Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK XXVIII.: K UNG YUNG OR THE STATE OF EQUILIBRIUM AND HARMONY 1 . - The Sacred Books of China. The Texts of Confucianism, Part IV. The Li Ki, XI-XLVI
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BOOK XXVIII.: K UNG YUNG OR THE STATE OF EQUILIBRIUM AND HARMONY 1 . - Misc (Confucian School), The Sacred Books of China. The Texts of Confucianism, Part IV. The Li Ki, XI-XLVI 
The Sacred Books of the East translated by Various Oriental Scholars and Edited by Max Müller (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1879-1910). Vol. XXVIII: The Sacred Books of China. The Texts of Confucianism, translated by James Legge. Part IV. The Li Ki, XI-XLVI (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1885).
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KUNG YUNG OR THE STATE OF EQUILIBRIUM AND HARMONY1 .
1. What Heaven has conferred is called the Nature. An accordance with this nature is called the Path of Duty; the regulation of this path is called the System of Instruction.
2. The path should not be left for an instant; if it could be left, it would not be the path.
3. On this account the superior man does not wait till he sees things to be cautious, nor till he hears things to be apprehensive.
4. There is nothing more visible than what is secret, and nothing more manifest than what is minute. Therefore the superior man is watchful over himself when he is alone.
5. When there are no stirrings of pleasure, anger, sorrow, or joy, we call it the State of Equilibrium. When those feelings have been stirred, and all in their due measure and degree, we call it the State of Harmony. This Equilibrium is the great root (from which grow all the human actings) in the world; and this Harmony is the universal path (in which they should all proceed).
6. Let the State of Equilibrium and Harmony exist in perfection, and heaven and earth would have their (right) places, (and do their proper work), and all things would be nourished (and flourish)1 .
7. Kung-nî2 said, ‘The superior man (exhibits) the state of equilibrium and harmony3 ; the small man presents the opposite of those states. The superior man exhibits them, because he is the superior man, and maintains himself in them; the small man presents the opposite of them, because he is the small man, and exercises no apprehensive caution.’
8. The Master said, ‘Perfect is the state of equilibrium and harmony! Rare have they long been among the people who could attain to it!’
9. The Master said, ‘I know how it is that the Path is not walked in. The knowing go beyond it, and the stupid do not come up to it. The worthy go beyond it, and the unworthy do not come up to it. There is nobody but eats and drinks; but they are few who can distinguish the flavours (of what they eat and drink)1 .’
10. The Master said, ‘Ah! how is the path untrodden!’
11. The Master said, ‘Was not Shun grandly wise? Shun loved to question others, and to study their words though they might be shallow. He concealed what was bad (in them), and displayed what was good. He laid hold of their two extremes, determined the mean2 between them, and used it in (his government of) the people. It was this that made him Shun!’
12. The Master said, ‘Men all say, “We are wise;” but being driven forward and taken in a net, a trap, or a pitfall, not one of them knows how to escape. Men all say, “We are wise;” but when they have chosen the state of equilibrium and harmony, they are not able to keep in it for a round month.’
13. The Master said, ‘This was the character of Hui:—Having chosen the state of equilibrium and harmony, when he found any one thing that was good, he grasped it firmly, wore it on his breast, and did not let it go1 .’
14. The Master said, ‘The kingdom, its states, and clans may be perfectly ruled; dignities and emoluments may be declined; but the state of equilibrium and harmony cannot be attained to.’
15. Ȝze-lû2 asked about fortitude. 16. The Master said, ‘Do you mean the fortitude of the South, the fortitude of the North, or your fortitude?’ 17. To show forbearance and gentleness in teaching others; and not to return conduct towards one’s self which is contrary to the right path:—this is the fortitude of the South, and the good man makes it his study. 18. To lie under arms, and to die without regret:—this is the bravery of the North, and the bold make it their study. 19. Therefore, the superior man cultivates a (friendly) harmony, and is not weak;—how firm is he in his fortitude! He stands erect in the middle, and does not incline to either side;—how firm is he in his fortitude! If right ways prevail in (the government of his state), he does not change from what he was in retirement;—how firm is he in his fortitude! If bad ways prevail, he will die sooner than change;—how firm is he in his fortitude!’
20. The Master said, ‘To search for what is mysterious1 , and practise marvellous (arts), in order to be mentioned with honour in future ages:—this is what I do not do. 21. The good man tries to proceed according to the (right) path, but when he has gone half-way, he abandons it;—I am not able (so) to stop. 22. The superior man, acting in accordance with the state of equilibrium and harmony, may be all unknown and unregarded by the world, but he feels no regret:—it is only the sage who is able for this2 .
23. ‘The way of the superior man reaches far and wide, and yet is secret. 24. Common men and women, however ignorant, may intermeddle with the knowledge of it; but in its utmost reaches there is that which even the sage does not know. Common men and women, however much below the ordinary standard of character, can carry it into practice; but in its utmost reaches, there is that which even the sage cannot attain to. 25. Great as heaven and earth are, men still find things in their action with which to be dissatisfied3 .
