The Analects of Confucius

[1:1] Confucius said: "Isn't it a pleasure to study and practice what you have learned? Isn't it also great when friends visit from distant places? If people do not recognize me and it doesn't bother me, am I not a Superior Man?"

[Comment] Superior Man is a common English translation for the Chinese term chŁn-tzu which originally means "Son of a Prince" óthus, someone from the nobility. In the Analects, Confucius imbues the term with a special meaning. Though sometimes used strictly in its original sense, it also refers to a person who has made significant progress in the Way (Tao) of self-cultivation, by practicing Rightness (or Justice), by loving treatment of parents, respect for elders, honesty with friends, etc. Though the chŁn-tzu is clearly a highly advanced human being, he is still distinguished from the category of sage (sheng-jen), who is, in the Analects more of a "divine being," usually a model from great antiquity.

The character of the Superior Man, in contrast to the sage, is being taught as a tangible model for all in the here and now. And although many descriptions of the requirements for chŁn-tzu status seem quite out of our reach, there are many passages where Confucius labels a contemporary, or one of his disciples a "Superior Man," intending a complement. Thus, the categorization is not so rigid. One might want to compare the term "Superior Man" to the Buddhist bodhisattva, in that both are the models for the tradition, both indicate a very high stage of human development as technical terms, yet both may be used colloquially to refer to a "really good person."

[1:2] Yu Tzu said: "There are few who have developed themselves filially and fraternally who enjoy offending their superiors. Those who do not enjoy offending superiors are never troublemakers. The Superior Man concerns himself with the fundamentals. Once the fundamentals are established, the proper way (tao) appears. Are not filial piety and obedience to elders fundamental to the enactment of humaneness?"

[Comment] The word "humanity" in the above line is a translation of the Chinese term jen (仁), which has also been translated into English as "benevolence," "goodness," "Perfect Goodness," etc. It is a difficult concept to translate because it doesn't really refer to any specific type of virtue or positive endowment, but refers to an inner capacity possessed by all human beings to do good, as human beings should. It is what makes humans human, and not animals.

In the Chinese "essence-function" perception, humaneness can be understood as the essence of all kinds of manifestations of virtuosity: wisdom, filial piety, reverence, courtesy, love, sincerity, etc., all of which are aspects, or functions of humaneness. Through one's efforts at practicing at the function of humaneness, one may enhance and develop one's humaneness, until one may be called a Superior Man, or even better, a "humane person." In the Analects, to be called a "humane person" by the Master is an extremely high evaluation, rarely acknowledged of any human being.

[1:3] Confucius said: "Someone who is a clever speaker and maintains a 'too-smiley' face is seldom considered a humane person."

[1:4] Tseng Tzu said: "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?"

[1:5] Confucius said: "If you would govern a state of a thousand chariots (a small-to-middle-size state), you must pay strict attention to business, be true to your word, be economical in expenditure and love the people. You should use them according to the seasons."

[Comment] "Usage of the people according to the seasons" is extremely important in an agriculture-based society, where planting, cultivating, or harvesting a certain crop during a certain few-day period can be critical. During the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods in China, selfish and aggressive warlords frequently pulled farmers off their land at important farming times, to use them for public works projects, or have them fight in the ruler's personal wars.

[1:6] Confucius said: "A young man should serve his parents at home and be respectful to elders outside his home. He should be earnest and truthful, loving all, but become intimate with humaneness. After doing this, if he has energy to spare, he can study literature and the arts."

[Comment] In the above-mentioned essence-function view, the development of one's proper relationship with one's parents and others around her/him is fundamental in life. Only after these things are taken care of is it proper to go off and play at whatever one likesó even if this "play" involves the serious study of some art form.

[1:7] Tzu Hsia said: "If you can treat the worthy as worthy without strain, exert your utmost in serving your parents, devote your whole self in serving your prince, and be honest in speech when dealing with your friends. Then even if someone says you are not learned (hsŁeh), I would say that you are definitely learned."

[Comment] In the Confucian tradition, learning (hsŁeh) is more than intellectual, academic study, or the accumulation of facts (although this aspect is included). It is the process of manifesting one's humaneness by developing-oneself in self-reflection through the various types of human relationships.

[1:8] Confucius said: "If the Superior Man is not 'heavy,' then he will not inspire awe in others. If he is not learned, then he will not be on firm ground. He takes loyalty and good faith to be of primary importance, and has no friends who are not of equal (moral) caliber. When he makes a mistake, he doesn't hesitate to correct it."

[Comment] The Superior Man still makes mistakes. The difference between him and other people is that he rectifies his errors as soon as he becomes aware of them.

[1:9] Tseng Tzu said: "When they are careful (about their parents) to the end and continue in reverence after (their parents) are long gone, the virtue of the people will return to its natural depth."

[1:10] Tzu Ch'in asked Tzu Kung: "When our teacher (Confucius) arrives in any country, he invariably finds out everything about its government. Does he seek this information? Or is it given to him?"

Tzu Kung said, "Our teacher gets it by being cordial, upright, courteous, temperate and complaisant. His way of getting information is quite different from that of other men."

[1:11] Confucius said: "When your father is alive, observe his will. When your father is dead observe his former actions. If, for three years you do not change from the ways of your father, you can be called a 'real son (hsiao).' "

[Comment] In terms of the development of the character of the human being, the most fundamental practice is that of "filial piety," the English translation of the Chinese hsiao, which means to love, respect and take care of one's parents. Confucius believed that if people cultivated this innate tendency well, all other natural forms of human goodness would be positively affected by it.

[1:12] Yu Tzu said: "In the actual practice of propriety, flexibility is important. This is what the ancient kings did so welló both the greater and the lesser used flexibility. Yet you should be aware: If you understand flexibility and use it, but don't structure yourself with propriety, things won't go well."

[Comment] Propriety is the English rendition of the Chinese li. This is a word that also has a wide spectrum of meaning in Classical Chinese thought, and is difficult to translate by a single word. Its most basic meaning is that of "ritual" or "ceremony," referring to all sorts of rituals that permeated early East Asian society. The most significant of course, would be wedding ceremonies and funerals. But there were also various agricultural rituals, coming-of-age rituals, coronations, etc. Confucius was an expert on the proper handling of all sorts of rituals.

The term li however, has, in the Analects, a much broader meaning than ritual, since it can also refer to the many smaller "ritualized" behavior patterns involved in day-to-day human interactions. This would include proper speech and body language according to status, age, sexó thus, "manners." In this sense, li means any action proper, or appropriate to the situation. For instance, in the modern context, I might go up and slap my friend on the back. But I certainly wouldn't to that to my professor, or to a student in my class whom I don't know very well.

In the Analects, li, as a general category, is clearly defined in a relationship with humaneness, where humaneness is the inner, substantial goodness of the human being, and li is the functioning of humaneness in the manifest world. That is to say, li is Rightness, filial piety, fraternal respect, familial affection, etc.

[1:13]Yu Tzu said: "When your own trustworthiness is close to Rightness, your words can be followed. When your show of respect is according to propriety, you will be far from shame and disgrace. If you have genuine affection within your family, you can become an ancestor."

[Comment] Rightness with a capital "R" is my rendering of the Chinese i , which I also translate as Justice, according to the context. Although not quite as essential a concept as humaneness (ren ), it is a strongly internalized human capacity. Being attuned to Rightness allows people to do the proper thing in the proper situation, to give each person, place and thing its proper due.

[1:14] Confucius said: "When the Superior Man eats he does not try to stuff himself; at rest he does not seek perfect comfort; he is diligent in his work and careful in speech. He avails himself to people of the Tao and thereby corrects himself. This is the kind of person of whom you can say, 'he loves learning.' "

[1:15] Tzu Kung asked: "What do you think of a poor man who doesn't grovel or a rich man who isn't proud?" Confucius said, "They are good, but not as good as a poor man who is satisfied and a rich man who loves propriety." Tzu Kung said, "The Book of Odes says:"

Like cutting and filing,

Grinding and polishing1


"Is this what you are talking about?" Confucius said, "Ah, now I can begin to discuss the Book of Odes with Tz'u. I give him a hint and he gets the whole point."

[1:16] Confucius said: "I am not bothered by the fact that I am unknown. I am bothered when I do not know others."

[2:1] Confucius said: "If you govern with the power of your virtue, you will be like the North Star. It just stays in its place while all the other stars position themselves around it."

[Comment] This is the Analects' first statement on government. Scholars of Chinese thought have commonly placed great emphasis on a supposed radical distinction between Confucian "authoritative" government and Taoist "laissez-faire" government. But numerous Confucian passages such as this which suggest of the ruler's governance by a mere attunement with an inner principle of goodness, without unnecessary external action, quite like the Taoist wu-wei are far more numerous than has been noted. This is one good reason for us to be careful when making the commonplace Confucian/Taoist generalizations without qualification.

[2:2] Confucius said: "The 300 verses of the Book of Odes can be summed up in a single phrase: 'Don't think in an evil way.' "

[2:3] Confucius said: "If you govern the people legalistically and control them by punishment, they will avoid crime, but have no personal sense of shame. If you govern them by means of virtue and control them with propriety, they will gain their own sense of shame, and thus correct themselves."

[2:4] Confucius said: "At fifteen my heart was set on learning; at thirty I stood firm; at forty I had no more doubts; at fifty I knew the mandate of heaven; at sixty my ear was obedient; at seventy I could follow my heart's desire without transgressing the norm."

[2:5] Meng I Tzu asked about the meaning of filial piety. Confucius said, "It means 'not diverging (from your parents).' " Later, when Fan Chih was driving him, Confucius told Fan Chih, "Meng Sun asked me about the meaning of filial piety, and I told him 'not diverging.' " Fan Chih said, "What did you mean by that?" Confucius said, "When your parents are alive, serve them with propriety; when they die, bury them with propriety, and then worship them with propriety."

[2:6] Meng Wu Po asked about the meaning of filial piety. Confucius said, "The main concern of your parents is about your health."

[Comment] When we are separated from our parents for long periods of time, we can set their minds at ease by letting them know that we are in good health.

[2:7] Tzu Lu asked about the meaning of filial piety. Confucius said, "Nowadays filial piety means being able to feed your parents. But everyone does this for even horses and dogs. Without respect, what's the difference?"

[2:8] Tzu Hsia asked about filial piety. Confucius said, "What is important is the expression you show in your face. You should not understand 'filial' to mean merely the young doing physical tasks for their parents, or giving them food and wine when it is available."

[2:9] Confucius said: "I can talk with Hui for a whole day without him differing with me in any wayó as if he is stupid. But when he retires and I observe his personal affairs, it is quite clear that he is not stupid."

[Comment] Hui (Yen YŁan) was Confucius' favorite disciple, who is praised in many passages of the Analects. He died at a young age, probably around thirty, a fact which Confucius lamented.

[2:10] Confucius said: "See a person's means (of getting things). Observe his motives. Examine that in which he rests. How can a person conceal his character? How can a person conceal his character?"

[Comment] People think that they are successfully hiding the devious plots that are going on in their minds. But as the Doctrine of the Mean teaches, "The sincerity on the inside shows on the outside." When someone is deceitful, everyone knows it. When someone is good and honest, everyone knows it.

[2:11] Confucius said: "Reviewing what you have learned and learning anew, you are fit to be a teacher."

[2:12] Confucius said: "The Superior Man is not a utensil."

[Comment] The Superior Man is not a technician, to be used by others to do a single job. On another level, his mind is not narrowly oriented by a specific task. The chŁn-tzu thinks broadly and does not limit himself quickly into a certain world-view, and cannot easily be used as a cog in someone else's machine.

[2:13] Tzu Kung asked about the character of the Superior Man. Confucius said, "First he practices what he preaches and then he follows it."

[2:14] Confucius said: "The Superior Man is all-embracing and not partial. The inferior man is partial and not all-embracing."

[2:15] Confucius said: "To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous."

[2:16] Confucius said: "To throw oneself into strange teachings is quite dangerous."

[2:17] Confucius said: "Yu, shall I teach you about knowledge? What you know, you know, what you don't know, you don't know. This is knowledge."

[Comment] The stage of "knowing what you know and knowing what you don't know" is not easy to attain. It has been noted in the teachings of other religious traditions to be a very high level of attainment.

[2:18] Tzu Chang was studying to get an upgrade in status. Confucius said, "Listen widely to remove your doubts and be careful when speaking about the rest and your mistakes will be few. See much and get rid of what is dangerous and be careful in acting on the rest and your causes for regret will be few. Speaking without fault, acting without causing regret: 'upgrading' consists in this."

[2:19] The Duke of Ai asked: "How can I make the people follow me?" Confucius replied: "Advance the upright and set aside the crooked, and the people will follow you. Advance the crooked and set aside the upright, and the people will not follow you."

[2:20] Chi K'ang Tzu asked: "How can I make the people reverent and loyal, so they will work positively for me?" Confucius said, "Approach them with dignity, and they will be reverent. Be filial and compassionate and they will be loyal. Promote the able and teach the incompetent, and they will work positively for you."

