The Doctrine of
master, the philosopher Ch`ang, says: `Being without inclination
to either side is called CHUNG; admitting of no change is called
YUNG. By CHUNG is denoted the correct course to be pursued by all
under heaven; by YUNG is denoted the fixed principle regulating
all under heaven. This work contains the law of the mind, which
was handed down from one to another, in the Confucian school, till
Tsze-sze, fearing lest in the course of time errors should arise
about it, committed it to writing, and delivered it to Mencius.
The Book first speaks of one principle; it next spreads this out,
and embraces all things; finally, it returns and gathers them all
up under the one principle. Unroll it, and it fills the universe;
roll it up, and it retires and lies hid in mysteriousness. The
relish of it is inexhaustible. The whole of it is solid learning.
When the skilful reader has explored it with delight till he has
apprehended it, he may carry it into practise all his life, and
will find that it cannot be exhausted.'
~ Chapter 1 ~
1:1. What Heaven has conferred is
called The Nature; an accordance with this nature is called The
Path of duty; the regulation of this path is called Instruction.
1:2. The path may not be left for an instant. If it could
be left, it would not be the path. On this account, the superior
man does not wait till he sees things, to be cautious, nor till he
hears things, to be apprehensive.
1:3. There is nothing
more visible than what is secret, and nothing more manifest than
what is minute. Therefore the superior man is watchful over
himself, when he is alone.
1:4. While there are no
stirrings of pleasure, anger, sorrow, or joy, the mind may be said
to be in the state of Equilibrium. When those feelings have been
stirred, and they act in their due degree, there ensues what may
be called the state of Harmony. This Equilibrium is the great root
from which grow all the human actings in the world, and this
Harmony is the universal path which they all should pursue.
Let the states of equilibrium and harmony exist in perfection, and
a happy order will prevail throughout heaven and earth, and all
things will be nourished and flourish.
In the first
chapter which is given above, Tsze-sze states the views which had
been handed down to him, as the basis of his discourse. First, it
shows clearly how the path of duty is to be traced to its origin
in Heaven, and is unchangeable, while the substance of it is
provided in ourselves, and may not be departed from. Next, it
speaks of the importance of preserving and nourishing this, and of
exercising a watchful self-scrutiny with reference to it. Finally,
it speaks of the meritorious achievements and transforming
influence of sage and spiritual men in their highest extent. The
wish of Tsze-sze was that hereby the learner should direct his
thoughts inwards, and by searching in himself, there find these
truths, so that he might put aside all outward temptations
appealing to his selfishness, and fill up the measure of the
goodness which is natural to him. This chapter is what the writer
Yang called it, `The sum of the whole work.' In the ten chapters
which follow, Tsze-sze quotes the words of the Master to complete
the meaning of this.
~ Chapter 2 ~
2:1. Chung-ni said, `The superior
man embodies the course of the Mean; the mean man acts contrary to
the course of the Mean.
2:2. `The superior man's embodying
the course of the Mean is because he is a superior man, and so
always maintains the Mean. The mean man's acting contrary to the
course of the Mean is because he is a mean man, and has no
~ Chapter 3 ~
3. The Master said, `Perfect is
the virtue which is according to the Mean! Rare have they long
been among the people, who could practise it!'
~ Chapter 4 ~
4:1. The Master said, `I know how
it is that the path of the Mean is not walked in: The knowing go
beyond it, and the stupid do not come up to it. I know how it is
that the path of the Mean is not understood: The men of talents
and virtue go beyond it, and the worthless do not come up to it.
4:2. `There is no body but eats and drinks. But they are
few who can distinguish flavours.'
~ Chapter 5 ~
5. The Master said, `Alas! How is
the path of the Mean untrodden!'
~ Chapter 6 ~
6. The Master said, `There was
Shun: He indeed was greatly wise! Shun loved to question others,
and to study their words, though they might be shallow. He
concealed what was bad in them, and displayed what was good. He
took hold of their two extremes, determined the Mean, and employed
it in his government of the people. It was by this that he was
~ Chapter 7 ~
7. The Master said `Men all say,
"We are wise;" but being driven forward and taken in a
net, a trap, or a pitfall, they know not how to escape. Men all
say, "We are wise;" but happening to choose the course
of the Mean, they are not able to keep it for a round month.'
~ Chapter 8 ~
8. The Master said `This was the
manner of Hui: he made choice of the Mean, and whenever he got
hold of what was good, he clasped it firmly, as if wearing it on
his breast, and did not lose it.'
