The Mother Divine
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(500 BC) - (Parts 7 - 8)
Translated by James Legge


The Master said, "A transmitter and not a maker, believing in andloving the ancients, I venture to compare myself with our old P'ang."

The Master said, "The silent treasuring up of knowledge; learningwithout satiety; and instructing others without being wearied -whichone of these things belongs to me?"

The Master said, "The leaving virtue without proper cultivation; thenot thoroughly discussing what is learned; not being able to movetowards righteousness of which a knowledge is gained; and not beingable to change what is not good-these are the things which occasionme solicitude."

When the Master was unoccupied with business, his manner was easy,and he looked pleased.

The Master said, "Extreme is my decay. For a long time, I have notdreamed, as I was wont to do, that I saw the duke of Chau."

The Master said, "Let the will be set on the path of duty.

"Let every attainment in what is good be firmly grasped.

"Let perfect virtue be accorded with.

"Let relaxation and enjoyment be found in the polite arts."

The Master said, "From the man bringing his bundle of dried fleshfor my teaching upwards, I have never refused instruction to anyone."

The Master said, "I do not open up the truth to one who is not eagerto get knowledge, nor help out any one who is not anxious to explainhimself. When I have presented one corner of a subject to any one, andhe cannot from it learn the other three, I do not repeat my lesson."

When the Master was eating by the side of a mourner, he never ate tothe full.

He did not sing on the same day in which he had been weeping.

The Master said to Yen Yuan, "When called to office, to undertakeits duties; when not so called, to he retired-it is only I and youwho have attained to this."

Tsze-lu said, "If you had the conduct of the armies of a greatstate, whom would you have to act with you?"

The Master said, "I would not have him to act with me, who willunarmed attack a tiger, or cross a river without a boat, dying withoutany regret. My associate must be the man who proceeds to action fullof solicitude, who is fond of adjusting his plans, and then carriesthem into execution."

The Master said, "If the search for riches is sure to be successful,though I should become a groom with whip in hand to get them, I willdo so. As the search may not be successful, I will follow after thatwhich I love."

The things in reference to which the Master exercised the greatestcaution were-fasting, war, and sickness.

When the Master was in Ch'i, he heard the Shao, and for three monthsdid not know the taste of flesh. "I did not think'" he said, "thatmusic could have been made so excellent as this."

Yen Yu said, "Is our Master for the ruler of Wei?" Tsze-kung said,"Oh! I will ask him."

He went in accordingly, and said, "What sort of men were Po-i andShu-ch'i?" "They were ancient worthies," said the Master. "Did theyhave any repinings because of their course?" The Master again replied,

They sought to act virtuously, and they did so; what was there forthem to repine about?" On this, Tsze-kung went out and said, "OurMaster is not for him."

The Master said, "With coarse rice to eat, with water to drink,and my bended arm for a pillow;-I have still joy in the midst of thesethings. Riches and honors acquired by unrighteousness are to me asa floating cloud."

The Master said, "If some years were added to my life, I wouldgive fifty to the study of the Yi, and then I might come to be withoutgreat faults."

The Master's frequent themes of discourse were-the Odes, theHistory, and the maintenance of the Rules of Propriety. On all thesehe frequently discoursed.

The Duke of Sheh asked Tsze-lu about Confucius, and Tsze-lu didnot answer him.

The Master said, "Why did you not say to him -He is simply a man,who in his eager pursuit of knowledge forgets his food, who in the joyof its attainment forgets his sorrows, and who does not perceivethat old age is coming on?"

The Master said, "I am not one who was born in the possession ofknowledge; I am one who is fond of antiquity, and earnest in seekingit there."

The subjects on which the Master did not talk, were-extraordinarythings, feats of strength, disorder, and spiritual beings.

The Master said, "When I walk along with two others, they mayserve me as my teachers. I will select their good qualities and followthem, their bad qualities and avoid them."

The Master said, "Heaven produced the virtue that is in me. HwanT'ui-what can he do to me?"

