Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy Part 2

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7.33 The Master said, "There is no one who is my equal when it comes to cultural refinement, but as for actually becoming a gentleman in practice, this is something that I have not yet been able to achieve."71 7.34 The Master said, "How could I dare to lay claim to either sageliness or Goodness? What can be said about me is no more than this: I work at it without growing tired and encourage others without growing weary."

Gong Xihua observed, "This is precisely what we disciples are unable to learn."

7.35 The Master was seriously ill, and Zilu asked permission to offer a prayer.

The Master said, "Is such a thing done?"

Zilu said, "It is. The Eulogy 72 reads, 'We pray for you above and below, to the spirits of Heaven and of earth.'"

The Master said, "In that case, I have already been offering up my prayers for some time now."73 7.37 The Master said, "The gentleman is self-possessed and relaxed, while the petty man is perpetually full of worry."

7.38 The Master was affable yet firm, awe-inspiring without being severe, simultaneously respectful and relaxed.

Book Eight.

8.2 The Master said, "If you are respectful but lack ritual you will become exasperating; if you are careful but lack ritual you will become timid; if you are courageous but lack ritual you will become unruly; and if you are upright but lack ritual you will become inflexible.

"If the gentleman is kind to his relatives, the common people will be inspired toward goodness; if he does not neglect his old acquaintances, the people will honor their obligations to others."

8.7 Master Zeng said, "A scholar-official must be strong and resolute, for his burden is heavy and his way [dao ] is long. He takes up Goodness as his own personal burden-is it not heavy? His way ends only with death- is it not long?"

8.8 The Master said, "Find inspiration in the Odes, take your place through ritual, and achieve perfection with music."

8.9 The Master said, "The common people can be made to follow it, but they cannot be made to understand it."

8.12 The Master said, "It is not easy to find someone who is able to learn for even the s.p.a.ce of three years without a thought given to official salary."

8.13 The Master said, "Be sincerely trustworthy and love learning, and hold fast to the good Way until death. Do not enter a state that is endangered, and do not reside in a state that is disordered. If the Way is being realized in the world, then show yourself; if it is not, then go into reclusion. In a state that has the Way, to be poor and of low status is a cause for shame; in a state that is without the Way, to be wealthy and honored is equally a cause for shame."

8.19 The Master said, "How great was Yao as a ruler! So majestic! It is Heaven that is great, and it was Yao who modeled himself upon it. So vast! Among the common people there were none who were able to find words to describe him.74 How majestic in his accomplishments, and glorious in cultural splendor!"

Book Nine.

9.2 A villager from Daxiang75 remarked sarcastically, "How great is Kongzi! He is so broadly learned, and yet has failed to make a name for himself in any particular endeavor."

When the Master was told of this, he said to his disciples, "What art, then, should I take up? Charioteering? Archery? I think I shall take up charioteering."76 9.3 The Master said, "A ceremonial cap made of linen is prescribed by the rites, but these days people use silk. This is frugal, and I follow the majority. To bow before ascending the stairs is what is prescribed by the rites, but these days people bow after ascending. This is arrogant, and-though it goes against the majority-I continue to bow before ascending.77 9.5 The Master was surrounded in Kuang.78 He said, "Now that King Wen is gone, is not culture [wen ] now invested here in me? If Heaven intended this culture to perish, it would not have given it to those of us who live after King Wen's death. Since Heaven did not intend that this culture should perish, what can the people of Kuang do to me?"

9.6 The Prime Minister asked Zigong, "Your Master is a sage, is he not? How is it, then, that he is skilled at so many menial tasks?"

Zigong replied, "Surely Heaven not only not intends him for sagehood, but also gave him many other talents."

When the Master heard of this, he remarked, "How well the Prime Minister knows me! In my youth I was of humble status, so I became proficient in many menial tasks. Is the gentleman broadly skilled in trivial matters? No, he is not."79 9.10 Whenever the Master saw someone who was wearing mourning clothes, was garbed in full official dress, or was blind, he would always rise to his feet, even if the person was his junior. When pa.s.sing such a person, he would always hasten his step.80 9.11 With a great sigh Yan Hui lamented, "The more I look up at it the higher it seems; the more I delve into it, the harder it becomes. Catching a glimpse of it before me, I then find it suddenly at my back.81 "The Master is skilled at gradually leading me on, step by step. He broadens me with culture and restrains me with the rites, so that even if I wanted to give up I could not. Having exhausted all of my strength, it seems as if there is still something left, looming up ahead of me. Though I desire to follow it, there seems to be no way through."