~ Chapter 9 ~
9. The Master said, `The kingdom,
its States, and its families, may be perfectly ruled; dignities
and emoluments may be declined; naked weapons may be trampled
under the feet; but the course of the Mean cannot be attained to.'
~ Chapter 10 ~
10:1. Tsze-lu asked about energy.
10:2. The Master said, `Do you mean the energy of the
South, the energy of the North, or the energy which you should
10:3. `To show forbearance and
gentleness in teaching others; and not to revenge unreasonable
conduct: this is the energy of Southern regions, and the good man
makes it his study.
10:4. `To lie under arms; and meet
death without regret: this is the energy of Northern regions, and
the forceful make it their study.
10:5. `Therefore, the
superior man cultivates a friendly harmony, without being weak.
How firm is he in his energy! He stands erect in the middle,
without inclining to either side. How firm is he in his energy!
When good principles prevail in the government of his country, he
does not change from what he was in retirement. How firm is he in
his energy! When bad principles prevail in the country, he
maintains his course to death without changing. How firm is he in
~ Chapter 11 ~
11:1. The Master said, `To live in
obscurity, and yet practise wonders, in order to be mentioned with
honour in future ages: this is what I do not do.
`The good man tries to proceed according to the right path, but
when he has gone halfway, he abandons it: I am not able so to
11:3. `The superior man accords with the course of
the Mean. Though he may be all unknown, unregarded by the world,
he feels no regret. It is only the sage who is able for this.'
~ Chapter 12 ~
12:1. The way which the superior
man pursues, reaches wide and far, and yet is secret.
Common men and women, however ignorant, may intermeddle with the
knowledge of it; yet in its utmost reaches, there is that which
even the sage does not know. Common men and women, however much
below the ordinary standard of character, can carry it into
practise; yet in its utmost reaches, there is that which even the
sage is not able to carry into practise. Great as heaven and earth
are, men still find some things in them with which to be
dissatisfied. Thus it is that, were the superior man to speak of
his way in all its greatness, nothing in the world would be found
able to embrace it, and were he to speak of it in its minuteness,
nothing in the world would be found able to split it.
It is said in the Book of Poetry, `The hawk flies up to heaven;
the fishes leap in the deep.' This expresses how this waY is seen
above and below.
12:4. The way of the superior man may be
found, in its simple elements, in the intercourse of common men
and women; but in its utmost reaches, it shines brightly through
Heaven and earth.
The twelfth chapter above contains the
words of Tsze-sze, and is designed to illustrate what is said in
the first chapter, that `The path may not be left.' In the eight
chapters which follow, he quotes, in a miscellaneous way, the
words of Confucius to illustrate it.
~ Chapter 13 ~
13:1. The Master said `The path is
not far from man. When men try to pursue a course, which is far
from the common indications of consciousness, this course cannot
be considered The Path.
13:2. `In the Book of Poetry, it
is said, "In hewing an axe-handle, in hewing an axe-handle,
the pattern is not far off." We grasp one axe-handle to hew
the other; and yet, if we look askance from the one to the other,
we may consider them as apart. Therefore, the superior man governs
men, according to their nature, with what is proper to them, and
as soon as they change what is wrong, he stops.
`When one cultivates to the utmost the principles of his nature,
and exercises them on the principle of reciprocity, he is not far
from the path. What you do not like when done to yourself, do not
do to others.
13:4. `In the way of the superior man there
are four things, to not one of which have I as yet attained. To
serve my father, as I would require my son to serve me: to this I
have not attained; to serve my prince, as I would require my
minister to serve me: to this I have not attained; to serve my
elder brother, as I would require my younger brother to serve me:
to this I have not attained; to set the example in behaving to a
friend, as I would require him to behave to me: to this I have not
attained. Earnest in practicing the ordinary virtues, and careful
in speaking about them, if, in his practise, he has anything
defective, the superior man dares not but exert himself; and if,
in his words, he has any excess, he dares not allow himself such
license. Thus his words have respect to his actions, and his
actions have respect to his words; is it not just an entire
sincerity which marks the superior man?'
~ Chapter 14 ~
14:1. The superior man does what
is proper to the station in which he is; he does not desire to go
14:2. In a position of wealth and honour, he
does what is proper to a position of wealth and honour. In a poor
and low position, he does what is proper to a poor and low
position. Situated among barbarous tribes, he does what is proper
to a situation among barbarous tribes. In a position of sorrow and
difficulty, he does what is proper to a position of sorrow and
difficulty. The superior man can find himself in no situation in
which he is not himself.
