THE ANALECTS OF K'UNG FU-TZU
Translation by Arthur
- 1. The Master said, To learn and at due times to repeat what one has
learnt, is that not after all a pleasure? That friends should come to one from
afar, is this not after all delightful? To remain unsoured even though one's
merits are unrecognized by others, is that not after all what is expected of a
- 2. Master Yu said, Those who in private life behave well towards their
parents and elder brothers, in public life seldom show a disposition to resist
the authority of their superiors. And as for such men starting a revolution,
no instance of it has ever occurred. It is upon the trunk that a gentleman
works. When that is firmly set up, the Way grows. And surely proper behavior
towards parents and elder brothers is the trunk of Goodness?
- 3. The Master said, 'Clever talk and a pretentious manner' are seldom
found in the Good.
- 4. Master Tseng said, Every day I examine myself on these three points: in
acting on behalf of others, have I always been loyal to their interests? In
intercourse with my friends, have I always been true to my word? Have I failed
to repeats the precepts that have been handed down to me?
- 5. The Master said, A country of a thousand war chariots cannot be
administered unless the ruler attends strictly to business, punctually
observes his promises, is economical in expenditure, shows affection towards
his subjects in general, and uses the labor of the peasantry only at the
proper times of year.
- 6. The Master said, A young man's duty is to behave well to his parents at
home and to his elders abroad, to be cautious in giving promises and punctual
in keeping them, to have kindly feelings towards everyone, but seek the
intimacy of the Good. If, when all that is done, he has any energy to spare,
then let him study the polite arts.
- 7. Tzu-hsia said, A man who
- Treats his betters as betters,
- Wears an air of respect,
- Who into serving father and mother
- Knows how to put his whole strength,
- Who in the service of his prince will lay down his life,
- Who in intercourse with friends is true to his word--
- others may say of him that he still lacks education, but I for my part
should certainly call him an educated man.
- 8. The Master said, If a gentleman is frivolous, he will lose the respect
of his inferiors and lack firm ground upon which to build up his education.
First and foremost he must learn to be faithful to his superiors, to keep
promises, to refuse the friendship of all who are not like him [i.e., do not
share his values]. And if he finds he has made a mistake, then he--must not be
afraid of admitting the fact and amending his ways.
- 9. Master Tseng said, When proper respect towards the dead is shown at the
End and continued after they are far away the moral force (tê) of a
people has reached its highest point.
- 10. Tzu-Ch'in said to Tzu-kung, When our Master arrives in a fresh country
he always manages to find out about its policy. Does he do this by asking
questions, or do people tell him of their own accord? Tzu-kung said, Our
Master gets things by being cordial, frank, courteous, temperate, deferential.
That is our Master's way of inquiring--a very different matter, certainly,
from the way in which inquiries are generally made.
- 11. The Master said, While a man's father is alive, you can only see his
intentions; it is when his father dies that you discover whether or not he is
capable of carrying them out. If for the whole three years of mourning he
manages to carry on the household exactly as in his father's day, then he is a
good son indeed.
- 12. Master Yu said, In the usages of ritual it is harmony that is prized;
the Way of the Former Kings from this got its beauty. Both small matters and
great depend upon it. If things go amiss, he who knows the harmony will be
able to attune them. But if harmony itself is not modulated by ritual, things
will still go amiss.
- 13. Master Yu said,
- In your promises cleave to what is right,
- And you will be able to fulfill your word.
- In your obeisances cleave to ritual,
- And you will keep dishonor at bay.
- Marry one who has not betrayed her own kin,
- And you may safely present her to your ancestors.
- 14. The Master said, A gentleman who never goes on eating till he is
sated, who does not demand comfort in his home, who is diligent in business
and cautious in speech, who associates with those that possess the Way and
thereby corrects his own faults--such a one may indeed be said to have a taste
- 15. Tzu-kung said, 'Poor without cadging, rich without swagger.' What of
that? The Master said, Not bad. But better still, 'Poor, yet delighting in the
Way; rich, yet a student of ritual.' Tzu-kung said, The saying of the
- As thing cut, as thing filed,
- As thing chiseled, as thing polished
- refers, I suppose, to what you have just said? The Master said, Ssu, now I
can really begin to talk to you about the Songs, for when I allude to
sayings of the past, you see what bearing they have on what was to come after.
- 16. The Master said, (the good man) does not grieve that other people do
not recognize his merits. His only anxiety is lest he should fail to recognize
- 1. The Master said, He who rules by moral force (tê) is like the
pole-star, which remains in its place while all the lesser stars do homage to
- 2. The Master said, If out of the three hundred Songs I had to take
one phrase to cover all my teaching, I would say 'Let there be no evil in your
- 3. The Master said, Govern the people by regulations, keep order among
them by chastisements, and they will flee from you, and lose all self-respect.
Govern them by moral force, keep order among them by ritual and they will keep
their self-respect and come to you of their own accord.
- 4. The Master said, At fifteen I set my heart upon learning. At thirty, I
had planted my feet firm upon the ground. At forty, I no longer suffered from
perplexities. At fifty, I knew what were the biddings of Heaven. At sixty, I
heard them with docile ear. At seventy, I could follow the dictates of my own
heart; for what I desired no longer overstepped the boundaries of right.
