him. (James Legge)
    • The eccentric Chieh Yu of the Ch’u State passed Confucius’ carriage, singing: O phoenix! O phoenix! How has thy virtue fallen! The past need no longer be a subject of reproof, but against the future it is still possible to provide. Desist, desist! Great is the danger of those who now engage in government.”
      Confucius alighted, wishing to speak with him, but Chieh Yu hastened rapidly away, and he was unable to get speech of him. (Lionel Giles)
  • 18:6 Ch’ang Chu and Chieh Ni were at work in the field together.
    Confucius passed by them, and sent Tzu Lu to inquire for the ford.
    Ch’ang Chu said, “Who is he that holds the reins in the carriage there?”
    Tzu Lu told him, “It is Kung Ch’iu.”
    “Is it not Kung Ch’iu of Lu?”
    “Yes.”
    “He knows the ford.”
    Tzu Lu then inquired of Chieh Ni.
    Chieh Ni said, “Who are you?”
    “I am Chung Yu [/ Tzu Lu].”
    “Are you not the disciple of Kung Ch’iu of Lu?”
    “I am.”
    Chieh Ni said, “Disorder is the world. Who can change it? Rather than following one who merely withdraws from certain ones, wouldn’t it be better to follow those who have withdrawn from the world?”
    With this he fell to covering up the seed, and proceeded with his work, without stopping.
    Tzu Lu went and reported their remarks.
    Confucius sighed and said, “It is impossible to associate with birds and beasts. If I/we do not associate not with these people, then with whom shall I associate? If tao prevailed all under T’ien, then Ch’iu has no use/want to change.”

    • Ch’ang-tsu and Chieh-ni were at work in the field together, when Confucius passed by them, and sent Tsze-lu to inquire for the ford.
      Ch’ang-tsu said, “Who is he that holds the reins in the carriage there?”
      Tsze-lu told him, “It is K’ung Ch’iu.”
      “Is it not K’ung Ch’iu of Lu?” asked he.
      “Yes,” was the reply, to which the other rejoined, “He knows the ford.”
      Tsze-lu then inquired of Chieh-nu, who said to him, “Who are you, sir?”
      He answered, “I am Chung Yu.”
      “Are you not the disciple of K’ung Ch’iu of Lu?” asked the other.
      “I am,” replied he, and then Chieh-ni said to him, “Disorder, like a swelling flood, spreads over the whole empire, and who is he that will change its state for you? Rather than follow one who merely withdraws from this one and that one, had you not better follow those who have withdrawn from the world altogether?”
      With this he fell to covering up the seed, and proceeded with his work, without stopping.
      Tsze-lu went and reported their remarks, when the Master observed with a sigh, “It is impossible to associate with birds and beasts, as if they were the same with us. If I associate not with these people,–with mankind,–with whom shall I associate? If right principles prevailed through the empire, there would be no use for me to change its state.” (James Legge)
    • Ch’ang Chu and Chieh Ni were working together in the fields when Confucius passed by and sent Tzu Lu to ascertain from them the whereabouts of the ford.
      Ch’ang Chu asked: “Who is that man holding the reins?”
      “That is Confucius,” replied Tzu Lu.
      “Is it Confucius of the Lu State?”
      “Yes.”
      “Then surely he is the man to knew where the ford is.”
      Tzu Lu then questioned Chieh Ni.
      Chieh Ni said: “Who are you, Sir?”
      “I am Chung Yu.”
      “Are you a disciple of Confucius of the Lu State?”
      He replied: “I am.”
      “The whole Empire,” said Cheih Ni, “is rushing head衍ong to destruction, and who is there that will reform it? As for you, instead of following a man who withdraws from prince after prince in succession, would it not be better to follow a man who has withdrawn from the world altogether?
      And he went on hoeing without a pause.
      Tzu Lu went back and reported these remarks, whereupon the Master looked surprised and said: “We cannot join the company of birds and beasts. If I am not to associate with these men of the ruling class, with whom am I to associate? If right principles prevailed in the Empire, then indeed there would be no need for me to reform it.” (Lionel Giles)
  • 18:7 Tzu Lu, traveling [with Confucius and his group], happened to fall behind.
    He came across an old man carrying a weeding basket and staff, and asked, “Have you seen my Master?”
    The old man said, “You whose four limbs appear unaccustomed to toil, and appears as if he cannot distinguish the five grains–who is your Master?”
    [With this,] he planted his staff in the ground, and proceeded to weed.
    Tzu Lu [respectfully] cupped his hands and stood before him.
    The old man kept Tzu Lu to pass the night in his house, killed a fowl, prepared millet, and fed him. He also introduced him to his two sons.
    The next day, Tzu Lu went on his way and reported what had happened.
    Confucius said, “He is a recluse.”
    He sent Tzu Lu back to see him again, but when arrived there, the old man was gone.
    Tzu Lu said, “It is not yi to not take office. Since interpersonal relations between old and young are not to be neglected, how can one neglect the yi that should be observed between sovereign and minister? How can one, wishing to maintain personal purity, allow great relations to come to confusion? The ??takes office and performs its yi. As for tao not being instituted [to the external world], he is aware/knows.