[2:21] Someone asked Confucius: "Why are you not involved in government?" Confucius said, "What does the Book of History say about filial piety? 'Just by being a good son and friendly to ones brothers and sisters you can have an effect on government.' Since this is also 'doing government,' why do I need to do 'doing government?' "

[2:22] Confucius said: "If a person lacks trustworthiness, I don't know what s/he can be good for. When a pin is missing from the yoke-bar of a large wagon, or from the collar-bar of a small wagon, how can it go?"

[2:23] Tzu Chang asked whether the state of affairs ten generations hence could be known. Confucius said, "The Shang based its propriety on that of the Yin, and what it added and subtracted is knowable. The Chou has based its propriety on that of the Shang and what it added and subtracted is knowable. In this way, what continues from the Chou, even if 100 generations hence, is knowable."

[2:24] Confucius said: "To worship to other than one's own ancestral spirits is brown-nosing. If you see what is right and fail to act on it, you lack courage."

[3:1] Confucius, speaking about the head of the Ch'i family said, "He has eight rows of dancers in his court. If he does this, what will he not do?"

[Comment] In this passage and the following one, Confucius is complaining about a lower-level aristocrat using ceremonies that were officially prescribed for much higher-level nobility. "Eight rows of dancers," was the amount allowable to only the most elite of the nobility. The head of the Ch'i family is often criticized in the Analects for similar improprieties.

[3:2] The Three Families used the Yung Songs at the clearing of the sacrificial vessels. Confucius said,

Attended on by Lords and Princes:

How magnificent is the Son of Heaven!

How could these words be used in the halls of the Three Families?

[3:3] Confucius said: "If a man has no humaneness what can his propriety be like? If a man has no humaneness what can his music be like?"

[Comment] Since humaneness is the essence of all positive human attributes, without it, how can they truly operate?

[3:4] Lin Fang asked about the fundamentals of ritual. Confucius said, "What an excellent question! In ritual, it is better to be frugal than extravagant; in funerals deep sorrow is better than ease."

[3:5] Confucius said: "The tribes of the East and North (Koreans and Mongolians), though having kings, are not equal to our people, even when lacking kings,"

[Comment] Either Confucius is an outright ethnic chauvinist, or he is pointing to a real difference in the relative level of cultural development at that time between the central Chinese kingdoms and the outerlying peoples.

[3:6] The Ji family went to make a sacrifice at Mt. Tai. The master said to Ranyu: "Can't you save them from this?" Yu responded: "I can't." The master said: "Alas! Does this meant that Mt. Tai is not the equal of Linfang?" 2

[3:7] Confucius said: "The Superior Man has nothing to compete for. But if he must compete, he does it in an archery match, wherein he ascends to his position, bowing in deference. Descending, he drinks the ritual cup. This is the competition of the Superior Man."

[3:8] Tzu Hsia quoted the following:

Her tactful smile charms;

Her eyes, fine and clear,

Beautiful without accessories.

And asked its meaning. Confucius said, "A painting is done on plain white paper." Tzu Hsia said, "Then are rituals a secondary thing?" Confucius said, "Ah, Shang, you uplift me. Now we can really begin to discuss the Book of Odes."

[Comment] Among all the ancient classical works available to scholars of the time, Confucius seems to place special value on the Book of Odes, for its strength in moral teachings as well as the intellectual stimulation it provided.

[3:10] Confucius said: "At the Great Sacrifice, after the pouring of the libation, I have no further desire to watch."

[3:11] Someone asked for an explanation of the Great Sacrifice. Confucius said, "I don't know. If there were someone who knew this, he could see the whole world as if it were this" : He pointed to the palm of his hand.

[3:12] "Sacrificing as if present" means sacrificing to the spirits as if they were present. Confucius said, "If I do not personally offer the sacrifice, it is the same as not having sacrificed at all."

[3:13] Wang Sun Chia asked: "What do you think about the saying 'It is better to sacrifice to the god of the stove than to the god of the family shrine.' ?" Confucius said, "Not so. If you offend Heaven, there is no one you can pray to."

[3:14] Confucius said: "The people of the Chou were able to observe the prior two dynasties and thus their culture flourished. I now follow the Chou."

[3:15] When Confucius entered the Grand Temple, he asked about everything. Someone said, "Who said Confucius is a master of ritual? He enters the Grand Temple and asks about everything!"

Confucius, hearing this, said, "This is the ritual."

[3:16] Confucius said: "In archery it is not important to pierce through the leather covering of the target, since not all men have the same strength. This is the Way of the ancients."

[3:17] Tzu Kung wanted to do away with the sacrifice of the sheep on the first of the month. Confucius said, "Tz'u, you love the sheep; I love the ceremony."

[3:18] Confucius said: "If you use every single courtesy while serving your prince, the people will call you a brown-noser."

[3:19] Duke Ting asked how a ruler should employ his ministers and how a minister should serve his ruler. Confucius replied, saying: "The prince employs his ministers with propriety; the ministers serve their prince with good faith."

[3:20] Confucius said: "The Kuan Tzu 3 allows for pleasure without being lewd and allows for grief without being too painful."

[3:21] The Duke of Ai asked Tsai Wo about sacred temple grounds. Tsai Wo said, "The Hsia emperor planted them with pines; the Hsiang people planted them with cypress and the Chou people planted them with chestnut, thinking to cause people to be in awe of these trees."

Confucius, hearing this, said, "Don't bother explaining that which has already been done; don't bother criticizing that which is already gone; don't bother blaming that which is already past."

[3:22] Confucius said: "Kuan Chung was quite limited in capacity."

Someone asked: "Wasn't Kuan Chung frugal?"

Confucius said, "Kuan had three sets of wives and his officers never worked overtime. How can he be considered to have been frugal?"

"But then did Kuan Chung understand propriety?" Confucius said, "The princes of the states have a special ritual screen at their door, and so did Kuan Chung (even though he was not of the proper rank to do this). When the princes of state had a friendly meeting, they would ritually turn their cups over on the table. -Kuan also turned his cups over on the table. If Kuan Chung understood propriety, then who doesn't?"

[3:23] Confucius, when talking with the Grand Music Master of Lu, said, "In my understanding of music, the piece should be begun in unison. Afterwards, if it is pure, clear and without break, it will be perfect."

[3:24] The border guard at Yi requested an audience with the Master, saying: "Whenever a Superior Man comes here, I never miss the opportunity to see him." The disciples sent him in. When he came out, he said, "Friends, don't have any doubts about your master failing. The world has certainly lacked the Tao for a long time now, but Heaven will use your master to awaken everyone."

[3:26] Confucius said: "Men of high office who are narrow-minded; propriety without respect and funerals without grief: how can I bear to look at such things?!"

4. 里仁

[4:1] Confucius said: "As for a neighborhood, it is its humaneness that makes it beautiful. If you choose to live in a place that lacks humaneness, how can you grow in wisdom?"

[4:2] Confucius said: "If you lack humaneness you can't handle long periods of difficulty or long periods of comfortability. humane men are comfortable in humaneness. The wise take advantage of humaneness."

[4:3] Confucius said: "Only the humane person is able to really like others or to really dislike them."

[4:4] Confucius said: "If you are really committed to humaneness, you will have no evil in you."

[4:5] Confucius said, "Riches and honors are what all men desire. But if they cannot be attained in accordance with the Tao they should not be kept. Poverty and low status are what all men hate. But if they cannot avoided in while staying in accordance with the Tao, you should not avoid them. If a Superior Man departs from humaneness, how can he be worthy of that name? A Superior Man never leaves humaneness for even the time of a single meal. In moments of haste he acts according to it. In times of difficulty or confusion he acts according to it."

[4:6] Confucius said: "I have never seen one who really loves humaneness or really hates non-humaneness. If you really loved humaneness you would not place anything above it. If you really hated the non-humaneness, you would not let it near you. Is there anyone who has devoted his strength to humaneness for a single day? I have not seen anyone who has lacked the strength to do so. Perhaps there has been such a case, but I have never seen it."

[4:7] Confucius said: "People err according to their own level. It is by observing a person's mistakes that you can know his/her goodness."

[Comment] No one is perfect, free from error. But when someone makes a mistake in a human relationship, we can tell by the type of mistake, and by the person's way of dealing with it, what her/his true character is like.

[4:8] Confucius said: "If I can hear the Tao in the morning, in the evening I can die content."

[4:9] "A shih who is set on the way, but is ashamed of old clothes and coarse food, is not worth consulting."

[Comment] The title shih is usually translated into English as either "knight" or "scholar." While the shih of later Chinese history is more definitely a scholar than a knight, in the Analects, what Confucius is referring to is a level of spiritual/moral development, as well as academic and martial cultivation which is clearly above that of the average person. Thus, we can understand the shih to be a person who is well on the way toward becoming a "Superior Man," but is not quite there yet. I am reluctant to render shih, as either "scholar" or "knight" because of the limitations in meaning that occur with these English words.

[4:10] Confucius said: "When the Superior Man deals with the world he is not prejudiced for or against anything. He does what is Right."

[4:11] Confucius said: "The Superior Man cares about virtue; the inferior man cares about material things. The Superior Man seeks discipline; the inferior man seeks favors."

[4:12] Confucius said: "If you do everything with a concern for your own advantage, you will be resented by many people."

[4:13] Confucius said: "If you can govern the country by putting propriety first, what else will you need to do? If you can't govern your country by putting propriety first, how could you even call it propriety?"

[4:14] Confucius said: "I don't worry abut not having a good position; I worry about the means I use to gain position. I don't worry about being unknown; I seek to be known in the right way."

[4:15] Confucius said: "Shan, my Tao is penetrated by a single thread." Tseng Tzu said, "Yes." When the Master left, some disciples asked what he meant. Tseng Tzu said, "Our master's Tao is to be sincere and fair, and that's it."

[4:16] Confucius said: "The Superior Man is aware of Rightness, the inferior man is aware of advantage."

[4:17] Confucius said: "When you see a good person, think of becoming like her/him. When you see someone not so good, reflect on your own weak points."

[4:18] Confucius said: "When you serve your mother and father it is okay to try to correct them once in a while. But if you see that they are not going to listen to you, keep your respect for them and don't distance yourself from them. Work without complaining."

[4:19] Confucius said: "While your parents are alive, it is better not to travel far away. If you do travel, you should have a precise destination."

[4:20] Confucius said: "If, for three years (after your father's death) you don't alter his ways of doing things, you can certainly be called 'filial.' "

[4:21] Confucius said: "Your parents' age should not be ignored. Sometimes it will be a source of joy, and sometimes it will be a source of apprehension."

[4:22] Confucius said: "The ancients were hesitant to speak, fearing that their actions would not do justice to their words."

[4:23] Confucius said: "If you are strict with yourself, your mistakes will be few."

[4:24] Confucius said: "The Superior Man desires to be hesitant in speech, but sharp in action."

[4:25] Confucius said: "If you are virtuous, you will not be lonely. You will always have friends."

[4:26] Tzu Yu said: "In serving your prince, frequent remonstrance will lead to disgrace. With friends, frequent remonstrance will lead to separation."

[5:1] Confucius said of Kung Ye Chang that he was fit for marriage. Even though he was arrested once, he had been innocent; therefore Confucius gave him his daughter in marriage.

[5:2] Confucius said of Nan Yung that if the Tao prevailed in the state he would never lack an official post. If the Tao was lacking in the state, he would avoid getting into trouble. He gave him the daughter of his own elder brother in marriage.

[5:3] Confucius said of Tzu Chien: "He is a Superior Man. If the state of Lu is really lacking Superior Men how could he have acquired such a character?"

[5:4] Tzu Kung asked: "What do you say of me?"

Confucius said, "You are a vessel."

"What kind of vessel."

"A gemmed sacrificial vessel."

[5:5] Someone said: "Yung is a humane man, but he is not sharp enough with his tongue." Confucius said, "Why does he need to be sharp with his tongue? If you deal with people by smooth talk, you will soon be disliked. I don't know if Yung is a humane man, but why should he have to be a clever speaker?"

[5:6] Confucius encouraged Ch'i Tiao K'ai to get employment as an official. He replied: "I am not yet sincere enough." The master was pleased.

[5:7] Confucius said: "The Tao is not practiced. I shall go ride a raft on the oceanó and I imagine Yu would go with me." Tzu Lu was very happy to hear this. Confucius said, "Yu likes daring more than I, but he lacks discretion."

[5:8] Meng Wu Po asked Confucius whether Tzu Lu was a humane man.

Confucius said, "I don't know."

He asked again. Confucius said, "Yu could direct the public works forces in a state of 1, 000 chariots, but I don't know if I would call him a humane man."

Meng again asked: "What about Ch'iu?"

Confucius said, "Ch'iu could be the governor of a city of 1, 000 families, or of a clan of 100 chariots, but I don't know if he is a humane man."

Meng asked: "What about Ch'ih?"

The Master said, "Dressed up with his sash, placed in the middle of the court, he could make conversation with the guests, but I don't know if he is a humane man."

