Confucius (551-479 B.C.)
from The Analects
Jen (Humaneness) ---------------------------
Fan-ch'ih asked about jen. The Master said, "It is to love all men." He asked about knowledge. "It is to know
all men." Fan ch'ih did not immediately understand these answers. The Master said, "Employ the upright and put aside all the
crooked; in this way, the crooked can be made to be upright."
The Master said, "Is humaneness a thing remote? I wish
to be humane, and behold! humaneness is at hand."
Tzu-kung said, "Suppose I put the case of a man who extensively
confers benefits on the people, and is able to assist everyone, what would you say about him? Might he be called perfectly
humane?" The Master said, "Why speak only of humaneness in connection with him? Must he not have the qualities of a sage?
. . . Now the man of perfect humaneness, wishing to be established himself, seeks also to establish others; wishing to be
enlarged himself, he seeks also to enlarge others. To be able to judge of others by what is nearby in ourselves, that is what
we might call the art of humaneness."
Tzu-kung asked, saying, "Is there one world 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
Someone said, "What do you say concerning the principle that injury should be recompensed with kindness?"
The Master said, "With what then will you recompense kindness? Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with
The Master said, "With coarse rice to eat, with water to drink, and my bended arm for a pillow; I still
have joy in the midst of these things. Riches and honors acquired by inhumanity are to me as a floating cloud."
Master said, "Virtue is not left to stand alone. He who practices it will have neighbors."
The Master said, "The determined
scholar and the man of virtue will not seek to live at the expense of humanity. They will even sacrifice their lives to preserve
The Master said, "Let the will be set on the path of duty. Let every attainment in what is good be
firmly grasped. Let perfect virtue be accorded with. Let relaxation and enjoyment be found in the polite arts."
The Superior Man ---------------------------
The Master said, "Without recognizing
the ordinances of Heaven, it is impossible to be a superior man (chün tzu)."
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 object of the superior
man is truth, not food. . . . The superior man is anxious lest he should not get truth; he is not anxious lest poverty should
come upon him."
The Master said, "The mind of the superior man is conversant with virtue; the mind of the base man
is conversant with gain."
The Master said, "Riches and honors are what men desire. If they cannot be obtained in the
proper way, they should not be held. Poverty and baseness are what men dislike. If they cannot be avoided in the proper way,
they should not be avoided. . . . The superior man does not, even for the space of a single meal, act contrary to virtue.
In moments of haste, he cleaves to it. In seasons of danger, he cleaves to it."
The Master said, "What the superior
man seeks, is in himself. What the mean man seeks, is in others. What the superior man demands is something of himself. What
the petty man demands is something of others."
Ssu-ma Niu asked about the superior man. The Master said, "The superior
man has neither anxiety nor fear." "Being without anxiety or fear!" said Ssu-ma, "does this constitute what we call the superior
man?" The Master said, "When internal examination discovers nothing wrong, what is there to be anxious about, what is there
The Master said, "The progress of the superior man is upwards; the progress of the mean man is downwards."
Confucius said, "There are three things of which the superior man stand in awe. He stands in awe of the ordinances
of Heaven. He stands in awe of great men. He stands in awe of the words of the sages. The mean man does not know the ordinances
of Heaven, and consequently does not stand in awe of them. He is disrespectful to great men. He makes sport of the words of
The Master said, "The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions."
said, "The superior man is distressed by his want of ability. He is not distressed by men not knowing of him."
asked, "Has the superior man his hatreds also?" The Master said, "He has his hatreds. He hates those who proclaim the evil
of others. He hates the man who, being in a low station, slanders his superiors. He hates those who have valor merely, and
are unobservant of propriety (li ). He hates those who are forward and determined, and, at the same time, of contracted understanding."
Confucius said, "The superior man has nine things which are subjects with him of thoughtful consideration. In regard
to the use of his eyes, he is anxious to see clearly. In regard to the use of his ears, he is anxious to hear distinctly.
In regard to his countenance, he is anxious that it should be benign. In regard to his speech, he is anxious that it should
be sincere. In regard to his doing of business, he is anxious that it should be reverently careful. In regard to what he doubts
about, he is anxious to question others. When he is angry, he thinks of the difficulties his anger may involve him in. When
he sees gain to be got, he thinks of righteousness."
