Nonfiction > Harvard Classics > The Sayings of Confucius
   The Sayings of Confucius.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
[1]  THE MASTER said: “In governing, cleave to good; as the north star holds his place, and the multitude of stars revolve upon him.”
[2]    The Master said: “To sum up the three hundred songs in a word, they are free from evil thought.”
[3]    The Master said: “Guide the people by law, subdue them by punishment; they may shun crime, but will be void of shame. Guide them by example, subdue them by courtesy; they will learn shame, and come to be good.”
[4]    The Master said: “At fifteen, I was bent on study; at thirty, I could stand; at forty, doubts ceased; at fifty, I understood the laws of Heaven; at sixty, my ears obeyed me; at seventy, I could do as my heart lusted, and never swerve from right.”
[5]    Meng Yi asked the duty of a son.

  The Master said: “Obedience.”

  As Fan Ch´ih 1 was driving him, the Master said: “Meng-sun 2 asked me the duty of a son; I answered ‘Obedience.’”
  “What did ye mean?” said Fan Ch´ih.
  “To serve our parents with courtesy whilst they live,” said the Master; “to bury them with all courtesy when they die; and to worship them with all courtesy.”
[6]    Meng Wu asked the duty of a son.
  The Master said: “What weighs on your father and mother is concern for your health.”
[7]    Tzu-yu 3 asked the duty of a son.
  The Master said: “To-day a man is called dutiful if he keep his father and mother. But we keep both our dogs and horses, and unless we honour parents, is it not all one?”
[8]    Tzu-hsia asked the duty of a son.
  The Master said: “Our manner is the hard part. For the young to be a stay in toil, and leave the wine and cakes to their elders, is this to fulfil their duty?”
[9]    The Master said: “If I talk all day to Hui, 4 like a dullard, he never stops me. But when he is gone, if I pry into his life, I find he can do what I say. No, Hui is no dullard.”
[10]    The Master said: “Look at a man’s acts; watch his motives; find out what pleases him: can the man evade you? Can the man evade you?”
[11]    The Master said: “Who keeps the old akindle and adds new knowledge is fitted to be a teacher.”
[12]    The Master said: “A gentleman is not a vessel.”
[13]    Tzu-kung asked, What is a gentleman?
  The Master said: “He puts words into deed first, and sorts what he says to the deed.”
[14]    The Master said: “A gentleman is broad and fair: the vulgar are biassed and petty.”
[15]    The Master said: “Study without thought is vain: thought without study is dangerous.”
[16]    The Master said: “Work on strange doctrines does harm.”
[17]    The Master said: “Yu, 5 shall I teach thee what is understanding? To know what we know, and know what we do not know, that is understanding.”
[18]    Tzu-chang 6 studied with an eye to pay.
  The Master said: “Listen much, keep silent when in doubt, and always take heed of the tongue; thou wilt make few mistakes. See much, beware of pitfalls, and always give heed to thy walk; thou wilt have little to rue. If thy words are seldom wrong, thy deeds leave little to rue, pay will follow.”
[19]    Duke Ai 7 asked: “What should be done to make the people loyal?”
  Confucius answered: “Exalt the straight, set aside the crooked, the people will be loyal. Exalt the crooked, set aside the straight, the people will be disloyal.”
[20]    Chi K´ang 8 asked how to make the people lowly, faithful, and willing.
  The Master said: “Behave with dignity, they will be lowly: be pious and merciful, they will be faithful: exalt the good, teach the unskilful, they will grow willing.”
[21]    One said to Confucius: “Why are ye not in power, Sir?”
  The Master answered: “What does the book say of a good son? ‘An always dutiful son, who is a friend to his brothers, showeth the way to rule.’ This also is to rule. What need to be in power?”
[22]    The Master said: “Without truth I know not how man can live. A cart without a crosspole, a carriage without harness, how could they be moved?”
[23]    Tzu-chang asked whether we can know what is to be ten generations hence.
  The Master said: “The Yin 9 inherited the manners of the Hsia; 10 the harm and the good that they wrought them is known. The Chou 11 inherited the manners of the Yin; the harm and the good that they wrought them is known. And we may know what is to be, even an hundred generations hence, when others follow Chou.”
[24]    The Master said: “To worship the ghosts of strangers is fawning. To see the right and not do it is want of courage.”
Note 1. A disciple. [back]
Note 2. Meng Yi. [back]
Note 3. A disciple. [back]
Note 4. The Master’s favourite disciple, Yen Yüan. [back]
Note 5. The disciple, Tzu-lu. [back]
Note 6. A disciple. [back]
Note 7. Duke of Lu, during Confucius’ closing years. [back]
Note 8. Head of the Chi clan during Confucius’ closing years. [back]
Note 9. The three dynasties that had ruled China up till the time of Confucius. [back]
Note 10. The three dynasties that had ruled China up till the time of Confucius. [back]
Note 11. The three dynasties that had ruled China up till the time of Confucius. [back]


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