[5:9] Confucius, speaking to Tzu Kung said, "Who is superior, you or Hui?" Tzu Kung answered, saying: "How could I compare myself to Hui? He hears one point and understands the whole thing. I hear one point and understand another."

Confucius said, "You are not equal to him; you are right, you are not equal to him."

[5:10] Tsai Yu slept during the daytime. Confucius said, "Rotten wood cannot be carved; dirty earth cannot be used for cement: why bother scolding him? At first I used to listen to what people said and expect them to act accordingly. Now I listen to what people say and watch what they do. I learned this from Yu."

[5:11] Confucius said: "I have not yet met a really solid man." Someone said, "What about Shan Ch'ang?"

Confucius said, "Ch'ang is ruled by lust. How could he be solid?"

[5:12] Tzu Kung said: "What I don't want done to me, I don't want to do to others."

Confucius said, "Tz'u, you have not yet gotten to this level."

[5:13] Tzu Kung said: "What our Master has to say about the classics can be heard and also embodied. Our Master's words on the essence and the Heavenly Tao, though not attainable, can be heard."

[5:14] When Tzu Lu heard a teaching and had not yet put it into practice, he would be uptight about hearing something new in the meantime.

[5:15] Tzu Kung asked: "How did Kung Wen Tzu get the title 'wen' " ? (wen = learned, literary, refined") Confucius said, "He was diligent and loved to study. He was also unashamed to ask questions to his inferiors. Therefore he got the name wen."

[5:16] Confucius said that Tzu Chan had four characteristics of the Superior Man: In his private conduct he was courteous; in serving superiors he was respectful, in providing for the people he was kind; in dealing with the people he was just.

[5:17] Confucius said: "Yen P'ing Chung was good at getting along with people. Even after a long period of acquaintance, he would continue to treat them with respect."

[5:19] Tzu Chang asked: "The Chief Minister Tzu Wen was appointed three times, but never showed any sign of pleasure. He was fired three times, but never showed any sign of disappointment. He would always inform the incoming minister on all the details of the prior government. What do you think of him?"

Confucius said, "He was loyal."

"Was he humane?"

Confucius said, "I don't know what he did to deserve to be called humane."

Tzu Chang again asked: "When Ch'iu Tzu assassinated the prince of Ch'i, Ch'an Wen Tzu, who had a fief of ten chariots, abandoned them and left the state. Arriving to another state, he said, 'The government here is just like that of the officer Ch'iu Tzu.' and he left it. Coming to another state he said, 'They are again just like the officer Ch'iu Tzu.' and he left. What do you think of him?"

Confucius said, "He was pure."

"Was he humane?"

"I don't know what he did to merit being called humane."

[5:20] Chi Wen Tzu contemplated something three times before acting upon it. When Confucius heard this, he said, "Twice is enough."

[5:21] Confucius said: "When the Tao prevailed in the state, Ning Wu Tzu showed his intelligence. When the Tao declined in the state, he played stupid. Someone might be able to match his intelligence, but no one can match his stupidity."

[5:22] Once, when Confucius was in Ch'an, he said, "I must return! I must return! My young disciples are wild 4 and unbridled. Though they are developing well, they don't always know when to restrain themselves."

[5:23] Confucius said: "Po Yi and Shu Chi did not keep others' former wrongdoings in mind, and so there was little resentment against them."

[Comment] Po Yi and Shu Chi are two ministers of antiquity, famous for their virtue.

[5:24] Confucius said: "Who said that Wei Shang Kai is of straight character? Someone begged vinegar from him, and he went and got some from his neighbors and gave it to him." (Rather than giving his own).

[5:25] Confucius said: "Clever words, a pretentious face and too-perfect courtesy: Tso Ch'iu Ming was ashamed of them. I am also ashamed of them. Concealing one's resentments and acting friendly to people: Tso Ch'iu Ming was ashamed to act this way and so am I."

[5:26] Yen YŁan and Tzu Lu were by the Master's side. He said to them: "Why don't each of you tell me of your aspirations?"

Tzu Lu said, "I would like to have wagons, horses and light fur coats to give to my friends, and if they damaged them, not to get angry."

Yen YŁan said, "I would like not to be proud of my good points and not to show off my works."

Tzu Lu said, "What are your wishes, Teacher?"

Confucius said, "I would like to give comfort to the aged, trust to my friends and nurturance to the young."

[5:27] Confucius said: "It's all over! I have not yet met someone who can see his own faults and correct them within himself."

[5:28] Confucius said: "In a hamlet of ten families there must be someone as loyal and trustworthy as I. But I doubt there will be someone as fond of study."

[6:1] Confucius said: "Yung could fulfill the role of 'facing south' (being a ruler)."

[6:2] Chung Kung asked about Tzu-sang Po-tzu.

Confucius said, "He will do. He is easygoing."

Chung Kung said, "Maybe if you are easygoing but abide in reverence it is all right. But if you abide in easygoingness and are also easygoing in your activities, wouldn't that be excessive?"

Confucius said, "Yung is right."

[6:3] The Duke of Ai asked which disciple loved to study. Confucius answered: "There was Yen Hui. He loved to study, he didn't transfer his anger to the wrong person, and he didn't repeat his mistakes. Unfortunately he died young. Since then I have not yet met anyone who loves to study the way he did."

[6:4] Confucius, speaking of Chung Kung said: "The calf of a brindled ox could be all red and have good horns.5 But even if we decide not to use it, would nature throw it away?" 6

[6:5] Confucius said: "Hui could keep his mind on humaneness for three months without lapse. Others are lucky if they can do it for one day out of a month."

[6:6] Chi K'ang Tzu asked whether Chung Yu was capable of serving in the government.

Confucius said, "Yu is efficient. What problem could he have in handling government work?"

K'ang asked: "Is Tz'u capable of serving in the government?"

Confucius said, "Tz'u is intelligent. What problem could he have in handling government work?"

"And what about Ch'iu?"

Confucius said, "Ch'iu is talented. What difficulty would he have in handling government work?"

[6:7] The head of the Ch'i family sent to Min Tzu Ch'ien to ask him to govern P'i for them. Min Tzu Ch'ien said, "Please decline for me politely. If they pursue me further, I shall have to go live on the banks of the Wen River." 7

[6:8] Po Niu was sick and Confucius came to see him. He held his hand through the window and said, "He is dying! How awful it is that this kind of man should be sick like this! How awful it is that this kind of man should be sick like this!"

[6:9] Confucius said: "Hui was indeed a worthy! With a single bamboo bowl of rice and gourd-cup of water he lived in a back alley. Others could not have endured his misery, but Hui never changed from his happy disposition. Hui was a worthy indeed!"

[Comment] In Confucian and Taoist thought, the term hsien ('worthy') means "good, kind, intelligent, courageous," etc. But it is also a technical term for a person of a high level of moral and intellectual advancement. Generally speaking, it indicates someone who is "almost perfect" but who is not a "divine being," a sage.

[6:10] Yen Ch'iu said: "It is not that I don't enjoy your Way, but my strength is not enough."

Confucius said, "Those whose strength is not enough give up half way. You are now limiting yourself."

[6:11] Confucius said to Tzu Hsia: "Be a noble scholar; don't be a petty scholar."

[6:12] Tzu Yu became the governor of Wu Chang. The Master said, "Have you got any good men working for you?"

He answered: "I have Tan-t'ai Mie-ming, who never takes short cuts in his work and does not come to my office unless he has real business to discuss."

[6:13] Confucius said: "Meng Chih Fan is not boastful. Once he was covering the rear during a retreat, and when he was about to enter the gate, he whipped his horse and said, 'I wasn't so brave as to be last. My horse would not run fast enough.' "

[6:14] Confucius said: "Without the smooth speech of Preacher T'o or the good looks of Prince Chao of Sung, it is difficult to stay out of trouble in the present age."

[6:15] Confucius said: "Who can go out without using the door? So why doesn't any body follow the Tao?"

[6:16] Confucius said: "If raw substance dominates refinement, you will be coarse. If refinement dominates raw substance, you will be clerical. When refinement and raw qualities are well blended, you will be a Superior Man."

[6:17] Confucius said: "People are straightforward at birth. Once they lose this, they rely on luck to avoid trouble."

[6:18] Confucius said: "Knowing it is not as good as loving it; loving it is not as good as delighting in it."

[6:19] Confucius said: "You can teach high-level topics to those of above-average ability, but you can't teach high-level topics to those of less than average ability."

[6:20] Fan Ch'ih asked about the marks of wisdom.

Confucius said, "Working to give the people justice and paying respect to the spirits, but keeping away from them, you can call wisdom." He asked about the marks of humaneness.

Confucius said, "Ah yes, humaneness. If you suffer first and then attain it, it can be called humaneness."

[6:21] Confucius said: "The wise enjoy the sea, the humane enjoy the mountains. The wise are busy, the humane are tranquil. The wise are happy, the humane are eternal."

[6:22] Confucius said: "The state of Ch'i, with one change, could be at the level of Lu. The state of Lu, with one change, could attain to the Tao."

[6:23] Confucius said: "A cornered vessel without corners! Is it a cornered vessel or not?"

[6:24] Tsai Wo asked: "If you tell a humane man that there is humaneness at the bottom of the well, will he climb into it?"

Confucius said, "Are you kidding? The Superior Man will go to the well but not fall into it. He can be deceived, but not to the point of serious loss!"

[6:25] Confucius said: "The Superior Man who studies culture extensively, and disciplines himself with propriety can keep from error."

[6:26] The Master visited Nan Tzu (a woman known for her sexual excesses) and Tzu Lu was displeased. The Master dealt with this, saying: "Whatever I have done wrong, may Heaven punish me! May Heaven punish me!"

[6:27] Confucius said: "Even over a long period of time, there have been few people who have actualized the Mean into Manifest Virtue."

[6:28] Tzu Kung asked: "Suppose there were a ruler who benefited the people far and wide and was capable of bringing salvation to the multitude, what would you think of him? Might he be called humane?"

The Master said, "Why only humane? He would undoubtedly be a sage. Even Yao and Shun would have had to strive to achieve this. Now the humane man, wishing himself to be established, sees that others are established, and, wishing himself to be successful, sees that others are successful. To be able to take one's own feelings as a guide may be called the art of humaneness."

[7:1] Confucius said: "I am a transmitter, rather than an original thinker. I trust and enjoy the teachings of the ancients. In my heart I compare myself to old P'eng."

[7:2] Confucius said: "Keeping silent and thinking; studying without satiety, teaching others without weariness: these things come natural to me."

[7:3] Confucius said: "Having virtue and not cultivating it; studying and not sifting; hearing what is just and not following; not being able to change wrongdoing: these are the things that make me uncomfortable."

[7:4] During the Master's leisure time he was relaxed and enjoyed himself.

[7:5] Confucius said: "I am really going down the drain. I have not dreamt of the Duke of Chou for a long time now."

[7:6] Confucius said: "Set your aspirations on the Tao, hold to virtue, rely on your humaneness, and relax in the study of the arts."

[7:7] Confucius said: "From the one who brought a bundle of dried meat (the poorest person) upwards, I have never denied a person my instruction."

[7:8] Confucius said: "If a student is not eager, I won't teach him; if he is not struggling with the truth, I won't reveal it to him. If I lift up one corner and he can't come back with the other three, I won't do it again."

[7:9] If the Master sat beside a person in mourning, he would not eat to the full. If he had wept on a certain day, he would not sing.

[7:11] Confucius said to Yen YŁan:

When needed, acting

When not needed, concealing.

"Only you and I can do this."

Tzu Lu said, "If you had to handle a major army, who would you choose to assist you?"

Confucius said, "I would not select the kind of man who likes to wrestle with tigers or cross rivers on foot, who can die without a second thought (like Tzu Lu). It must be someone who approaches his business with caution, who likes to plan things well and see them to their completion."

[7:11] Confucius said: "If the attainment of wealth was guaranteed in its seeking, even if I were to become a groom with a whip in hand to get it, I would do so. But since its attainment cannot be guaranteed, I will go with that which I love."

[7:12] The things with which the Master was cautious, were fasting, war and sickness.

[7:13] When Confucius was in Ch'i, he heard the Shao music, and for three months did not know the taste of meat. He said, "I never knew music could reach this level of excellence!"

[7:14] Yen Yu said: "Is our Teacher in favor of the ruler of Wei?"

Tzu Kung said, "Well, I will go find out." He entered the Teacher's room and asked: "What kind of men were Po Yi and Shu Chi?"

Confucius said, "They were ancient worthies."

Tzu Kung asked: "Weren't they resented by anyone?"

Confucius said, "If you seek humaneness and attain it, what resentment can you incur?"

Tzu Kung came out and said, "He is not in favor of him"8 "

[7:15] Confucius said: "I can live with coarse rice to eat, water for drink and my arm as a pillow and still be happy. Wealth and honors that one possesses in the midst of injustice are like floating clouds."

[7:16] Confucius said: "If I could add 50 years to my life, I would study the Changes and become free of error."

[7:17] Topics which the Teacher regularly discussed were the Book of Odes, the Book of History, and the maintenance of propriety. These were the topics which he regularly discussed.