26. ‘Therefore, if the superior man were to speak (of this way) in its greatness, nothing in the world would be able to contain it; and if he were to speak of it in its smallness, nothing in the world would be found able to divide it. 27. It is said in the Book of Poetry (III, i, ode 5),
telling how (the way) is seen above and below. 28. The way of the superior man may be found in its simple elements among common men and women, but in its utmost reaches it is displayed in (the operations of) heaven and earth1 .’
29. The Master said, ‘The path is not far from man. When men try to pursue a path which is far from what their nature suggests, it should not be considered the Path. 30. It is said in the Book of Poetry (I, xv, ode 5),
We grasp one axe-handle to hew the other; but if we look askance at it, we still consider it far off. 31. Therefore the superior man governs men according to their humanity; and when they change (what is wrong), he stops. 32. Fidelity to one’s self and the corresponding reciprocity are not far from the path. What you do not like when done to yourself, do not do to others. 33. In the way of the superior man there are four things, to not one of which have I, Khiû2 , as yet attained.—To serve my father as I would require my son to serve me, I am not yet able; to serve my ruler as I would require my minister to serve me, I am not yet able; to serve my elder brother as I would require a younger brother to serve me, I am not yet able; to set the example in behaving to a friend as I would require him to behave to me, I am not yet able. 34. In the practice of the ordinary virtues, and attention to his ordinary words, if (the practice) be in anything defective, (the superior man) dares not but exert himself; if (his words) be in any way excessive, he dares not allow himself in such license. His words have respect to his practice, and his practice has respect to his words. 35. Is not the superior man characterised by a perfect sincerity?
36. ‘The superior man does what is proper to the position in which he is; he does not wish to go beyond it. In a position of wealth and honour, he does what is proper to a position of wealth and honour. In a position of poverty and meanness, he does what is proper to a position of poverty and meanness. Situated among barbarous tribes, he does what is proper in such a situation. In a position of sorrow and difficulty, he does what is proper in such a position. The superior man can find himself in no position in which he is not himself. 37. In a high situation, he does not insult or oppress those who are below him; in a low situation, he does not cling to or depend on those who are above him.
38. ‘He rectifies himself, and seeks for nothing from others; and thus none feel dissatisfied with him. Above, he does not murmur against Heaven; below, he does not find fault with men. 39. Therefore the superior man lives quietly and calmly, waiting for the appointments (of Heaven); while the mean man does what is full of risk, looking out for the turns of luck.’ 40. The Master said, ‘In archery we have something like (the way of) the superior man. When the archer misses the centre of the target, he turns round and seeks for the cause of his failure in himself.
41. ‘The way of the superior man may be compared to what takes place in travelling, when to go far we must traverse the space that is near, and in ascending a height we must begin from the lower ground. 42. It is said in the Book of Poetry (II, i, ode 4, 7, 8),
43. The Master said, ‘How complacent are parents (in such a state of things)!’
44. The Master said, ‘How abundant and rich are the powers possessed and exercised by Spiritual Beings! We look for them, but do not see them; we listen for, but do not hear them; they enter into all things, and nothing is without them1 . 45. They cause all under Heaven to fast and purify themselves, and to array themselves in their richest dresses in order to attend at their sacrifices. Then, like overflowing water, they seem to be over the heads, and on the left and right (of their worshippers). 46. It is said in the Book of Poetry (III, iii, ode 2, 7),
47. ‘Such is the manifestness of what is minute. Such is the impossibility of repressing the outgoings of sincerity!’
48. The Master said, ‘How greatly filial was Shun! His virtue was that of a sage; his dignity was that of the son of Heaven; his riches were all within the four seas; his ancestral temple enjoyed his offerings; his descendants preserved (those to) himself. 49. Thus it was that with his great virtue he could not but obtain his position, his riches, his fame, and his long life. 50. Therefore Heaven, in producing things, is sure to be bountiful to them according to their qualities. 51. Thus it nourishes the tree that stands flourishing, and that which is ready to fall it overthrows. 52. It is said in the Book of Poetry (III, ii, ode 5, 1),
Hence (we may say that) he who is greatly virtuous is sure to receive the appointment (of Heaven).’
53. The Master said, ‘It is only king Wăn of whom it can be said that he had no cause for grief! His father was king Kî, and his son was king Wû. His father laid the foundations of his dignity, and his son transmitted it. 54. King Wû continued the line and enterprise of kings Thâi, Kî, and Wăn. Once for all he buckled on his armour, and got possession of all under heaven; and all his life he did not lose the illustrious name of being that possessor. His dignity was that of the son of Heaven; his riches were all within the four seas; his ancestral temple enjoyed his offerings; and his descendants preserved those to himself. 55. It was in his old age that king Wû received the appointment (to the throne), and the duke of Kâu completed the virtuous achievements of Wăn and Wû. He carried back the title of king to Thâi and Kî, sacrificing also to all the dukes before them with the ceremonies of the son of Heaven. And the practice was extended as a rule to all the feudal princes, the Great officers, all other officers, and the common people. If the father were a Great officer, and the son an inferior officer, the former was buried with the ceremonies due to a Great officer, and sacrificed to with those due by an inferior officer. If the father were an ordinary officer, and the son a Great officer, the burial was that of an ordinary officer, and the sacrifices those of a Great officer. The one year’s mourning extended up to Great officers; the three years’ mourning extended to the son of Heaven (himself). In the mourning for a father or mother no difference was made between the noble and the mean;—it was one and the same for all.’