14:3. In a high situation, he
does not treat with contempt his inferiors. In a low situation, he
does not court the favour of his superiors. He rectifies himself,
and seeks for nothing from others, so that he has no
dissatisfactions. He does not murmur against Heaven, nor grumble
14:4. Thus it is that the superior man is
quiet and calm, waiting for the appointments of Heaven, while the
mean man walks in dangerous paths, looking for lucky occurrences.
14:5. The Master said, `In archery we have something like
the way of the superior man. When the archer misses the centre of
the target, he turns round and seeks for the cause of his failure
~ Chapter 15 ~
15:1. The way of the superior man
may be compared to what takes place in travelling, when to go to a
distance we must first traverse the space that is near, and in
ascending a height, when we must begin from the lower ground.
15:2. It is said in the Book of Poetry, `Happy union with
wife and children is like the music of lutes and harps. When there
is concord among brethren, the harmony is delightful and enduring.
Thus may you regulate your family, and enjoy the pleasure of your
wife and children.'
15:3. The Master said, `In such a
state of things, parents have entire complacence!'
~ Chapter 16 ~
16:1. The Master said, `How
abundantly do spiritual beings display the powers that belong to
16:2. `We look for them, but do not see them; we
listen to, but do not hear them; yet they enter into all things,
and there is nothing without them.
16:3. `They cause all
the people in the kingdom to fast and purify themselves, and array
themselves in their richest dresses, in order to attend at their
sacrifices. Then, like overflowing water, they seem to be over the
heads, and on the right and left of their worshippers.
`It is said in the Book of Poetry, "The approaches of the
spirits, you cannot sunrise; and can you treat them with
16:5. `Such is the manifestness of
what is minute! Such is the impossibility of repressing the
outgoings of sincerity!'
~ Chapter 17 ~
17:1. The Master said, `How
greatly filial was Shun! His virtue was that of a sage; his
dignity was the throne; his riches were all within the four seas.
He offered his sacrifices in his ancestral temple, and his
descendants preserved the sacrifices to himself.
`Therefore having such great virtue, it could not but be that he
should obtain the throne, that he should obtain those riches, that
he should obtain his fame, that he should attain to his long life.
17:3. `Thus it is that Heaven, in the production of
things, is sure to be bountiful to them, according to their
qualities. Hence the tree that is flourishing, it nourishes, while
that which is ready to fall, it overthrows.
17:4. `In the
Book of Poetry, it is said, "The admirable amiable prince
displayed conspicuously his excelling virtue, adjusting his
people, and adjusting his officers. Therefore, he received from
Heaven the emoluments of dignity. It protected him, assisted him,
decreed him the throne; sending from Heaven these favours, as it
17:5. `We may say therefore that he
who is greatly virtuous will be sure to receive the appointment of
~ Chapter 18 ~
18:1. The Master said, `It is only
King Wan of whom it can be said that he had no cause for grief!
His father was King Chi, and his son was King Wu. His father laid
the foundations of his dignity, and his son transmitted it.
18:2. `King Wu continued the enterprise of King T`ai, King
Chi, and King Wan. He once buckled on his armour, and got
possession of the kingdom. He did not lose the distinguished
personal reputation which he had throughout the kingdom. His
dignity was the royal throne. His riches were the possession of
all within the four seas. He offered his sacrifices in his
ancestral temple, and his descendants maintained the sacrifices to
18:3. `It was in his old age that King Wu
received the appointment to the throne, and the duke of Chau
completed the virtuous course of Wan and Wu. He carried up the
title of king to T`ai and Chi, and sacrificed to all the former
dukes above them with the royal ceremonies. And this rule he
extended to the princes of the kingdom, the great officers, the
scholars, and the common people. If the father were a great
officer and the son a scholar, then the burial was that due to a
great officer, and the sacrifice that due to a scholar. If the
father were a scholar and the son a great officer, then the burial
was that due to a scholar, and the sacrifice that due to a great
officer. The one year's mourning was made to extend only to the
great officers, but the three years' mourning extended to the Son
of Heaven. In the mourning for a father or mother, he allowed no
difference between the noble and the mean.'
~ Chapter 19 ~
19:1. The Master said, `How
far-extending was the filial piety of King Wu and the duke of
19:2. `Now filial piety is seen in the skilful
carrying out of the wishes of our forefathers, and the skilful
carrying forward of their undertakings.