[7:18] The Duke of Sheh asked Tzu Lu about Confucius. Tzu Lu didn't answer him. The Teacher said, "Why didn't you just tell him that I am a man who in eagerness for study forgets to eat, in his enjoyment of it, forgets his problems and who is unaware of old age setting in?"

[7:19] Confucius said: "I was not born with wisdom. I love the ancient teachings and have worked hard to attain to their level."

[7:20] The master never discussed strange phenomena, physical exploits, disorder or ghost stories.

[7:22] Confucius said: "When three men are walking together, there is one who can be my teacher. I pick out people's good and follow it. When I see their bad points, I correct them in myself."

[7:22] Confucius said: "Heaven gave birth to the virtue within me. What can Huan T'ui9 do to me?"

[7:23] Confucius said to his disciples: "My boys, do you think I conceal things from you? There is nothing I conceal from you. There is nothing that I do that is not right out in front of you. That is the way I am."

[7:24] The Master taught four things: Culture, correct action, loyalty and trust.

[7:25] Confucius said: "I have not yet been able to meet a sage, but I would be satisfied to meet a Superior Man. I have not yet met a man of true goodness, but would be satisfied to meet a man of constancy. Lacking, yet possessing; empty, yet full; in difficulty yet at ease. How difficult it is to have constancy!"

[7:26] When the Master went fishing, he did not use a net; when he hunted, he would not shoot at a perched bird.

[7:27] Confucius said: "There may be those who can act creatively without knowledge. I am not at this level. I listen widely, select the good and follow their ways. I observe broadly and contemplate. This is the second level of knowledge. (For the levels of knowledge, see Analects 16:9)."

[7:28] Since it was hard to have a worthwhile discussion with the people of Ho-hsiang, when one of their young men came to see the teacher, the disciples didn't know what to do with him. Confucius said, "Take people the way they come to you, not for the way they are after they leave. Why be so strict? If someone purifies his mind to approach you, accept him in his purity. Don't worry about what he does after he leaves."

[7:29] Confucius said: "Is humaneness far away? If I aspire for humaneness it is right here!"

[7:30] The Minister of Rightness in Ch'an asked whether the Duke of Chao knew the rules of propriety.

Confucius said, "He did."

When Confucius left, the minister bowed to (his prince) Wu Ma Ch'i and went up to him, saying: "I have heard that the Superior Man is not partisan, but maybe he can be since Prince Wu took a wife with the same surname, saying that she came from 'the elder family of Wu.' If this prince knew the rules of propriety, then who doesn't know them?"

Wu Ma Ch'i told this to Confucius.

The Teacher said, "I am so lucky! When I make a mistake they always find it out."

[7:31] When the Teacher was singing with someone, and he found out that they sang well, he would make them start over again, and he would sing the harmony.

[7:32] Confucius said: "In literature, perhaps I am equal to others. But I cannot manifest the behavior of the Superior Man."

[7:33] Confucius said: "I dare not claim to be a sage or a humane man. But I strive for these without being disappointed, and I teach without becoming weary. This is what can be said of me."

Kung Hsi Hua said, "It is exactly these qualities that cannot be learned by the disciples."

[7:34] The Master was very sick, and Tzu Lu said that he would pray for him.

Confucius said, "is there such a thing?"

Tzu Lu said, "There is. The Eulogies say: 'I pray for you to the spirits of the upper and lower realm.' "

Confucius said, "Then I have been praying for a long time already."

[7:35] Confucius said: "Luxury leads to laxity, frugality leads to firmness. It is better to be firm than to be lax."

[7:36] Confucius said: "The Superior Man is always at ease with himself. The inferior man is always anxious."

[7:37] The Master was mild yet strict, authoritative yet not mean, courteous, yet relaxed.

[8:1] Confucius said: "T'ai Po can be said to have had a perfected level of virtue. He declined the rule of the kingdom three times, without the people knowing about it."

[8:2] Confucius said: "Courtesy without propriety is wasted energy. Caution without propriety is timidity. Boldness without propriety is recklessness. Straightforwardness without propriety is rudeness. When the ruler is kind to those who are close to him, the people will be moved toward humaneness. If he does not forget his old friends, the people too, will not be fickle."

[8:3] Tseng Tzu was ill. He summoned his disciples and said, "Uncover my feet and hands. The Book of Odes says:"

He was cautious,


As if at the edge of a deep chasm;

As if treading on thin ice.

"From now, I know that I have gotten past this (sickness)."

[8:4] While Tseng Tzu was ill, Meng Cheng Tzu went to see him. Tseng Tzu said, "When a bird is about to die, its song is melancholy. When a man is about to die, his words are excellent. The Way prized by the Superior Man has three aspects:"

In his behavior and deportment he avoids brashness and arrogance.

When paying attention to his facial expressions he is guided by honesty.

When speaking, he avoids vulgarity and slander. As far as attending to the sacrificial tablesó there are specialists hired for these jobs.

[8:5] Tseng Tzu said: "Having ability, yet learning from the clumsy. Having much knowledge, but learning from the unlearned; possessing, yet seeming to lack, being full yet seeming empty, able to accept harm without retaliation: in the past I had a friend who could do this.10 "

[8:6] Tseng Tzu said: "A man who can be entrusted with the care of the crown prince, who can take responsibility for a district of 100 li and who can handle a major crisis without losing touch with himself: Is he a Superior Man? He certainly is a Superior Man."

[8:7] Tseng Tzu said: "To be called a shih you must be open-minded as well as resolute, since your burden is heavy and your course is long. If you take humaneness as your burden, is it not heavy? If you continue to death, is it not long?"

[8:8] Confucius said: "Be aroused by poetry; structure yourself with propriety, refine yourself with music."

[8:9] Confucius said: "You might force people act according a certain principle, but you won't be able to force them to understand it."

[8:10] Confucius said: "A man who enjoys boldness and hates poverty will be rebellious. If a man lacks humaneness and his dissatisfaction reaches an extreme, he will rebel."

[8:11] Confucius said: "Perhaps you could be as handsome and as talented as the Duke of Chou. But if you are arrogant or stingy, those good qualities will not be noticed."

[8:12] Confucius said: "It is quite rare to see someone who applies himself to the study of something for three years without having a noticeable result."

[8:13] Confucius said: "Be of unwavering good faith and love learning. Be steadfast unto death in pursuit of the good Tao. Do not enter a state which is in peril, nor reside in one which people have rebelled. When the Tao prevails in the world, then show yourself. When it does not, then hide. When the Tao prevails in your own state, to be poor and obscure is a disgrace. But when the Tao does not prevail in your own state, to be rich and honored is a disgrace."

[8:14] Confucius said: "If you don't have the official position, you can't plan the affairs of government."

[8:15] Confucius said: "After Music Master Chih took over, the finale of the Kuan Tsu was magnificent. How it filled my ears!"

[8:16] Confucius said: "I really don't know what to do with those who are ardent but not upright, frank but not careful, and naive but not honest."

[8:17] Confucius said: "Study as if you have not reached your goaló as if you were afraid of losing what you have."

8:18 Confucius said: "How sublime was the manner in which Shun and Yu handled the empire, without lifting a finger!"

[Comment] Here we can see evidence of Confucius' clear understanding of governance by wu-wei or "non-manipulation," which is discussed at length in the Tao Te Ching and the Chuang Tzu.

[8:19] Confucius said: "The rulership of Yao was so magnificent! He was so sublime that even though there is nothing as great as Heaven, he could accord with it. His greatness was so boundless it is beyond description. His efficacy was amazing, his writings were enlightening."

[8:20] Shun, with five ministers, was able to successfully govern the empire. King Wu said, "Altogether I have ten ministers."

Confucius said, "Their ability is the issue. Don't you think so? When the T'ang and Wu dynasties combined, they had as many ministers as you, with a woman and nine men. King Wen (of the Chou) controlled two-thirds of the empire, and with this, served the Yin. Indeed, the virtue of Chou can be called the epitome of virtue!"

[8:21] Confucius said: "Yu was flawless in character. Surviving on the simplest food and drink, yet perfect in his piety to the ancestral spirits. Normally wearing coarse clothing, he looked magnificent in his ceremonial cap and gown. Living in a humble abode, he exhausted himself in the excavation of drainage ways and canals. I cannot find a flaw in his character!"

[9:1] The master never spoke about advantage in connection with destiny or in connection with humaneness.

[9:2] A man from Ta Hsiang said: "How great Confucius is! His learning is so broad. However, he is not known for expertise in any particular skill."

When Confucius heard this, he said to his disciples: "What shall I take up? Shall I take up charioteering? Shall I take up archery? I think I will take up charioteering!"

[9:3] Confucius said: "The linen cap is prescribed by the rules of propriety, but nowadays they use a silk one. It is economical, and I will go along with the consensus. Bowing below the hall is prescribed by the rules of propriety, but that is presumptuous. So even if I differ from the consensus, I will bow below the hall."

[9:4] There were four things the master had eliminated from himself: imposing his will, arbitrariness, stubbornness and egotism.

[9:5] There was fear for the Master's life when he was in the district of Kuang. He said, "King Wen11 has already died, but his culture abides within me. If Heaven intended to destroy this 'culture,' then it would have been unattainable for later generations. If Heaven does not want to destroy this culture, what can the men of Kuang do to me?"

[9:6] A high minister asked Tzu Kung: "If your master is really a sage, why does he know so many skills12 ."

Tzu Kung answered, "Heaven has granted him sagehood, as well as diverse skills."

The master, hearing about this, said, "What does the minister know about me? As a youth my family was poor so I had to learn many worldly skills. Is skillfulness necessary for the Superior Man? Of course it isn't."

Lao quoted Confucius as having said, "I didn't have an official position, therefore, I developed various skills."

[9:7] Confucius said: "Do I possess knowledge? No, I do not possess it. Yet if even simple men come to ask a question of me, I clear my mind completely and thoroughly investigate the matter from one end to the other." 13

[9:8] Confucius said: "The Phoenix has not come, a tortoise has not come out of the river with a chart on it's back. Alas, I am finished." 14

[9:9] If the master saw someone in mourning, or in full ceremonial dress, or a blind person, even if they were young, he would collect himself. If he had to pass by them, he would do it quickly.

[9:10] Yen YŁan sighed in admiration saying: "Looking up to it, it gets higher. Boring into it, it gets harder. I see it in front, and suddenly it is behind me. My master is impeccable in his skillful guidance of men. He has broadened me with literature, disciplined me with propriety. I want to give up, but I can't. I have exhausted my ability, yet it seems as if there is something rising up in front of me. I want to follow it, but there is no way."

[9:11] The Master was extremely ill, and Tzu Lu wanted the disciples to become Confucius' "ministers." 15

Confucius, during a remission in his illness, said, "Ah, Yu has been deceitful for a long time. Though I don't have ministers, you would make it appear that I have them? Who would I be fooling? Heaven? I would much rather die in the hands of my disciples than in the hands of ministers. And I would prefer dying in the streets to a pompous funeral!"

[9:12] Tzu Kung said: "We have a beautiful gem here. Should we hide it away, or look for a good price and sell it?" Confucius said, "Sell it! Sell it! But I would wait till I got a good price."

[9:13] The Master wanted to go and stay with the Nine Tribes of the East. Someone said, "They are unruly! Why do you want to do such a thing?"

Confucius said, "If a Superior Man dwells with them, how could they be unruly?"

[9:14] Confucius said: "Only after I returned to Lu from Wei did the music get straightened out, with the Royal Songs and the Praises being played at the proper place and time."

[9:15] Confucius said: "When out in the world, I served my ruler and ministers. At home I served my father and elder brothers. I never dared to take funerals lightly and I didn't get into trouble with alcohol. What problems could I possibly have?"

[9:16] The Master, standing by a river, said, "It goes on like this, never ceasing day or night!"

[9:17] Confucius said: "I have never seen one who loves virtue as much as he loves sex."

[9:18] Confucius said: "It is like building a mound: If I stop before carrying a single basket of earth, it is my stopping. It is like leveling the ground: If I continue even after dumping only one basket, it is my continuation."

[Comment] The process of self-development requires continual effort, even if only a bit at a time.

[9:19] Confucius said: "I teach him and he never slacks off. Aah, Hui!"

[9:20] The Master, speaking of Hui, said: "How rare is his type! I have seen him striving, and have never seen him rest."

[9:21] Confucius said: "There are some who sprout but do not blossom, some who blossom but do not bear fruit."

[9:22] Confucius said: "We should be in awe of the younger generation. How can we know that they will not be equal to us? But if a man reaches the age of forty or fifty and has still not been heard from, then he is no one to be in awe of."

[9:23] Confucius said: "Is anyone incapable of following words correct instruction? But it is self-transformation according to it that is important. Is anyone incapable of enjoying words of gentle advice? But it is inquiring deeply into their meaning that is important. If I enjoy without inquiring deeply, and follow without changing myself, how can I say that I have understood them?"

[Comment] Confucian "learning" is always fully connected to self-transformation.

