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


The subjects of which the Master seldom spoke were-profitableness, and also the appointments of Heaven, and perfect virtue.

A man of the village of Ta-hsiang said, "Great indeed is thephilosopher K'ung! His learning is extensive, and yet he does notrender his name famous by any particular thing."

The Master heard the observation, and said to his disciples, "Whatshall I practice? Shall I practice charioteering, or shall Ipractice archery? I will practice charioteering."

The Master said, "The linen cap is that prescribed by the rules of ceremony, but now a silk one is worn. It is economical, and I followthe common practice.

"The rules of ceremony prescribe the bowing below the hall, butnow the practice is to bow only after ascending it. That isarrogant. I continue to bow below the hall, though I oppose the commonpractice."

There were four things from which the Master was entirely free. Hehad no foregone conclusions, no arbitrary predeterminations, noobstinacy, and no egoism.

The Master was put in fear in K'wang.

He said, "After the death of King Wan, was not the cause of truthlodged here in me?

"If Heaven had wished to let this cause of truth perish, then I, afuture mortal! Should not have got such a relation to that cause.

While Heaven does not let the cause of truth perish, what can thepeople of K'wang do to me?"

A high officer asked Tsze-kung, saying, "May we not say that yourMaster is a sage? How various is his ability!"

Tsze-kung said, "Certainly Heaven has endowed him unlimitedly. He isabout a sage. And, moreover, his ability is various."

The Master heard of the conversation and said, "Does the highofficer know me? When I was young, my condition was low, and Iacquired my ability in many things, but they were mean matters. Mustthe superior man have such variety of ability? He does not needvariety of ability. Lao said, "The Master said, 'Having no official
employment, I acquired many arts.'"

The Master said, "Am I indeed possessed of knowledge? I am notknowing. But if a mean person, who appears quite empty-like, asksanything of me, I set it forth from one end to the other, andexhaust it."

The Master said, "The Fang bird does not come; the river sends forthno map:-it is all over with me!"

When the Master saw a person in a mourning dress, or any one withthe cap and upper and lower garments of full dress, or a blind person,on observing them approaching, though they were younger thanhimself, he would rise up, and if he had to pass by them, he woulddo so hastily.

Yen Yuan, in admiration of the Master's doctrines, sighed andsaid, "I looked up to them, and they seemed to become more high; Itried to penetrate them, and they seemed to become more firm; I lookedat them before me, and suddenly they seemed to be behind.

"The Master, by orderly method, skilfully leads men on. He enlargedmy mind with learning, and taught me the restraints of propriety.

"When I wish to give over the study of his doctrines, I cannot doso, and having exerted all my ability, there seems something tostand right up before me; but though I wish to follow and lay holdof it, I really find no way to do so."

The Master being very ill, Tsze-lu wished the disciples to act asministers to him.

During a remission of his illness, he said, "Long has the conduct ofYu been deceitful! By pretending to have ministers when I have themnot, whom should I impose upon? Should I impose upon Heaven?

"Moreover, than that I should die in the hands of ministers, is itnot better that I should die in the hands of you, my disciples? Andthough I may not get a great burial, shall I die upon the road?"

Tsze-kung said, "There is a beautiful gem here. Should I lay it upin a case and keep it? Or should I seek for a good price and sell it?"

The Master said, "Sell it! Sell it! But I would wait for one tooffer the price."

The Master was wishing to go and live among the nine wild tribesof the east.

Someone said, "They are rude. How can you do such a thing?" TheMaster said, "If a superior man dwelt among them, what rudenesswould there be?"

The Master said, "I returned from Wei to Lu, and then the musicwas reformed, and the pieces in the Royal songs and Praise songs allfound their proper places."

The Master said, "Abroad, to serve the high ministers and nobles; athome, to serve one's father and elder brothers; in all duties to thedead, not to dare not to exert one's self; and not to be overcome ofwine:-which one of these things do I attain to?"

The Master standing by a stream, said, "It passes on just like this,not ceasing day or night!"

The Master said, "I have not seen one who loves virtue as he lovesbeauty."

The Master said, "The prosecution of learning may be compared towhat may happen in raising a mound. If there want but one basket ofearth to complete the work, and I stop, the stopping is my own work.

It may be compared to throwing down the earth on the level ground.