19:3. `In spring
and autumn, they repaired and beautified the temple-halls of their
fathers, set forth their ancestral vessels, displayed their
various robes, and presented the offerings of the several seasons.
19:4. `By means of the ceremonies of the ancestral temple,
they distinguished the royal kindred according to their order of
descent. By ordering the parties present according to their rank,
they distinguished the more noble and the less. By the arrangement
of the services, they made a distinction of talents and worth. In
the ceremony of general pledging, the inferiors presented the cup
to their superiors, and thus something was given the lowest to do.
At the concluding feast, places were given according to the hair,
and thus was made the distinction of years.
occupied the places of their forefathers, practised their
ceremonies, and performed their music. They reverenced those whom
they honoured, and loved those whom they regarded with affection.
Thus they served the dead as they would have served them alive;
they served the departed as they would have served them had they
been continued among them.
`By the ceremonies of the sacrifices to Heaven and Earth they
served God, and by the ceremonies of the ancestral temple they
sacrificed to their ancestors. He who understands the ceremonies
of the sacrifices to Heaven and Earth, and the meaning of the
several sacrifices to ancestors, would find the government of a
kingdom as easy as to look into his palm!'
~ Chapter 20 ~
20:1. The duke Ai asked about
20:2. The Master said, `The government of Wan
and Wu is displayed in the records, the tablets of wood and
bamboo. Let there be the men and the government will flourish; but
without the men, their government decays and ceases.
`With the right men the growth of government is rapid, just as
vegetation is rapid in the earth; and, moreover, their government
might be called an easily-growing rush.
the administration of government lies in getting proper men. Such
men are to be got by means of the ruler's own character. That
character is to be cultivated by his treading in the ways of duty.
And the treading those ways of duty is to be cultivated by the
cherishing of benevolence.
20:5. `Benevolence is the
characteristic element of humanity, and the great exercise of it
is in loving relatives. Righteousness is the accordance of actions
with what is right, and the great exercise of it is in honouring
the worthy. The decreasing measures of the love due to relatives,
and the steps in the honour due to the worthy, are produced by the
principle of propriety.
20:6. `When those in inferior
situations do not possess the confidence of their superiors, they
cannot retain the government of the people.
the sovereign may not neglect the cultivation of his own
character. Wishing to cultivate his character, he may not neglect
to serve his parents. In order to serve his parents, he may not
neglect to acquire knowledge of men. In order to know men, he may
not dispense with a knowledge of Heaven.
20:8. `The duties
of universal obligation are five and the virtues wherewith they
are practised are three. The duties are those between sovereign
and minister, between father and son, between husband and wife,
between elder brother and younger, and those belonging to the
intercourse of friends. Those five are the duties of universal
obligation. Knowledge, magnanimity, and energy, these three, are
the virtues universally binding. And the means by which they carry
the duties into practise is singleness.
20:9. `Some are
born with the knowledge of those duties; some know them by study;
and some acquire the knowledge after a painful feeling of their
ignorance. But the knowledge being possessed, it comes to the same
thing. Some practise them with a natural ease; some from a desire
for their advantages; and some by strenuous effort. But the
achievement being made, it comes to the same thing.'
The Master said, `To be fond of learning is to be near to
knowledge. To practise with vigor is to be near to magnanimity. To
possess the feeling of shame is to be near to energy.
`He who knows these three things knows how to cultivate his own
character. Knowing how to cultivate his own character, he knows
how to govern other men. Knowing how to govern other men, he knows
how to govern the kingdom with all its States and families.
20:12. `All who have the government of the kingdom with
its States and families have nine standard rules to follow; viz.,
the cultivation of their own characters; the honouring of men of
virtue and talents; affection towards their relatives; respect
towards the great ministers; kind and considerate treatment of the
whole body of officers; dealing with the mass of the people as
children; encouraging the resort of all classes of artisans;
indulgent treatment of men from a distance; and the kindly
cherishing of the princes of the States.
20:13. `By the
ruler's cultivation of his own character, the duties of universal
obligation are set forth. By honouring men of virtue and talents,
he is preserved from errors of judgment. By showing affection to
his relatives, there is no grumbling nor resentment among his
uncles and brethren. By respecting the great ministers, he is kept
from errors in the practice of government. By kind and considerate
treatment of the whole body of officers, they are led to make the
most grateful return for his courtesies. By dealing with the mass
of the people as his children, they are led to exhort one another
to what is good. By encouraging the resort of an classes of
artisans, his resources for expenditure are rendered ample. By
indulgent treatment of men from a distance, they are brought to
resort to him from all quarters. And by kindly cherishing the
princes of the States, the whole kingdom is brought to revere him.