The Master said, "Do you think, my disciples, that I have anyconcealment? I conceal nothing from you. There is nothing which Ido that is not shown to you, my disciples; that is my way."

There were four things which the Master taught -letters, ethics,devotion of soul, and truthfulness.

The Master said, "A sage it is not mine to see; could I see a man ofreal talent and virtue, that would satisfy me."

The Master said, "A good man it is not mine to see; could I see aman possessed of constancy, that would satisfy me.

"Having not and yet affecting to have, empty and yet affecting to befull, straitened and yet affecting to be at ease-it is difficult withsuch characteristics to have constancy."

The Master angled, but did not use a net. He shot,but not atbirds perching.

The Master said, "There may be those who act without knowing why.I do not do so. Hearing much and selecting what is good andfollowing it; seeing much and keeping it in memory: this is the secondstyle of knowledge."

It was difficult to talk profitably and reputably with the people ofHu-hsiang, and a lad of that place having had an interview with theMaster, the disciples doubted.

The Master said, "I admit people's approach to me without committingmyself as to what they may do when they have retired. Why must onebe so severe? If a man purifies himself to wait upon me, I receive himso purified, without guaranteeing his past conduct."

The Master said, "Is virtue a thing remote? I wish to be virtuous,and lo! Virtue is at hand."

The minister of crime of Ch'an asked whether the duke Chao knewpropriety, and Confucius said, "He knew propriety."

Confucius having retired, the minister bowed to Wu-ma Ch'i to comeforward, and said, "I have heard that the superior man is not apartisan. May the superior man be a partisan also? The princemarried a daughter of the house of WU, of the same surname withhimself, and called her-'The elder Tsze of Wu.' If the prince knewpropriety, who does not know it?"

Wu-ma Ch'i reported these remarks, and the Master said, "I amfortunate! If I have any errors, people are sure to know them."

When the Master was in company with a person who was singing, ifhe sang well, he would make him repeat the song, while heaccompanied it with his own voice.

The Master said, "In letters I am perhaps equal to other men, butthe character of the superior man, carrying out in his conduct what heprofesses, is what I have not yet attained to."

The Master said, "The sage and the man of perfect virtue -how dare Irank myself with them? It may simply be said of me, that I strive tobecome such without satiety, and teach others without weariness."

Kung-hsi Hwa said, "This is just what we, the disciples, cannotimitate you in."

The Master being very sick, Tsze-lu asked leave to pray for him.He said, "May such a thing be done?" Tsze-lu replied, "It may. Inthe Eulogies it is said, 'Prayer has been made for thee to the spiritsof the upper and lower worlds.'" The Master said, "My praying has beenfor a long time."

The Master said, "Extravagance leads to insubordination, andparsimony to meanness. It is better to be mean than to beinsubordinate."

The Master said, "The superior man is satisfied and composed; themean man is always full of distress."

The Master was mild, and yet dignified; majestic, and yet notfierce; respectful, and yet easy.


The Master said, "T'ai-po may be said to have reached the highestpoint of virtuous action. Thrice he declined the kingdom, and thepeople in ignorance of his motives could not express their approbationof his conduct."

The Master said, "Respectfulness, without the rules of propriety,becomes laborious bustle; carefulness, without the rules of propriety,becomes timidity; boldness, without the rules of propriety, becomesinsubordination; straightforwardness, without the rules ofpropriety, becomes rudeness.

"When those who are in high stations perform well all their dutiesto their relations, the people are aroused to virtue. When old friendsare not neglected by them, the people are preserved from meanness."

The philosopher Tsang being ill, he cared to him the disciples ofhis school, and said, "Uncover my feet, uncover my hands. It is saidin the Book of Poetry, 'We should be apprehensive and cautious, asif on the brink of a deep gulf, as if treading on thin ice, I and sohave I been. Now and hereafter, I know my escape from all injury to myperson. O ye, my little children."

The philosopher Tsang being ill, Meng Chang went to ask how he was.