56. The Master said, ‘How far-extending was the filial piety of king Wû and the duke of Kâu! Now filial piety is the skilful carrying out of the wishes of our forefathers, and the skilful carrying on of their undertakings. In spring and autumn1 they repaired and beautified the temple-halls of their ancestors, set forth their ancestral vessels, displayed their dresses, and presented the offerings of the several seasons. 57. By means of the ceremonies of the ancestral temple, they maintained the order of their ancestors sacrificed to, here on the left, there on the right, according as they were father or son; by arranging the parties present according to their rank, they distinguished between the more noble and the less; by the arrangement of the various services, they made a distinction of the talents and virtue of those discharging them; in the ceremony of general pledging, the inferiors presented the cup to the superiors, and thus something was given to the lowest to do; at the (concluding) feast, places were given according to the hair, and thus was made the distinction of years. 58. They occupied the places (of their forefathers); practised their ceremonies; performed their music; showed their respect for those whom they honoured; and loved those whom they regarded with affection. Thus they served the dead as they served them when alive, and served the departed as they would have served them if they had been continued among them:—all this was the perfection of filial duty.
59. ‘By the ceremonies of the border sacrifices (to Heaven and Earth) they served God, and by those of the ancestral temple they sacrificed to their forefathers1 . 60. If one understood the ceremonies of the border sacrifices and the meaning of the sacrifices of the ancestral temple, it would be as easy for him to rule a state as to look into his palm2 .’
1. Duke Âi asked about government1 . The Master said, ‘The government of Wăn and Wû is exhibited in (the Records),—the tablets of wood and bamboo. Let there be the men, and their government would (again) flourish; but without the men, their government must cease. 2. With the (right) men the growth of government is rapid, (just as) in the earth the growth of vegetation is rapid. 3. Government is (like) an easily-growing rush2 . 4. Therefore the exercise of government depends on (getting) the proper men. 5. (Such) men are to be got by (the ruler’s) own character. That character is to be cultivated by his pursuing the right course. That course is to be cultivated by benevolence. 6. Benevolence is (the chief element in) humanity3 , and the greatest exercise of it is in the love of relatives. Righteousness is (the accordance of actions with) what is right, and the greatest exercise of it is in the honour paid to the worthy. The decreasing measures in the love of relatives, and the steps in the honour paid to the worthy, are produced by (the principle of) propriety. 7. When those in inferior situations do not obtain (the confidence of) their superiors, the people cannot be governed successfully1 . 8. Therefore the wise ruler should not neglect the cultivation of his character. Desiring to cultivate his character, he should not neglect to serve his parents. Desiring to serve his parents, he should not neglect to know men. Desiring to know men, he should not neglect to know Heaven. 9. The universal path for all under heaven is fivefold, and the (virtues) by means of which it is trodden are three. There are ruler and minister; father and son; husband and wife; elder brother and younger; and the intercourse of friend and friend:—(the duties belonging to) these five (relationships) constitute the universal path for all. Wisdom, benevolence, and fortitude:—these three are the universal virtues of all. That whereby these are carried into exercise is one thing2 . 10. Some are born with the knowledge of these (duties); some know them by study; and some know them as the result of painful experience. But the knowledge being possessed, it comes to one and the same thing. 11. Some practise them with the ease of nature; some for the sake of their advantage, and some by dint of strong effort. But when the work of them is done, it comes to one and the same thing1 .’
12. The Master said, ‘To be fond of learning is near to wisdom; to practise with vigour is near to benevolence; to know to be ashamed is near to fortitude. He who knows these three things, knows how to cultivate his own character. Knowing how to cultivate his own character, he knows how to govern other men. Knowing how to govern other men, he knows how to govern the kingdom with its states and families.
13. ‘All who have the government of the kingdom with its states and families have nine standard rules to follow:—the cultivation of themselves; the honouring of the worthy; affection towards their relatives; respect towards their great ministers; kind and sympathetic treatment of the whole body of officers; dealing with the mass of the people as their children; encouraging the resort of all classes of artisans; indulgent treatment of men from a distance; and the kindly cherishing of the princes of the states.
14. ‘By (the ruler’s) cultivation of himself there is set up (the example of) the course (which all should pursue); by his honouring of the worthy, he will be preserved from errors of judgment; by his showing affection towards his relatives, there will be no dissatisfaction among his uncles and brethren; by respecting the great ministers he will be kept from mistakes; by kindly treatment of the whole body of officers, they will be led to make the most grateful return for his courtesies; by dealing with the mass of the people as his children, they will be drawn to exhort one another (to what is good); by encouraging the resort of artisans, his wealth for expenditure will be rendered sufficient; by indulgent treatment of men from a distance, they will come to him from all quarters; by his kindly cherishing of the princes of the states, all under heaven will revere him.