20:14. `Self-adjustment and purification, with careful
regulation of his dress, and the not making a movement contrary to
the rules of propriety: this is the way for a ruler to cultivate
his person. Discarding slanderers, and keeping himself from the
seductions of beauty; making light of riches, and giving honour to
virtue: this is the way for him to encourage men of worth and
talents. Giving them places of honour and large emolument, and
sharing with them in their likes and dislikes: this is the way for
him to encourage his relatives to love him. Giving them numerous
officers to discharge their orders and commissions: this is the
way for him to encourage the great ministers. According to them a
generous confidence, and making their emoluments large: this is
the way to encourage the body of officers. Employing them only at
the proper times, and making the imposts light: this is the way to
encourage the people. By daily examinations and monthly trials,
and by making their rations in accordance with their labours: this
is the way to encourage the classes of artisans. To escort them on
their departure and meet them on their coming; to commend the good
among them, and show compassion to the incompetent: this is the
way to treat indulgently men from a distance. To restore families
whose line of succession has been broken, and to revive States
that have been extinguished; to reduce to order States that are in
confusion, and support those which are in peril; to have fixed
times for their own reception at court, and the reception of their
envoys; to send them away after liberal treatment, and welcome
their coming with small contributions: this is the way to cherish
the princes of the States.
20:15. `All who have the
government of the kingdom with its States and families have the
above nine standard rules. And the means by which they are carried
into practise is singleness.
20:16. `In all things success
depends on previous preparation, and without such previous
preparation there is sure to be failure. If what is to be spoken
be previously determined, there will be no stumbling. If affairs
be previously determined, there will be no difficulty with them.
If one's actions have been previously determined, there will be no
sorrow in connection with them. If principles of conduct have been
previously determined, the practice of them will be inexhaustible.
20:17. `When those in inferior situations do not obtain
the confidence of the sovereign, they cannot succeed in governing
the people. There is a way to obtain the confidence of the
sovereign; if one is not trusted by his friends, he will not get
the confidence of his sovereign. There is a way to being trusted
by one's friends; if one is not obedient to his parents, he will
not be true to friends. There is a way to being obedient to one's
parents; if one, on turning his thoughts in upon himself, finds a
want of sincerity, he will not be obedient to his parents. There
is a way to the attainment of sincerity in one's self; if a man do
not understand what is good, he will not attain sincerity in
20:18. `Sincerity is the way of Heaven. The
attainment of sincerity is the way of men. He who possesses
sincerity is he who, without an effort, hits what is right, and
apprehends, without the exercise of thought; he is the sage who
naturally and easily embodies the right way. He who attains to
sincerity, is he who chooses what is good, and firmly holds it
20:19. `To this attainment there are requisite the
extensive study of what is good, accurate inquiry about it,
careful reflection on it, the clear discrimination of it, and the
earnest practice of it.
20:20. `The superior man, while
there is anything he has not studied, or while in what he has
studied there is anything he cannot understand, will not intermit
his labour. While there is anything he has not inquired about, or
anything in what he has inquired about which he does not know, he
will not intermit his labour. While there is anything which he has
not reflected on, or anything in what he has reflected on which he
does not apprehend, he will not intermit his labour. While there
is anything which he has not discriminated or his discrimination
is not clear, he will not intermit his labour. If there be
anything which he has not practised, or his practice fails in
earnestness, he will not intermit his labour. If another man
succeed by one effort, he will use a hundred efforts. If another
man succeed by ten efforts, he will use a thousand.
`Let a man proceed in this way, and, though dull, he will surely
become intelligent; though weak, he will surely become strong.'
~ Chapter 21 ~
21. When we have intelligence
resulting from sincerity, this condition is to be ascribed to
nature; when we have sincerity resulting from intelligence, this
condition is to be ascribed to instruction. But given the
sincerity, and there shall be the intelligence; given the
intelligence, and there shall be the sincerity.
is the twenty-first chapter. Tsze-sze takes up in it, and
discourses from, the subjects of `the way of Heaven' and `the way
of men,' mentioned in the preceding chapter. The twelve chapters
that follow are all from Tsze-sze, repeating and illustrating the
meaning of this one.