- 5. Meng I Tzu asked about the treatment of parents. The Master said, Never
disobey! When Fan Ch'ih was driving his carriage for him, the Master said,
Meng asked me about the treatment of parents and I said, Never disobey! Fan
Ch'ih said, In what sense did you mean it? The Master said, While they are
alive, serve them according to ritual. When they die, bury them according to
ritual and sacrifice to them according to ritual.
- 6. Meng Wu Po asked about the treatment of parents. The Master said,
Behave in such a way that your father and mother have no anxiety about you,
except concerning your health.
- 7. Tzu-yu asked about the treatment of parents. The Master said, 'Filial
sons' nowadays are people who see to it that their parents get enough to eat.
But even dogs and horses are cared for to that extent. If there is no feeling
of respect, wherein lies the difference?
- 8. Tzu-hsia asked about the treatment of parents. The Master said, It is
the demeanor that is difficult. Filial piety does not consist merely in young
people undertaking the hard work, when anything has to be done, or serving
their elders first with wine and food. It is something much more than that.
- 9. The Master said, I can talk to Yen Hui a whole day without his ever
differing from me. One would think he was stupid. But if I enquire into his
private conduct when he is not with me I find that it fully demonstrates what
I have taught him. No, Hui is by no means stupid.
- 10. The Master said, Look closely into his aims, observe the means by
which he pursues them, discover what brings him content--and can the man's
real worth remain hidden from you, can it remain hidden from you?
- 11. The Master said, He who by reanimating the Old can gain knowledge of
the New is fit to be a teacher.
- 12. The Master said, A gentleman is not an implement.
- 13. Tzu-kung asked about the true gentleman. The Master said, He does not
preach what he practices till he has practiced what he preaches.
- 14. The Master said, A gentleman can see a question from all sides without
bias. The small man is biased and can see a question only from one side.
- 15. The Master said, 'He who learns but does not think, is lost.' He who
thinks but does not learn is in great danger.
- 16. The Master said, He who sets to work upon a different strand destroys
the whole fabric.
- 17. The Master said, Yu, shall I teach you what knowledge is? When you
know a thing, to recognize that you know it, and when you do not know a thing,
to recognize that you do not know it. That is knowledge.
- 18. Tzu-chang was studying the Song Han-lu. The Master said, Hear
much, but maintain silence as regards doubtful points and be cautious in
speaking of the rest; then you will seldom get into trouble. See much, but
ignore what it is dangerous to have seen, and be cautious in acting upon the
rest; then you will seldom want to undo your acts. He who seldom gets into
trouble about what he has said and seldom does anything that he afterwards
wishes he had not done, will be sure incidentally to get his reward.
- 19. Duke Ai asked, What can I do in order to get the support of the common
people? Master K'ung replied, If you 'raise up the straight and set them on
top of the crooked,' the commoners will support you. But if you raise the
crooked and set them on top of the straight, the commoners will not support
- 20. Chi K'ang-tzu asked whether there were any form of encouragement by
which he could induce the common people to be respectful and loyal. The Master
said, Approach them with dignity, and they will respect you. Show piety
towards your parents and kindness toward your children, and they will be loyal
to you. Promote those who are worthy, train those who are incompetent; that is
the best form of encouragement.
- 21. Someone, when talking to Master K'ung, said, How is it that you are
not in the public service? The Master said, The Book says: 'Be filial, only be
filial and friendly towards your brothers, and you will be contributing to
government.' There are other sorts of service quite different from what you
mean by 'service.'
- 22. The Master said, I do not see what use a man can be put to, whose word
cannot be trusted. How can a wagon be made to go if it has no yoke-bar or a
carriage, if it has no collar-bar?
- 23. Tzu-chang asked whether the state of things ten generations hence
could be foretold. The Master said, We know in what ways the Yin modified
ritual when they followed upon the Hsia. We know in what ways the Chou
modified ritual when they followed upon the Yin. And hence we can foretell
what the successors of Chou will be like, even supposing they do not appear
till a hundred generations from now.
- 24. The Master said, Just as to sacrifice to ancestors other than one's
own is presumption, so to see what is right and not do it is cowardice.
- 1. Master K'ung said of the head of the Chi Family when he had eight teams
of dancers performing in his courtyard, If this man can be endured, who cannot
- 2. The Three Families used the Bung Songs during the removal of the
sacrificial vessels. The Master said,
- By rulers and lords attended,
- The Son of Heaven, mysterious--
- What possible application can such words have in the hall of the Three
- 3. The Master said, A man who is not Good, what can he have to do with
ritual? A man who is not Good, what can he have to do with music?
- 4. Lin Fang asked for some main principles in connection with ritual. The
Master said, A very big question. In ritual at large it is a safe rule always
to be too sparing rather than too lavish; and in the particular case of
mourning-rites, they should be dictated by grief rather than by fear.
- 5. The Master said, The barbarians of the East and North have retained
their princes. They are not in such a state of decay as we in China.
- 6. The head of the Chi Family was going to make the offerings on Mount
T'ai. The Master said to Jan Ch'iu, Cannot you save him from this? Jan Ch'iu
replied, I cannot. The Master said, Alas, we can hardly suppose Mount T'ai to
be ignorant of matters that even Lin Fang inquires into!