Tzu-hsia said, "The superior man undergoes three changes. Looked
at from a distance, he appears stern; when approached, he is mild; when he is heard to speak, his language is firm and decided."
The Master said, "A gentleman points out the admirable qualities of men and does not point out their bad qualities.
A petty man does just the opposite."
On Ritual and Music ---------------------------
Master said, "If a man lacks the human virtues, what has he to do with ritual? If a man lacks the human virtues, what has
he to do with music?"
The Master said, "Respectfulness, without the rules of ritual becomes laborious bustle; carefulness,
without the rules, becomes timidity; boldness becomes insubordination; straightforwardness becomes rudeness.
said, "It is by the Odes that a man's mind is aroused, by the rules of ritual that his character is established, and by music
that he is perfected [finished]. . . ."
On Education ---------------------------
Master said, "Yu, shall I teach you what knowledge is? When you know a thing, to realize that you know it; and when you do
not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it: this is knowledge."
The Master said, [I have been] "a transmitter
and not a maker, believing in and loving the ancients. . ."
There were four things from which the Master was entirely
free. He had no foregone conclusions, no arbitrary predeterminations, no obstinacy, and no egotism.
The Master said,
"By nature, men are nearly alike; by practice, they get to be wide apart."
Confucius said, "Those who are born with
the possession of knowledge are the highest class of men. Those who learn, and so readily get possession of knowledge, are
the next. Those who are dull and stupid, and yet compass the learning are another class next to these. As to those who are
dull and stupid and yet do not learn--they are the lowest of the people."
The Master said, "I do not open up the truth
to one who is not eager to get knowledge, nor help out any one who is not anxious to explain himself. When I have presented
one corner of a subject to any one, and he cannot from it learn the other three, I do not repeat my lesson."
said, "A scholar, whose mind is set on truth, and who is ashamed of bad clothes and bad food, is not fit to be discoursed
The Master said, "It is not easy to find a man who has learned for three years without coming to be good."
The Master said, "The course of learning may be compared to what may happen in raising a mound. If there want but
one basket of earth to complete the work, and I stop, the stopping is my own work. It may be compared to throwing down the
earth on the level ground. Though but one basketful is thrown at a time, the advancing with it is my own going forward."
Master said, "In ancient times, men learned with a view to their own improvement. Nowadays, men learn with a view to the approbation
The Master said, "To have faults and not to reform them--this, indeed, should be pronounced having faults."
The Master said, "The wise are free from perplexities; the virtuous from anxiety; and the bold from fear."
On Government ---------------------------
The Master said, "To rule a country
of a thousand chariots requires reverent attention to business, sincerity, economy in expenditures, and love for men, as well
as the employment of the people only in the right seasons."
The Master said, "If the people are governed by laws and
punishment is used to maintain order, they will try to avoid the punishment but have no sense of shame. If they are governed
by virtue and rules of propriety [ritual] are used to maintain order, they will have a sense of shame and will become good
Ji Kang Zi asked Confucius about government, saying, "What do you say to killing those who are unprincipled
[i.e., the immoral] for the good of those who are principled?" Confucius replied, "Sir, in carrying on your government, why
should you use killing at all? Let your obvious desires be for what is good, and the people will be good. The relation between
superiors and inferiors is like that between the wind and the grass: the grass is bound to bend when the wind blows across
Zigong asked about government. The Master said, "The requisites of government are that there be sufficient food,
sufficient military equipment, and the confidence of the people in their ruler." Zigong said, "If one had to dispense with
one of those three, which should be given up first?" "The military equipment, " said the Master. Zigong again asked, "If on
had to dispense with one of the two remaining, which should be given up?" The Master answered, "Give up the food. From of
old, death has always been the lot of men; but if the people have no faith in their rulers, they cannot stand."
On Religion ---------------------------
Someone asked the meaning of the great
sacrifice. The Master said, "I do not know. Anyone who knew its meaning would find it as easy to govern the kingdom as to
look on this," and he pointed to the palm of his hand.
Zilu asked about serving the ghosts of the dead. The Master
said, "Until you are able to serve men, how can you serve their ghosts?" When Zilu ventured to ask about death, the answer
was: "While you do not know life, how can you [hope to] know about death?"