Though but one basketful is thrown at a time, the advancing with it myown going forward."

The Master said, "Never flagging when I set forth anything tohim;-ah! That is Hui." The Master said of Yen Yuan, "Alas! I saw hisconstant advance. I never saw him stop in his progress."

The Master said, "There are cases in which the blade springs, butthe plant does not go on to flower! There are cases where it flowersbut fruit is not subsequently produced!"

The Master said, "A youth is to be regarded with respect. How dowe know that his future will not be equal to our present? If hereach the age of forty or fifty, and has not made himself heard of,then indeed he will not be worth being regarded with respect."

The Master said, "Can men refuse to assent to the words of strictadmonition? But it is reforming the conduct because of them which isvaluable. Can men refuse to be pleased with words of gentle advice?But it is unfolding their aim which is valuable. If a man be pleasedwith these words, but does not unfold their aim, and assents to those,but does not reform his conduct, I can really do nothing with him."

The Master said, "Hold faithfulness and sincerity as firstprinciples. Have no friends not equal to yourself. When you havefaults, do not fear to abandon them."

The Master said, "The commander of the forces of a large state maybe carried off, but the will of even a common man cannot be taken fromhim."

The Master said, "Dressed himself in a tattered robe quilted withhemp, yet standing by the side of men dressed in furs, and notashamed;-ah! It is Yu who is equal to this!

"He dislikes none, he covets nothing;-what can he do but what isgood!"

Tsze-lu kept continually repeating these words of the ode, whenthe Master said, "Those things are by no means sufficient toconstitute perfect excellence."

The Master said, "When the year becomes cold, then we know how thepine and the cypress are the last to lose their leaves."

The Master said, "The wise are free from perplexities; thevirtuous from anxiety; and the bold from fear."
The Master said, "There are some with whom we may study in common,but we shall find them unable to go along with us to principles.

Perhaps we may go on with them to principles, but we shall find themunable to get established in those along with us. Or if we may getso established along with them, we shall find them unable to weighoccurring events along with us."

"How the flowers of the aspen-plum flutter and turn! Do I notthink of you? But your house is distant."
The Master said, "It is the want of thought about it. How is itdistant?"


Confucius, in his village, looked simple and sincere, and as if hewere not able to speak.

When he was in the prince's ancestral temple, or in the court, hespoke minutely on every point, but cautiously.

When he was waiting at court, in speaking with the great officers ofthe lower grade, he spoke freely, but in a straightforward manner;in speaking with those of the higher grade, he did so blandly, butprecisely.

When the ruler was present, his manner displayed respectfuluneasiness; it was grave, but self-possessed.
When the prince called him to employ him in the reception of avisitor, his countenance appeared to change, and his legs to moveforward with difficulty.

He inclined himself to the other officers among whom he stood,moving his left or right arm, as their position required, butkeeping the skirts of his robe before and behind evenly adjusted.

He hastened forward, with his arms like the wings of a bird.

When the guest had retired, he would report to the prince, "Thevisitor is not turning round any more."
When he entered the palace gate, he seemed to bend his body, as ifit were not sufficient to admit him.
When he was standing, he did not occupy the middle of the gateway;when he passed in or out, he did not tread upon the threshold.

When he was passing the vacant place of the prince, hiscountenance appeared to change, and his legs to bend under him, andhis words came as if he hardly had breath to utter them.

He ascended the reception hall, holding up his robe with both hishands, and his body bent; holding in his breath also, as if he darednot breathe.

When he came out from the audience, as soon as he had descendedone step, he began to relax his countenance, and had a satisfied look.When he had got the bottom of the steps, he advanced rapidly to hisplace, with his arms like wings, and on occupying it, his manner stillshowed respectful uneasiness.

When he was carrying the sceptre of his ruler, he seemed to bend hisbody, as if he were not able to bear its weight. He did not hold ithigher than the position of the hands in making a bow, or lowerthan their position in giving anything to another. His countenanceseemed to change, and look apprehensive, and he dragged his feet alongas if they were held by something to the ground.

In presenting the presents with which he was charged, he wore aplacid appearance.

At his private audience, he looked highly pleased.

The superior man did not use a deep purple, or a puce color, inthe ornaments of his dress.