- 7. The Master said, Gentlemen never compete. You will say that in archery
they do so. But even then they bow and make way for one another when they are
going up to the archery-ground, when they are coming down and at the
subsequent drinking-bout. Thus even when competing, they still remain
- 8. Tzu-hsia asked, saying, What is the meaning of
- Oh the sweet smile dimpling,
- The lovely eyes so black and white!
- Plain silk that you would take for colored stuff.
- The Master said, The painting comes after the plain groundwork. Tzu-hsia
said, Then ritual comes afterwards? The Master said, Shang it is who bears me
up. At last I have someone with whom I can discuss the Songs.
- 9. The Master said, How can we talk about the ritual of the Hsia? The
State of Ch'i supplies no adequate evidence. How can we talk about the ritual
of Yin? The State of Sung supplies no adequate evidence. For there is a lack
both of documents and of learned men. But for this lack we should be able to
obtain evidence from these two States.
- 10. The master said, At the Ancestral Sacrifice, as for all that comes
after the libation, I had far rather not witness it!
- 11. Someone asked for an explanation of the Ancestral Sacrifice. The
Master said, I do not know. Anyone who knew the explanation could deal with
all things under Heaven as easily as I lay this here; and he laid his finger
upon the palm of his hand.
- 12. Of the saying, 'The word "sacrifice" is like the word "present"; one
should sacrifice to a spirit as though that spirit was present,' the Master
said, If I am not present at the sacrifice, it is as though there were no
- 13. Wang-sun Chia asked about the meaning of the saying,
- Better pay court to the stove
- Than pay court to the Shrine.
- The Master said, It is not true. He who has put himself in the wrong with
Heaven has no means of expiation left.
- 14. The Master said, Chou could survey the two preceding dynasties. How
great a wealth of culture! And we follow upon Chou.
- 15. When the Master entered the Grand Temple he asked questions about
everything there. Someone said, Do not tell me that this son of a villager
from Tsou is expert in matters of ritual. When he went to the Grand Temple, he
had to ask about everything. The Master hearing of this said, Just so such is
- 16. The Master said, the saying
- In archery it is not the hide that counts,
- For some men have more strength than others,
- is the way of the Ancients.
- 17. Tzu-kung wanted to do away with the presentation of a sacrificial
sheep at the Announcements of each New Moon. The Master said, Ssu! You grudge
sheep, but I grudge ritual.
- 18. The Master said, Were anyone today to serve his prince according to
the full prescriptions of ritual, he would be thought a sycophant.
- 19. Duke Ting (died 495 B.C.) asked for a precept concerning a ruler's use
of his ministers and a minister's service to his ruler. Master K'ung replied
saying, A ruler in employing his ministers should be guided solely by the
prescriptions of ritual. Ministers in serving their ruler, solely by devotion
to his cause.
- 20. The Master said, The Ospreys! Pleasure not carried to the point of
debauch; grief not carried to the point of self-injury.
- 21. Duke Ai asked Tsai Yü about the Holy Ground. Tsai Yü replied, The Hsia
sovereigns marked theirs with a pine, the men of Yin used a cypress, the men
of Chou used a chestnut-tree, saying, 'This will cause the common people to be
in fear and trembling.' The Master hearing of it said, What is over and done
with, one does not discuss. What has already taken its course, one does not
criticize; what already belongs to the past, one does not censure.
- 22. The Master said, Kuan Chung was in reality a man of very narrow
capacities. Someone said, Surely he displayed an example of frugality? The
Master said, Kuan had three lots of wives, his State officers performed no
double duties. How can he be cited as an example of frugality? That may be,
the other said; but surely he had a great knowledge of ritual? The Master
said, Only the ruler of a State may build a screen to mask his gate; but Kuan
had such a screen. Only the ruler of a State, when meeting another such ruler,
may use cup-mounds; but Kuan used one. If even Kuan is to be cited as an
expert in ritual, who is not an expert in ritual?
- 23. When talking to the Grand Masters of Lu about music, the Master said,
Their music in so far as one can find out about it began with a strict unison.
Soon the musicians were given more liberty; but the tone remained harmonious,
brilliant, consistent, right on till the close.
- 24. The guardian of the frontier-mound at I asked to be presented to the
Master, saying, No gentleman arriving at this frontier has ever yet failed to
accord me an interview. The Master's followers presented him. On going out the
man said, Sirs, you must not be disheartened by his failure. It is now a very
long whiles since the Way prevailed in the world. I feel sure that Heaven
intends to use your Master as a wooden bell.
- 25. The Master spoke of the Succession Dance as being perfect beauty and
at the same time perfect goodness; but of the War Dance as being perfect
beauty but not perfect goodness.
- 26. The Master said, High office filled by men of narrow views, ritual
performed without reverence, the forms of mourning observed without
grief--these are things I cannot bear to see!
- 1. The Master said, It is Goodness that gives to a neighborhood its
beauty. One who is free to choose, yet does not prefer to dwell among the
Good--how can he be accorded the name of wise?
- 2. The Master said, Without Goodness a man
- Cannot for long endure adversity, Cannot for long enjoy prosperity.
- The Good Man rests content with Goodness; he that is merely wise pursues
Goodness in the belief that it pays to do so.
- 3, 4. Of the adage 'Only a Good Man knows how to like people, knows how to
dislike them,' the Master said, He whose heart is in the smallest degree set
upon Goodness will dislike no one.
