The Library

The Analects of Confucius


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 the
philosopher K'ung! His learning is extensive, and yet he does not
render his name famous by any particular thing."
The Master heard the observation, and said to his disciples, "What
shall I practice? Shall I practice charioteering, or shall I
practice 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 follow
the common practice.
"The rules of ceremony prescribe the bowing below the hall, but
now the practice is to bow only after ascending it. That is
arrogant. I continue to bow below the hall, though I oppose the common
There were four things from which the Master was entirely free. He
had no foregone conclusions, no arbitrary predeterminations, no
obstinacy, 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 truth
lodged here in me?
"If Heaven had wished to let this cause of truth perish, then I, a
future mortal! should not have got such a relation to that cause.
While Heaven does not let the cause of truth perish, what can the
people of K'wang do to me?"
A high officer asked Tsze-kung, saying, "May we not say that your
Master is a sage? How various is his ability!"
Tsze-kung said, "Certainly Heaven has endowed him unlimitedly. He is
about a sage. And, moreover, his ability is various."
The Master heard of the conversation and said, "Does the high
officer know me? When I was young, my condition was low, and I
acquired my ability in many things, but they were mean matters. Must
the superior man have such variety of ability? He does not need
variety 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 not
knowing. But if a mean person, who appears quite empty-like, ask
anything of me, I set it forth from one end to the other, and
exhaust it."
The Master said, "The Fang bird does not come; the river sends forth
no map:-it is all over with me!"
When the Master saw a person in a mourning dress, or any one with
the cap and upper and lower garments of full dress, or a blind person,
on observing them approaching, though they were younger than
himself, he would rise up, and if he had to pass by them, he would
do so hastily.
Yen Yuan, in admiration of the Master's doctrines, sighed and
said, "I looked up to them, and they seemed to become more high; I
tried to penetrate them, and they seemed to become more firm; I looked
at them before me, and suddenly they seemed to be behind.
"The Master, by orderly method, skillfully leads men on. He enlarged
my mind with learning, and taught me the restraints of propriety.
"When I wish to give over the study of his doctrines, I cannot do
so, and having exerted all my ability, there seems something to
stand right up before me; but though I wish to follow and lay hold
of it, I really find no way to do so."
The Master being very ill, Tsze-lu wished the disciples to act as
ministers to him.
During a remission of his illness, he said, "Long has the conduct of
Yu been deceitful! By pretending to have ministers when I have them
not, whom should I impose upon? Should I impose upon Heaven?
"Moreover, than that I should die in the hands of ministers, is it
not better that I should die in the hands of you, my disciples? And
though 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 up
in 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 to
offer the price."
The Master was wishing to go and live among the nine wild tribes
of the east.
Some one said, "They are rude. How can you do such a thing?" The
Master said, "If a superior man dwelt among them, what rudeness
would there be?"
The Master said, "I returned from Wei to Lu, and then the music
was reformed, and the pieces in the Royal songs and Praise songs all
found their proper places."
The Master said, "Abroad, to serve the high ministers and nobles; at
home, to serve one's father and elder brothers; in all duties to the
dead, not to dare not to exert one's self; and not to be overcome of
wine:-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 loves
The Master said, "The prosecution of learning may be compared to
what may happen in raising a mound. If there want but one basket of
earth 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 my
own going forward."
The Master said, "Never flagging when I set forth anything to
him;-ah! that is Hui." The Master said of Yen Yuan, "Alas! I saw his
constant advance. I never saw him stop in his progress."
The Master said, "There are cases in which the blade springs, but
the plant does not go on to flower! There are cases where it flowers
but fruit is not subsequently produced!"
The Master said, "A youth is to be regarded with respect. How do
we know that his future will not be equal to our present? If he
reach 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 strict
admonition? But it is reforming the conduct because of them which is
valuable. Can men refuse to be pleased with words of gentle advice?
But it is unfolding their aim which is valuable. If a man be pleased
with 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 first
principles. Have no friends not equal to yourself. When you have
faults, do not fear to abandon them."
The Master said, "The commander of the forces of a large state may
be carried off, but the will of even a common man cannot be taken from
The Master said, "Dressed himself in a tattered robe quilted with
hemp, yet standing by the side of men dressed in furs, and not
ashamed;-ah! it is Yu who is equal to this!
"He dislikes none, he covets nothing;-what can he do but what is
Tsze-lu kept continually repeating these words of the ode, when
the Master said, "Those things are by no means sufficient to
constitute perfect excellence."
The Master said, "When the year becomes cold, then we know how the
pine and the cypress are the last to lose their leaves."
The Master said, "The wise are free from perplexities; the
virtuous 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 them
unable to get established in those along with us. Or if we may get
so established along with them, we shall find them unable to weigh
occurring events along with us."
"How the flowers of the aspen-plum flutter and turn! Do I not
think of you? But your house is distant."
The Master said, "It is the want of thought about it. How is it