[9:24] Confucius said: "Base yourself in loyalty and trust. Don't be companion with those who are not your moral equal. When you make a mistake, don't hesitate to correct it."

[9:25] Confucius said: "You can snatch away the general of a large army, but you cannot snatch away the will of even the lowliest of men."

[9:26] Confucius said: "Standing in tattered work clothes among gentlemen clothed in fine furs without any embarrassment; it is Yu!"

Not harming, not coveting:

How can he do wrong? 16

Tzu Lu continuously chanted this. Confucius said, "With just this, how can you attain excellence?"

[9:27] Confucius said: "Only after it turns winter are we aware of the survival of the Pine and Cypress."

[9:28] Confucius said: "The wise are not confused, the humane are not anxious, the brave are not afraid."

[9:29] Confucius said: "There are some with whom we can study, but with whom we cannot traverse on the same path. There are some with whom we can traverse on the same path, but with whom we cannot establish ourselves. There are some with whom we can establish ourselves, but with whom we cannot agree with on future planning."



As the Almond Flowers

Lean and turn,

How could I not think of you?

But your house is so far.



Confucius said, "If he does not think about the distance, how could it be a problem?"

[10:1] When Confucius was in his village, he was quietly sincere, as if he could not speak. When he was in the ancestral temple or the court, he was eloquent, but extremely cautious.

[10:12] There was a fire in the stables. When the Master returned from court, he asked: "Was anybody hurt?" He didn't ask about the horses.

[10:14] When he entered the great ancestral temple, he asked about every detail.

[10:17] When he got up into the carriage, he would stand straight, holding the straps. Once inside the carriage, he didn't look about, talk rapidly or point around with his hands.

[11:1] Confucius said: "Common people develop their understanding of music and ritual earlier. The nobility develop these later. In terms of practicality, earlier development is better."

[11:3] Confucius said: "Hui is no help to me. He simply delights in everything I say."

[11:6] Chi K'ang Tzu asked which of the disciples loved to learn. Confucius replied: "Yen Hui did. Unfortunately he died young, and there has been no one like him since then."

[11:8] When Yen YŁan died, the master cried: "How cruel! Heaven is killing me! Heaven is killing me!"

[11:9] When Yen Hui died, the Master wept uncontrollably. The disciples said, "Master, you are going overboard with this!" Confucius said, "Going overboard?! If I can't cry now, when should I cry?"

[11:10] When Yen Hui died, the disciples wanted to give him a lavish funeral. The Master told them not to, but they did it anyway. Confucius said, "Hui treated me like a father. Now I have not been able to treat him as a son, and it is the fault of you students."

[11:11] Chi Lu asked about serving the spirits. Confucius said, "If you can't yet serve men, how can you serve the spirits?"

Lu said, "May I ask about death?" Confucius said, "If you don't understand what life is, how will you understand death?"

[11:13] The men of Lu were rebuilding the Main Treasury. Min Tzu Ch'ien said: "Why don't we keep its old style? Why do we have to change it completely?"

Confucius said, "This fellow doesn't say much, but when he does, he is right on the mark."

[11:14] Confucius had said, "What is the lute of Yu doing at my door?" and so the other disciples had begun to loose their respect for Tzu Lu (Yu). Confucius said, "Yu has ascended to the main hall, but has not yet entered the inner chambers."

[11:15] Tzu Kung asked who was the most worthy between Shih and Shang. The Master said, "Shih goes too far, Shang does not go far enough."

"Then is Shih superior?"

The Master said, "Going too far is the same as not going far enough."

[11:16] Even though the head of the Chi family was "wealthier than the Duke of Chou," Ch'iu collected taxes for him, and made him richer. Confucius said, "He is no disciple of mine. My students, you can beat the drum and attack him if you want."

[11:18] Confucius said: "Hui is completely full, yet always possession-less. Ssu is not wealthy by fate, so he has to contrive in order to enrich himself, and is usually on the mark."

[11:19] Tzu Chang asked about the Tao of the Good Man. Confucius said, "If you don't follow its traces, you won't enter the Inner Chamber."

[11:20] Confucius said: "Someone may have profound theoriesó but is he a Superior Man? Or is he only superficially impressive?"

[11:21] Tzu Lu asked if it was a good idea to immediately put a teaching into practice when he first heard it.

Confucius said, "You have a father and an older brother to consult. Why do you need to be so quick to practice it?"

Zan Yu asked the same question. Confucius said, "You should practice it immediately."

Kung Hsi Hua said, "When Yu asked you, you told him he should consult his father and elder brother first. When Ch'iu (Zan Yu) asked you, you told him to practice it immediately. May I ask why?"

Confucius said, "Ch'iu has a tendency to give up easily, so I push him. Yu (Tzu Lu) has a tendency to jump the gun, so I restrain him."

[11:22] During the incident of the Master's endangerment in Kuang, Hui had fallen behind. Confucius said, "I was afraid they had killed you."

Hui said, "While you are alive, how can I dare to die?"

[11:25] Tzu Lu (Yu), Tsang Hsi (Ch'iu), Zan Yu (Ch'ih) and Kung Hsi Hua (Tien) were sitting with the Master. Confucius said, "Although I am a day or so older than you fellows, forget about it for the time being. You are all always saying: 'Our talents are unrecognized.' Suppose your abilities were fully acknowledged. What would you do then?"

Tzu Lu jumped to reply first, saying: "I would like to be in the position of the charge of a relatively small state which was being threatened by the armies of the surrounding larger states, and suffering from crop failure. If I were in this position, within three years my people would be fearless and know how to take care of themselves."

Confucius laughed at him.

He turned to Ch'iu and said, "What about you?"

Ch'iu said, "Let me have the government of a territory of 60 to 70 li, or maybe 50 to 60 li, for three years, and the people would have all they need. As for handling the affairs of ritual and music, I would seek a Superior Man."

"Ch'ih, what about you?"

Ch'ih said, "I cannot say I am capable of what the other two have proposed, though I would like to work toward it. At the services at the ancestral hall, or at the audiences with the Prince, I would like to serve as a minor assistant, dressed in the ceremonial gown and cap."

"Tien, what about you?"

Tien set his lute down with its strings still ringing, and stood up. "What I would like to do," he said, "is quite different from these three." The Master said, "What harm can there be? Please speak as the others have."

Tien said, "At the height of spring, all decked out in spring clothes, I would like to take five or six young men, and six or seven youngsters to go for a swim in the Yi river, enjoying the cool breeze at the Rain Dance Festival, and make our way back home, singing."

Confucius sighed, and said, "Ah, lovely. I am with you, Tien."

The three others left and Tien asked the Master: "What did you think about the words of those three?"

Confucius said, "Each just told his wish."

"But why did you laugh at Yu?"

"Because to govern a state, you need propriety, and his words are totally lacking in humility. That's why I laughed at him."

"But Ch'iu wasn't asking for a state."

Confucius said, "Have you ever seen a territory of 60 or 70 li that wasn't a state?"

"At least Ch'ih wasn't asking for a state."

"Yes, but who besides the nobility can serve in the ancestral temple, or have an audience with the Prince. If Ch'ih were to be a minor assistant at these affairs, who could be a chief assistant?"

[12:1] Yen YŁan asked about the meaning of humaneness. The Master said, "To completely overcome selfishness and keep to propriety is humaneness. If for a full day you can overcome selfishness and keep to propriety, everyone in the world will return to humaneness. Does humaneness come from oneself, or from others?"

[Comment] This passage has always provided problems for translators and commentators. All of the modern English translators either alter the grammar of this sentence or reinterpret it and in such a way as to disallow the possibility that power of the mind of a single individual to bring peace to the world.17 I.e., we are expected to acknowledge that a single person obviously does not have the power to influence the whole world, and only one in a position of political power can do so. For this reason, I hesitate to rewrite the text in this case, and try to think further of what Confucius meant.

For instance, do we really know what it is like to "completely overcome our selfishness" for a full day, and be perfectly guided by proper action? I would like to suggest that perhaps we do not know the level of spiritual influence that may be brought about by the actualization of one's inner perfection. Also, in the case of a ruler: can political power in itself make the people become good? It is doubtful.

This is an important passage in that it shows very clearly a world-view that is common to all the philosophers whose works are contained in this volume: a world not of isolated monads, but a world that is much more transparent, unified and connected than we of modernity perceive. We now return to the text.

Yen YŁan asked: "May I ask in further detail how this is to be brought about?" Confucius said, "Do not watch what is improper; do not listen to what is improper; do not speak improperly and do not act improperly." Yen YŁan said, "Although I am not so perspicacious, I will apply myself to this teaching."

[12:2] Chung Kung asked about the meaning of humaneness. The Master said: "Go out of your home as if you were receiving an important guest. Employ the people as if you were assisting at a great ceremony. What you don't want done to yourself, don't do to others. Live in your town without stirring up resentments, and live in your household without stirring up resentments." Chung Kung said, "Although I am not so smart, I will apply myself to this teaching."

[12:3] Ssu Ma Niu asked about the meaning of humaneness.

Confucius said, "The humane man is hesitant to speak."

Niu replied, "Are you saying that humaneness is mere hesitancy in speaking?"

Confucius said, "Actualizing it is so difficult, how can you not be hesitant to speak about it?"

[12:4] Ssu Ma Niu asked about the qualities of the Superior Man.

Confucius said, "The Superior Man is free from anxiety and fear."

Niu said, "Free from anxiety and fear? Is this all it takes to be a Superior Man?"

Confucius said, "If you reflect within yourself and find nothing to be ashamed of, how could you have anxiety or fear?"

[12:5] Ssu Ma Niu, upset, said: "Everyone has brothers, I alone have none."

Tzu Hsia said, "I have heard this proverb:"


Life and death are up to Fate.

Wealth and honor are held by Heaven.


"If the Superior Man is reverent without lapse, and courteous to everyone within the frame of propriety, everything within the four seas will be his brother. Why should a Superior Man be concerned about not having brothers?"

[12:6] Tzu Jang asked about the meaning of "enlightenment."

Confucius said, "One who does not experience the permeation of slander and who is not agitated by accusations can certainly be called 'enlightened.' Indeed, such a person may be called 'transcendent.' "

[12:7] Tzu Kung asked about government.

The Master said, "Enough food, enough weapons and the confidence of the people."

Tzu Kung said, "Suppose you had no alternative but to give up one of these three, which one would be let go of first?"

The Master said, "Weapons."

Tzu Kung said "What if you had to give up one of the remaining two which one would it be?"

The Master said, "Food. From ancient times, death has come to all men, but a people without confidence in its rulers will not stand."

[12:8] Chi Tzu Chang said: "All the Superior Man needs is to have his substance. Why should he need external refinement?"

Tzu Kung said, "Amazing! You speak about the Superior Man, but a team of horses couldn't keep up with your tongue. Refinement is substance; substance is refinement! When the hair is taken off the hide of a tiger or leopard, it looks the same as the hide of a dog or sheep."

[Comment] This is probably the clearest statement of the unity of essence and function that we can see in the Analects, but with an interesting twist. Most essence-function teachings, here as well as in the other texts of this volume, while emphasizing unity of essence and function, will stress the need for one to place his/her priorities on the more essential. Here, on the other hand, the message is that no matter how bright, clear or sincere you are, it cannot show through properly if you don't cultivate your manners and the various arts of expression. This emphasis on polishing the outside is something that we find in the Analects more than in other texts.

[12:9] Duke Ai asked Yu Zo: "It has been a year of famine and there are not enough revenues to run the state. What should I do?"

Zo said, "Why can't you use a 10% tax?"

The Duke answered: "I can't even get by on a 20% tax, how am I going to do it on 10%?"

Zo said, "If the people have enough, what prince can be in want? If the people are in want, how can the prince be satisfied?"

[12:10] 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 18


[12:11] Duke Ching of Ch'i asked Confucius about government. Confucius replied: "Let the ruler be a ruler, minister be a minister, father be a father, son be a son." The Duke said, "Excellent! Indeed, if the ruler is not a ruler, the ministers not ministers, fathers not fathers and sons not sons, even if I have food, how can I eat it?"

[12:12] Confucius said: "Yu is the kind of man who could settle a dispute with a single sentence. He never delayed in giving his answer." 19

[12:13] Confucius said: "In hearing lawsuits, I am no better than anyone else. What we need is to have no lawsuits."

[12:14] Confucius said: "Studying liberal arts broadly, and disciplining yourself with propriety, it is easy to stay on the narrow path."

[12:16] Confucius said: "The Superior Man develops people's good points, not their bad points. The inferior man does the opposite."

[12:17] Chi K'ang Tzu asked Confucius about government. Confucius replied saying: "To 'govern' means to 'rectify.' 20 If you were to lead the people with correctness, who would not be rectified?"

[12:18] Being robbed, Chi K'ang Tzu was upset, and questioned Confucius about what to do. Confucius said, "If you were desireless, they wouldn't steal from you, even if you were to offer them a reward to do so."

[12:19] Chi K'ang Tzu asked Confucius about government saying: "Suppose I were to kill the unjust, in order to advance the just. Would that be all right?"