- 5. Wealth and rank are what every man desires; but if they can only be
retained to the detriment of the Way he professes, he must relinquish them.
Poverty and obscurity are what every man detests; but if they can only be
avoided to the detriment of the Way he professes, he must accept them. The
gentleman who ever parts company with Goodness does not fulfill that name.
Never for a moments does a gentleman quit the way of Goodness. He is never so
harried but that he cleaves to this; never so tottering but that he cleaves to
- 6. The Master said, I for my part have never yet seen one who really cared
for Goodness, nor one who really abhorred wickedness. One who really cared for
Goodness would never let any other consideration come first. One who abhorred
wickedness would be so constantly doing Good that wickedness would never have
a chance to get at him. Has anyone ever managed to do Good with his whole
might even as long as the space of a single day? I think not. Yet I for my
part have never seen anyone give up such an attempt because he had not the
strength to go on. It may well have happened, but I for my part have never
- 7. The Master said, Every man's faults belong to a set. If one looks out
for faults it is only as a means of recognizing Goodness.
- 8. The Master said, In the morning, hear the Way; in the evening, die
- 9. The Master said, A Knight whose heart is set upon the Way, but who is
ashamed of wearing shabby clothes and eating coarse food, is not worth calling
- l0. The Master said, A gentleman in his dealings with the world has
neither enmities nor affections; but wherever he sees Right he ranges himself
- 11. The Master said, Where gentlemen set their hearts upon moral force
(tê), the commoners set theirs upon the soil. Where gentlemen think
only of punishments, the commoners think only of exemptions.
- 12. The Master said, Those whose measures are dictated by mere expediency
will arouse continual discontent.
- 13. The Master said, If it is really possible to govern countries by
ritual and yielding, there is no more to be said. But if it is not really
possible, of what use is ritual?
- 14. The Master said, He does not mind not being in office; all he minds
about is whether he has qualities that entitle him to office. He does not mind
failing to get recognition; he is too busy doing the things that entitle him
- 15. The Master said, Shên! My Way has one (thread) that runs right through
it. Master Tsêng said, Yes. When the Master had gone out, the disciples asked,
saying What did he mean? Master Tsêng said, Our Master's Way is simply this:
- 16. The Master said, A gentleman takes as much trouble to discover what is
right as lesser men take to discover what will pay.
- 17. The Master said, In the presence of a good man, think all the time how
you may learn to equal him. In the presence of a bad man, turn your gaze
- 18. The Master said, In serving his father and mother a man may gently
remonstrate with them. But if he sees that he has failed to change their
opinion, he should resume an attitude of deference and not thwart them; may
feel discouraged, but not resentful.
- 19. The Master said, While father and mother are alive, a good son does
not wander far afield; or if he does so, goes only where he has said he was
- 20. The Master said, If for the whole three years of mourning a son
manages to carry on the household exactly as in his father's day, then he is a
good son indeed.
- 21. The Master said, It is always better for a man to know the age of his
parents. In the one case such knowledge will be a comfort to him; in the
other, it will fill him with a salutary dread.
- 22. The Master said, In old days a man kept a hold on his words, fearing
the disgrace that would ensue should he himself fail to keep pace with them.
- 23. The Master said, Those who err on the side of strictness are few
- 24. The Master said, A gentleman covets the reputation of being slow in
word but prompt in deed.
- 25. The Master said, Moral force (tê) never dwells in solitude; it
will always bring neighbors.
- 26. Tzu-yu said, In the service of one's prince repeated scoldings can
only lead to loss of favor; in friendship, it can only lead to estrangement.
- 1. The Master said of Kung Yeh Ch'ang, Though he has suffered
imprisonment, he is not an unfit person to choose as a husband; for it was not
through any fault of his own. He married him to his daughter.
- The Master said of Nan Jung, In a country ruled according to the Way, he
would not be overlooked; in a country not ruled according to the Way, he would
manage to avoid capital punishment or mutilation. He married him to his elder
- 2. Of Tzu-chien he said, A gentleman indeed is such a one as he! If the
land of Lu were indeed without gentlemen, how could he have learnt this?
- 3. Tzu-kung asked saying, What do you think of me? The Master said, You
are a vessel. Tzu-kung said, What sort of vessel? The Master said, A
sacrificial vase of jade!
- 4. Someone said, Jan Yung is Good, but he is a poor talker. The Master
said, What need has he to be a good talker? Those who down others with
clap-trap are seldom popular. Whether he is Good, I do not know. But I see no
need for him to be a good talker.
- 5. The Master gave Ch'i-tiao K'ai leave to take office, but he replied, 'I
have not yet sufficiently perfected myself in the virtue of good faith.' The
Master was delighted.
- 6. The Master said, The Way makes no progress. I shall get upon a raft and
float out to sea. I am sure Yu would come with me. Tzu-lu on hearing of this
was in high spirits. The Master said, That is Yu indeed! He sets far too much
store by feats of physical daring. It seems as though I should never get hold
of the right sort of people.
- 7. Mêng Wu Po asked whether Tzu-lu was Good. The Master said, I do not
know. On his repeating the question the Master said, In a country of a
thousand war-chariots Yu could be trusted to carry out the recruiting. But
whether he is Good I do not know. 'What about Ch'iu?' The Master said, In a
city of a thousand families or a baronial family with a hundred chariots he
might do well as Warden. But whether he is Good, I do not know. 'What about
Ch'ih? The Master said, Girt with his sash, standing in his place at Court he
might well be charged to converse with strangers and guests. But whether he is
Good, I do not know.