    • Tsze-lu, following the Master, happened to fall behind, when he met an old man, carrying across his shoulder on a staff a basket for weeds.
      Tsze-lu said to him, “Have you seen my master, sir?”
      The old man replied, “Your four limbs are unaccustomed to toil; you cannot distinguish the five kinds of grain–who is your master?”
      With this, he planted his staff in the ground, and proceeded to weed.
      Tsze-lu joined his hands across his breast, and stood before him.
      The old man kept Tsze-lu to pass the night in his house, killed a fowl, prepared millet, and feasted him. He also introduced to him his two sons.
      Next day, Tsze-lu went on his way, and reported his adventure.
      The Master said, “He is a recluse,” and sent Tsze-lu back to see him again, but when he got to the place, the old man was gone.
      Tsze-lu then said to the family, “Not to take office is not righteous. If the relations between old and young may not be neglected, how is it that he sets aside the duties that should be observed between sovereign and minister? Wishing to maintain his personal purity, he allows that great relation to come to confusion. A superior man takes office, and performs the righteous duties belonging to it. As to the failure of right principles to make progress, he is aware of that.” (James Legge)
  • 18:8 Worthy recluses: Po-I, Shu-ch’i, Yu-chung, I-yi, Chu-chang, Liu-hsia Hui, and Shao-lien.
    Confucius said, “Not compromising their wills/purposes/aspirations, and not submit/tainting/humiliating their persons–such were Po-I and Shu-ch’i.
    “Of Liu-hsia Hui and Shao-lien, they compromised their wills and submitted their persons, but their words corresponded with reason, and their actions were such as men are anxious to see.
    “Of Yu-chung and I-yi, they hid themselves in their seclusion, said whatever they wanted, but succeeded in preserving purity in their person, and in recluse they acted according to the demands of circumstances.
    “I am different from all of these: I have no [stubborn predeterminations for what] ‘should be done’ or ‘should not be done.'”

    • Commentary: The jen person bases his decisions on what is yi right now, and does not hold to un-all-comprehensive principles to the extent that they no longer accord withyi.

Book 19

  • 19:2 Tzu Chang said:
    When someone embraces te but without liberality/seeking to enlarge/develop it/tenacity, and believes in tao but without earnestness/firmness, then can we really say it does or does not exists/possess?