9.12 The Master was gravely ill, and Zilu instructed his fellow disciples to attend Kongzi as if they were his ministers.82 During a remission in his illness, the Master [became aware of what was happening and] rebuked Zilu, saying, "It has been quite some time now, has it not, that you have been carrying out this charade! If I have no ministers and yet you act as if I have, who do you think I am going to fool? Am I going to fool Heaven?83 Moreover, would I not rather die in the arms of a few of my disciples than in the arms of ministers? Even if I do not merit a grand funeral, it is not as if I would be left to die by the side of the road!"

9.13 Zigong said, "If you possessed a piece of beautiful jade, would you hide it away in a locked box, or would you try to sell it at a good price?"

The Master responded, "Oh, I would sell it! I would sell it! I am just waiting for the right offer."84 9.14 The Master expressed a desire to go and live among the Nine Yi Barbarian tribes. Someone asked him, "How could you bear their uncouthness?"

The Master replied, "If a gentleman were to dwell among them, what uncouthness would there be?"85 9.17 Standing on the bank of a river, the Master said, "It pa.s.ses on like this-does it not? Never stopping day or night!"86 9.18 The Master said, "I have yet to meet a man who loves Virtue as much as he loves s.e.x."

9.19 The Master said, "[The task of self-cultivation] might be compared to the task of building up a mountain: if I stop even one basketful of earth short of completion, then I have stopped completely. It might also be compared to the task of leveling ground: even if I have only dumped a single basketful of earth, at least I am moving forward."87 9.22 The Master said, "Surely there are some sprouts that fail to flower, just as surely as there are some flowers that fail to bear fruit!"

9.23 The Master said, "We should look upon the younger generation with awe, because how are we to know that those who come after us will not prove our equals? Once, however, a man reaches the age of forty or fifty without having learned anything, we can conclude from this fact alone that he is not worthy of being held in awe."

9.24 The Master said, "When a man is rebuked with exemplary words after having made a mistake, he cannot help but agree with them. However, what is important is that he change himself in order to accord with them. When a man is praised with words of respect, he cannot help but be pleased with them. However, what is important is that he actually live up to them. A person who finds respectful words pleasing but does not live up to them, or agrees with others' reproaches and yet does not change-there is nothing I can do with one such as this."88 9.28 The Master said, "Only after Winter comes do we know that the pine and cypress are the last to fade."

9.29 The Master said, "The wise are not confused, the Good do not worry, and the courageous do not fear."

Book Ten89.

10.2 At court, when speaking with officers of lower rank, he was pleasant and affable; when speaking with officers of upper rank, he was formal and proper. When his lord was present, he combined an att.i.tude of cautious respect with graceful ease.

10.3 When called upon by his lord to receive a guest, his countenance would become alert and serious, and he would hasten his steps. When he saluted those in attendance beside him-extending his clasped hands to the left or right, as their position required-his robes remained perfectly arrayed, both front and back. Hastening forward, he moved smoothly, as though gliding upon wings. Once the guest had left, he would always return to report, "The guest is no longer looking back."

10.10 He would not instruct while eating, nor continue to converse once he had retired to bed.90 10.11 Even though a meal was only of coa.r.s.e grain or vegetable broth, he invariably gave some as a sacrificial offering, and would do so in a grave and respectful manner.

10.12 He would not sit unless his mat was straight.

10.17 One day the stables burned. When the Master returned from court, he asked, "Was anyone hurt?" He did not ask about the horses.91 10.19 When he was sick, and his lord came to visit him, he would lay with his head to the east, draped in his court robes, with his ceremonial sash fastened about him.92 10.20 When summoned by his lord, he would set off on foot, without waiting for his horses to be hitched to the carriage.93 10.21 Upon entering the Grand Ancestral Temple, he asked questions about everything.

10.23 When receiving a gift from a friend-even something as valuable as a cart or a horse-he did not bow unless it was a gift of sacrificial meat.94 10.25 When he saw someone fasting or mourning, he invariably a.s.sumed a changed expression, even if they were an intimate acquaintance. When he saw someone wearing a ritual cap or a blind person, he would invariably display a respectful countenance, even if they were of low birth.

When riding past someone dressed in funeral garb, he would bow down and grasp the crossbar of his carriage.95 He would do so even if the mourner was a lowly peddler.

When presented food with full ritual propriety, he would invariably a.s.sume a solemn expression and rise from his seat.