~ Chapter 22 ~
21. It is only he who is possessed
of the most complete sincerity that can exist under heaven, who
can give its full development to his nature. Able to give its full
development to his own nature, he can do the same to the nature of
other men. Able to give its full development to the nature of
other men, he can give their full development to the natures of
animals and things. Able to give their full development to the
natures of creatures and things, he can assist the transforming
and nourishing powers of Heaven and Earth. Able to assist the
transforming and nourishing powers of Heaven and Earth, he may
with Heaven and Earth form a ternion.
~ Chapter 23 ~
23. Next to the above is he who
cultivates to the utmost the shoots of goodness in him. From those
he can attain to the possession of sincerity. This sincerity
becomes apparent. From being apparent, it becomes manifest. From
being manifest, it becomes brilliant. Brilliant, it affects
others. Affecting others, they are changed by it. Changed by it,
they are transformed. It is only he who is possessed of the most
complete sincerity that can exist under heaven, who can transform.
~ Chapter 24 ~
24. It is characteristic of the
most entire sincerity to be able to foreknow. When a nation or
family is about to flourish, there are sure to be happy omens; and
when it is about to perish, there are sure to be unlucky omens.
Such events are seen in the milfoil and tortoise, and affect the
movements of the four limbs. When calamity or happiness is about
to come, the good shall certainly be foreknown by him, and the
evil also. Therefore the individual possessed of the most complete
sincerity is like a spirit.
~ Chapter 25 ~
25:1. Sincerity is that whereby
self-completion is effected, and its way is that by which man must
25:2. Sincerity is the end and beginning
of things; without sincerity there would be nothing. On this
account, the superior man regards the attainment of sincerity as
the most excellent thing.
25:3. The possessor of sincerity
does not merely accomplish the self-completion of himself. With
this quality he completes other men and things also. The
completing himself shows his perfect virtue. The completing other
men and things shows his knowledge. Both these are virtues
belonging to the nature, and this is the way by which a union is
effected of the external and internal. Therefore, whenever he the
entirely sincere man employs them, that is, these virtues, their
action will be right.
~ Chapter 26 ~
26:1. Hence to entire sincerity
there belongs ceaselessness.
26:2. Not ceasing, it
continues long. Continuing long, it evidences itself.
Evidencing itself, it reaches far. Reaching far, it becomes large
and substantial. Large and substantial, it becomes high and
26:4. Large and substantial; this is how it
contains all things. High and brilliant; this is how it
overspreads all things. Reaching far and continuing long; this is
how it perfects all things.
26:5. So large and
substantial, the individual possessing it is the co-equal of
Earth. So high and brilliant, it makes him the co-equal of Heaven.
So far-reaching and long-continuing, it makes him infinite.
26:6. Such being its nature, without any display, it
becomes manifested; without any movement, it produces changes; and
without any effort, it accomplishes its ends.
way of Heaven and Earth may be completely declared in one
sentence. They are without any doubleness, and so they produce
things in a manner that is unfathomable.
26:8. The way of
Heaven and Earth is large and substantial, high and brilliant,
far-reaching and long-enduring.
26:9. The Heaven now
before us is only this bright shining spot; but when viewed in its
inexhaustible extent, the sun, moon, stars, and constellations of
the zodiac, are suspended in it, and all things are overspread by
it. The earth before us is but a handful of soil; but when
regarded in its breadth and thickness, it sustains mountains like
the Hwa and the Yo, without feeling their weight, and contains the
rivers and seas, without their leaking away. The mountain now
before us appears only a stone; but when contemplated in all the
vastness of its size, we see how the grass and trees are produced
on it, and birds and beasts dwell on it, and precious things which
men treasure up are found on it. The water now before us appears
but a ladleful; yet extending our view to its unfathomable depths,
the largest tortoises, iguanas, iguanodons, dragons, fishes, and
turtles, are produced in them, articles of value and sources of
wealth abound in them.
26:10. It is said in the Book of
Poetry, `The ordinances of Heaven, how profound are they and
unceasing!' The meaning is, that it is thus that Heaven is Heaven.
And again, `How illustrious was it, the singleness of the virtue
of King Wan!' indicating that it was thus that King Wan was what
he was. Singleness likewise is unceasing.
~ Chapter 27 ~
27:1. How great is the path proper
to the Sage!
27:2. Like overflowing water, it sends forth
and nourishes all things, and rises up to the height of heaven.