    • When a man holds fast to virtue, but without seeking to enlarge it, and believes in right principles, but without firm sincerity, what account can be made of his existence or non-existence? (James Legge)
  • 19:3 Tzu Hsia’s disciples asked Tzu Chang about proper social interaction.
    Tzu Chang said, “What does Tzu Hsia say about it?”
    They said, “Tzu Hsia says, ‘Associate with the worthy, and reject the unworthy.'”
    Tzu Chang said, “That is different from what I have heard. The ?? venerates the high/worthy, but tolerates all. He praises/admires the good, but has compassion/pity/sympathy for the lesser. If I am high/worthy, who should I not tolerate? And if I am lower, who should put me away? How can we [as principled people] [go so far as to] reject others?”

    • The disciples of Tsze-hsia asked Tsze-chang about the principles that should characterize mutual intercourse.
      Tsze-chang asked, “What does Tsze-hsia say on the subject?”
      They replied, “Tsze-hsia says: ‘Associate with those who can advantage you. Put away from you those who cannot do so.'”
      Tsze-chang observed, “This is different from what I have learned. The superior man honors the talented and virtuous, and bears with all. He praises the good, and pities the incompetent. Am I possessed of great talents and virtue? — who is there among men whom I will not bear with? Am I devoid of talents and virtue? — men will put me away from them. What have we to do with the putting away of others?” (James Legge)
    • The disciples of Tzu Hsia asked Tzu Chang about the principles which should govern friend貞hip.
      Tzu Chang said: “What is Tzu Hsia’s opinion?”
      They replied: “Tzu Hsia says, ‘Associate with those who come up to your standard; reject all those who do not.'”
      “This,” said Tzu Chang, “is different from what I have been taught. The nobler sort of man honours the virtuous and wise, but he admits to his society all men without distinction. He admires the good, but he also pities the weaker brethren. Am I a man of great wisdom and goodness?–then who is there among my fellow-men that I will not bear with? Or am I neither wise nor good?–then other men will reject me. How can one justify this rejection of others?”(Lionel Giles)
    • The disciples of Tsze Hea, asked Tsze Chang, with whom they ought to associate as friends.
      Tsze Chang said, what does your master say on the subject?
      He says, that we ought to associate with men of worth, and to keep at a distance the worthless.
      Tsze Chang replied, this differs indeed from what I have learned. I have heard that the man of superior virtue, honors men of talents and virtue, and bears with all; and that he praises the virtuous and pities the weak. In my intercourse with men, with whom will I not bear? But if I am not virtuous, men will first reject me, how can I reject them! (David Collie)
    • Commentary: The chun tzu carries out tao and not conceal his virtue, is self-possessed and can company with others without losing himself and his integrity. He is himself and others are others–so how can they defile him?
      On the other hand, the chun tzu is also careful to select good companions and when he can do so, and sometimes will refrain from associating with people he does not esteem and approve of, sometimes will flee any bad examples not up to his standards, and sometimes even totally cuts of his interaction with certain people.
  • 19:4 Tzu Hsia said:
    Even minor tao s have something worth attention–but if they are carried out to what is remote, there is a danger of their proving inapplicable/becoming fanatical. Therefore, the ?? does not practice them.

    • Even in inferior studies and employments there is something worth being looked at; but if it be attempted to carry them out to what is remote, there is a danger of their proving inapplicable. Therefore, the superior man does not practice them. (James Legge)
    • Even in inferior pursuits there must be something worthy of contemplation, but if carried to an extreme there is danger of fanaticism; hence the superior man does not engage in them. (William Jennings)
  • 19:5 Tzu Hsia said: Someone who day by day gains knowledge/awareness of his deficiencies, and month by month does not forget what he has, can really be called a lover of learning.
    • He, who from day to day recognizes what he has not yet, and from month to month does not forget what he has attained to, may be said indeed to love to learn. L / He who daily learns what he did not before know, and monthly forgets not what he had previously learned, may be called a lover of learning. C / The student who daily recognizes how much he yet lacks, and as the months pass forgets not what he has succeeded in learning, may undoubtedly be called a lover of learning. (William Jennings)
  • 19:6 Tzu Hsia said: Learning widely, steadying your desires/memorizing tenaciously/adhere to your aspirations firmly, investigating earnestly/specifically, and reflecting personally–jen lies in all of this.
    • There are learning extensively, and having a firm and sincere aim; inquiring with earnestness, and reflecting with self-application:– virtue is in such a course. J
    • If you study extensively and are steadfast in your aim, investigate carefully what you learn and apply it to your own personal conduct; in that way, you cannot fail in attaining a moral life. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • Learn extensively, determine firmly, examine fully, and think homeward: for virtue lies in these. (David Collie)
    • Wide research and steadfast purpose, eager questioning and close reflection,–all this tends to humanize a man. (William Jennings)
    • Extend your self-culture and be steadfast in your aim; be keen in your quest for instruction, and turn it over in your own mind: this is the way to become truly virtuous. (Hsieh 61)
  • 19:7 Tzu Hsia said:
    Craftsmen have their shops where they accomplish their works.
    The ?? learns in order to reach tao.

