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Mencius - 371 B.C.

A REAL MAN is one whose goodness is a part of himself. Of the qualities of the sage, none is greater than that of being a helper of men to right Living. He is ashamed of a reputation beyond his desert. Having found the right way within himself, he rests in it, firm and serene, holding intimate converse with it, and reaching to its fountain-head. He obeys the right and waits for the appointed. His words are plain and simple, yet of widest bearing. His aim is self culture, yet it gives peace to all men.

All things are already complete in us. There is no greater delight than to be conscious of right within us. If one strive to . treat others as he would be treated by them, he shall not fail to come near the perfect life. Every duty is a charge, but the charge of oneself is the root of all others. The disease of men is to neglect their own fields and go to weeding those of others, to exact much from others and Lay Light burdens on themselves.

Over-readiness of speech comes of not having been reproved.

Even those who strive to be perfect stand in need of reproof.

A true scholar holds possession of himself, neither by riches nor poverty forced away from his virtue.


LET not a man do what his sense of right bids him not to do, nor desire what it forbids him to desire. This is sufficient. The skilful artist will not alter his measures for the sake of a stupid workman.

When right ways disappear, one's person must vanish with one's principles.

The honor which man confers is not true honor. Those to whom Chaou Mang gave rank, he can degrade again. He whose good name comes from what he is, needs no trappings.

The ancients cultivated the nobility of Heaven, Leaving that of men to follow in its train. Serving Heaven consists in nourishing the real constitution of our being, anxious neither about death or life.


WHEN Heaven is about to confer a great office on any man, it first disciplines his mind with suffering, and his bones and sinews with toil.

It exposes him to want and subjects him to extreme poverty.

It confounds his undertakings.

By all these methods it stimulates his mind, hardens him, an supplies his incompetencies.


To nourish the heart there is nothing better than to make the desires few. Here is a man whose desires are few; in some things he may not be able to keep his heart, but they will be few. Here is a man whose desires are many; in some things he may be able to keep his heart, but they will be few.


THE great man is he who does not Lose his child-heart. He does not think beforehand that his words shall be sincere, nor that his acts shall be resolute; he simply abides in the right.

The right path (Tao) is near, yet men seek it afar off.

The labor of duty is easy, yet men seek it in what is difficult.

The way is wide; it is not hard to know. Go home and seek it, and you shall not lack teachers.


IF one treat me unreasonably, I will say : "I must have been wanting in kindness or propriety. How else should this have happened?" Then I will mend my ways. If the other continue perverse, I must have self-respect enough to say, "I must have failed to do my best." If all is vain, I say, "Why vex myself about a wild beast?"

Thus the wise has lifelong vigilance, but not one morning's serious trouble.


THE virtues are not poured into us, they are natural: seek, and you will find them; neglect, and you will lose them. To every faculty and relation belongs its, normal law; but without its fit culture it will decay. How Lamentable to lose this mind and not know how to seek it!

Of all seeds their virtue is in their ripeness. Only he who has studied his mental constitution knows his nature; knowing his nature, he knows Heaven.


THEY are great men who follow that part of them which is great. Let one stand in his nobler part, and the meaner will not be able t' take it from him. This is simply what makes greatness. The superior man desires a wide sphere' that he may give peace to multitudes; but what his nature makes his own, cannot be greatened by the Largeness of his sphere, nor lessened by its Obscurity.

What is a good man? A man who commands our liking, is what is coined a good man.

He whose goodness is part of himself, is what is called a real man.

He whose goodness has been filled up, is what is called a beautiful man.

He whose completed goodness is brightly displayed, is what is called a great man.

When this great man exercises a transforming influence, he is what is called a sage.

When the sage is beyond our knowledge, he is what is called a spirit-man.

Abstract good principles are not enough to give the kingdom peace; laws cannot execute themselves. If the good and wise be not trusted, the State will come to naught. The people are the most important element in a State; the ruler is the least. The empire is not given by one man to another. The choice of Heaven is shown in the conduct of men. It is an old rule that the oppressor may be put to death without warning. King Seuen asked about relatives of the ruler, when high ministers. Mencius replied that, if he had great faults and would not hear advice, they should dethrone him. The king changed countenance.

The disciple Kung-too said: "All are equally men, but some are great men, and some are little men; how is this?" Mencius replied: "Those who follow that part of themselves which is great are great men; those who follow that part which is little are little men."

Kung-too pursued: "All are equally men, but some follow that part of themselves which is great, and some follow that part which is little; how is this?" Mencius answered: "The senses of hearing and seeing do not think, and are obscured by external things. When one thing comes into contact with another, as a matter of course it Leads it away. To the mind belongs the office of thinking. By thinking, it gets the right view of things; by neglecting to think, it fails to do this.

"These, the senses and the mind, are what Heaven has given to us.

"Let a man first stand fast in the supremacy of the nobler part of his constitution, and the inferior part will not be able to take it from him. It is simply this which makes the great man."


THE wise embrace all knowledge, but they are most earnest about what is of the greatest importance. The benevolent embrace all in their Love, but what they consider of the greatest importance is to cultivate an earnest affection for the virtuous. Even the wisdom of Yaou and Shun did not extend to everything, but they attended earnestly to what was important.

Their benevolence did not show itself in acts of kindness to every man, but they earnestly cultivated an affection for the virtuous.

I HATE a semblance which is not the reality. I hate the darnel, lest it be confounded with the corn. I hate glib-tongued ness, lest it be con-founded with righteousness. I hate sharpness of tongue, lest it be confounded with sincerity. I hate the music of Ch'ing, lest it be confounded with the true music. I hate the reddish blue, lest it be confounded with vermilion. I hate your good, careful men of the villages, lest they be confounded with the truly virtuous.