15. ‘The adjustment of all his thoughts, purification, arraying himself in his richest dresses, and the avoiding of every movement contrary to the rules of propriety;—this is the way in which (the ruler) must cultivate his own character. Discarding slanderers, keeping himself from (the seductions of) beauty, making light of riches and honouring virtue:—this is the way by which he will encourage the worthy. Giving his relatives places of honour, and large emolument, and entering into sympathy with them in their likes and dislikes:—this is the way by which he can stimulate affection towards relatives. Giving them numerous officers to discharge their functions and execute their orders:—this is the way by which he will stimulate his Great ministers. According to them a generous confidence, and making their emoluments large:—this is the way by which he will stimulate (the body of) his officers. Employing them (only) at the regular times and making the imposts light:—this is the way by which he will stimulate the people. Daily examinations and monthly trials, and rations and allowances in proportion to the work done:—this is the way in which he will stimulate the artisans. Escorting them on their departure, and meeting them on their coming, commending the good among them and showing pity to the incompetent:—this is the way in which he will manifest his indulgent treatment of men from a distance. Continuing families whose line of succession has been broken, reviving states that have ceased to exist, reducing confusion to order, supporting where there is peril; having fixed times for receiving the princes themselves and their envoys; sending them away after liberal treatment and with liberal gifts, and requiring from them small offerings on their coming:—this is the way in which he will cherish with kindness the princes of the states.
16. ‘All who have the government of the kingdom with its states and families have these nine standard rules to attend to. That whereby they are carried into exercise is one thing. In all things success depends on previous preparation; without such preparation there is failure. If what is to be spoken be determined beforehand, there will be no stumbling in the utterance. If the things to be done be determined beforehand, there will be no difficulty with them. If actions to be performed be determined beforehand, there will be no difficulty with them. If actions to be performed be determined beforehand, there will be no sorrow or distress in connexion with them. If the courses to be pursued be determined beforehand, the pursuit of them will be inexhaustible1 .
17. ‘When those in inferior situations do not obtain (the confidence of) their superiors, the people cannot be governed successfully.
18. ‘There is a way to obtain (the confidence of) the superior;—if one is not believed in by his friends, he will not obtain the confidence of his superior. There is a way to secure being believed in by his friends;—if he be not in submissive accord with his parents, he will not be believed in by his friends. There is a way to secure submissive accord with parents;—if one, on turning his thoughts in on himself, finds that he has not attained to the perfection of his nature1 , he will not be in submissive accord with his parents. There is a way to secure the perfection of the nature;—if a man have not a clear understanding of what is good, he will not attain to that perfection.
19. ‘Perfection of nature is characteristic of Heaven. To attain to that perfection belongs to man. He who possesses that perfection hits what is right without any effort, and apprehends without any exercise of thought;—he is the sage2 who naturally and easily embodies the right way. He who attains to perfection is he who chooses what is good, and firmly holds it fast.
20. ‘He extensively studies what is good; inquires accurately about it; thinks carefully over it; clearly discriminates it; and vigorously practises it. While there is anything he has not studied, or in what he has studied there is anything he cannot (understand), he will not intermit his labour. While there is anything he has not asked about, or anything in what he has asked about that he does not know, he will not intermit his labour. While there is anything he has not thought over, or anything in what he has thought about that he does not know, he will not intermit his labour. While there is anything which he has not tried to discriminate, or anything in his discrimination that is not clear, he will not intermit his labour. While there is anything which he has not practised, or any want of vigour so far as he has practised, he will not intermit his labour.
‘If another man succeed by one effort, he will use a hundred efforts; if another succeed by ten, he will use a thousand. Let a man proceed in this way, and though stupid, he is sure to become intelligent; though weak, he is sure to become strong.’
21. The understanding (of what is good), springing from moral perfection, is to be ascribed to the nature; moral perfection springing from the understanding (of what is good) is to be ascribed to instruction. But given the perfection, and there shall be the understanding; given the understanding, and there shall be the perfection1 .
22. It is only he of all under heaven who is entirely perfect that can give its full development to his nature. Able to give its full development to his own nature, he can also give the same to the nature of other men. Able to give its full development to the nature of other men, he can also give the same to the natures of animals and things2 . Able to give their full development to these, he can assist the transforming and nourishing operations of heaven and earth. Capable of assisting those transforming and nourishing operations, he can form a ternion with heaven and earth.
23. Next to the above is he who cultivates to the utmost the shoots (of goodness in his nature)3 , till he becomes morally perfect. This perfection will then obtain embodiment; embodied, it will be manifested; manifested, it will become brilliant; brilliant, it will go forth in action; going forth in action, it will produce changes; producing changes, it will effect transformations. It is only he of all under heaven who is entirely perfect that can transform.
24. It is characteristic of him who is entirely perfect that he can foreknow. When a state or family is about to flourish, there are sure to be lucky omens, and when it is about to perish, there are sure to be unlucky omens. They will be seen in the tortoise-shell and stalks1 ; they will affect the movements of the four limbs. When calamity or happiness is about to come, the good is sure to be foreknown by him, and the evil also. Hence, he who is entirely perfect is like a Spirit2 .
25. Perfection is seen in (its possessor’s) self-completion; and the path (which is its embodiment), in its self-direction.