    • Mechanics have their shops to dwell in, in order to accomplish their works. The superior man learns, in order to reach to the utmost of his principles. (James Legge)
    • The mechanic dwells in his shop to finish his work, the superior man studies to complete his duty. C
    • As artificers abide in their shops in order to do their work, so the higher type of man practises self-culture in order to perfect his system of conduct. (Hsieh, 61)
  • 19:8 Tzu Hsia said:
    The ?? constantly rationalizes his mistakes.

    • The mean man is sure to gloss his faults. (James Legge)
    • The inferior type of man always tries to gloss over his faults. (Lionel Giles)
    • A fool always has an excuse ready when he does wrong. (Ku Hung-Ming)
    • The mean man puts a false gloss upon his faults. (David Collie)
  • 19:10 Tzu Hsia said:
    The ?? will obtain his people’s confidence before imposing/laying labors/burdens on them. If he has not gained their confidence, they will think that he is oppressing them. And he will obtain the confidence of his prince before remonstrating with him. If he has not gained his confidence, the prince will think that he is vilifying/libel/abuse him.

    • The superior man, having obtained their confidence, may then impose labors on his people. If he have not gained their confidence, they will think that he is oppressing them. Having obtained the confidence of his prince, one may then remonstrate with him. If he have not gained his confidence, the prince will think that he is vilifying him. (James Legge)
    • The wise man will gain the confidence of the people before laying burdens upon them otherwise, they will consider it oppression. He will gain the confidence of his sovereign before censuring his actions; otherwise, the latter will consider it mere libel and abuse. (Lionel Giles)
  • 19:11 Tzu Hsia said:
    When someone does not transgress the ‘fence’ in major te.htm , he should tolerate some deviations in minor te.htm.

    • When a person does not transgress the boundary line in the great virtues, he may pass and repass it in the small virtues. (James Legge)
    • He who does not transgress the larger principles of virtuous conduct may be excused for disregarding the boundary line in matters of smaller import. (Lionel Giles)
  • 19:12 Tzu Yu said, “Tzu Hsia’s disciples are quite accomplished when it comes to ‘braches’ such as sprinkling and sweeping, answering and replying, and advancing and receding–but they are left ignorant/lacking in the root. How can they be considered well taught?”
    Tzu Hsia heard of the remark and said, “Alas–Yen Yu is mistaken! The ?? ‘s tao has sections that come first, and those that are waited for and come afterwards. He deals with things like plants are assorted according to their classes. So how can the ?? ‘s tao be such as to make fools of any of them / be falsely represented? Is it not only the Sage who can unite in one the beginning and the consummation?”
  • 19:14 Tzu Hsia said:
    Mourning should stop after grief is fully expressed.