27:3. All-complete is its greatness! It embraces the three
hundred rules of ceremony, and the three thousand rules of
27:4. It waits for the proper man, and then it
27:5. Hence it is said, `Only by perfect
virtue can the perfect path, in all its courses, be made a fact.'
27:6. Therefore, the superior man honours his virtuous
nature, and maintains constant inquiry and study, seeking to carry
it out to its breadth and greatness, so as to omit none of the
more exquisite and minute points which it embraces, and to raise
it to its greatest height and brilliancy, so as to pursue the
course of the Mean. He cherishes his old knowledge, and is
continually acquiring new. He exerts an honest, generous
earnestness, in the esteem and practice of all propriety.
Thus, when occupying a high situation he is not proud, and in a
low situation he is not insubordinate. When the kingdom is well
governed, he is sure by his words to rise; and when it is ill
governed, he is sure by his silence to command forbearance to
himself. Is not this what we find in the Book of Poetry,
`Intelligent is he and prudent, and so preserves his person?'
~ Chapter 28 ~
28:1. The Master said, `Let a man
who is ignorant be fond of using his own judgment; let a man
without rank be fond of assuming a directing power to himself; let
a man who is living in the present age go back to the ways of
antiquity; on the persons of all who act thus calamities will be
sure to come.'
28:2. To no one but the Son of Heaven does
it belong to order ceremonies, to fix the measures, and to
determine the written characters.
28:3. Now over the
kingdom, carriages have all wheels, of the same size; all writing
is with the same characters; and for conduct there are the same
28:4. One may occupy the throne, but if he have not
the proper virtue, he may not dare to make ceremonies or music.
One may have the virtue, but if he do not occupy the throne, he
may not presume to make ceremonies or music.
Master said, `I may describe the ceremonies of the Hsia dynasty,
but Chi cannot sufficiently attest my words. I have learned the
ceremonies of the Yin dynasty, and in Sung they still continue. I
have learned the ceremonies of Chau, which are now used, and I
~ Chapter 29 ~
29:1. He who attains to the
sovereignty of the kingdom, having those three important things,
shall be able to effect that there shall be few errors under his
29:2. However excellent may have been the
regulations of those of former times, they cannot be attested. Not
being attested, they cannot command credence, and not being
credited, the people would not follow them. However excellent
might be the regulations made by one in an inferior situation, he
is not in a position to be honoured. Unhonoured, he cannot command
credence, and not being credited, the people would not follow his
29:3. Therefore the institutions of the Ruler are
rooted in his own character and conduct, and sufficient
attestation of them is given by the masses of the people. He
examines them by comparison with those of the three kings, and
finds them without mistake. He sets them up before Heaven and
Earth, and finds nothing in them contrary to their mode of
operation. He presents himself with them before spiritual beings,
and no doubts about them arise. He is prepared to wait for the
rise of a sage a hundred ages after, and has no misgivings.
29:4. His presenting himself with his institutions before
spiritual beings, without any doubts arising about them, shows
that he knows Heaven. His being prepared, without any misgivings,
to wait for the rise of a sage a hundred ages after, shows that he
29:5. Such being the case, the movements of
such a ruler, illustrating his institutions, constitute an example
to the world for ages. His acts are for ages a law to the kingdom.
His words are for ages a lesson to the kingdom. Those who are far
from him look longingly for him; and those who are near him are
never wearied with him.
29:6. It is said in the Book of
Poetry, `Not disliked there, not tired of here, from day to day
and night to night, will they perpetuate their praise.' Never has
there been a ruler, who did not realise this description, that
obtained an early renown throughout the kingdom.
~ Chapter 30 ~
30:1. Chung-ni handed down the
doctrines of Yao and Shun, as if they had been his ancestors, and
elegantly displayed the regulations of Wan and Wu, taking them as
his model. Above, he harmonized with the times of heaven, and
below, he was conformed to the water and land.
may be compared to Heaven and Earth in their supporting and
containing, their overshadowing and curtaining, all things. He may
be compared to the four seasons in their alternating progress, and
to the sun and moon in their successive shining.
things are nourished together without their injuring one another.
The courses of the seasons, and of the sun and moon, are pursued
without any collision among them. The smaller energies are like
river currents; the greater energies are seen in mighty
transformations. It is this which makes heaven and earth so great.
