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Confucius - 551 B.C.


CHI K'ANG TZU questioned Confucius on a point of government, saying: "Ought not I to cut off the Lawless in order to establish Law and order? What do you think?" — Confucius replied : "Sir, what need is there of the death penalty in your system of government? If you showed a sincere desire to be good, your people would likewise be good. The virtue of the prince is Like unto wind; that of the people, like unto grass. For it is the nature of grass to bend, when the wind blows upon it."


YEN YUAN inquired as to the meaning of true goodness. The Master said: "The sub dual of self, and reversion to the natural laws governing conduct - this is truer goodness. If a man can for space of one day subdue his selfishness and revert to natural laws, the whole world will call him good. True goodness springs from a man's own heart. How can it depend on other men?" — Yen Yuan said : "Kindly tell me the practical rule to be deduced from this." — The Master replied: "Do not use your eyes, your ears, your power of speech or your faculty of movement without obeying the inner law of self-control." — Yen Yuan said: "Though I am not quick in thought or act, I will make it my business to carry out this precept."


SSU-MA NIU asked for a definition of the princely man. The Master said: "The princely man is one who knows neither grief nor fear."—Absence of grief and fear! Is it the mark of a princely man? — The Master said : " If on searching his heart he finds no guilt, why should he grieve? of what should he be afraid?"


IT has not been my lot to see a divine man; could I see a princely man, that would satisfy me. It has not been my lot to see a thoroughly virtuous man; could I see a man possessing honesty of soul, that would satisfy me. Is it possible there should be honesty of soul in one who pretends to have what he has not; who, when empty, pretends to be overflowing; who, when in want, pretends to be in affluence?


TZU CHANG asked how to attain exalted virtue. The Master said: "Make conscientiousness and truth your guiding principles, and thus pass on to the cultivation of duty to your neighbor. This is exalted virtue."


TZU CHANG asked : " What must a man do in order to be considered distinguished? " — The Master said : "What do you mean by the term distinguished?" — Tzu Chang replied : " I mean one whose fame fills both his own private circle and the State at Large." — The Master said: "That is notoriety, not distinction. The man of true distinction is simple, honest, and a Lover of justice and duty. He weighs men's words, and observes the expression of their faces.

"He is anxious to put himself below others. Such a one is truly distinguished in his private and his public life. As to the man who is merely much talked about, he puts on an appearance of charity and benevolence, but his actions belie it. He is self-satisfied and has no misgivings.

"Neither in private nor in public life does he achieve more than notoriety."


THE Master said: "The higher type of man makes a sense of duty the groundwork of his character, blends with it in action a sense of harmonious proportion, manifests it in a sense of unselfishness, and perfects it by the addition of sincerity and truth. Then indeed is he a noble character."

The higher type of man seeks all that he wants in himself; the inferior man seeks all that he wants from others.

The higher type of man is firm but not quarrel-some; sociable, but not clannish,

The wise man does not esteem a person more highly because of what he says, neither does he undervalue what is said because of the person who says it.

Is not he a sage who neither anticipates deceit nor suspects bad faith in others, yet is prompt to detect them when they appear?


THE Master wished to settle among the nine Eastern tribes. Someone said: "How can you? They are savages." The Master replied : "If a higher type of men dwelt in their midst, how could their savage condition Last?"


THE noble sort of man pays special attention to nine points. He is anxious to see clearly, to hear distinctly, to be kindly in his Looks, respectful in his demeanor, conscientious in his speech, earnest in his affairs; when in doubt, he is careful to inquire; when in anger, he thinks of the consequences; when offered an opportunity for gain, he thinks only of his duty.


TZU Chang asked Confucius a question about Moral virtue. Confucius replied, " Moral virtue simply consists in being able, anywhere and everywhere, to exercise five particular qualities." Asked what these were, he said: "Self-respect, magnanimity, sincerity, earnestness, and benevolence. Show self-respect, and others will respect you; be magnanimous, and you will win all hearts; be sincere, and men will trust you; be earnest, and you will achieve great things; be benevolent, and you will be fit to impose your will on others."


TZU Lu asked: "Does not the princely man value courage?" The Master said: "He puts righteousness first. The man of high station who has courage without righteousness is a menace to the State; the common man who has courage with-out righteousness is nothing more than a brigand."


TZU Kung asked: "Has the nobler sort of man any hatreds?" The Master replied: "He has. He hates those who publish the faults of others; he hates men of low condition who vilify those above them; he hates those whose courage is unaccompanied by self-restraint; he hates those who are audacious but narrow-minded."

"And you, Tzu," he added, "have you also your hatreds?" " I hate," replied the disciple, "those who think that wisdom consists in prying and meddling; courage, in showing no compliance; and honesty, in denouncing other men."


THERE were four words of which the Master barred the use: He would have no "shall's," no "must's," certainly no "I's."


AT fifteen, my mind was bent on Learning. At thirty I stood firm. At forty I was free from delusions. At fifty I understood the Laws of Providence. At sixty my ears were attentive to the truth. At seventy I could follow the promptings of my heart without overstepping the mean.

The failure to cultivate virtue, the failure to examine and analyze what I have learnt, the inability to move toward righteousness after being shown the way, the inability to correct my faults — these are the causes of my grief.