    • Mourning, having been carried to the utmost degree of grief, should stop with that. (James Legge)
  • 19:15 Tzu Yu said: My friend Tzu Chang can do very difficult things–but nevertheless, his is not the highest form of virtue.
  • 19:16 Tseng Tzu said: “How imposing Chang is. It is difficult to practice humaneness with him.”
    Only a good man is safe to like and safe to dislike. . . . For if you like him, he will not take undue advantage of it; and if you dislike him, he will not resent it.
    I have listened in silence and noted what was said, I have never grown tired of learning nor wearied of teaching others what I have learnt. These at least are merits which I can confidently claim.
    The thought that ‘I have left my moral power (te) untended, my learning unperfected, that I have heard of righteous men, but been unable to go to them; have heard of evil men, but been unable to reform them’ –it is these thoughts that disquiet me.
    Any thought of accepting wealth and rank by means that I know to be wrong is as remote from me as the clouds that float above.
    There were four things that the Master wholly eschewed: he took nothing for granted, he was never over-positive, never obstinate, never egotistic.
  • 19:19 Meng Shi appointed Yang Fu to be chief criminal judge. The latter consulted Tseng Tzu. Tseng Tzu said, “For a long time, the rulers have lost tao, and the people have been scattered/astray. When you have found out the truth of any accusation, be grieved for and pity them, and do not feel joy.”
    • The chief of the Mang family having appointed Yang Fu to be chief criminal judge, the latter consulted the philosopher Tsang. Tsang said, “The rulers have failed in their duties, and the people consequently have been disorganized, for a long time. When you have found out the truth of any accusation, be grieved for and pity them, and do not feel joy at your own ability.” (James Legge)
    • Commentary: Yang Fu was a disciple of Tseng Tzu.
  • 19:20 Tzu Kung said: Chou was not that wicked. Therefore, the superior person hates dwelling in a low-lying situation, where all the world’s evil flows.
    • Chau’s wickedness was not so great as that name implies. Therefore, the superior man hates to dwell in a low-lying situation, where all the evil of the world will flow in upon him. (James Legge)
  • 19:21 Tzu Kung said: The faults of the superior person are like the eclipses of the sun and moon: he has his faults, and everyone sees them; he corrects them, and everyone looks up to him.
    • his failing is seen by all, and when he repairs it, all look up to him with awe. (Lionel Giles)/ His errors all men see, and his reformation all men look for. (David Collie)
  • 19:22 Kung-sun Ch’ao of Wei asked Tzu Kung, “From whom did Chung-Ni get his learning/warning?”
    Tzu Kung said, “Wen and Wu’s tao has not totally fallen–it can be found among people. The worthy remember the greater principles, and others of less worthiness remember small parts–thus all possess Wen and Wu’s tao. There was no one who the Master could not learn from, yet there was no one who was his only teacher.”

    • Kung-sun Ch’ao of Wei asked Tsze-kung, saying, “From whom did Chung-ni get his learning?” Tsze-kung replied, “The doctrines of Wan and Wu have not yet fallen to the ground. They are to be found among men. Men of talents and virtue remember the greater principles of them, and others, not possessing such talents and virtue, remember the smaller. Thus, all possess the doctrines of Wan and Wu. Where could our Master go that he should not have an opportunity of learning them? And yet what necessity was there for his having a regular master?” L / Confucius could have got his learning from any source without needing to have a regular teacher. (Hsieh, 52)
  • 19:23 Shu-sun Wu-shu said to the great officers in the court, “Tzu Kung is superior to Chung Ni.”
    Tzu-fu Ching-po reported this to Tzu Kung, who said, “Let me use the comparison of a house and its encompassing wall. My wall only reaches shoulder height, and one who peeps over it will see what is valuable in the apartments. My Master’s wall is dozens of feet high, and if one does not find the door and enter by it, he cannot see the ancestral temple with its beauties, and the officers in their rich array. But I may assume that few find the door–so was not the observation of the chief only what might have been expected?”