Lao Tzu (6th century B.C.)
from the Tao Te Ching
The Tao that can be followed
is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the origin of heaven and
While naming is the origin of the myriad things.
Therefore, always desireless, you see the mystery
you see the manifestations.
These two are the same--
When they appear they are named differently.
is the mystery,
Mystery within mystery;
The door to all marvels.
Under heaven all can see beauty as beauty
Only because there is ugliness.
All recognize the good as good
Only because there is evil.
Therefore being and non-being produce each other.
Difficulty and ease bring about each other.
Long and short contrast each other.
High and low rest on each other.
Sound and voice harmonize each other.
Front and back follow each other.
Therefore the sage goes about doing
nothing (unattached action)
And carries out the wordless teaching.
Here, the myriad things are made, yet not separated.
Therefore the sage produces without possessing,
Acts without expectations
And accomplishes without abiding
in his accomplishments.
It is precisely because she does not abide in them
That they never leave her.
Heaven and Earth last forever.
Why do Heaven and Earth last forever?
They are unborn,
Therefore they are ever living.
Hence, the sage stays
behind and he is thus ahead.
He is detached, thus at one with all.
Through selfless action he attains perfection.
The highest goodness
is like water.
Water gives life to the ten thousand things and does not strive.
Yet it abides in places that men hate.
Therefore it is like the Tao.
In dwelling, be close to the land.
In meditation, go deep in the heart.
dealing with others, be gentle and kind.
In speech, be true.
In ruling, be just.
In business, be competent.
action, watch the timing.
If you do not fight, there will be no blame.
The five colors blind
The five tones deafen our ears.
The five flavors confuse our taste.
Racing and hunting madden our minds.
Possessing rare treasures brings about harmful behavior.
Therefore the sage regards his center, and not his eyes.
He lets go of that and chooses this.
Get rid of "holiness" and abandon "wisdom" and the people will benefit a hundredfold.
of "altruism" and abandon "Justice" and the people will return to filial piety and compassion.
Get rid of cleverness and
abandon profit, and thieves and gangsters will not exist.
Since the above three are merely words, they are not sufficient.
Therefore there must be something to include them all.
It is more important to see the simplicity,
one's true nature,
To cast off selfishness and decrease desire.
If you understand others you are smart.
If you understand yourself you are illuminated.
you overcome others you are powerful.
If you overcome yourself you have strength.
If you know how to be satisfied
you are rich.
If you can act with vigor, you have a will.
If you stay where you are you will endure
If you die
but do not perish you will be eternal.
True virtue is not virtuous
Therefore it has virtue.
Superficial virtue never fails to be virtuous
it has no virtue.
True virtue does not "act"
And has no intentions.
Superficial virtue "acts"
True jen "acts"
But has no intentions.
But has intentions.
True propriety "acts" and if you don't respond
They will roll up their sleeves and threaten
Thus, when the Tao is lost there is virtue
When virtue is lost there is jen
jen is lost there is Justice
And when Justice is lost there is propriety.
"propriety" is the external appearance of loyalty and sincerity
And the beginning of disorder.
are just flowers of the Tao
And the beginning of foolishness.
Therefore the Master dwells in the substantial
not in the superficial.
Rests in the fruit and not in the flower.
So let go of that and grasp this.
Use fairness in governing the
Use surprise tactics in war.
Be unconcerned and you will have the world.
How do I know it is like this?
The more regulations there are,
The poorer people become.
The more people own lethal weapons,
more darkened are the country and clans.
The cleverer the people are,
The more extraordinary actions they take.
more laws there are,
The more thieves and gangsters there will be.
Therefore the sages say:
"I do not force
my way and the people transform themselves.
I enjoy my serenity and the people correct themselves.
I do not interfere
and the people enrich themselves.
I have no desires and the people return to the good and simple life.
When people are born they are gentle and soft.
they are hard and stiff.
When plants are alive they are soft and delicate.
When they die, they wither and dry up.
Therefore the stiff and unbending one is the disciple of death.
The gentle and yielding is the disciple of life.
if you are aggressive and stiff, you will lose.
A tree that is unbending is easily broken.
The hard and strong will
The gentle and soft will overcome.