- 8. The Master in discussing Tzu-kung said to him, Which do you yourself
think is the better, you or Hui? He answered saying, I dare not so much as
look at Hui. For Hui has but to hear one part in ten, in order to understand
the whole ten. Whereas if I hear one part, I understand no more than two
parts. The Master said, Not equal to him--you and I are not equal to him!
- 9. Tsai Yü used to sleep during the day. The Master said, Rotten wood
cannot be carved, nor a wall of dried dung be troweled. What use is there in
my scolding him any more? The Master said, There was a time when I merely
listened attentively to what people said, and took for granted that they would
carry out their words. Now I am obliged not only to give ear to what they say,
but also to keep an eye on what they do. It was my dealings with Tsai Yü that
brought about the change.
- 10. The Master said, I have never yet seen a man who was truly steadfast.
Someone answered saying, 'Shên Ch'êng.' The Master said, Ch'êng! He is at the
mercy of his desires. How can he be called steadfast?
- 11. Tzu-kung said, What I do not want others to do to me, I have no desire
to do to others. The Master said, Oh Ssu! You have not quite got to that point
- 12. Tzu-kung said, Our Master's views concerning culture and the outward
insignias of goodness, we are permitted to hear; but about Man's natures and
the ways of Heaven he will not tell us anything at all.
- 13. When Tzu-lu heard any precept and was still trying unsuccessfully to
put it into practice, his one fear was that he might hear some fresh precept.
- 14. Tzu-kung asked saying, Why was K'ung Wen Tzu called Wen ('The
Cultured')? The Master said, Because he was diligent and so fond of learning
that he was not ashamed to pick up knowledge even from his inferiors.
- 15. Of Tzu-ch'an the Master said that in him were to be found four of the
virtues that belong to the Way of the true gentleman. In his private conduct
he was courteous, in serving his master he was punctilious, in providing for
the needs of the people he gave them even more than their due; in exacting
service from the people, he was just.
- 16. The Master said, Yen P'ing Chung is a good example of what one's
intercourse with one's fellow men should be. However long he has known anyone
he always maintains the same scrupulous courtesy.
- 17. The Master said, Tsang Wen Chung kept a Ts'ai tortoise in a hall with
the hill-pattern on its pillar tops and the duckweed pattern on its
king-posts. Of what sort, pray, was his knowledge?
- 18. Tzu-chang asked saying, The Grand Minister Tzu-wên was appointed to
this office on three separate occasions, but did not on any of these three
occasions display the least sign of elation. Three times he was deposed; but
never showed the least sign of disappointment. Each time, he duly informed his
successor concerning the administration of State affairs during his tenure of
office. What should you say of him? The Master said, He was certainly faithful
to his prince's interests. Tzu-chang said, Would you not call him Good? The
Master said, I am not sure. I see nothing in that to merit the title Good.
- (Tzu-chang said) When Ts'ui Tzu assassinated the sovereign of Ch'i, Ch'ên
Wen Tzu who held a fief of ten war chariots gave it up and went away. On
arriving in another State, he said, 'I can see they are no better here than
our minister Ts'ui Tzu'; and he went away. On arriving in the next country, he
said, 'I can see they are no better here than our minister Ts'ui Tzu'; and
went away. What should you say of him? The Master said, He was certainly
scrupulous. Tzu-chang said, Would you not call him Good? The Master said, I am
not sure. I see nothing in that to merit the title Good.
- 19. Chi Wên Tzu used to think thrice before acting. The Master hearing of
it said, Twice is quite enough.
- 20. The Master said, Ning Wu Tzu 'so long as the Way prevailed in his
country showed wisdom; but when the Way no longer prevailed, he showed his
folly.' To such wisdom as his we may all attain; but not to such folly!
- 21. When the Master was in Ch'en he said, Let us go back, let us go back!
The little ones at home are headstrong and careless. They are perfecting
themselves in all the showy insignia of culture without any idea how to use
- 22. The Master said, Po I and Shu Ch'i never bore old ills in mind and had
but the faintest feeling of rancor.
- 23. The Master said, How can we call even Wei-shêng Kao [a man renown for
his truthfulness] upright? When someone asked him for vinegar he went and
begged it from the people next door, and then gave it as though it were his
- 24. The Master said, Clever talk, a pretentious manner and a reverence
that is only of the feet--Tso Ch'iu Ming was incapable of stooping to them,
and I too could never stoop to them. Having to conceal one's indignation and
keep on friendly terms with the people against whom one feels it--Tso Ch'iu
Ming was incapable of stooping to such conduct, and I too am incapable of
stooping to such conduct.
- 25. Once when Yen Hui and Tzu-lu were waiting upon him the Master said,
Suppose each of you were to tell his wish. Tzu-lu said, I should like to have
carriages and horses, clothes and fur rugs, share them with my friends and
feel no annoyance if they were returned to me the worse for wear. Yen Hui
said, I should like never to boast of my good qualities nor make a fuss about
the trouble I take on behalf of others. Tzu-lu said, A thing I should like is
to hear the Master's wish. The Master said, In dealing with the aged, to be of
comfort to them; in dealing with friends, to be of good faith with them; in
dealing with the young, to cherish them.