    • Shu-sun Wu-shu observed to the great officers in the court, saying, “Tsze-kung is superior to Chung-nu.”
      Tsze-fu Ching-po reported the observation to Tsze-kung, who said, “Let me use the comparison of a house and its encompassing wall. My wall only reaches to the shoulders. One may peep over it, and see whatever is valuable in the apartments. The wall of my Master is several fathoms high. If one do not find the door and enter by it, he cannot see the ancestral temple with its beauties, nor all the officers in their rich array. But I may assume that they are few who find the door. Was not the observation of the chief only what might have been expected?” (James Legge)
  • 19:24 Shu-sun Wu-shu slandered Chung-Ni.
    Tzu Kung said, “There is no use in doing so. Chung-Ni cannot be reviled. Other people’s worthiness are hillocks and mounds that can be stepped over. Chung-Ni is the sun or moon, and not possible to step over. Although someone may wish to cut himself off from the Sage, what harm can he do to the sun or moon? He only shows that he does not know capacity/measuring.

    • Shu-sun Wu-shu having spoken revilingly of Chung-nu,
      Tsze-kung said, “It is of no use doing so. Chung-nu cannot be reviled. The talents and virtue of other men are hillocks and mounds which may be stepped over. Chung-nu is the sun or moon, which it is not possible to step over. Although a man may wish to cut himself off from the sage, what harm can he do to the sun or moon? He only shows that he does not know his own capacity. (James Legge)
    • Shu-sun Wu-shun was disparaging Confucius.
      Tzu Kung said: “It is no good. Confucius is proof against detraction. The wisdom of other men is like hills and mountain–peaks, which however high can still be scaled. But Confucius is like the sun or the moon, which can never be reached by the foot of man. A man may want to cut himself off from their light, but what harm will that do to the sun or the moon. It only shows very plainly that he has no notion of the measurement of capacity.” (Lionel Giles)

Confucius Quotes

Book 20

  • 20:2 Tzu Chang said: “What are the five virtues [a person in authority act in order that he may conduct government properly]?” Confucius said: “When the person in authority is beneficent without excess expenditure; when he lays tasks on the people without their complaining; when he pursues what he desires without being greedy; when he maintains a dignified ease without being arrogant; and when he is majestic without being fierce.”
    • Tsze-chang asked Confucius, saying, “In what way should a person in authority act in order that he may conduct government properly?” The Master replied, “Let him honor the five excellent, and banish away the four bad, things;– then may he conduct government properly”
      Tsze-chang said, “What are meant by the five excellent things?”
      The Master said, “When the person in authority is beneficent without great expenditure; when he lays tasks on the people without their repining; when he pursues what he desires without being covetous; when he maintains a dignified ease without being proud; when he is majestic without being fierce. (James Legge)
    • Tsze-chang said, “What is meant by being beneficent without great expenditure?”
      The Master replied, “When the person in authority makes more beneficial to the people the things from which they naturally derive benefit;– is not this being beneficent without great expenditure? When he chooses the labors which are proper, and makes them labor on them, who will repine? When his desires are set on benevolent government, and he secures it, who will accuse him of covetousness? Whether he has to do with many people or few, or with things great or small, he does not dare to indicate any disrespect;– is not this to maintain a dignified ease without any pride? He adjusts his clothes and cap, and throws a dignity into his looks, so that, thus dignified, he is looked at with awe;– is not this to be majestic without being fierce?
      Tsze-chang then asked, “What are meant by the four bad things?” The Master said, “To put the people to death without having instructed them;– this is called cruelty. To require from them, suddenly, the full tale of work, without having given them warning;– this is called oppression. To issue orders as if without urgency, at first, and, when the time comes, to insist on them with severity;– this is called injury. And, generally, in the giving pay or rewards to men, to do it in a stingy way;– this is called acting the part of a mere official.
    • The wise and good ruler is benevolent without ex計ending treasure; he lays burdens on the people without causing them to grumble; he has desires without being covetous; he is serene without being proud; he is awe-inspiring without being ferocious. (Lionel Giles)
    • (100) It is not easy to find a man who after three years of self-cultivation has not reached happiness.