Tsang said to him, "When a bird is about to die, its notes aremournful; when a man is about to die, his words are good.

"There are three principles of conduct which the man of high rankshould consider specially important:-that in his deportment and mannerhe keep from violence and heedlessness; that in regulating hiscountenance he keep near to sincerity; and that in his words and toneshe keep far from lowness and impropriety. As to such matters asattending to the sacrificial vessels, there are the proper officersfor them."

The philosopher Tsang said, "Gifted with ability, and yet puttingquestions to those who were not so; possessed of much, and yet puttingquestions to those possessed of little; having, as though he hadnot; full, and yet counting himself as empty; offended against, andyet entering into no altercation; formerly I had a friend whopursued this style of conduct."

The philosopher Tsang said, "Suppose that there is an individual whocan be entrusted with the charge of a young orphan prince, and canbe commissioned with authority over a state of a hundred li, andwhom no emergency however great can drive from his principles:-is sucha man a superior man? He is a superior man indeed."

The philosopher Tsang said, "The officer may not be withoutbreadth of mind and vigorous endurance. His burden is heavy and hiscourse is long.

"Perfect virtue is the burden which he considers it is his tosustain;-is it not heavy? Only with death does his course stop;-isit not long?

The Master said, "It is by the Odes that the mind is aroused.

"It is by the Rules of Propriety that the character is established.

"It is from Music that the finish is received."

The Master said, "The people may be made to follow a path of action,but they may not be made to understand it."

The Master said, "The man who is fond of daring and isdissatisfied with poverty, will proceed to insubordination. So willthe man who is not virtuous, when you carry your dislike of him toan extreme."

The Master said, "Though a man has abilities as admirable asthose of the Duke of Chau, yet if he be proud and niggardly, thoseother things are really not worth being looked at."

The Master said, "It is not easy to find a man who has learned forthree years without coming to be good."

The Master said, "With sincere faith he unites the love of learning;holding firm to death, he is perfecting the excellence of his course.

"Such an one will not enter a tottering state, nor dwell in adisorganized one. When right principles of government prevail in thekingdom, he will show himself; when they are prostrated, he willkeep concealed.

"When a country is well governed, poverty and a mean condition arethings to be ashamed of. When a country is ill governed, riches andhonor are things to be ashamed of."

The Master said, "He who is not in any particular office has nothingto do with plans for the administration of its duties."

The Master said, "When the music master Chih first entered on hisoffice, the finish of the Kwan Tsu was magnificent;-how it filledthe ears!"

The Master said, "Ardent and yet not upright, stupid and yet notattentive; simple and yet not sincere:-such persons I do notunderstand."

The Master said, "Learn as if you could not reach your object, andalways feared also lest you should lose it."

The Master said, "How majestic was the manner in which Shun and Yuheld possession of the empire, as if it were nothing to them!

The Master said, "Great indeed was Yao as a sovereign! Howmajestic was he! It is only Heaven that is grand, and only Yaocorresponded to it. How vast was his virtue! The people could findno name for it.

"How majestic was he in the works which he accomplished! Howglorious in the elegantregulations which he instituted!"

Shun had five ministers, and the empire was well governed.

King Wu said, "I have ten able ministers."

Confucius said, "Is not the saying that talents are difficult tofind, true? Only when the dynasties of T'ang and Yu met, were theymore abundant than in this of Chau, yet there was a woman amongthem. The able ministers were no more than nine men.

"King Wan possessed two of the three parts of the empire, and withthose he served the dynasty of Yin. The virtue of the house of Chaumay be said to have reached the highest point indeed."

The Master said, "I can find no flaw in the character of Yu. He usedhimself coarse food and drink, but displayed the utmost filial pietytowards the spirits. His ordinary garments were poor, but he displayedthe utmost elegance in his sacrificial cap and apron. He lived in alow, mean house, but expended all his strength on the ditches andwater channels. I can find nothing like a flaw in Yu."