MAN does not live by experience alone, but by transcending experience, assured of what he does not see, and never has seen, as real; nor can he ever recognize the absolute worth and authority involved in the idea of duty but by a mental lift into a sphere above all the limits and contingencies of actual human conduct.


To dwell in the wide house of the world; to stand in true attitude therein; to walk in the wide path of men; in success, to share one's principles with the people; in failure, to Live them out alone; to be incorruptible by riches or honors, unchangeable by poverty, unmoved by perils or power, these I call the qualities of a great man.


THE exercise of Love between father and son, the observance of righteousness between sovereign and minister, the rules of ceremony between guest and host, the display of knowledge in recognizing the talented, and the fulfilling the heavenly course by the sage, these are the appointments of Heaven. But there is an adaptation of our nature for them. The superior man does not say in reference to them, "It is the appointment of Heaven."

For the mouth to desire sweet tastes, the eye to desire beautiful colors, the ear to desire pleasant sounds, the nose to desire fragrant odors, and the four limbs to desire rest and ease, these things are natural. But there is an appointment of Heaven in connection with them, and the superior man does not say of his pursuit of them, "It is my nature."

In the empire there are three things universally acknowledged to be honorable. Nobility is one of them, age is one of them, virtue is one of them.

In courts nobility holds first place, in villages age, and for usefulness to one's generation, and controlling the people, neither is equal to virtue.

When one subdues men by force, they do not submit to him in heart but because not strong enough to resist. When one subdues men by virtue, they are pleased to the heart's core and sincerely submit.


WHEN men die of famine, you say it is the season that is to blame. What does this differ from saying, when you have caused a man's death. "It was not I, but the weapon"?

"When a public officer is neglectful, what would you do with him?"

"Cast him off," replies the king.

"When in the whole kingdom there is no good government, what then?"

King Seuen Looked to the right and left, and spoke of other matters.

When the old and weak are found Lying in ditches, and your granaries are full, and none of your prefects has told you of these things, do not blame the people that they seize their opportunity to repay such treatment!

If you know a tax to be unjust, end it at once!

Man has ten thousand plans for himself; God but one for him. Man cries, "Now, now!' God says, "Not yet, not yet."

A good man protects three villages.

Let your ideas be round and your conduct square.

Right heart need not fear evil seeming. God drives no man to despair.

One day of wedded Life deserves a hundred days of kindness.

Misfortunes issue where diseases enter, - at the mouth.

What is whispered in the ear is heard miles away.

The gods cannot help one who loses opportunities.

Dig your well before you are thirsty. Swim with one foot on the ground. Forbearance is the Jewel of home.

A great man never loses the simplicity of a child.

Prefer right to kindred (in patronage). He who soars not, suffers not by a fall.

If you receive an ox, give back a horse.

Act with kindness, but do not exact gratitude. Give by day, and your reward shall spring by night.

By virtue alone in itself, one never reaches rule over men's hearts.

He must make his virtue sustain others.

Good-will subdues its opposite, as water fire.

Friendship with a man is friendship with his virtue.

A people's Limits do not consist in dikes and borders. The security of a State is not in the strength of mountains and streams. No advantages compare with the accord of men.

They who expect to live without enemies, yet have no kindness for others, are Like one who should try to hold a heated body without dip-ping it in water.

Men expect by their own darkness to enlighten others. The artisan may give a man compass and square, but he cannot make him skillful in the use of them.

What misery they shall suffer who talk of the evil in others. A man must first despise himself, then others will despise him. A family must first overthrow itself, then others will overthrow it. A State must first smite itself, then others will smite it.

Incessant falls teach men to reform, and distresses rouse their strength.

Life springs from calamity, and death from ease. Men of special virtue and wisdom are wont to owe these powers to the trials they have endured.

If you have not passed the bitterness of starvation, you know not the blessings of abundance; if not through the parting of death, you know not the joy of unbroken union; if not through calamity, the pleasure of security; if not through storms, the Luxury of calm.

The white clouds pass; the blue heaven abides Noble natures are calm and content.

The song of a dying bird is plaintive; the words of a dying man are just.

How can man reward the care of Heaven?

Mock not, 0 young man, at gray hairs!

How Long can the opening flower keep its bloom?

The wise place virtue in thought.

A good word has heat enough for three winters; a hard one wounds Like six months of cold. To yield to Heaven is to save one's self.

If there is too much rice in the kitchen, there are starving people on the road.

To help another helps yourself.

Drink Less and Learn more.

The spirits know your secret sins.

Kwan said: "Now the whole kingdom is drowning; how is it that you do not save it?" Mencius replied: "A drowning kingdom must be rescued by right principles, not Like a drowning person, by the hand."

Have you watched the growing grain after the season of drought, how, when the rain falls, it stands up refreshed? Who can keep it back? These shepherds of men all Love to destroy men. Were there but one who did not, the people would hasten to obey him as rushing waters that cannot be stayed.

"Venerable man," said the king, "since you have come here a distance of a thousand Ii, you have doubtless something to say for the profit of my kingdom." Mencius replied: "0 King, why talk of profit? I have humanity and justice for my teaching, nothing more. If these be put Last, and profit first, your officers will not be content till they have stripped you of all."

The wise questions himself, the fool others. When the prince goes to school, he is like other boys.

The highest official is subject to the Law. Whoso is too subservient to masters will reap shame.

A good subject cannot serve two masters; Lay not two saddles on one horse.

A minister who fears death will not be faithful.

Judge not by appearance; the sea cannot be scooped up in a tumbler.

Think reasonably, be strong for virtue, Lean on humanity, and in all things be content.

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