- 26. The Master said, In vain I have looked for a single man capable of
seeing his own faults and bringing the charge home against himself.
- 27. The Master said, In a hamlet of ten houses you may be sure of finding
someone quite as loyal and true to his word as I. But I doubt if you would
find anyone with such a love of learning.
- 1. The Master said, Now Yung, for example. I should not mind setting him
with his face to the south. Jan Yung then asked about Tzu-sang Po-tzu. The
Master said, He too would do. He is lax. Jan Yung said, I can understand that
such a man might do as a ruler, provided he were scrupulous in his own conduct
and lax only in his dealings with the people. But you would admit that a man
who was lax in his own conduct as well as in government would be too lax. The
Master said, What Yung says is quite true.
- 2. Duke Ai asked which of the disciples had a love of learning. Master
K'ung answered him saying, There was Yen Hui. He had a great love of learning.
He never vented his wrath upon the innocent nor let others suffer for his
faults. Unfortunately the span of life allotted to him by Heaven was short,
and he died. At present there are none or at any rate I have heard of none who
are fond of learning.
- 3. When Kung-hsi Hua was sent on a mission to Ch'i, Master Jan asked that
Hua's mother might be granted an allowance of grain. The Master said, Give her
a cauldron full. Jan said that was not enough. The Master said, Give her a
measure. Master Jan gave her five bundles. The Master said, When Ch'ih went to
Ch'i he drove sleek horses and was wrapped in light furs. There is a saying, A
gentleman helps out the necessitous; he does not make the rich richer still.
- When Yüan Ssu was made a governor, he was given an allowance of nine
hundred measures of grain, but declined it. The Master said, Surely you could
find people who would be glad of it among your neighbors or in your village?
- 4. The Master said of Jan Yung, If the offspring of a bridled ox is
ruddy-coated and has grown its horns, however much people might hesitate to
use it, would the hills and streams really reject it?
- 5. The Master said, Hui is capable of occupying his whole mind for three
months on end with no thought but that of Goodness. The others can do so, some
for a day, some even for a month; but that is all.
- 6. Chi K'ang-tzu asked whether Tzu-lu was the right sort of person to put
into office. The Master said, Yu is efficient. It goes without saying that he
is capable of holding office. Chi K'ang-tzu said, How about Tzu-kung? Would he
be the right sort of person to put into office? The Master said, He can turn
his merits to account. It goes without saying, that he is capable of holding
office. Chi K'ang-tzu said, How about Jan Ch'iu? Would he be the right sort of
person to put into office? The Master said, He is versatile. It goes without
saying that he is capable of holding office.
- 7. The Chi Family wanted to make Min Tzu-ch'ien governor of Pi. Min
Tzu-ch'ien said, Invent a polite excuse for me. If that is not accepted and
they try to get at me again, I shall certainly install myself on the far side
of the Wên.
- 8. When Jan Kêng was ill, the Master went to inquire after him, and
grasping his hand through the window said, It is all over with him! Heaven has
so ordained it-- But that such a man should have such an illness! That such a
man should have such an illness!
- 9. The Master said, Incomparable indeed was Hui! A handful of rice to eat,
a gourdful of water to drink, living in a mean street--others would have found
it unendurably depressing, but to Hui's cheerfulness it made no difference at
all. Incomparable indeed was Hui!
- l0. Jan Ch'iu said, It is not that your Way does not commend itself to me,
but that it demands powers I do not possess. The Master said, He whose
strength gives out collapses during the course of the journey (the Way); but
you deliberately draw the line.
- 11. The Master said to Tzu-hsia, 'You must practise the ju
[uncombativeness or unwarlikeness] of gentlemen, not that of the common people
[i.e., "The unwarlikeness of gentlemen means a preference for tê (moral
force), that of common people is mere cowardice"].
- 12. When Tzu-yu was Warden of the castle of Wu, the Master said, Have you
managed to get hold of the right sort of people there? Tzu-yu said, There is
someone called T'an-t'ai Mieh-ming who 'walks on no by-paths.' He has not once
come to my house except on public business.
- 13. The Master said, Meng Chih-fan is no boaster. When his people were
routed he was the last to flee; but when they neared the city-gate, he whipped
up his horses, saying, It was not courage that kept me behind. My horses were
- 14. The Master said, Without the eloquence of the priests T'o and the
beauty of Prince Ch'ao of Sung it is hard nowadays to get through.
- 15. The Master said, Who expects to be able to go out of a house except by
the door? How is it then that no one follows this Way of ours?
- 16. The Master said, When natural substance prevails over ornamentation,
you get the boorishness of the rustic. When ornamentation prevails over
natural substance, you get the pedantry of the scribe. Only when ornament and
substance are duly blended do you get the true gentleman.
- 17. The Master said, Man's very life is honesty, in that without it he
will be lucky indeed if he escapes with his life.
- 18. The Master said, To prefer it is better than only to know it. To
delight in it is better than merely to prefer it.
- 19. The Master said, To men who have risen at all above the middling sort,
one may talk of things higher yet. But to men who are at all below the
middling sort it is useless to talk of things that are above them.