By Confucius Publishing Company

  • 1:10 Tzu Ch’in asked Tzu Kung,” To whichever state the Master travels, he always hears of its policies. Does he enquire or is he informed.Tzu Kung said,” The Master learns by being gentle, kind, courteous, modest and deferential. The Master’s enquiry is different from that of others.”
  • 1:12 Yu Tzu said,”Harmony is the value of performing the rites. Such was beauty of the way of emperors past in matters great and small. Yet there are times when this is not acceptable. When there are harmony for the harmony’s sake, undiciplined by the rites, it is not acceptable.”
  • 1:14 Confucius said, “The gentleman does not seek to satiate himself in eating, does not seek ease in living, is quick in his dealings and prudent in speech, and keeps to the correctness of those with the way. He can be considered as devoted to learning.”
  • 1:15 Tzu Kung,” Poor yet not a debased flatterer, rich not yet arrogant:what do you say?.” Confucius said,”It will suffice, but it is not equal to ‘Poor yet happy, rich yet devoted to the rites’.” Tzu Kung said,”The odes say,’like bone cut,like horn polished, like jade carved,like stone ground.’ is this what you mean?” Confucius said,”T’zu now I can begin to discuss the Odes with you.From what I have told you, you can deduce what is to come.”

    Confucius said, “Do not be concerned about others not appreciating you. Be concerned about your not appreciating others.”

    Confucius said,” To relate and not to invent, to believe in and to be devoted to antiquity. Permit me to compare myself to Lao Peng.”

    Confucius said,” Virtue not cultivated, learning not expounded, not able to accommodate righteousness having heard of it, not able to correct what is not good… they trouble me.”

    Jan Yu said,” Is the Master for the lord of Wei?” Tzu Kung said,” I will ask him.” He then entered and said ,” What sort of men were Po Yi and Shu Ch’i?” Confucius said,” Virtuous men of ancient times.” Tzu Kung said,” They sought and attained benevolence. What complaint could they have?” Tzu Kung departed and said,” The Master is not for him.”

    The duke of Yeh asked Tzu Lu about Cofucius. Tzu Lu did not reply. Confucius said,” Why did you not say:’ He is a man whose determination makes him forget to eat, whose happiness makes him forget his trouble and who knows not that old age is stealing upon him’.”

    Confucius said,” When three men walk together, there is always something I can learn. Choose to follow what is good in them and correct what is not good.”

    Confucius said,” Is benevolence so far away? I wish for benevolence, and benevolence is attained.”

  • Verse 33 Confucius said,” Would I venture to call myself a sage or a benevolent man? At most, it might be said that I so pursue without losing interest and instruct others relentlessly.”

    Kung-Hsi Hua said,” This is what your disciples have not been able to learn.”

  • Verse 34 Confucius was seriously ill. Tzu Lu asked to pray in his behalf. Confucius said,” Is it done?” Tzu Lu replied,” Yes. The ancient prayer was, ‘ Pray thee to the gods and deities above and below’.” Confucius said,” Ch’iu has prayed so for a lomg time.”
  • Verse 35 Confucius said,” With extravagance there is no humility, with frugality there is miserliness. Rather be miserly than without humility.”
  • Verse 36 Confucius said,” The gentleman is free and bountiful. The petty man is bound and grieving.”
  • Verse 37 Confucius was gentle yet strict, awe-inspiring yet not fearful, and courteous yet at ease.
  • 9:10 Yen Yuan sighed and said:
    I look up to it, and find it high. I penetrate it, and it becomes firm. I look at it before me, and suddenly it is behind. Confucius skillfully leads people step-by-step. He enlarges me with wen , and teaches me restraints by li. I cannot stop, nor would I ever want to. And after having exerted my ability and finding it standing right up here, though I wish to follow, how can a find a way to do so?