26. Perfection is (seen in) the beginning and end of (all) creatures and things. Without this perfection there would be no creature or thing.
27. Therefore the superior man considers perfection as the noblest of all attainments.
28. He who is perfect does not only complete himself; his perfection enables him to complete all other beings also. The completion of himself shows the complete virtue of his nature; the completion of other beings shows his wisdom. (The two) show his nature in good operation, and the way in which the union of the external and internal is effected.
29. Hence, whenever he exercises it, (the operation) is right.
30. Thus it is that entire perfection is unresting; unresting, it continues long; continuing long, it evidences itself; evidencing itself, it reaches far; reaching far, it becomes large and substantial; large and substantial, it becomes high and brilliant.
31. By being large and substantial it contains (all) things. By being high and brilliant, it overspreads (all) things. By reaching far and continuing long, it completes (all) things. By its being so large and substantial, it makes (its possessor) the co-equal of earth; by its height and brilliancy, it makes him the co-equal of heaven; by its reaching far and continuing long, it makes him infinite.
32. Such being his characteristics, without any manifestation he becomes displayed; without any movement he effects changes; without any exertion he completes. The way of heaven and earth may be completely described in one sentence:—
33. They are without any second thought, and so their production of things is inexhaustible.
34. The characteristics of heaven and earth are to be large; to be substantial; to be high; to be brilliant; to be far-reaching; to be long-continuing.
35. There now is this heaven; it is only this bright shining spot, but when viewed in its inexhaustible extent, the sun, moon, stars, and constellations of the zodiac are suspended in it, and all things are overspread by it. There is this earth; it is only a handful of soil, but when regarded in its breadth and thickness, it sustains mountains like the Hwâ and the Yo, without feeling the weight, and contains the rivers and seas without their leaking away. There is this mountain; it looks only the size of a stone, but when contemplated in all its altitude the grass and trees are produced on it, birds and beasts dwell on it, and the precious things which men treasure up are found in it. There is this water; it appears only a ladleful, but, when we think of its unfathomable depths, the largest tortoises, iguanas, iguanadons, dragons, fishes, and turtles are produced in them, and articles of value and sources of wealth abound in them.
36. It is said in the Book of Poetry (IV, i, sect. 1, ode 2),
intimating that it is thus that Heaven is Heaven. (And again):—
intimating that it was thus that king Wăn was the accomplished (king), by his singleness unceasing.
37. How great is the course of the sage! Like an overflowing flood it sends forth and nourishes all things! It rises up to the height of heaven.
38. How complete is its greatness! It embraces the three hundred usages of ceremony, and the three thousand modes of demeanour. It waits for the right man, and then it is trodden. Hence it is said, ‘If there be not perfect virtue, the perfect path cannot be exemplified.’
39. Therefore the superior man honours the virtuous nature, and pursues the path of inquiry and study (regarding it); seeking to carry it out in its breadth and greatness, so as to omit none of the exquisite and minute points (which it embraces); raising it to its greatest height and brilliancy, so as to be found in the way of equilibrium and harmony. He cherishes his old knowledge so as (continually) to be acquiring new, and thus manifests an honest, generous, earnestness in the esteem and practice of all propriety.
40. Therefore, when occupying a high situation he is not proud, and in a low situation he is not insubordinate. If the state is well-governed, his words are able to promote its prosperity; and if it be ill-governed, his silence is sufficient to secure forbearance (for himself).
41. Is not this what is said in the Book of Poetry (III, iii, ode 6, 4),
42. The Master said, ‘Let a man who is ignorant be fond of using his own judgment; let one who is in a low situation be fond of arrogating a directing power; let one who is living in the present age go back to the ways of antiquity;—on all who act thus calamity is sure to come.’
43. To no one but the son of Heaven does it belong to discuss the subject of ceremonial usages; to fix the measures; and to determine (the names of) the written characters.
44. Now, throughout the whole kingdom, carriages have all wheels of the same breadth of rim; all writing is with the same characters; and for conduct there are the same rules.
45. One may occupy the throne, but if he have not the proper virtue, he should not presume to make ceremonies or music. One may have the virtue, but if he have not the throne, he in the same way should not presume to make ceremonies or music.
46. The Master said, ‘I might speak of the ceremonies of Hsiâ, but Khî could not sufficiently attest (my words). I have learned the ceremonies of Yin, and they are preserved in Sung. I have learned the ceremonies of Kâu, and they are now used. I follow Kâu.’
47. If he who attains to the sovereignty of all the kingdom attach the due importance to (those) three points1 , there are likely to be few errors (among the people).
48. However excellent may have been (the regulations of) those of former times, they cannot be attested. Not being attested, they cannot command credence. Not commanding credence, the people would not follow them. However excellent might be those of one in an inferior station, they would not be honoured. Not honoured, they would not command credence. Not commanding credence, the people would not follow them.