- 20. Fan Ch'ih asked about wisdom. The Master said, He who devotes himself
to securing for his subjects what it is right they should have, who by respect
for the Spirits keeps them at a distance, may be termed wise.* He asked
about Goodness. The Master said, Goodness cannot be obtained till what is
difficult has been duly done.** He who has done this may be called
- * "When the Spirits
of the hills and streams do not receive their proper share of ritual and
sacrifice they do not 'keep their distance,' but 'possess' human beings,
causing madness, sickness, pestilence, etc."--Note by Arthur Waley
- ** ". . . the
difficult thing is to rid oneself of love of mastery, vanity, resentment, and
- 21. The Master said, The wise man delights in water, the Good man delights
in mountains. For the wise move; but the Good stay still. The wise are happy;
but the Good, secure.
- 22. A single change could bring Ch'i to the level of Lu; and a single
change would bring Lu to the Way.
- 23. The Master said, A horn-gourd that is neither horn nor gourd! A pretty
horn-gourd indeed, a pretty horn-gourd indeed.
- 24. Tsai Yü asked saying, I take it a Good Man, even if he were told that
another Good Man were at the bottom of a well, would go to join him? The
Master said, Why should you think so? 'A gentleman can be broken, but cannot
be dented [or bent]; may be deceived, but cannot be led astray.'
- 24 (Paraphrased). Tsai Yü, half playfully asked whether, since the Good
always go to where other Good Men are, a Good Man would leap into a well on
hearing that there was another Good Man at the bottom of it. Confucius,
responding in the same playful spirit, quotes a maxim about the true
gentleman, solely for the sake of the reference in it to hsien, which
means 'throw down' into a pit or well, but also has the sense 'to pit,' 'to
- 25. The Master said, A gentleman who is widely versed in letters and at
the same time knows how to submit his learning to the restraints of ritual is
not likely, I think, to go far wrong.
- 26. When the Master went to see Nan-tzu, Tzu-lu was not pleased. Whereupon
the Master made a solemn declaration concerning his visit, saying, Whatsoever
I have done amiss, may Heaven avert it, may Heaven avert it!
- 27. The Master said, How transcendent is the moral power of the Middle Use
[i.e., moderation]! That it is but rarely found among the common people is a
fact long admitted.
- 28. Tzu-kung said, If a ruler not only conferred wide benefits upon the
common people, but also compassed the salvation of the whole State, what would
you say of him? Surely, you would call him Good? The Master said, It would no
longer be a matter of 'Good.' He would without doubt be a Divine Sage. Even
Yao and Shun could hardly criticize him. As for Goodness--you yourself desire
rank and standing; then help others to get rank and standing. You want to turn
your own merits to account; then help others to turn theirs to account--in
fact, the ability to take one's own feelings as a guide--that is the sort of
thing that lies in the direction of Goodness.
- 1, 2, 3. The Master said, I have 'transmitted what was taught to me
without making up anything of my own.'* I have been faithful to and
loved the Ancients. In these respects, I make bold to think, not even our old
P'êng can have excelled me. The Master said, I have listened in silence and
noted what was said, I have never grown tired of learning nor wearied of
teaching others what I have learnt. These at least are merits which I can
confidently claim. The Master said, The thought that 'I have left my moral
power (tê) untended, my learning unperfected, that I have heard of
righteous men, but been unable to go to them; have heard of evil men, but been
unable to reform them'--it is these thoughts that disquiet me.
- * "A gentleman does
not make anything up; he merely transmits."--Quote from Mo Tzu, P'ien
46--and note by Arthur Waley.
- 4. In his leisure hours the Master's manner was very free-and-easy, and
his expression alert and cheerful.
- 5. The Master said, How utterly have things gone to the bad with me! It is
long now indeed since I dreamed that I saw the Duke of Chou [a mentor
venerated by Confucius].
- 6. The Master said, Set your heart upon the Way, support yourself by its
power, lean upon Goodness, seek distraction in the arts.
- 7. The Master said, From the very poorest upwards--beginning even with the
man who could bring no better present than a bundle of dried flesh--none has
ever come to me without receiving instruction.
- 8. The Master said, Only one who bursts with eagerness do I instruct; only
one who bubbles with excitement, do I enlighten. If I hold up one corner and a
man cannot come back to me with the other three, I do not continue the lesson.
- 9. If at a meal the Master found himself seated next to someone who was in
mourning, he did not eat his fill. When he had wailed at a funeral, during the
rest of the day he did not sing.
- 10. The Master said to Yen Hui, The maxim
- When wanted, then go;
- When set aside; then hide.
- is one that you and I could certainly fulfill. Tzu-lu said, Supposing you
had command of the Three Hosts ["i.e., the whole army"--note by A. W], whom
would you take to help you? The Master said, The man who was ready to 'beard a
tiger or rush a river' without caring whether he lived or died--that sort of
man I should not take. I should certainly take someone who approached
difficulties with due caution and who preferred to succeed by strategy.
- 11. The Master said, If any means of escaping poverty presented itself,
that did not involve doing wrong, I would adopt it, even though my employment
were only that of the gentleman who holds the whip [i.e., the most menial
task]. But so long as it is a question of illegitimate means, I shall continue
to pursue the quests that I love.
- 12. The rites to which the Master gave the greatest attention were those
connected with purification before sacrifice, with war and with sickness.
- 13. When he was in Ch'i the Master heard the Succession, and for three
months did not know the taste of meat. He said, 'I did not picture to myself
that any music existed which could reach such perfection as this.