He would also a.s.sume a solemn expression upon hearing a sudden clap of thunder or observing a fierce wind.96 10.27 Startled by their arrival, a bird arose and circled several times before alighting upon a branch. [The Master] said, "This pheasant upon the mountain bridge-how timely it is! How timely it is!" Zilu saluted the bird, and it cried out three times before flying away.97 Book Eleven.

11.4 The Master said, "Yan Hui is of no help to me-he is pleased with everything that I say."98 11.8 When Yan Hui died, Yan Lu, his father, requested the Master's carriage, so that it could be used for Yan Hui's coffin enclosure.

The Master replied, "Everyone recognizes his own son, whether he is talented or not. When Bo Yu, my own son, pa.s.sed away, he had a coffin, but no enclosure. I did not go on foot in order to provide him with an enclosure. Having held rank below the ministers, it is not permissible for me to go on foot."

11.9 When Yan Hui pa.s.sed away, the Master lamented, "Oh! Heaven has bereft me! Heaven has bereft me!"

11.12 Zilu asked about serving ghosts and spirits. The Master said, "You are not yet able to serve people-how could you be able to serve ghosts and spirits?"

"May I inquire about death?"

"You do not yet understand life-how could you possibly understand death?"

11.17 The Master said, "The head of the Ji Family is wealthier than even the Duke of Zhou ever was, and yet Ran Qiu collects taxes on his behalf to further increase his already excessive wealth. Ran Qiu is no disciple of mine. If you disciples were to sound the drums and attack him, I would not disapprove."

11.22 Zilu asked, "Upon learning of something that needs to be done, should one immediately take care of it?"

The Master replied, "As long as one's father and elder brothers are still alive, how could one possibly take care of it immediately?"99 [On a later occasion] Ran Qiu asked, "Upon learning of something that needs to be done, should one immediately take care of it?"

The Master replied, "Upon learning of it, you should immediately take care of it."

Zihua inquired, "When Zilu asked you whether or not one should immediately take care of something upon learning of it, you told him one should not, as long as one's father and elder brothers were still alive. When Ran Qiu asked the same question, however, you told him that one should immediately take care of it. I am confused, and humbly ask to have this explained to me."

The Master said, "Ran Qiu is overly cautious, and so I wished to urge him on. Zilu, on the other hand, is too impetuous, and so I sought to hold him back."100 11.26 Zilu, Zengxi, Ran Qiu, and Zihua were seated in attendance. The Master said to them, "I am older than any of you, but do not feel reluctant to speak your minds on that account. You are all in the habit of complaining, 'No one appreciates me.' Well, if someone were to appreciate you, what would you do?"

Zilu spoke up immediately. "If I were given charge of a state of a thousand chariots-even one hemmed in between powerful states, suffering from armed invasions and afflicted by famine-before three years were up I could infuse its people with courage and a sense of what is right."

The Master smiled at him.

He then turned to Ran Qiu. "You, Ran Qiu!" he said, "What would you do?"

Ran Qiu answered, "If I were given charge of a state sixty or seventy- or even fifty or sixty-square li in area, before three years were up I could see that the people would have all that they needed. As for instructing its people in ritual practice and music, this is a task that would have to await the arrival of a gentleman."

The Master then turned to Zihua. "You, Zihua! What would you do?"

Zihua answered, "I am not saying that I would actually be able to do it, but my wish, at least, would be to learn it. I would like to serve as a minor functionary-properly clad in ceremonial cap and gown-in ceremonies at the ancestral temple, or at diplomatic gatherings."

The Master then turned to Zengxi. "You, Zengxi! What would you do?"

Zengxi stopped strumming his zither, and as the last notes faded away he set the instrument aside and rose to his feet. "I would choose to do something quite different from any of the other three."

"What harm is there in that?" the Master said. "We are all just talking about our aspirations."

Zengxi then said, "In the third month of Spring, once the Spring garments have been completed, I should like to a.s.semble a company of five or six young men and six or seven boys to go bathe in the Yi River and enjoy the breeze upon the Rain Dance Altar, and then return singing to the Master's house."101 The Master sighed deeply, saying, "I am with Zengxi!"

The other three disciples left, but Master Zeng stayed behind. He asked, "What did you think of what the other disciples said?"

"Each of them was simply talking about their aspirations."

"Then why, Master, did you smile at Zilu?"

"One governs a state by means of ritual. His words failed to express the proper sense of deference, and that is why I smiled at him."

"Was Ran Qiu, then, not concerned with statecraft?"

"Since when did something sixty or seventy-even fifty or sixty-square li in area not const.i.tute a state?"

"Was Zihua, then, not concerned with statecraft?"