~ Chapter 31 ~
31:1. It is only he, possessed of
all sagely qualities that can exist under heaven, who shows
himself quick in apprehension, clear in discernment, of
far-reaching intelligence, and all-embracing knowledge, fitted to
exercise rule; magnanimous, generous, benign, and mild, fitted to
exercise forbearance; impulsive, energetic, firm, and enduring,
fitted to maintain a firm hold; self-adjusted, grave, never
swerving from the Mean, and correct, fitted to command reverence;
accomplished, distinctive, concentrative, and searching, fitted to
31:2. All-embracing is he and
vast, deep and active as a fountain, sending forth in their due
season his virtues.
31:3. All-embracing and vast, he is
like Heaven. Deep and active as a fountain, he is like the abyss.
He is seen, and the people all reverence him; he speaks, and the
people all believe him; he acts, and the people all are pleased
31:4. Therefore his fame overspreads the Middle
Kingdom, and extends to all barbarous tribes. Wherever ships and
carriages reach; wherever the strength of man penetrates; wherever
the heavens overshadow and the earth sustains; wherever the sun
and moon shine; wherever frosts and dews fall: all who have blood
and breath unfeignedly honour and love him. Hence it is said, `He
is the equal of Heaven.'
~ Chapter 32 ~
32:1. It is only the individual
possessed of the most entire sincerity that can exist under
Heaven, who can adjust the great invariable relations of mankind,
establish the great fundamental virtues of humanity, and know the
transforming and nurturing operations of Heaven and Earth; shall
this individual have any being or anything beyond himself on which
32:2. Call him man in his ideal, how earnest
is he! Call him an abyss, how deep is he! Call him Heaven, how
vast is he!
32:3. Who can know him, but he who is indeed
quick in apprehension, clear in discernment, of far-reaching
intelligence, and all-embracing knowledge, possessing all Heavenly
~ Chapter 33 ~
33:1. It is said in the Book of
Poetry, `Over her embroidered robe she puts a plain single
garment,' intimating a dislike to the display of the elegance of
the former. Just so, it is the way of the superior man to prefer
the concealment of his virtue, while it daily becomes more
illustrious, and it is the way of the mean man to seek notoriety,
while he daily goes more and more to ruin. It is characteristic of
the superior man, appearing insipid, yet never to produce satiety;
while showing a simple negligence, yet to have his accomplishments
recognised; while seemingly plain, yet to be discriminating. He
knows how what is distant lies in what is near. He knows where the
wind proceeds from. He knows how what is minute becomes
manifested. Such a one, we may be sure, will enter into virtue.
33:2. It is said in the Book of Poetry, `Although the fish
sink and lie at the bottom, it is still quite clearly seen.'
Therefore the superior man examines his heart, that there may be
nothing wrong there, and that he may have no cause for
dissatisfaction with himself. That wherein the superior man cannot
be equaled is simply this, his work which other men cannot see.
33:3. It is said in the Book of Poetry, `Looked at in your
apartment, be there free from shame as being exposed to the light
of Heaven.' Therefore, the superior man, even when he is not
moving, has a feeling of reverence, and while he speaks not, he
has the feeling of truthfulness.
33:4. It is said in the
Book of Poetry, `In silence is the offering presented, and the
spirit approached to; there is not the slightest contention.'
Therefore the superior man does not use rewards, and the people
are stimulated to virtue. He does not show anger, and the people
are awed more than by hatchets and battle-axes.
is said in the Book of Poetry, `What needs no display is virtue.
All the princes imitate it.' Therefore, the superior man being
sincere and reverential, the whole world is conducted to a state
of happy tranquility.
33:6. It is said in the Book of
Poetry, `I regard with pleasure your brilliant virtue, making no
great display of itself in sounds and appearances.' The Master
said, `Among the appliances to transform the people, sound and
appearances are but trivial influences. It is said in another ode,
"His Virtue is light as a hair." Still, a hair will
admit of comparison as to its size. "The doings of the
supreme Heaven have neither sound nor smell." That is perfect
The above is the thirty-third chapter. Tsze-sze
having carried his descriptions to the extremest point in the
preceding chatpers, turns back in this, and examines the source of
his subject; and then again from the work of the learner, free
from all selfishness, and watchful over himself when he is alone,
he carries out his description, till by easy steps he brings it to
the consummation of the whole kingdom tranquillized by simple and
sincere reverentialness. He further eulogizes its mysteriousness,
till he speaks of it at last as without sound or smell. He here
takes up the sum of his whole Work, and speaks of it in a
compendious manner. Most deep and earners was he in thus going
again over his ground, admonishing and instructing men: shall the
learner not do his utmost in the study of the Work?