49. Therefore the course of the superior man is rooted in his own character and conduct, and attested by the multitudes of the people. He examines (his institutions) by comparison with those of the founders of the three dynasties, and finds them without mistake. He sets them up before heaven and earth, and there is nothing in them contrary to (their mode of operation). He presents himself with them before Spiritual Beings, and no doubts about them arise. He is prepared to wait for the rise of a sage a hundred ages hence, and has no misgivings. That he can present himself with them before Spiritual Beings, without any doubts about them arising, shows that he knows Heaven; that he is prepared to wait for the rise of a sage a hundred ages hence, without any misgivings, shows that he knows men.
50. Therefore the movements of the superior man mark out for ages the path for all under heaven; his actions are the law for ages for all under heaven; and his words are for ages the pattern for all under heaven. Those who are far from him look longingly for him, and those who are near are never weary of him.
51. It is said in the Book of Poetry (IV, i, sect. 2, ode 3),
Never has a superior man obtained an early renown throughout the kingdom who did not correspond to this description.
52. Kung-nî handed down (the views of) Yâo and Shun as if they had been his ancestors, and elegantly displayed (the ways) of Wăn and Wû, taking them as his model. Above, he adopted as his law the seasons of heaven; and below, he conformed to the water and land.
53. He may be compared to heaven and earth in their supporting and containing, their overshadowing and curtaining all things. He may be compared to the four seasons in their alternating progress, and to the sun and moon in their successive shining. All things are nourished together without their injuring one another; the courses (of the seasons and of the sun and moon) proceed without any collision among them. The smaller energies are like river-currents; the greater energies are seen in mighty transformations. It is this which makes heaven and earth so great.
54. It is only he possessed of all sagely qualities that can exist under heaven, who shows himself quick in apprehension, clear in discernment, of far-reaching intelligence and all-embracing knowledge, fitted to exercise rule; magnanimous, generous, benign, and mild, fitted to exercise forbearance; impulsive, energetic, firm, and enduring, fitted to maintain a strong hold; self-adjusted, grave, never swerving from the mean, and correct, fitted to command respect; accomplished, distinctive, concentrative, and searching, fitted to exercise discrimination.
55. All-embracing is he and vast, deep and active as a fountain, sending forth in their due seasons these (qualities).
56. All-embracing is he and vast, like heaven. Deep and active as a fountain, he is like an abyss. He shows himself, and the people all revere him; he speaks, and the people all believe him; he acts, and the people all are pleased with him. In this way his fame overspreads the Middle kingdom, and extends to all barbarous tribes. Wherever ships and carriages reach; wherever the strength of man penetrates; wherever the heavens overshadow and the earth sustains; wherever the sun and moon shine; wherever frosts and dews fall; all who have blood and breath unfeignedly honour and love him. Hence it is said, ‘He is the equal of Heaven1 .’
57. It is only he among all under heaven who is entirely perfect that can adjust and blend together the great standard duties of all under heaven, establish the great fundamental principles of all, and know the transforming and nourishing operations of heaven and earth.
58. How shall this individual have any one beyond himself on whom he depends? Call him man in his ideal, how earnest is he! Call him an abyss, how deep is he! Call him Heaven, how vast is he!
59. Who can know him but he who is indeed quick in apprehension and clear in discernment, of sagely wisdom, and all-embracing knowledge, possessing heavenly virtue?
60. It is said in the Book of Poetry (I, v, ode 3, 1),
‘Over her embroidered robe she wears a (plain) garment;’
expressing how the wearer disliked the display of the beauty (of the robe). Just so, it is the way of the superior man to prefer the concealment (of his virtue), while it daily becomes more illustrious, and it is the way of the small man to seek notoriety, while he daily goes more and more to ruin.
61. It is characteristic of the superior man, appearing insipid, yet not to produce satiety; preferring a simple negligence, yet to have his accomplishments recognised; seeming mild and simple, yet to be discriminating. He knows how what is distant lies in what is near. He knows where the wind proceeds from. He knows how what is minute becomes manifested1 . He, we may be assured, will enter (the innermost recesses of) virtue.
62. It is said in the Book of Poetry (II, iv, ode 8, 11),
Therefore the superior man internally examines his heart, that there may be nothing wrong there, and no occasion for dissatisfaction with himself.
63. That wherein the superior man cannot be equalled is simply this,—his (work) which other men do not see. It is said in the Book of Poetry (III, iii, ode 2, 7),
64. Therefore the superior man, even when he is not acting, has the feeling of reverence; and when he does not speak, he has the feeling of truthfulness. It is said in the Book of Poetry (IV, iii, ode 2),
65. Therefore the superior man does not use rewards, and the people are stimulated (to virtue); he does not show anger, and the people are awed more than by hatchets and battle-axes. It is said in the Book of Poetry (IV, i, sect. 1, ode 4),
66. Therefore the superior man being sincerely reverential, the whole kingdom is made tranquil. It is said in the Book of Poetry (III, i, ode 7, 7),
67. The Master said, ‘Among the appliances to transform the people, sounds and appearances (may seem to) have a trivial effect. But it is said in another ode (III, iii, ode 6, 6),
68. ‘But a hair will still admit of comparison (as to its size). In what is said in another ode (III, i, ode 1, 7),
we have the highest description (of transforming virtue).’
[1 ]See the introductory notice, vol. xxvii, pp. 42, 43.