"If ancestral temples and diplomatic gatherings are not the business of the feudal lords, what then are they? If Zihua's aspiration is a minor one, then what would be considered a major one?"102 Book Twelve.

12.1 Yan Hui asked about Goodness.

The Master said, "Restraining yourself and returning to the rites const.i.tutes Goodness. If for one day you managed to restrain yourself and return to the rites, in this way you could lead the entire world back to Goodness. The key to achieving Goodness lies within yourself-how could it come from others?"

Yan Hui asked, "May I inquire as to the specifics?"

The Master said, "Do not look unless it is in accordance with ritual; do not listen unless it is in accordance with ritual; do not speak unless it is in accordance with ritual; do not move unless it is in accordance with ritual."

Yan Hui replied, "Although I am not quick to understand, I ask permission to devote myself to this teaching."

12.2 Zhonggong103 asked about Goodness.

The Master said, "'When in public, comport yourself as if you were receiving an important guest, and in your management of the common people, behave as if you were overseeing a great sacrifice.' Do not impose upon others what you yourself do not desire. In this way, you will encounter no resentment in your public or private life."104 Zhonggong replied, "Although I am not quick to understand, I ask permission to devote myself to this teaching."

12.5 Anxiously, Sima Niu remarked, "Everyone has brothers, I alone have none."105 Zixia replied, "I have heard it said, 'Life and death are governed by fate, wealth and honor are determined by Heaven.' A gentleman is respectful and free of errors. He is reverent and ritually proper in his dealings with others. In this way, everyone within the Four Seas is his brother.106 How could a gentleman be concerned about not having brothers?"

12.7 Zigong asked about governing.

The Master said, "Simply make sure there is sufficient food, sufficient armaments, and that you have the confidence of the common people."

Zigong said, "If sacrificing one of these three things became unavoidable, which would you sacrifice first?"

The Master replied, "I would sacrifice the armaments."

Zigong said, "If sacrificing one of the two remaining things became unavoidable, which would you sacrifice next?"

The Master replied, "I would sacrifice the food. Death has always been with us, but a state cannot stand once it has lost the confidence of the people."

12.8 Ji Zicheng107 said, "Being a gentleman is simply a matter of having the right native substance, and nothing else. Why must one engage in cultural refinement?"

Zigong replied, "It is regrettable, Sir, that you should speak of the gentleman in this way-as they say, 'a team of horses cannot overtake your tongue.' A gentleman's cultural refinement resembles his native substance, and his native substance resembles his cultural refinement. The skin of a tiger or leopard, shorn of its fur, is no different from the skin of a dog or sheep."108 12.9 Duke Ai said to Master You, "The harvest was poor and I cannot satisfy my needs. What should I do?"

Master You said, "Why do you not try taxing the people one part in ten?"109 "I am currently taxing them two parts in ten, and even so I cannot satisfy my needs. How could reducing the tax to one part in ten help?"

Master You answered, "If the common people's needs are satisfied, how could their lord be lacking? If the common people's needs are not satisfied, how can their lord be content?"

12.11 Duke Jing of Qi asked Kongzi about governing.

Kongzi responded, "Let the lord be a true lord, the ministers true ministers, the fathers true fathers, and the sons true sons."110 The Duke replied, "Well put! Certainly if the lord is not a true lord, the ministers not true ministers, the fathers not true fathers, and the sons not true sons, even if there is sufficient grain, will I ever get to eat it?"

12.13 The Master said, "When it comes to hearing civil litigation, I am as good as anyone else. What is necessary, though, is to bring it about that there is no civil litigation at all."

12.17 Ji Kangzi111 asked Kongzi about governing.

Kongzi responded, "To 'govern' [zheng ] means to be 'correct' [zheng ]. If you set an example by being correct yourself, who will dare to be incorrect?"

12.18 Ji Kangzi was concerned about the prevalence of robbers in Lu, and asked Kongzi about how to deal with this problem.

Kongzi said, "If you could just get rid of your own excessive desires, the people would not steal even if you rewarded them for it."

12.19 Ji Kangzi asked Kongzi about governing, saying, "If I were to execute those who lacked the Way in order to advance those who possessed the Way, how would that be?"

Kongzi responded, "In your governing, Sir, what need is there for executions? If you desire goodness, then the common people will be good. The Virtue of a gentleman is like the wind, and the Virtue of a petty person is like the gra.s.s-when the wind moves over the gra.s.s, the gra.s.s is sure to bend."

12.22 Fan Chi asked about Goodness.

The Master replied, "Care for others."

He then asked about wisdom.

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Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy Part 2 summary

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