The Library

The Analects of Confucius


The Duke Ling of Wei asked Confucius about tactics. Confucius
replied, "I have heard all about sacrificial vessels, but I have not
learned military matters." On this, he took his departure the next
When he was in Chan, their provisions were exhausted, and his
followers became so in that they were unable to rise.
Tsze-lu, with evident dissatisfaction, said, "Has the superior man
likewise to endure in this way?" The Master said, "The superior man
may indeed have to endure want, but the mean man, when he is in
want, gives way to unbridled license."
The Master said, "Ts'ze, you think, I suppose, that I am one who
learns many things and keeps them in memory?"
Tsze-kung replied, "Yes,-but perhaps it is not so?"
"No," was the answer; "I seek a unity all pervading."
The Master said, "Yu I those who know virtue are few."
The Master said, "May not Shun be instanced as having governed
efficiently without exertion? What did he do? He did nothing but
gravely and reverently occupy his royal seat."
Tsze-chang asked how a man should conduct himself, so as to be
everywhere appreciated.
The Master said, "Let his words be sincere and truthful and his
actions honorable and careful;-such conduct may be practiced among the
rude tribes of the South or the North. If his words be not sincere and
truthful and his actions not honorable and carefull will he, with such
conduct, be appreciated, even in his neighborhood?
"When he is standing, let him see those two things, as it were,
fronting him. When he is in a carriage, let him see them attached to
the yoke. Then may he subsequently carry them into practice."
Tsze-chang wrote these counsels on the end of his sash.
The Master said, "Truly straightforward was the historiographer
Yu. When good government prevailed in his state, he was like an arrow.
When bad government prevailed, he was like an arrow. A superior man
indeed is Chu Po-yu! When good government prevails in his state, he is
to be found in office. When bad government prevails, he can roll his
principles up, and keep them in his breast."
The Master said, "When a man may be spoken with, not to speak to him
is to err in reference to the man. When a man may not be spoken
with, to speak to him is to err in reference to our words. The wise
err neither in regard to their man nor to their words."
The Master said, "The determined scholar and the man of virtue
will not seek to live at the expense of injuring their virtue. They
will even sacrifice their lives to preserve their virtue complete."
Tsze-kung asked about the practice of virtue. The Master said,
"The mechanic, who wishes to do his work well, must first sharpen
his tools. When you are living in any state, take service with the
most worthy among its great officers, and make friends of the most
virtuous among its scholars."
Yen Yuan asked how the government of a country should be
The Master said, "Follow the seasons of Hsia.
"Ride in the state carriage of Yin.
"Wear the ceremonial cap of Chau.
"Let the music be the Shao with its pantomimes. Banish the songs
of Chang, and keep far from specious talkers. The songs of Chang are
licentious; specious talkers are dangerous."
The Master said, "If a man take no thought about what is distant, he
will find sorrow near at hand."
The Master said, "It is all over! I have not seen one who loves
virtue as he loves beauty."
The Master said, "Was not Tsang Wan like one who had stolen his
situation? He knew the virtue and the talents of Hui of Liu-hsia,
and yet did not procure that he should stand with him in court."
The Master said, "He who requires much from himself and little
from others, will keep himself from being the object of resentment."
The Master said, "When a man is not in the habit of saying-'What
shall I think of this? What shall I think of this?' I can indeed do
nothing with him!"
The Master said, "When a number of people are together, for a
whole day, without their conversation turning on righteousness, and
when they are fond of carrying out the suggestions of a small
shrewdness;-theirs is indeed a hard case."
The Master said, "The superior man in everything considers
righteousness to be essential. He performs it according to the rules
of propriety. He brings it forth in humility. He completes it with
sincerity. This is indeed a superior man."
The Master said, "The superior man is distressed by his want of
ability. He is not distressed by men's not knowing him."
The Master said, "The superior man dislikes the thought of his
name not being mentioned after his death."
The Master said, "What the superior man seeks, is in himself. What
the mean man seeks, is in others."
The Master said, "The superior man is dignified, but does not
wrangle. He is sociable, but not a partisan."
The Master said, "The superior man does not promote a man simply
on account of his words, nor does he put aside good words because of
the man."
Tsze-kung asked, saying, "Is there one word which may serve as a
rule of practice for all one's life?" The Master said, "Is not
RECIPROCITY such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not
do to others."
The Master said, "In my dealings with men, whose evil do I blame,
whose goodness do I praise, beyond what is proper? If I do sometimes
exceed in praise, there must be ground for it in my examination of the
"This people supplied the ground why the three dynasties pursued the
path of straightforwardness."
The Master said, "Even in my early days, a historiographer would
leave a blank in his text, and he who had a horse would lend him to
another to ride. Now, alas! there are no such things."
The Master said, "Specious words confound virtue. Want of
forbearance in small matters confounds great plans."
The Master said, "When the multitude hate a man, it is necessary
to examine into the case. When the multitude like a man, it is
necessary to examine into the case."
The Master said, "A man can enlarge the principles which he follows;
those principles do not enlarge the man."
The Master said, "To have faults and not to reform them,-this,
indeed, should be pronounced having faults."
The Master said, "I have been the whole day without eating, and
the whole night without sleeping:-occupied with thinking. It was of no
use. better plan is to learn."
The Master said, "The object of the superior man is truth. Food is
not his object. There is plowing;-even in that there is sometimes
want. So with learning;-emolument may be found in it. The superior man
is anxious lest he should not get truth; he is not anxious lest
poverty should come upon him."
The Master said, "When a man's knowledge is sufficient to attain,
and his virtue is not sufficient to enable him to hold, whatever he
may have gained, he will lose again.
"When his knowledge is sufficient to attain, and he has virtue
enough to hold fast, if he cannot govern with dignity, the people will
not respect him.
"When his knowledge is sufficient to attain, and he has virtue
enough to hold fast; when he governs also with dignity, yet if he
try to move the people contrary to the rules of propriety:-full
excellence is not reached."
The Master said, "The superior man cannot be known in little
matters; but he may be intrusted with great concerns. The small man
may not be intrusted with great concerns, but he may be known in
little matters."
The Master said, "Virtue is more to man than either water or fire. I
have seen men die from treading on water and fire, but I have never
seen a man die from treading the course of virtue."
The Master said, "Let every man consider virtue as what devolves
on himself. He may not yield the performance of it even to his
The Master said, "The superior man is correctly firm, and not firm
The Master said, "A minister, in serving his prince, reverently
discharges his duties, and makes his emolument a secondary
The Master said, "In teaching there should be no distinction of
The Master said, "Those whose courses are different cannot lay plans
for one another."
The Master said, "In language it is simply required that it convey
the meaning."
The music master, Mien, having called upon him, when they came to
the steps, the Master said, "Here are the steps." When they came to
the mat for the guest to sit upon, he said, "Here is the mat." When
all were seated, the Master informed him, saying, "So and so is
here; so and so is here."
The music master, Mien, having gone out, Tsze-chang asked, saying.
"Is it the rule to tell those things to the music master?"
The Master said, "Yes. This is certainly the rule for those who lead
the blind."