I do not expound my teaching to any who are not eager to Learn; I do not help out any-one who is not anxious to explain himself; if, after being shown one corner of a subject, a man cannot go on to discover the other three, I do not repeat the lesson.

If the pursuit of riches were a commendable pursuit, I would join in it, even if I had to become a chariot-driver for the purpose. But seeing that it is not a commendable pursuit, I engage in those which are more to my taste.

The Master said: "In me, knowledge is not innate. I am but one who loves antiquity and is earnest in the study of it."

If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself.

There are men, I dare say, who act rightly without knowing the reason why, but I am not one of them. Having heard much, I sift out the good and practice it; having seen much, I retain it in my memory. This is the second order of wisdom.

To divide wisdom and perfect virtue I can Lay no claim. All that can be said of me is that I never falter in the course which I pursue and am unwearying in my instruction of others --this and nothing more. Kung-hsi Hua said: "But those are just the qualities that we, your disciples, are unable to acquire."


MEN'S faults are characteristic. It is by observing a man's faults that one may come to know his virtues.

Observe a man's actions; scrutinize his motives; take note of the things that give him pleasure. How then can he hide from you what he really is?

Acquire new knowledge whilst thinking over the old, and you may become a teacher of others.

Study without thought is vain; thought (on Knowledge) without study is perilous.

Shall I tell you what true knowledge is? When you know, to know that you know, and when you do not know, to know that you do not know that is true knowledge.

The scholar who is bent on studying the principles of virtue, yet is ashamed of bad clothes and coarse food, is not yet fit to receive instruction.


INSTEAD of being concerned that you have no office, be concerned to think how you may fit yourself for office. Instead of being concerned that you are not known, seek to be worthy of being known.


WHEN you see a good man, think of emulating him; when you see a bad man, examine your own heart.

Chi Wen Tzu used to reflect thrice before he acted. When told of this, the Master said: " Twice would do."

The Master said: "Alas! I have never seen a man who could see his own faults and arraign himself at the bar of his own conscience."


WORDS of just admonition cannot fail to command a ready assent. But practical reformation is the thing that really matters. Words of kindly advice cannot fail to please the Listener. But subsequent meditation on them is the thing that really matters.

I can make nothing of the man who is pleased with advice but will not meditate on it, who assents to admonition but does not reform.


CHI LU inquired concerning men's duty to spirits. The Master replied: "Before we are able to do our duty by the Living, how can we do it by the spirits of the dead?" Chi Lu went on to inquire about death. The Master said: "Before we know what life is, how can we know what death is?"


IT is harder to be poor without murmuring than to be rich without arrogance.


THE men of olden time who studied virtue had only their own improvement in view; those who study it now have an eye to the applause of others.


REFUSAL to instruct one who is competent to learn entails the waste of a man. Instruction of one who is incompetent to learn entails waste of words. The wise man is he who wastes neither men nor words.

He who requires much from himself and Little from others will be secure from hatred.

The real fault is to have faults and not. try to amend them.

When a man is generally detested, or when he is generally beloved, closer examination is necessary.

Only two classes of men never change : The wisest of the wise and the dullest of the dull.


SPEAKING to Tzu Lu, the Master said: "Have you ever heard of the six shadows which attend six great virtues?" "No," he replied. "Sit down then, and I will tell you. Love of goodness with-out the will to Learn casts the shadow called foolishness. Love of knowledge without the will to Learn casts the shadow called insensibility. Love of candor without the will to learn casts the shadow called rudeness. Love of daring without the will to Learn casts the shadow called turbulence. Love of firmness without the will to Learn casts the shadow called eccentricity."

Your goody-goody people are the thieves of virtue.


THE Master said: "Would that I could do with-out speaking!" Tzu Kung said: "If our Master never spoke, how could we, his disciples, transmit his doctrines? "The Master replied : " Does God speak? The four seasons hold on their course, and all things continue to live and grow. Yet, tell me, does God speak?"


GIRLS and servants are the most difficult people to handle. If you treat them familiarly, they be-come disrespectful; if you keep them at a distance, they resent it.


WHEN the solid outweighs the ornamental, we have boorishness; when the ornamental out-weighs the solid, we have superficial smartness. Only from a proper blending of the two will the higher type of man emerge.


TSENG TZU said: "Ability asking instruction of incompetence, abundance sitting at the feet of insufficiency, a man of every virtue who thought he had none, solid in character yet making himself a cipher, trespassed against but never retaliating, — such was the humble state of mind in which my Late friend spent his life."

Tzu Hsia said: "The man who can appreciate moral worth and disengage his mind from sensual passion; who can put forth his utmost strength to serve his parents, and Lay down his Life to serve his prince; who speaks sincerely in his intercourse with friends — such a man, though the world may call him untaught, has in my opinion received the best and highest education."

Ssu-ma, Lamenting, said : " All other men have brothers; I alone have none." Tzu Hsia said to him: " I have heard it said that life and death are divine dispensations, that wealth and rank depend on the will of God. The higher type of man is unfailingly attentive to his own conduct, and shows respect and true courtesy to others. Thus all within the world are his brethren. How then should he grieve at having no brothers?"

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