[1 ]These six short paragraphs may be considered a summary of the Confucian doctrine, and a sort of text to the sermon which follows in the rest of the Treatise;—the first chapter of it. The commencing term, Heaven, gives us, vaguely, the idea of a supreme, righteous, and benevolent Power; while ‘heaven and earth,’ in paragraph 6, bring before us the material heaven and earth with inherent powers and capabilities, by the interaction of which all the phenomena of production, growth, and decay are produced. Midway between these is Man; and nothing is wanting to make a perfectly happy world but his moral perfection, evidenced by his perfect conformity to the right path, the path of duty. ‘The superior man,’ in paragraph 3, has evidently the moral signification of the name in its highest degree. He is the man ‘who embodies the path ().’ The description of him in paragraph 4, that ‘he is watchful over himself when alone,’ is, literally, that ‘he is watchful over his solitariness,—his aloneness,’ that ‘solitariness’ being, I conceive, the ideal of his own nature to which every man in his best and highest moments is capable of attaining.
[2 ]See the introductory notice of Book XXV.
[3 ]Formerly I translated this by ‘The superior man (embodies) the course of the mean.’ Zottoli gives for it, ‘Sapiens vir tenet medium;’ Rémusat, ‘Le sage tient invariablement le milieu,’ and ‘Sapiens medio constat.’ The two characters Kung yung (), however, are evidently brought on from the preceding chapter, yung () being used instead of the ho () in paragraphs 5 and 6. In the Khang-hsî dictionary, we find that yung is defined by ho, among other terms, with a reference to a remark of Kăng Hsüan, preserved by Lû Teh-ming, that ‘the Book is named the Kung Yung, because it records the practice of the Kung Ho.’ Kăng was obliged to express himself so, having defined the yung of the title by another yung (), meaning ‘use’ or ‘practice.’ But both kung and yung are adjectival terms used substantively.
[1 ]Men eat and drink without knowing why or what.
[2 ]Here Kung has the signification of ‘the mean,’ the just medium between two extremes.
[1 ]Ȝze-hui was Yen Yüan, Confucius’ favourite disciple.
[2 ]Ȝze-lû was Kung Yû, another celebrated disciple, famous for his bravery. ‘Your fortitude,’ in paragraph 16, is probably the fortitude which you ought to cultivate, that described in paragraph 19.
[1 ]This is translated from a reading of the text, as old as the second Han dynasty.
[2 ]With this ends the second chapter of the Treatise, in which the words of Confucius are so often quoted; specially it would appear, to illustrate what is meant by ‘the state of equilibrium and harmony.’ Yet there is a great want of definiteness and practical guidance about the utterances.
[3 ]Who does not grumble occasionally at the weather, and disturbances apparently of regular order in the seasons?
[1 ]With this chapter commences, it is commonly and correctly held, the third part of the Treatise, intended to illustrate what is said in the second paragraph of it, that ‘the path cannot be left for an instant.’ The author proceeds to quote sayings of Confucius to make his meaning clear, but he does so ‘in a miscellaneous way,’ and so as to embrace some of the widest and most difficult exercises of Chinese thought.
[2 ]The name first given to Confucius by his parents.
[1 ]We hardly see the relevancy of pars. 44-47 as illustrating the statement that ‘the path cannot be left.’ They bear rather on the next statement of the first chapter, the manifestness of that which is most minute, and serve to introduce the subject of ‘sincerity,’ which is dwelt upon so much in the last part of the Treatise. But what are the Spirits or Spiritual Beings that are spoken of? In paragraphs 45, 46, they are evidently the spirits sacrificed to in the ancestral temple and spirits generally, according to our meaning of the term. The difficulty is with the name in paragraph 44, the Kwei Shăn there. Rémusat renders the phrase simply by ‘les esprits,’ and in his Latin version by ‘spiritus geniique,’ as also does Zottoli. Wylie gives for it ‘the Spiritual Powers.’ Of course Kâu Hsî and all the Sung scholars take it, according to their philosophy, as meaning the phenomena of expansion and contraction, the displays of the Power or Powers, working under Heaven, in nature.
[1 ]Two seasons, instead of the four, as in the title of the Khun Khiû.
[1 ]The phraseology of this paragraph and the next is to be taken in accordance with the usage of terms in the chapters on Sacrifices.
[2 ]With this ends, according to the old division of the Treatise, followed by the Khien-lung editors, the first section of it; and with it, we may say, ends also the special quotation by the author of the words of Confucius to illustrate what is said in the first chapter about the path being never to be left. The relevancy of much of what we read from paragraph 24 downwards to the purpose which it is said to serve, it is not easy for us to appreciate. All that the Master says from paragraph 48 seems rather to belong to a Treatise on Filial Piety than to one on the States of Equilibrium and Harmony.
[1 ]A considerable portion of this chapter, with variations and additions, is found in the Narratives of the School, forming the 17th article of that compilation. It may very well stand by itself; but the author of the Kung Yung adopted it, and made it fit into his own way of thinking.
[2 ]Literally, ‘a typha or a phragmites.’ Such is Kû Hsî’s view of the text. The old commentators took a different view, which appears to me, and would appear to my readers, very absurd.
