The Analects of Confucius - Book 8

Sayings of Tsang — Sentences of Confucius

This is Book 8 of the Analects of Confucius.

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Chinese Tartar Bowman
Chinese Tartar Bowman


Sayings of Tsang—Sentences of the Master

Speaking of T'ai-pih the Master said that he might be pronounced a man of the highest moral excellence; for he allowed the empire to pass by him onwards to a third heir; while the people, in their ignorance of his motives, were unable to admire him for so doing.

"Without the Proprieties," said the Master, "we have these results: for deferential demeanor, a worried one; for calm attentiveness, awkward bashfulness; for manly conduct, disorderliness; for straightforwardness, perversity.

"When men of rank show genuine care for those nearest to them in blood, the people rise to the duty of neighborliness and sociability. And when old friendships among them are not allowed to fall off, there will be a cessation of underhand practices among the people."

The Scholar Tsang was once unwell, and calling his pupils to him he said to them, "Disclose to view my feet and my hands. What says the Ode?—

'Act as from a sense of danger,
With precaution and with care,
As a yawning gulf o'erlooking,
As on ice that scarce will bear,'

At all times, my children, I know how to keep myself free from bodily harm."

Again, during an illness of his, Mang King, an official, went to ask after him. The Scholar had some conversation with him, in the course of which he said—

"'Doleful the cries of a dying bird,
Good the last words of a dying man,'

There are three points which a man of rank in the management of his duties should set store upon:—A lively manner and deportment, banishing both severity and laxity; a frank and open expression of countenance, allied closely with sincerity; and a tone in his utterances utterly free from any approach to vulgarity and impropriety. As to matters of bowls and dishes, leave such things to those who are charged with the care of them."

Another saying of the Scholar Tsang: "I once had a friend who, though he possessed ability, would go questioning men of none, and, though surrounded by numbers, would go with his questions to isolated individuals; who also, whatever he might have, appeared as if he were without it, and, with all his substantial acquirements, made as though his mind were a mere blank; and when insulted would not retaliate;—this was ever his way."

Again he said: "The man that is capable of being intrusted with the charge of a minor on the throne, and given authority over a large territory, and who, during the important term of his superintendence cannot be forced out of his position, is not such a 'superior man'? That he is, indeed."

Again:—"The learned official must not be without breadth and power of endurance: the burden is heavy, and the way is long.

"Suppose that he take his duty to his fellow-men as his peculiar burden, is that not indeed a heavy one? And since only with death it is done with, is not the way long?"

Sentences of the Master:—

"From the 'Book of Odes' we receive impulses; from the 'Book of the
Rules,' stability; from the 'Book on Music,' refinement. [20]

"The people may be put into the way they should go, though they may not be put into the way of understanding it.

"The man who likes bravery, and yet groans under poverty, has mischief in him. So, too, has the misanthrope, groaning at any severity shown towards him.

"Even if a person were adorned with the gifts of the Duke of Chow, yet if he were proud and avaricious, all the rest of his qualities would not indeed be worth looking at.

"Not easily found is the man who, after three years' study, has failed to come upon some fruit of his toil.

"The really faithful lover of learning holds fast to the Good Way till death.

"He will not go into a State in which a downfall is imminent, nor take up his abode in one where disorder reigns. When the empire is well ordered he will show himself; when not, he will hide himself away. Under a good government it will be a disgrace to him if he remain in poverty and low estate; under a bad one, it would be equally disgraceful to him to hold riches and honors.

"If not occupying the office, devise not the policy.

"When the professor Chi began his duties, how grand the finale of the
First of the Odes used to be! How it rang in one's ears!

"I cannot understand persons who are enthusiastic and yet not straightforward; nor those who are ignorant and yet not attentive; nor again those folks who are simple-minded and yet untrue.

"Learn, as if never overtaking your object, and yet as if apprehensive of losing it.

"How sublime was the handling of the empire by Shun and Yu!—it was as nothing to them!

"How great was Yau as a prince! Was he not sublime! Say that Heaven only is great, then was Yau alone after its pattern! How profound was he! The people could not find a name for him. How sublime in his achievements! How brilliant in his scholarly productions!"

Shun had for his ministers five men, by whom he ordered the empire.

King Wu (in his day) stated that he had ten men as assistants for the promotion of order.

With reference to these facts Confucius observed, "Ability is hard to find. Is it not so indeed? During the three years' interregnum between Yau and Shun there was more of it than in the interval before this present dynasty appeared. There were, at this latter period, one woman, and nine men only.

"When two-thirds of the empire were held by King Wan, he served with that portion the House of Yin. We speak of the virtue of the House of Chow; we may say, indeed, that it reached the pinnacle of excellence."

"As to Yu," added the Master, "I can find no flaw in him. Living on meagre food and drink; yet providing to the utmost in his filial offerings to the spirits of the dead! Dressing in coarse garments; yet most elegant when vested in his sacrificial apron and coronet! Dwelling in a poor palace; yet exhausting his energies over those boundary-ditches and watercourses! I can find no flaw in Yu."

[Footnote 20: Comparison of three of the Classics: the "Shi-King," the
"Li Ki," and the "Yoh." The last is lost.]

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