    Yen Yuan, [in admiration of the Master’s doctrines], sighed and said, “I looked up to them, and they [seemed to become] more high; I tried to penetrate them, and they [seemed to become] more firm; I looked at them before me, and suddenly they [seemed to be] behind. The Master, by orderly method, skillfully leads men on. He enlarged my mind with learning, and taught me the restraints of propriety. When I wish to give over [the study of his doctrines], I cannot do so, and having exerted all my ability, there seems something to stand right up before me; but though I wish to follow [and lay hold of it], I really find no way to do so.” (James Legge)

    Yen Yuan heaved a deep sigh and said: The more I look at our Master’s teaching, the higher it seems. The more I test it, the more reliable it appears. I am gazing at it in front of me, when lo! it is suddenly behind me. Our Master knows how to draw men after him by regular steps. He broadens our outlook by means of polite learning, and restrains our impulses by means of inward self-control. Even if I wished to stop, I could not do so; yet after I have exhausted all my efforts in pursuit of the goal, there still remains something inaccessible rising up beyond; and though I would fain make towards it, I cannot find the way. (Lionel Giles)

    Commentary: tao is based on what is at hand, but it is difficult to pin down, and even the best people can find themselves perplexed at times while pursuing it.
    Treading it requires much of a person when he gets to certain points where things seem to get flip-flopped.
    We must be broadened by wen and restrained by li.


Confucianism – Key Terms

chun tzu / junzi superior person
hsiao jen / xiaoren: small person, inferior person<
yi: right, rightness, righteous, righteousness
tao / dao: the Way, Way, the right way of life, path, doctrine
te / de: virtue power, character power, inner power, virtue, excellence, integrity
jen / ren: complete manliness/womanliness, ideal virtue, complete virtue, goodness
li: pure discretion, pure order, proper actions, conduct according to what is right to the situation, the idea of what is proper and fit in all relations of things, pure activity
hsueh / xue: learn, learning, self-cultivation, self-purification, self-development
hsien / xian: worthiness, worthy, a worthy person, virtue & talent, character & ability
wen: training, cultural refinement, culture that advances a person in life

non-extreme / non-one-sided method, the golden mean, the whole tao, appropriate simplicity, appropriate practicality, non-extreme utmost, non-extreme in everything, hitting the right and maintain it amidst external variations in conditions and situations, no excesses or deficiencies, centrality normality, moderation balance & suitableness, the basic norm of human action that when complied with will bring the individual and his actions into harmony with the whole universe
T’ien: Heaven, Nature, the Divine, God, Sky, tao
hsin: – sincere expression, sincerity, abiding by one’s word, truthfulness, natural, confidence
chung: – true to yourself, self-loyalty, loyalty and devotion to tao / yi, devotion, inner self, single minded devotion to fulfilling your responsibilities, doing your utmost, fulfilling your heart, devotion of soul, conscientiousness, loyalty, self-honesty, fidelity, sincerity, being wholehearted in practicing yi, heart-middle
ssu: – thinking, reflecting, pondering, meditating, contemplating, focusing
shu: – consideration for self and others, compassion, forgiveness, relationship, heart & alike
hsiao: – filialness, loving respecting and taking care of parents
shih: – aspirant, knight-scholar, warrior of tao
ch’eng: – sincerity, makoto, jen, self-completion, being genuine, being authentic, abiding by tao, being real in oneself, being true to oneself, chung & hsin, active sincerity, sincerity involving constant effort at practice and self-examination, trueness, the state of the fullest expression of one’s being, internal and external sincerity, being real, keeping it real, moral and material sincerity, no indiscipline deception or depravity, not deceiving oneself, self-honesty, living in accordance with your true nature, the moral integrity of sincerity whereby the individual becomes a genuine and real person, true human being, being genuinely yourself and genuine with others, self-transparency, being aware of your place and limits and who you are, solidity and strength of character without pretense, integrity, absence of artificiality
chih: – knowledge, understanding, appreciation, knowing yi
ching: – composure


This page is adapted from http://www.rodneyohebsion.com/confucianism.htm

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