Even in his undress, he did not wear anything of a red or reddishcolor.

In warm weather, he had a single garment either of coarse or finetexture, but he wore it displayed over an inner garment.

Over lamb's fur he wore a garment of black; over fawn's fur one ofwhite; and over fox's fur one of yellow.

The fur robe of his undress was long, with the right sleeve short.

He required his sleeping dress to be half as long again as his body.

When staying at home, he used thick furs of the fox or the badger.

When he put off mourning, he wore all the appendages of the girdle.

His undergarment, except when it was required to be of the curtainshape, was made of silk cut narrow above and wide below.

He did not wear lamb's fur or a black cap on a visit of condolence.

On the first day of the month he put on his court robes, andpresented himself at court.

When fasting, he thought it necessary to have his clothes brightlyclean and made of linen cloth.

When fasting, he thought it necessary to change his food, and alsoto change the place where he commonly sat in the apartment.

He did not dislike to have his rice finely cleaned, nor to havehis mincemeat cut quite small.

He did not eat rice which had been injured by heat or damp andturned sour, nor fish or flesh which was gone.

He did not eat what wasdiscolored, or what was of a bad flavor, nor anything which wasill-cooked, or was not in season.

He did not eat meat which was not cut properly, nor what wasserved without its proper sauce.

Though there might be a large quantity of meat, he would not allowwhat he took to exceed the due proportion for the rice. It was only inwine that he laid down no limit for himself, but he did not allowhimself to be confused by it.

He did not partake of wine and dried meat bought in the market.

He was never without ginger when he ate. He did not eat much.

When he had been assisting at the prince's sacrifice, he did notkeep the flesh which he received overnight. The flesh of his familysacrifice he did not keep over three days. If kept over three days,people could not eat it.

When eating, he did not converse. When in bed, he did not speak.

Although his food might be coarse rice and vegetable soup, hewould offer a little of it in sacrifice with a grave, respectful air.

If his mat was not straight, he did not sit on it.

When the villagers were drinking together, upon those who carriedstaffs going out, he also went out immediately after.

When the villagers were going through their ceremonies to drive awaypestilential influences, he put on his court robes and stood on theeastern steps.

When he was sending complimentary inquiries to any one in anotherstate, he bowed twice as he escorted the messenger away.

Chi K'ang having sent him a present of physic, he bowed and receivedit, saying, "I do not know it. I dare not taste it."

The stable being burned down, when he was at court, on his return hesaid, "Has any man been hurt?" He did not ask about the horses.

When the he would adjust his mat, first taste it, and then give itaway to others. When the prince sent him a gift of undressed meat,he would have it cooked, and offer it to the spirits of his ancestors.

When the prince sent him a gift of a living animal, he would keep italive.

When he was in attendance on the prince and joining in theentertainment, the prince only sacrificed. He first tasted everything.

When he was ill and the prince came to visit him, he had his head tothe east, made his court robes be spread over him, and drew his girdleacross them.

When the prince's order called him, without waiting for his carriageto be yoked, he went at once.

When he entered the ancestral temple of the state, he asked abouteverything.

When any of his friends died, if he had no relations offices, hewould say, "I will bury him."

When a friend sent him a present, though it might be a carriageand horses, he did not bow.

The only present for which he bowed was that of the flesh ofsacrifice.

In bed, he did not lie like a corpse. At home, he did not put on anyformal deportment.

When he saw any one in a mourning dress, though it might be anacquaintance, he would change countenance; when he saw any one wearing the cap of full dress, or a blind person, though he might be in hisundress, he would salute him in a ceremonious manner.

To any person in mourning he bowed forward to the crossbar of hiscarriage; he bowed in the same way to any one bearing the tables ofpopulation.

When he was at an entertainment where there was an abundance ofprovisions set before him, he would change countenance and rise up.

On a sudden clap of thunder, or a violent wind, he would changecountenance.

When he was about to mount his carriage, he would stand straight,holding the cord.

When he was in the carriage, he did not turn his head quite round,he did not talk hastily, he did not point with his hands.

Seeing the countenance, it instantly rises. It flies round, and byand by settles.

The Master said, "There is the hen-pheasant on the hill bridge. Atits season! At its season!" Tsze-lu made a motion to it. Thrice itsmelt him and then rose.