Confucius replied: "In doing government, what is the need of killing? If you desire good, the people will be good. The nature of the Superior Man is like the wind, the nature of the inferior man is like the grass. When the wind blows over the grass, it always bends."

[12:20] Tzu Chang asked what a shih should be like, that he may be called "excellent."

Confucius said, "What do you mean by 'excellent?' "

Tzu Chang replied: "It means to be famous in your town, and famous in your clan."

Confucius said, "This is fame, not excellence. One who is excellent has an upright character and loves justice. If you listen carefully to what people say, observe their facial expressions and are careful to be humble to them, you will be excellent in your town, and excellent in your clan. As far as 'fame' is concerned, if you put on a show of goodness and do otherwise, and are not the least bit bothered in doing so, you will indeed be 'famous' in your town and 'famous' in your clan."

[Comment] In this passage, "excellence" is a translation of the Chinese word ta which has such a range of meaning in Classical East Asian languages. Its most basic meaning is to penetrate, permeate, pierce or pass through. It is used in religious and philosophical works to describe a consciousness that is able to penetrate all things and apprehend them. In its usage in the description of the operation of cause and effect in the external world, we can see the inherent understanding of the ancients of an interpermeated world, where things have a profound, (even if invisible) effect on each other through their interrelatedness. It is no accident that the word ta and its synonym t'ung become central in the Hua-yen description of the universe a millennium later.

[12:21] Fan Chih, while strolling with the Master among the Rain Dance altars, said, "May I ask how to heighten virtue, overcome wickedness and resolve delusion?"

The Master said, "An excellent question! If you take care of your responsibilities before you seek your own gain, won't this heighten your virtue? If you attack your own evil rather than the evil of others, won't you overcome wickedness? If, because of a moment's anger, you endanger your own life, as well as that of your parents, is this not delusion?"

[12:22] Fan Chih asked about the meaning of humaneness.

Confucius said "love others." He asked about the meaning of "knowledge."

The Master said, "Know others." Fan Chih couldn't get it.

The Master said, "If you put the honest in positions of power and discard the dishonest, you will force the dishonest to become honest."

Fan Chih left and seeing Tzu Hsia said, "A little while ago I saw the Master and asked him about 'knowledge,' and he told me, "Put the honest in positions of power and discard the dishonest, and you will force the dishonest to be honest." What did he mean?"

Tzu Hsia said, "How rich our Master's words are! When Shun was emperor, he selected Kao Yao from among the people, put him in charge, and the evil people stayed far away. When T'ang was emperor, he selected I Yin, put him in charge and the evil again stayed far away."

[12:23] Tzu Kung asked about the way of friendship. Confucius said, "Speak to your friends honestly, and skillfully show them the right path. If you cannot, then stop. Don't humiliate yourself."

[12:24] Tseng Tzu said: "The Superior Man uses his refinement to meet his friends, and through his friends develops his humaneness."

[13:1] Tzu Lu asked about how to govern. Confucius said, "Lead the people and work hard for them."

"Is there anything else?"

"Don't get discouraged."

[13:2] Chung Kung, currently serving as prime minister to the head of the Chi family, asked about government.

Confucius said, "First get some officers; then grant pardon to all the petty offenses and then put virtuous and able men into positions of responsibility."

He asked, "How am I going to find these virtuous and able men to get them into these positions?"

The Master said, "Select from those you know. Will the people let you ignore the ones you don't know of?"

[13:3] Tzu Lu said: "The ruler of Wei is anticipating your assistance in the administration of his state. What will be your top priority?"

Confucius said, "There must be a correction of terminology."

Tzu Lu said, "Are you serious? Why is this so important?"

Confucius said, "You are really simple, aren't you? A Superior Man is cautious about jumping to conclusions about that which he does not know."

"If terminology is not corrected, then what is said cannot be followed. If what is said cannot be followed, then work cannot be accomplished. If work cannot be accomplished, then ritual and music cannot be developed. If ritual and music cannot be developed, then criminal punishments will not be appropriate. If criminal punishments are not appropriate, the people cannot make a move. Therefore, the Superior Man needs to have his terminology applicable to real language, and his speech must accord with his actions. The speech of the Superior Man cannot be indefinite."

[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] Confucius said: "You can recite the 300 poems from the Book of Odes, but when you try to use them in administration, they are not effective (ta), 21 and in handling the outerlying regions, you cannot apply them, then even though you know a lot, what good is it?"

[13:6] Confucius said: "When you have gotten your own life straightened out, things will go well without your giving orders. But if your own life isn't straightened out, even if you give orders, no one will follow them."

[13:9] Zan Yu was driving for the Master on a trip to Wei. Confucius said, "How populous it is here."

Zan Yu said, "Once there are so many people, what should be done?"

"Enrich them," said the Master.

"Once they are enriched, what next?"

"Educate them."

[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!"

[13:12] Confucius said: "Even if you have the position of kingship, it would still take a generation for humaneness to prevail."

[13:13] Confucius said: "If you can correct yourself, what problem will you have in governing? If you can't correct yourself, how can you correct others?"

[13:15] Duke Ting asked if there were a single phrase which could uplift a country.

Confucius replied: "Words in themselves cannot have such an effect. Nonetheless, there is a proverb which says, 'Being a ruler is difficult, and being a minister is not easy.' If you really understand the difficulties of rulership, might this not be enough to uplift a country?"

The Duke asked further: "Is there a single phrase which could ruin a country?"

Confucius answered, "Again, words in themselves cannot have such an effect, but the people also have a proverb which says: 'I do not enjoy ruling; I only enjoy people not disagreeing with me.' Now if you are a good man and no one disagrees with you, it is fine. But if you are evil, and no one disagrees with you, perhaps you could destroy the country with a single utterance."

[13:16] The Duke of Sheh asked about government. Confucius said, "If you do it right, then those close to you will be happy, and those who are far away will come to you."

[13:17] Tzu Hsia, who was serving as governor of Chu Fu, asked about government. Confucius said, "Don't be impatient, and don't look for small advantages. If you are impatient, you will not be thorough ( 'penetrating,' ta). If you look for small advantages, you will never accomplish anything great."

[13:18] The Duke of Sheh told Confucius: "In my land, there are Just men. If a father steals a sheep, the son will testify against him."

Confucius said, "The Just men in my land are different from this. The father conceals the wrongs of his son, and the son conceals the wrongs of his father. This is Rightness!"

[13:19] Fan Chih asked about humaneness. Confucius said, "Be naturally courteous, be respectful in working for superiors and be sincere to people. Even the barbarian tribes cannot do without this."

[13:20] Tzu Kung asked: "What must a man be like to be called a shih?"

The Master said, "One who in conducting himself maintains a sense of honor, and who when sent to the four quarters of the world does not disgrace his prince's commission, may be called a shih."

[13:21] Confucius said: "Since I can't get men who act according to the middle way, I must find the adamant and the cautious. The adamant go after things, the cautious restrain themselves from doing certain things."

[Comment] "Adamant" is a translation of kuang which can also be translated into English as "crazy," "wild," "unbridled" etc., referring to the sort of personality we often associate with poets, painters and musicians. Important Confucian thinkers such as Mencius and Wang Yang-ming understood a measure of uncontrolledness to be a useful ingredient of the personality of the person who was striving for the Tao.

[13:22] Confucius said: "The Southerners have a saying: 'If a man is not constant in his self-cultivation, he cannot be a shaman or a healer.' It is a good proverb. If you are not consistently developing your virtue, what can you give to others? You will not even be able to give a diagnosis."

[13:23] Confucius said: "The Superior Man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony."

[13:24] Tzu Kung asked: "What do you think if all the people in town like someone?"

"Not too good," said Confucius.

"What if they all hate you?"

"Also not too good. It is better if the good people in town like you, and the evil ones hate you."

[13:25] Confucius said: "The reason that the Superior Man is easy to work for, but difficult to please, is because if you try to please him by devious means, he will not be happy. And in his employment of people, he gives them work according to their ability. The inferior man is difficult to work for, but easy to please. Even if you have used devious means to please him, he will still be happy. And in his employment of people, he tries to squeeze everything out of them that he can."

[13:26] Confucius said: "The Superior Man is self-confident without being arrogant. The inferior man is arrogant and lacks self-confidence."

[13:27] Confucius said: "With firmness, strength, simplicity and caution in speaking, you will be close to humaneness."

[13:28] Tzu Lu asked: "What sort of man deserves to be called a shih?"

Confucius said, "If you are decisive, kind and gentle, you can be called a shih. With friends, the shih is clear but kind. With his brothers he is gentle."

[13:29-30] Confucius said: "Only when good men have instructed the people for seven years, may they take up arms. To lead untrained people into battle is the same as throwing them away."

[14:1] Hsien asked about what is shameful. Confucius said, "When the Tao prevails in your state, to be concerned about your salary is shameful. When the Tao is absent in your state, to be concerned about your salary is shameful."

[14:2] Hsien asked: "When one is not motivated by arrogance, pride, resentment and desire, can be he considered humane?"

Confucius said, "This can certainly be called 'difficult,' but I don't know if it can be called humaneness."

[14:3] Confucius said: "A shih who is addicted to comfort should not be called a shih."

[14:4] Confucius said: "When the government is just, you may speak boldly and act boldly; when you have an unjust government, you may act boldly, but be careful of what you say."

[14:5] Confucius said: "The virtuous will certainly have something to say, but those who have something to say are not necessarily virtuous. The humane man is always brave, but the brave man is not necessarily possessed of humaneness."

[14:6] Nan Kung Kuo said to Confucius: "Yi was skillful at archery and Ao shook a whole ship22 but neither died a natural death. Yu and Chi did their own farming and ended up as emperors."

Confucius didn't answer.

When Nan Kung Kuo left, Confucius said, "Here is a Superior Man, a man of enhanced virtue."

[14:7] Confucius said: "There are some cases where a Superior Man may not be a humane man, but there are no cases where an inferior man is a humane man."

[14:8] Confucius said: "Can you love someone without exerting yourself for them? Can you be sincere to someone without teaching them?"

[14:11] Confucius said: "To be poor without resentment is difficult. To be rich without arrogance is easy."

[14:13] Tzu Lu asked what constitutes a "perfected man."

Confucius said: "If you have the wisdom of Tsang Wu Chung, the desirelessness of Kung Ch'o, the courage of Pien Chuang Tzu and the abilities of Zan Ch'iu, and are also refined through propriety and music, you might indeed be called a 'perfected man.' But if you want to perfect yourself right now, why would you need all of that? When you see an opportunity for advantage, think of Rightness. When you meet danger, leave it up to destiny. When someone reminds you of an old promise and it doesn't rattle you at all, you can be regarded as a 'perfected man.' "

[14:14] The Master asked Kung Ming Chia about Kung-shu Wan- tzu: "Is it true that your master doesn't speak, doesn't laugh and doesn't accept anything?"

Kung Ming Chia replied, "This is an exaggeration. My master speaks when it is appropriate, and people never get tired of his words. He laughs when he is happy, and people never tire of his laughter. He takes when it is right to do so, and people never get tired of his taking."

Confucius said, "Is this so? Is it really so!?"

[14:20] Confucius was speaking about the evils of Duke Ling of Wei.

Kang Tzu said, "If he is such a person, how can he stay in power?"

Confucius said, "Chung Shu Yu takes care of his (Kang Tzu's) guests; preacher T'o handles the temples and Wang Sun Chia is his military commander. With ministers like these, how could he fall from power?"

[14:21] Confucius said: "If your words are not humble, it will be difficult to put them into action."

[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] Confucius said: "The Superior Man penetrates (ta) that which is above. The inferior man penetrates that which is below."

[14:25] Confucius said: "The ancient scholars studied for their own improvement. Modern scholars study to impress others."

[14:28] Tseng Tzu said: "The Superior Man doesn't worry about those things which are outside of his control."

[14:29] Confucius said: "The Superior Man is humble in his speech but superb in his actions."

[14:31] Tzu Kung was correcting people. Confucius said, "Ssu (Tzu Kung) must be a superman. I have no spare time to do this."

[14:32] Confucius said: "I don't worry about being unknown. I worry about my lack of ability."

[14:33] Confucius said: "If you don't try to anticipate deception, and you don't plan for your not being believed, yet are the first to be aware of these things, aren't you a worthy?"

[14:36] Someone said: "What do you think of the saying: 'Repay harm with virtue' ?"

Confucius replied, "Then how will you repay virtue? Repay harm with Justice23 and repay virtue with virtue."

[14:37] Confucius said: "Aah! No one understands me!"

Tzu Kung said, "What do you mean, 'No one understands you' ?"

Confucius said, "I have no resentment against Heaven, no quarrel with men. I study from the bottom and penetrate to the top. Who understands me? Heaven does!"

[14:38] Kung Po Liao had said bad things about Tzu Lu to Chi-sun. Tzu-fu Ching-po told Confucius about it, saying: "Chi Sun (Ching-po's teacher) is certainly being deceived by Kung Po Liao. But I have enough power to drag his carcass out into the middle of the marketplace."