[3 ]Literally, ‘Benevolence is Man ();’ a remarkable saying, found elsewhere in the Lî Kî, and also in Mencius. The value of it is somewhat marred by what follows about ‘righteousness’ and ‘propriety.’
[1 ]This short sentence is evidently out of place. It is found again farther on in its proper place. It has slipped in here by mistake. There is a consent of opinion, ancient and modern, on this point.
[2 ]‘One thing;’ literally ‘one,’ which might be translated ‘singleness,’ meaning, probably, the ‘solitariness’ of chapter i, or the ‘sincerity’ of which we read so often in the sequel.
[1 ]After this, it follows in the ‘Narratives:’—The duke said, ‘Your words are admirable, are perfect; but I am really stupid and unable to fulfil them.’
[1 ]The ‘one thing’ in this paragraph carries us back to the same phrase in paragraph 9. If we confine our attention to this paragraph alone, we shall say, with Kăng and Ying-tâ, ‘the one thing’ is the ‘preparation beforehand,’ of which it goes on to speak; and it seems to be better not to grope here for a more mysterious meaning.
[1 ]Literally, ‘that he is not sincere,’ which is Mr. Wylie’s rendering; or, as I rendered it in 1861, ‘finds a want of sincerity.’ But in the frequent occurrence of in the ‘Sequel of the Treatise,’ ‘sincerity’ is felt to be an inadequate rendering of it. Zottoli renders the clause by ‘Si careat veritate, integritate,’ and says in a note, ‘ est naturalis entis perfectio, quae rei convenit juxta genuinum Creatoris protypon, quaeque a creatore infunditur; proindeque est rei veritas, seu rei juxta veritatem perfectio.’ It seems to me that this ideal perfection, as belonging to all things, which God made ‘good,’ is expressed by in the last clause; and that the realisation of that perfection by man, as belonging to his own nature, is the work of , and may be spoken of as actually and fully accomplished, or in the process of being accomplished. It is difficult with our antecedent knowledge and opinions to place ourselves exactly in the author’s point of view.
[2 ],—Rémusat, Zottoli, and many give for this name ‘sanctus vir,’ ‘un saint,’ ‘the holy man.’ I prefer, after all, to adhere to the rendering, ‘le sage,’ ‘the sage.’ The sage is the ideal man; the saint is the man sanctified by the Spirit of God. Humanity predominates in the former concept; Divinity in the latter. The ideas of morality and goodness belong to both names. See Mencius, VII, ix, 25, for his graduation of the appellations of good men.
[1 ]With this paragraph there commences the last chapter of the Treatise. Ȝze-sze, it is said, takes up in it the commencing utterances in paragraph 19, and variously illustrates and prosecutes them. From the words ‘nature and instruction’ it is evident how he had the commencing chapter of the Treatise in his mind.
[2 ]The text is simply ‘the nature of things;’ but the word ‘things ()’ comprehends all beings besides man. Zottoli’s ‘rerum natura’ seems quite inadequate. Rémusat’s Latin version is the same; his French is ‘la nature des choses.’ Wylie says, ‘the nature of other objects.’ This chapter has profoundly affected all subsequent philosophical speculation in China. The ternion of ‘Heaven, Earth, and Man’ is commonly called San Ȝhâi (), ‘the Three Powers.’
[3 ]The character in the text here is a difficult one:—khû (), meaning ‘crooked,’ often used as the antithesis of ‘straight;’ but the title of the first Book in this collection shows that it need not be used only of what is bad. In that case, the phrase would mean—‘carries to the utmost what is bad.’ Zottoli’s rendering of it by ‘promovere declinatam naturam’ is inadmissible. Nor can we accept Rémusat’s ‘diriger efforts vers une seule vertu,’ which Wylie follows, merely substituting ‘object’ for ‘vertu.’ See the introduction on the title of the first Book. Very much to the point is an illustration by the scholar Pâi Lü:—‘Put on stone on a bamboo shoot, or where it would show itself, and it will travel round the stone and come out crookedly at its side.’ So it is with the good nature, whose free and full development is repressed.
[1 ]These were the two principal methods of divination practised from very ancient times. The stalks were those of the Ptarmica Sibirica; of which I possess a bundle brought from the tomb of Confucius in 1873. It is difficult to say anything about ‘the four limbs,’ which were to Kăng ‘the four feet of the tortoise.’
[2 ]‘The Spirit-man’ is, according to Mencius’ graduation, an advance on the Sage or Holy man, one whose action is mysterious and invisible, like the power of Heaven and Earth working in nature. Chinese predicates about him could not go farther.
[1 ]What are those three points? The old interpretations said,—‘The ceremonies of the three kings;’ Kû Hsî thought they were the three things in paragraph 43;—which is more likely.
[1 ]It was the old opinion that in this part of the Treatise we have his grandson’s eloquent eulogium of Confucius, and I agree with that opinion. Yet I have not ventured to translate the different parts of it in the past tense. Let it be read as the description of the ideal sage who found his realisation in the Master.
[1 ]That is how the ruler’s character acts on the people as the wind on grass and plants.