- 14. Jan Ch'iu said, Is our Master on the side of the Prince of Wei?
Tzu-kung said, Yes, I must ask him about that. He went in and said, What sort
of people were Po I and Shu Ch'i? The Master said, They were good men who
lived in the days of old. Tzu-kung said, Did they repine? The Master said,
They sought Goodness and got Goodness. Why should they repine? On coming out
Tzu-kung said, Our Master is not on his side.
- 15. The Master said, He who seeks only coarse food to eat, water to drink
and bent arm for pillow, will without looking for it find happiness to boot.
Any thought of accepting wealth and rank by means that I know to be wrong is
as remote from me as the clouds that float above.
- 16. The Master said, Give me a few more years, so that I may have spent a
whole fifty in study, and I believe that after all I should be fairly free
- 17. The occasions upon which the Master used correct pronunciations were
when reciting the Songs or the Books and when practicing ritual
acts. At all such times he used the correct pronunciation.
- 18. The 'Duke of Shê' asked Tzu-lu about Master K'ung (Confucius). Tzu-lu
did not reply. The Master said, Why did you not say 'This is the character of
the man: so intent upon enlightening the eager that he forgets his hunger, and
so happy in doing so, that he forgets the bitterness of his lot and does not
realize that old age is at hand. That is what he is.'
- 19. The Master said, I for my part am not one of those who have innate
knowledge. I am simply one who loves the past and who is diligent in
- 20. The Master never talked of prodigies, feats of strength, disorders or
- 21. The Master said, Even when walking in a party of no more than three I
can always be certain of learning from those I am with. There will be good
qualities that I can select for imitation and bad ones that will teach me what
requires correction in myself.
- 22. The Master said, Heaven begat the power (tê) that is in me.
What have I to fear from such a one as Huan T'ui [A Minister of War]?
- 23. The Master said, My friends, I know you think that there is something
I am keeping from you. There is nothing at all that I keep from you. I take no
steps about which I do not consult you, my friends. Were it otherwise, I
should not be Ch'iu [A familiar name of Confucius himself].
- 24. The Master took four subjects for his teaching: culture, conduct of
affairs, loyalty to superiors and the keeping of promises.
- 25. The Master said, A Divine Sage I cannot hope ever to meet; the most I
can hope for is to meet a true gentleman. The Master said, A faultless man I
cannot hope ever to meet; the most I can hope for is to meet a man of fixed
principles. Yet where all around I see Nothing pretending to be Something,
Emptiness pretending to be Fullness, Penury pretending to be Affluence, even a
man of fixed principles will be none too easy to find.
- 26. The Master fished with a line but not with a net; when fowling he did
not aim at a roosting bird.
- 27. The Master said, There may well be those who can do without knowledge;
but I for my part am certainly not one of them. To hear much, pick out what is
good and follow it, to see much and take due note of it, is the lower of the
two kinds of knowledge [the higher being innate knowledge].
- 28. At Hu village the people were difficult to talk to. But an uncapped
boy [one not yet initiated into manhood] presented himself for an interview.
The disciples were in two minds about showing him in. But the Master said, In
sanctioning his entry here I am sanctioning nothing he may do when he retires.
We must not be too particular. If anyone purifies himself in order to come to
us, let us accept this purification. We are not responsible for what he does
when he goes away.
- 29. The Master said, Is Goodness indeed so far away? If we really wanted
Goodness, we should find that it was at our very side.
- 30. The Minister of Crime in Ch'ên asked whether Duke Chao of Lu knew the
rites. Master K'ung said, He knew the rites. When Master K'ung had withdrawn,
the Minister motioned Wu-ma Ch'i to come forward and said, I have heard the
saying 'A gentleman is never partial.' But it seems that some gentlemen are
very partial indeed. His Highness married into the royal family of Wu who
belong to the same clan as himself, calling her Wu Mêng Tzu. If his Highness
knew the rites, who does not know the rites? Wu-ma Ch'i repeated this to the
Master, who said, I am a fortunate man. If by any chance I make a mistake,
people are certain to hear of it!
- 31. When in the Master's presence anyone sang a song that he liked, he did
not join in at once, but asked for it to be repeated and then joined in.
- 32. The Master said, As far as taking trouble goes, I do not think I
compare badly with other people. But as regards carrying out the duties of a
gentleman in actual life, I have never yet had a chance to show what I could
- 33. The Master said, As to being a Divine Sage or even a Good Man, far be
it from me to make any such claim. As for unwearying effort to learn and
unflagging patience in teaching others, those are merits that I do not
hesitate to claim. Kung-hsi Hua said, The trouble is that we disciples cannot
- 34. When the Master was very ill, Tzu-lu asked leave to perform the Rite
of Expiation. The Master said, Is there such a thing? Tzu-lu answered saying,
There is. In one of the Dirges it says, 'We performed rites of expiation for
you, calling upon the sky-spirits above and the earth-spirits below.' The
Master said, My expiation began long ago!
- 35. The Master said, Just as lavishness leads easily to presumption, so
does frugality to meanness. But meanness is a far less serious fault than
- 36. The Master said, A true gentleman is calm and at ease; the Small Man
is fretful and ill at ease.
- 37. The Master's manner was affable yet firm, commanding but not harsh,
polite but easy.