Confucius said, "It is up to fate as to when the Tao is going to function, and when it isn't. What can Kung Po Liao do about fate?"

[14:39] Confucius said: "A worthy becomes free of the world, then he becomes free of his land; then he becomes free from lust; then he becomes free from language."

[14:43] Confucius said: "If those in power love propriety, the people will be easy to manage."

[14:45] Tzu Lu asked about the qualities of the Superior Man. Confucius said, "He cultivates himself by comforting others."

"Is that all?"

"He cultivates himself by comforting everyone. Now, this is something that even Yao and Shun found difficult."

[14:46] YŁan Zang was waiting for the Master in a sprawled-out position.

Confucius said, "To be young and not act like a junior; to be mature and have nothing to pass on; to get old and not die: a parasite!" He whacked him on the shins with his staff.

[14:47] A boy from the village of Ch'ueh was working as a messenger. Someone asked Confucius, "Is he developing?" Confucius said, "I can see that he likes to sit in grown-up's places, and likes to be buddies with his elders. But he is not seeking to develop himself. He wants to grow up too quickly."

[15:1] Duke Ling of Wei asked Confucius about military tactics.

Confucius said, "I know about the handling of ritual sacrifices, but I have not studied strategy."

The next day, he and his disciples continued their travels. By the time they got to Chan, they had run out of provisions, and Tzu Lu was obviously angry about it. He said, "Must the Superior Man suffer such dire straits?"

Confucius said, "The Superior Man remains stable when in dire straits. The inferior man falls apart."

[15:2] Confucius said, "Ssu, do you think that I am a person who studies widely and memorizes all of it?"

Ssu replied, "It seems that way. But perhaps not?"

Confucius said, "The answer is no. I penetrate all with one."

[15:3] Confucius said: "Yu, those who understand virtue are few and far between."

[15:4] Confucius said: "Cannot Shun be considered as one who governed without overreaching (wu-wei)? What did he do? He permeated himself with courtesy and correctly faced South."

[15:5] Tzu Chang asked about correct behavior. Confucius said: "If your speech is sincere and honest, and your way of carrying yourself is humble and reverent, such behavior will work even if you live among the Southern and Northern barbarians. But if your speech is insincere and dishonest and your way of carrying yourself is not humble and reverent, then even if you live in your hometown, you will have problems."

[15:6] Confucius said: "The Historiographer Yu was truly of straight character. When the government was just, he was like an arrow. When the government was unjust, he was like an arrow."

"Chu Po Yu is definitely a Superior Man. When the government is just, he will have a position in it. When the government is unjust he can roll up his principles and keep them in his breast."

[15:7] Confucius said: "When a person should be spoken with, and you don't speak with them, you lose them. When a person shouldn't be spoken with and you speak to them, you waste your breath. The wise do not lose people, nor do they waste their breath."

[15:8] Confucius said: "The determined shih and the humane man will not save their lives if it requires damaging their humaneness. They will even sacrifice themselves to consummate their humaneness."

[15:9] Tzu Kung asked about humaneness. Confucius said, "When a craftsman wants to do a nice piece of work, he will always sharpen his tools first. When you live in a certain district, get into the service of the most worthy officers, and seek friends among scholars who are steeped in humaneness."

[15:11] Confucius said: "If a man is not far-sighted, then suffering will be close to him."

[15:14] Confucius said: "Expect much from yourself and little from others and you will avoid incurring resentments."

[15:15] Confucius said: "If a man doesn't continually question, 'What is it? What is it?' I don't know what I can do for him."

[Comment] If a student is not seriously and genuinely concerned about the deeper questions of life, it is very hard to teach her/him anything of value.

[15:16] Confucius said: "When a circle of people can spend the whole day together without their conversation ever touching on Rightness, and they like to act according to small-minded wisdom, what can be done?"

[15:17] Confucius said: "The Superior Man takes Rightness as the essence. He actualizes it through propriety, demonstrates it in humility, develops it by truthfulness. This is the Superior Man!"

[15:18] Confucius said: "The Superior Man suffers from his own lack of ability, not from lack of recognition."

[15:19] Confucius said: "The Superior Man is concerned about the kind of reputation he will have after he passes away."

[15:20] Confucius said: "The Superior Man seeks within himself. The inferior man seeks within others."

[15:22] Confucius said: "The Superior Man strives but does not wrangle. He has friends, but doesn't belong to a clique."

[15:22] Confucius said: "The Superior Man does not promote a man because of his words, and does not disregard the words because of the man."

[15:23] Tzu Kung asked: "Is there a single concept that we can take as a guide for the actions of our whole life?"

Confucius said, "What about 'fairness' ? What you don't like done to yourself, don't do to others."

[15:24] Confucius said: "Among people, who should I criticize and who should I praise? If I praise someone it is because I have had some way of testing him."

"The present common people are the same material with which the rulers of the Three Dynasties24 manifested the correct Tao."

[15:26] Confucius said: "Clever words disrupt virtue. Lack of patience in small matters leads to the disruption of great plans."

[15:27] Confucius said: "If everybody hates something, you'd better check into it. If everybody loves something, you'd better check into it."

[15:28] Confucius said: "The human being manifests the Tao. The Tao doesn't manifest the human being."

[15:29] Confucius said: "To make a mistake and not correct it: this is a real mistake."

[15:30] Confucius said: "I have spent a whole day without eating and a whole night without sleeping in order to thinkó but I got nothing out of it. Thinking cannot compare with studying."

[15:31] Confucius said: "The Superior Man indulges in the Tao and does not indulge in his stomach. Doesn't agriculture have the avoidance of starvation as its motivating factor, and study have enrichment as its motivating factor? The Superior Man is concerned about following the Tao, and is not concerned about avoiding poverty."

[15:32] Confucius said: "If your wisdom can grasp it, but your humaneness is incapable of maintaining it, even though you have grasped it, you will certainly lose it. If your wisdom grasps it and your humaneness is sufficient to maintain it, but you don't manifest it, the people will not revere you. If your wisdom grasps it, your humaneness is sufficient to maintain it, and you manifest it but don't act according to propriety, you are still not perfect."

[Comment] This is a decidedly Confucian perspective on the unity of essence and function, similar to that expressed in 12:8. Even with a deep understanding of reality (essence) and a concomitant reflection in the person, external polish is still necessary to be a complete human being.

[15:33] Confucius said: "The Superior Man cannot act within the framework of lesser wisdom, but he can handle major affairs. The inferior man cannot handle major affairs, but he can act within the framework of lesser wisdom."

[15:34] Confucius said: "The people are more in awe of humaneness than water or fire. But I have seen people tread on water or fire and die. I have never seen someone walk the path of humaneness and die."

[15:35] Confucius said: "It is better to value humaneness than to passively follow your teacher."

[15:36] Confucius said: "The Superior Man is precise, but not rigid."

[15:38] Confucius said: "In teaching people, there is no discrimination (of class, type, etc.)"

[15:39] Confucius said: "If your paths are different, you cannot make plans together."

[15:40] Confucius said: "Speak enough to make the point, and then leave it at that."

[16:2] Confucius said: "When the Tao (just government) prevails in the realm, then ritual, music and military campaigns are all initiated by the emperor. When the Tao declines in the realm, then ritual, music and military campaigns are initiated by the nobles. When these things are initiated by the nobles, the ruling house will usually lose its power within ten generations. When these things are initiated by the high ministers, the ruling house will usually lose its power within five generations. When they are initiated by the lower officers, the ruling house will lose its power within three generations. When the Tao prevails in the realm, the common people do not debate politics among themselves."

[16:4] Confucius said: "There are three kinds of friendship which are beneficial and three kinds of friendship which are harmful. Friendship with the Just, friendship with the sincere and friendship with the learned are all beneficial. Friendship with the deceptive, friendship with the unprincipled and friendship with smooth talkers are harmful."

[16:5] Confucius said: "There are three kinds of enjoyment which are beneficial and three kinds of enjoyment which are harmful. The enjoyment of cultivation in music and ritual, the enjoyment of speaking of the goodness of others and the enjoyment of being surrounded by friends of good character are all beneficial. The enjoyment of arrogance, the enjoyment of dissipation and the enjoyment of comfort are all harmful."

[16:6] Confucius said: "There are three common mistakes made by those who are of rank:"

(1) To speak when there is nothing to be said; this is imprudence.

(2) To be silent when there is something to be said; this is deception.

(3) To speak without paying attention to the expression on the person's face; this is called blindness.

[16:7] Confucius said: "The Superior Man is on guard against three things:"

(1) When he is a young man and his physical energies are not yet settled, he is on guard against lust.

(2) When he is mature and his physical energy is solid, he is on guard against being drawn into a fight.

(3) When he is old, and his physical power is weakened, he is on guard not to cling to his attainments.

[16:8] Confucius said: "The Superior Man stands in awe of three things:"

(1) He is in awe of the decree of Heaven.

(2) He is in awe of great men.

(3) He is in awe of the words of the sages.

The inferior man does not know the decree of Heaven; he takes great men lightly, and laughs at the words of the sages.

[16:9] Confucius said: "Those who are born knowing it are the best. Those who study to know it are next; those who are limited and yet study are next; those who are limited and do not even study are considered to be the lowest level of people."

[16:10] Confucius said: "There are nine patterns which are awarenesses of the Superior Man. In seeing, he is aware of clarity; in listening, he is aware of sharpness; in faces, is aware of warmth; with behavior he is aware of courtesy; in speech, sincerity; in service, reverence. In doubt, he is inclined to question; when angry, he is aware of the inherent difficulties. When he sees an opportunity for gain, he thinks of what would be Just."

[16:11] Confucius cited the proverb:

I regard goodness as something I haven't attained. I regard evil as my deep-welling spring.

and said, "I have seen this kind of person and have heard these words. But as for:"

I hide myself away in order to fathom my own will. I act with Rightness to penetrate the Tao.

I have heard this said, but haven't seen this kind of person.

[16:12] Duke Ching of Ch'i had a thousand teams of horses, but when he died, there was nothing for which the people could praise him. Po Yi and Shu Ch'i died of starvation at the foot of Shou Yang mountain, and the people praise them up till this day. What meaning can you glean from this?

[16:13] Ch'an K'ang asked Po Yu (Confucius' son): "Have you heard anything from your father different than we disciples have?"

Po Yu replied, "Not yet. Once, when my father was standing by himself, I passed by the hall quickly, and he said, 'Have you learned the Book of Odes yet?' I said, 'Not yet.' So I went and studied the Book of Odes. On another day, the same scene occurred, and he asked me, 'Have you learned the Record of Propriety yet?' I said, 'Not yet.' He said, "If you don't learn propriety you will have no structure." So I went and studied the Propriety. I have only heard these two things."

Ch'an K'ang left, elated, saying, "I questioned on one thing and got three! I learned about the Poems, I learned about the Propriety and I learned that the Superior Man is not partial to his son."

[17:2] Confucius said: "People are similar by nature, but through habituation become quite different from each other."

[17:3] Confucius said: "Only the most wise and the most foolish do not change."

[17:6] Tzu Chang asked Confucius about humaneness. Confucius said, "If you can practice these five things with all the people, you can be called humane."

Tzu Chang asked what they were.

Confucius said, "Courtesy, generosity, honesty, persistence, and kindness. If you are courteous, you will not be disrespected; if you are generous, you will gain everything. If you are honest, people will rely on you. If you are persistent you will get results. If you are kind, you can employ people."

[17:8] Confucius said: "Yu, have you heard the six phrases about the six foils?" Yu answered that he hadn't. "Then stay a moment," Confucius said, "and I will tell you."

If you love humaneness, but don't like to study, then you will be foiled by ignorance.

If you love wisdom, but don't like to study, then you will be foiled by aimlessness.

If you love sincerity, but don't like to study, then you will be foiled by deception.

If you love honesty, but don't like to study, you will be foiled by back-stabbing.

If you love boldness, but don't like to study, you will be foiled by your own lack of control.

If you love persistence, but don't like to study, you will be foiled by your own adamancy.

[17:12] Confucius said: "If you show a tough face, but are weak inside, you are a miserable fellow, like a thief burrowing through the walls."

[17:13] Confucius said: "The 'conventional townsman' is a thief of virtue." 25

[17:14] Confucius said: "To apprehend the Tao and lecture on it before actualization is to throw away your accumulation of virtue."

[17:15] Confucius said: "These low-lifes! How can they ever serve a ruler?! When they don't have something, they make themselves miserable in getting it. Once they get it, they go nuts about losing it. Once they are worried about losing it, there is nothing they won't do."

[17:16] Confucius said: "The ancients had three kinds of shortcomings, some aspects of which are now lost. The wild (kuang)26 of antiquity were unbounded; the wild of today are dissipated. The proud of antiquity were gallant; the proud of today are hot-tempered. The simple-minded of antiquity were straightforward; the simple-minded of today are liars."

[17:18] Confucius said: "I wish I could avoid talking."

Tzu Kung said, "Master, if you didn't speak, what would we disciples have to pass on?"

