Shun had five ministers, and the
empire was well governed.
King Wu said, "I have ten able ministers."
Confucius said, "Is not the saying that talents are difficult to
find, true? Only when the dynasties of T'ang and Yu met, were
they more abundant than in this of Chau, yet there was a woman
among them. The able ministers were no more than nine men.
"King Wan possessed two of the three parts of the empire, and
with those he served the dynasty of Yin. The virtue of the house
of Chau may be said to have reached the highest point indeed."
The Master said, "I can find no flaw in the character of Yu. He
used himself coarse food and drink, but displayed the utmost
filial piety towards the spirits. His ordinary garments were
poor, but he displayed the utmost elegance in his sacrificial
cap and apron. He lived in a low, mean house, but expended all
his strength on the ditches and water channels. I can find
nothing like a flaw in Yu."
The subjects of which the Master seldom spoke
were-profitableness, and also the appointments of Heaven, and
A man of the village of Ta-hsiang said, "Great indeed is the
philosopher K'ung! His learning is extensive, and yet he does
not render his name famous by any particular thing."
The Master heard the observation, and said to his disciples,
"What shall I practice? Shall I practice charioteering, or shall
I practice archery? I will practice charioteering."
The Master said, "The linen cap is that prescribed by the rules
of ceremony, but now a silk one is worn. It is economical, and I
follow the common practice.
"The rules of ceremony prescribe the bowing below the hall, but
now the practice is to bow only after ascending it. That is
arrogant. I continue to bow below the hall, though I oppose the
There were four things from which the Master was entirely free.
He had no foregone conclusions, no arbitrary predeterminations,
no obstinacy, and no egoism.
The Master was put in fear in K'wang.
He said, "After the death of King Wan, was not the cause of
truth lodged here in me?
"If Heaven had wished to let this cause of truth perish, then I,
a future mortal! should not have got such a relation to that
cause. While Heaven does not let the cause of truth perish, what
can the people of K'wang do to me?"
A high officer asked Tsze-kung, saying, "May we not say that
your Master is a sage? How various is his ability!"
Tsze-kung said, "Certainly Heaven has endowed him unlimitedly.
He is about a sage. And, moreover, his ability is various."
The Master heard of the conversation and said, "Does the high
officer know me? When I was young, my condition was low, and I
acquired my ability in many things, but they were mean matters.
Must the superior man have such variety of ability? He does not
need variety of ability. Lao said, "The Master said, 'Having no
official employment, I acquired many arts.'"
The Master said, "Am I indeed possessed of knowledge? I am not
knowing. But if a mean person, who appears quite empty-like, ask
anything of me, I set it forth from one end to the other, and
The Master said, "The Fang bird does not come; the river sends
forth no map:-it is all over with me!"
When the Master saw a person in a mourning dress, or any one
with the cap and upper and lower garments of full dress, or a
blind person, on observing them approaching, though they were
younger than himself, he would rise up, and if he had to pass by
them, he would do so hastily.
Yen Yuan, in admiration of the Master's doctrines, sighed and
said, "I looked up to them, and they seemed to become more high;
I tried to penetrate them, and they seemed to become more firm;
I looked at them before me, and suddenly they seemed to be
"The Master, by orderly method, skillfully leads men on. He
enlarged my mind with learning, and taught me the restraints of
"When I wish to give over the study of his doctrines, I cannot
do so, and having exerted all my ability, there seems something
to stand right up before me; but though I wish to follow and lay
hold of it, I really find no way to do so."
The Master being very ill, Tsze-lu wished the disciples to act
as ministers to him.
During a remission of his illness, he said, "Long has the
conduct of Yu been deceitful! By pretending to have ministers
when I have them not, whom should I impose upon? Should I impose
"Moreover, than that I should die in the hands of ministers, is
it not better that I should die in the hands of you, my
disciples? And though I may not get a great burial, shall I die
upon the road?"
Tsze-kung said, "There is a beautiful gem here. Should I lay it
up in a case and keep it? or should I seek for a good price and
sell it?" The Master said, "Sell it! Sell it! But I would wait
for one to offer the price."
The Master was wishing to go and live among the nine wild tribes
of the east.
Some one said, "They are rude. How can you do such a thing?" The
Master said, "If a superior man dwelt among them, what rudeness
would there be?"
The Master said, "I returned from Wei to Lu, and then the music
was reformed, and the pieces in the Royal songs and Praise songs
all found their proper places."
The Master said, "Abroad, to serve the high ministers and
nobles; at home, to serve one's father and elder brothers; in
all duties to the dead, not to dare not to exert one's self; and
not to be overcome of wine:-which one of these things do I
The Master standing by a stream, said, "It passes on just like
this, not ceasing day or night!"
The Master said, "I have not seen one who loves virtue as he
The Master said, "The prosecution 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 my own going forward."
The Master said, "Never flagging when I set forth anything to
him;-ah! that is Hui." The Master said of Yen Yuan, "Alas! I saw
his constant advance. I never saw him stop in his progress."
The Master said, "There are cases in which the blade springs,
but the plant does not go on to flower! There are cases where it
flowers but fruit is not subsequently produced!"
The Master said, "A youth is to be regarded with respect. How do
we know that his future will not be equal to our present? If he
reach the age of forty or fifty, and has not made himself heard
of, then indeed he will not be worth being regarded with
The Master said, "Can men refuse to assent to the words of
strict admonition? But it is reforming the conduct because of
them which is valuable. Can men refuse to be pleased with words
of gentle advice? But it is unfolding their aim which is
valuable. If a man be pleased with these words, but does not
unfold their aim, and assents to those, but does not reform his
conduct, I can really do nothing with him."
The Master said, "Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first
principles. Have no friends not equal to yourself. When you have
faults, do not fear to abandon them."
The Master said, "The commander of the forces of a large state
may be carried off, but the will of even a common man cannot be
taken from him."
The Master said, "Dressed himself in a tattered robe quilted
with hemp, yet standing by the side of men dressed in furs, and
not ashamed;-ah! it is Yu who is equal to this!