Confucius said, "Does Heaven speak? Yet the four seasons continue to change, and all things are born. Does Heaven speak?"

[17:20] Ju Pei wanted to see Confucius, but Confucius excused himself on the grounds of illness. When his messenger went to the door, the master picked up his lute and began to sing so that Pei could hear him.

[17:22] Confucius said: "What can be done with a man who stuffs his face with food all day, without exercising his mind. He could at least play cards or chess or something. It would be better than nothing."

[17:23] Tzu Lu said: "Does the Superior Man esteem bravery?"

Confucius said, "The Superior Man puts Rightness first. If the Superior Man is brave without Rightness, he will be rebellious. If the inferior man is brave without Rightness, he will become an outlaw."

[17:24] Tzu Kung asked, "Does the Superior Man also have things that he hates?"

Confucius said, "He does. He hates those who advertise the faults of others. He hates those who abide in lowliness and slander the great. He hates those who are bold without propriety. He hates those who are convinced of their own perfection, and closed off to anything else. How about you, what do you hate?"

Tzu Kung said, "I hate those who 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] Confucius said: "Girls and inferior men are hard to raise. If you get familiar with them, they lose their humility; if you are distant, they resent it."

[17:26] Confucius said: "One who has reached the age of forty and is disliked, will be disliked to the end."

[18:2] Hui Liu Hsia was chief criminal judge, and was fired three times.

Someone said, "Why don't you just leave, sir?"

He said, "If I want to give justice in serving people, where can I go where this will not happen? If I can be satisfied with handing out injustice, why should I bother leaving the land of my parents?"

[18:4] The people of Ch'i sent Lu a present of girl musicians. Chi Huan (ruler of Lu) received them, and for three days did not hold court. Confucius left.

[18:5] Chieh Yu, the madman of Ch'u, passed by Confucius, singing:


Phoenix! Phoenix!

How your virtue has declined!

Your past cannot be corrected,

But your future is yet to come.

Give up! Give up!

Those who involve themselves in Government now

Will be in danger.


Confucius jumped down, wanting to talk to him, but he ran away, so Confucius couldn't talk to him.

[18:6] Chang Tso and Chieh Ni were working together in the fields when Confucius was passing by. He sent Tzu Lu to ask them where he could ford the river. Chang Tso said, "Who is that holding the carriage?"

Tzu Lu said, "It is Confucius"

Chang said, "The Confucius of Lu?"


"Well, if that's the case, then he knows the ford."

Tzu Lu then asked Chieh Ni who said, "Who are you?"

"I am Tzu Lu."

"The follower of this Confucius of Lu?"


Chieh said, "Disorder, disorder throughout the realm! And who can change it? Rather than following a shih who avoids people, you should follow one who escapes from the world!" With that, he went back to his hoeing and wouldn't stop.

Tzu Lu went back and reported this to Confucius. Confucius sighing, said, "I can't form associations with the birds and beasts. So if I don't associate with people, then who will I associate with? If the Tao prevailed in the realm, I would not try to change anything."

[18:7] Tzu Lu, having fallen behind the group, met an old man carrying a basket on a pole. He asked him: "Have you seen my master?"

The old man said, "Your four limbs have not toiled, and you can't distinguish among the five grainsó who is your master?" He planted his staff in the ground and began to weed. Tzu Lu stood there with his arms folded. The old man had him stay overnight. He killed a chicken, prepared millet and fed him, and then introduced him to his two sons. The next day, Tzu Lu left, and he told Confucius.

The Master said, "He is a recluse," and sent Tzu Lu back to see him. When he arrived, the man was gone.

Tzu Lu said, "If you don't have a position in society, how can you practice Rightness? If the relationship between young and old cannot be abandoned, how can the relationship between ruler and minister be abandoned? Desiring to keep his own purity, he disrupts the great bonds of society. The superior man practices his Rightness from his place in society. When Rightness is not being done, he is the one who is aware of it."

[18:8] Among men who have abandoned society are Po Yi, Shu Chi, Yu Chung, I Yi, Chu Chang, Hui Liu Hsia, and Shao Lien. Those who would not surrender their wills or humiliate themselves were Po Yi and Shu Chi. Hui Liu Hsia and Shao Lien surrendered their wills and humiliated themselves; nonetheless, their words were based on solid principles and they thought before acting. That is about all that can be said of them. Yu Chung and I Yi left society, and in their seclusion cast off speech, purified themselves, and abandoned themselves to conditions. I am different than this. I have no "shoulds" or "should nots" .

[18:10] The Duke of Chou was talking to his son, the Duke of Lu. He said: "The Superior Man does not neglect his relatives and does not let the High Minister get resentments about not being utilized. Therefore, he doesn't fire anyone unless there is a really good reason, and he does not seek for all abilities in one man."

[19:1] Tzu Chang said: "The shih who faced with danger can abandon his life; who seeing an opportunity for gain, thinks of Rightness; who at rituals is reverent and who at funerals is sorrowful: he is worth something."

[19:2] Tzu Chang said: "Keeping one's virtue without extending it; trusting the Tao without enriching it. What can you gain? And what can you get rid of?"

[19:3] The disciples of Tzu Hsia were conversing with Tzu Chang, who asked them: "What does your teacher tell you?"

One replied, "Associate with the capable and keep away from the incapable."

Tzu Chang said, "This is different from what I have heard. The Superior Man venerates the worthy but accepts everyone. He praises the good and pities the incapable. Now if I were a worthy, whom should I not accept? If I am unworthy, shall people cast me aside? How can you just push people away like this?"

[19:4] Tzu Hsia said, "If somewhat has just a small attainment of the way, it can be observed. But if he tries to extend it too far, it will lose its functioning. Therefore, the Superior Man does not do this."

[19:5] Tzu Hsia said: "Someone who is aware every day of what he lacks, and every month does not forget what he has developed, can be called 'a lover of learning.' "

[19:6] Tzu Hsia said: "Studying widely and thickening your will, questioning precisely and reflecting on things at hand: humaneness lies in this."

[19:7] Tzu Hsia said: "The artisans stay in their shops in order to accomplish their works. The Superior Man studies in order to actualize his Tao."

[19:8] Tzu Hsia said: "The inferior man always glosses over his errors."

[19:9] Tzu Hsia said: "The Superior Man has three appearances. From afar, he appears majestic; close up, he seems warm; listening to his speech, he seems polished."

[19:10] Tzu Hsia said: "After the ruler has the trust of the people, they will toil for him. If he doesn't have their trust, they will regard him as oppressive. If they trust him, they will criticize him openly. If they don't trust him, they will slander him behind his back."

[19:11] Tzu Hsia said: "As long as you don't transgress the norm of great virtue, you may utilize small virtues freely."

[19:13] Tzu Hsia said: "After you have accomplished your job, then study. After you have accomplished your studies, then get a job."

[19:14] Tzu Lu said: "When mourning has expended itself in grief, it should end."

[19:15] Tzu Lu said: "My friend Chang can handle difficulty, but is not yet perfect in humaneness."

[19:16] Tseng Tzu said: "How imposing Chang is. It is difficult to practice humaneness with him."

[19:17] Tseng Tzu said: "I have heard this from our master: 'If a man has not yet fully experienced himself, he will when his parents die.' "

[19:18] Tseng Tzu said: "I heard our Master say, 'In other matters, the filial piety of Ming Chung Tzu was nothing special. But his running his government without changing his father's ministers or systemsó this was quite difficult.' "

[19:19] Yang Fu, having been appointed Minister of Rightness by the Meng clan, consulted with Tseng Tzu. Tseng said, "When those in power lose their sense of justice, the people will scatter from them, and it will be a long time before they return. When you are aware of their suffering, then you should be sorrowful, never joyful."

[19:21] Tzu Kung said: "The faults of the Superior Man are like the eclipses of the sun and moonó everyone sees them. But when he corrects them, everyone looks up to him."

[19:22] Kung Sun Ch'ao of Wei asked Tzu Kung: "From whom did Confucius get his learning?"

Tzu Kung said, "The Tao of King Wen and King Wu (the legendary sage-kings of antiquity) has not yet sunk into the ground. The Worthies have assimilated the major points, and the less-than-worthy have assimilated the minor points. There is no place where the Tao of Wen and Wu does not exist, so how could the Master not learn it? Why would he need to get it from a certain teacher?"

[19:23] Shu-sun Wu-shu, addressing the major officers of his court, said: "Tzu Kung is superior to Confucius."

Tzu-fu Ching-po told this to Tzu Kung, who commented, "Let me use a simile of a castle and its wall. My wall is only shoulder high, which you may look over and see the desirables that lie inside. My Master's wall is several tens of feet high and if you can't find the door and enter by it, you will not see the beauty of its ancestral temple, nor the splendor of its hundred officers. Those who find the door are few indeed. Are not my Master's words even more difficult to grasp?"

[19:24] Tzu Kung, having heard about Shu-sun Wu-shu's disparagement of Confucius, said, "It is ridiculous talking this way. Confucius cannot be slandered. The virtue of other men is like a small hill, which can be climbed over. Confucius is like the sun and the moon. There is no way they can be climbed over. Even if you want to cut yourself off from the sun and moon, how can you hurt them? It is easy to see that Wu-shu does not know value."


1. This simile for the process of self-perfection is found often in Confucian texts.

2. Legge's note to this passage says (with conversion to Pinyin): "The Tai mountain is the first of the 'five mountains' which are celebrated in Chinese literature, and have always received religious honours. It was in Lu, or rather on the borders between Lu and Ji, about two miles north of the present department city of Tai-an in Shandong. According to the ritual of China, sacrifice could only be offered to those mountains by the sovereign, and by the princes in whose States any of them happened to be. For the chief of the Ji family, therefore, to sacrifice to the Tai mountain was a great usurpation. Lin Pang, -- see chap. iv, from which the reason of this reference to him may be understood. Ranyu was one of the disciples of Confucius, and is now third, in the hall, on the west. He entered the service of the Ji family, and was a man of ability and resource. "

3. The Kuan Tzu ("The Cry of the Ospreys") is the first poem in the Book of Odes. It begins by describing a lover's grief at being separated from his lady and ends by describing their joyful union. (Waley, 99)

4. For the meaning of "wild" here, please see the discussion of the term kuang in the comment on 13:21.

5. I.e., fit the specifications for a sacrificial animal.

6. Legge says: "The father of Chung-kung (See V. ii.) was a man of bad character and some would have visited this upon his son, which drew forth Confucius' remark." (186)[back]

7. Which was out of the range of Ch'i's influence.

8. Legge says (p. 199): "[Po Yi and Shu Chi] having given up their throne, and finally their lives, rather than doing what was wrong, and Confucius, fully approving of their conduct, it was plain he could not approve of a son's holding by force what was the rightful inheritance of the father."

9. A high official of the Sung, who was trying to assassinate Confucius.

10. This is probably a reference to Yen Hui, Confucius' favorite among his disciples, who died young.

11. "Wen" means literature or culture. King Wen was traditionally recognized as a teacher of culture to the ancient Chinese.

12. "The superior man is not a utensil." 

13. I have diverged from Legge and Waley in taking "completely empty-like" to refer positively to the condition of Confucius' mind, rather than negatively to the mind of the simple man who is questioning.

14. The Phoenix and the chart-backed turtle are two ancient auspicious signs.

15. I.e., he wanted, in the case of Confucius' death, for it to appear that Confucius had been of high status.

16. Book of Poems, number 67.


For example, Wing-tsit Chan translates:

"If a man (the ruler) can for one day master himself and return to propriety, all under heaven will return to humanity" (Source Book, p. 38)

This rendering makes the assumption that the only way to make the people "humane" is through the enforcement of political power. There is no doubt that Confucius himself sought the employment of a king to help bring peace to the world. But there is also no indication that he is speaking to a king here, nor does the word wang appear in the sentence. James Legge says:

If a man can for one day subdue himself and return to propriety, all under heaven will ascribe virtue to him. (Legge 250)

This rendering damages the force of the passage even further by interpreting the word kuei (which clearly means "return" in Chinese) as "ascribe to him," a thoroughly unnatural reading of the word. D.C. Lau stays fairly close to Legge when he translates:

If for a single day a man could return to the observance of rites through overcoming himself, then the whole Empire would consider benevolence to be his. (Lau 112)

18. Waley (166) indicates that this line comes from the Book of Odes #105, from a tale of a man who leaves his wife for another woman: an example of "confusion."

19. Other translations, following Chu-hsi, render this last line as "he never slept on a promise." I based my interpretation on a more literal reading of the text, and on the fact that Tzu-lu, throughout the Analects, is shown to be a person who speaks his mind immediately and directly.

20. Here Confucius is punning on the fact that in Chinese, the words "government" and "rectify" are pronounced the same.

21. Please see discussion of ta in reference to 12:20.

22. Yi and Ao are ancient legendary figures famous for their superhuman feats.

23. Also translated elsewhere, by context, as "rightness."

24. The Hsia, the Yin and the Chou.

25. For a discussion of this saying, see Mencius 7B:37.

26. For the meaning of kuang, please see the discussion connected to 13:21.