Mencius said, 'The
path of duty lies in what is near, and men seek for it in what
is remote. The work of duty lies in what is easy, and men seek
for it in what is difficult. If each man would love his parents
and show the due respect to his elders, the whole land would
1. Mencius said,
'When those occupying inferior situations do not obtain the
confidence of the sovereign, they cannot succeed in governing
the people. There is a way to obtain the confidence of the
sovereign:-- if one is not trusted by his friends, he will not
obtain the confidence of his sovereign. There is a way of being
trusted by one's friends:-- if one do not serve his parents so
as to make them pleased, he will not be trusted by his friends.
There is a way to make one's parents pleased:-- if one, on
turning his thoughts inwards, finds a want of sincerity, he will
not give pleasure to his parents. There is a way to the
attainment of sincerity in one's self:-- if a man do not
understand what is good, he will not attain sincerity in
sincerity is the way of Heaven. To think how to be sincere is
the way of man.
3. Never has there
been one possessed of complete sincerity, who did not move
others. Never has there been one who had not sincerity who was
able to move others.'
1. Mencius said,
'Po-Î, that he might avoid Châ'u, was dwelling on the coast of
the northern sea. When he heard of the rise of king Wan, he
roused himself, and said, "Why should I not go and follow him? I
have heard that the chief of the West knows well how to nourish
the old." T'âi-kung, that he might avoid Châu, was dwelling on
the coast of the eastern sea. When he heard of the rise of king
Wan, he roused himself, and said, "Why should I not go and
follow him? I have heard that the chief of the West knows well
how to nourish the old."
2. 'Those two old
men were the greatest old men of the kingdom. When they came to
follow king Wan, it was the fathers of the kingdom coming to
follow him. When the fathers of the kingdom joined him, how
could the sons go to any other?
3. 'Were any of
the princes to practise the government of king Wan, within seven
years he would be sure to be giving laws to the kingdom.'
1. Mencius said, 'Ch'iû
acted as chief officer to the head of the Chî family, whose evil
ways he was unable to change, while he exacted from the people
double the grain formerly paid. Confucius said, "He is no
disciple of mine. Little children, beat the drum and assail
2. 'Looking at the
subject from this case, we perceive that when a prince was not
practising benevolent government, all his ministers who enriched
him were rejected by Confucius:-- how much more would he have
rejected those who are vehement to fight for their prince! When
contentions about territory are the ground on which they fight,
they slaughter men till the fields are filled with them. When
some struggle for a city is the ground on which they fight, they
slaughter men till the city is filled with them. This is what is
called "leading on the land to devour human flesh." Death is not
enough for such a crime.
those who are skilful to fight should suffer the highest
punishment. Next to them should be punished those who unite some
princes in leagues against others; and next to them, those who
take in grassy commons, imposing the cultivation of the ground
on the people.'
2. 'Listen to a
man's words and look at the pupil of his eye. How can a man
conceal his character?'
Mencius said, 'The
respectful do not despise others. The economical do not plunder
others. The prince who treats men with despite and plunders
them, is only afraid that they may not prove obedient to him:--
how can he be regarded as respectful or economical? How can
respectfulness and economy be made out of tones of the voice,
and a smiling manner?'
1. Shun-yü K'wan
said, 'Is it the rule that males and females shall not allow
their hands to touch in giving or receiving anything?' Mencius
replied, 'It is the rule.' K'wan asked, 'If a man's
sister-in-law be drowning, shall he rescue her with his hand?'
Mencius said, 'He who would not so rescue the drowning woman is
a wolf. For males and females not to allow their hands to touch
in giving and receiving is the general rule; when a
sister-in-law is drowning, to rescue her with the hand is a
2. K'wan said,
'The whole kingdom is drowning. How strange it is that you will
not rescue it!'
answered, 'A drowning kingdom must be rescued with right
principles, as a drowning sister-in-law has to be rescued with
the hand. Do you wish me to rescue the kingdom with my hand?'
replied, 'The circumstances of the case forbid its being done.
The teacher must inculcate what is correct. When he inculcates
what is correct, and his lessons are not practised, he follows
them up with being angry. When he follows them up with being
angry, then, contrary to what should be, he is offended with his
son. At the same time, the pupil says, 'My master inculcates on
me what is correct, and he himself does not proceed in a correct
path." The result of this is, that father and son are offended
with each other. When father and son come to be offended with
each other, the case is evil.
3. 'The ancients
exchanged sons, and one taught the son of another.
4. 'Between father
and son, there should be no reproving admonitions to what is
good. Such reproofs lead to alienation, and than alienation
there is nothing more inauspicious.'
1. Mencius said,
'Of services, which is the greatest? The service of parents is
the greatest. Of charges, which is the greatest ? The charge of
one's self is the greatest. That those who do not fail to keep
themselves are able to serve their parents is what I have heard.
But I have never heard of any, who, having failed to keep
themselves, were able notwithstanding to serve their parents.
2. 'There are many
services, but the service of parents is the root of all others.
There are many charges, but the charge of one's self is the root
of all others.
philosopher Tsang, in nourishing Tsang Hsî, was always sure to
have wine and flesh provided. And when they were being removed,
he would ask respectfully to whom he should give what was left.
If his father asked whether there was anything left, he was sure
to say, "There is." After the death of Tsing Hsî, when Tsang
Yüan came to nourish Tsing-tsze, he was always sure to have wine
and flesh provided. But when the things were being removed, he
did not ask to whom he should give what was left, and if his
father asked whether there was anything left, he would answer
"No;"-- intending to bring them in again. This was what is
called-- "nourishing the mouth and body." We may call Tsang-tsze's
practice-- "nourishing the will."
4. 'To serve one's
parents as Tsang-tsze served his, may be accepted as flial
Mencius said, 'It
is not enough to remonstrate with a sovereign on account of the
mal-employment of ministers, nor to blame errors of government.
It is only the great man who can rectify what is wrong in the
sovereign's mind. Let the prince be benevolent, and all his acts
will be benevolent. Let the prince be righteous, and all his
acts will be righteous. Let the prince be correct, and
everything will be correct. Once rectify the ruler, and the
kingdom will be firmly settled.'
'There are cases of praise which could not be expected, and of
reproach when the parties have been seeking to be perfect.'
1. The disciple
Yo-chang went in the train of Tsze-âo to Ch'î.
2. He came to see
Mencius, who said to him, 'Are you also come to see me?'
Yo-chang replied, 'Master, why do you speak such words?' 'How
many days have you been here?' asked Mencius. 'I came
yesterday.' 'Yesterday! Is it not with reason then that I thus
speak?' 'My lodging-house was not arranged.' 'Have you heard
that a scholar's lodging-house must be arranged before he visit
3. Yo-chang said,
'I have done wrong.'
addressing the disciple Yo-chang, said to him, 'Your coming here
in the train of Tsze-âo was only because of the food and the
drink. I could not have thought that you, having learned the
doctrine of the ancients, would have acted with a view to eating
1. Mencius said,
'There are three things which are unfilial, and to have no
posterity is the greatest of them.
2. 'Shun married
without informing his parents because of this,-- lest he should
have no posterity. Superior men consider that his doing so was
the same as if he had informed them.'
1. Mencius said,
'The richest fruit of benevolence is this,-- the service of
one's parents. The richest fruit of righteousness is this,-- the
obeying one's elder brothers.
2. 'The richest
fruit of wisdom is this,-- the knowing those two things, and not
departing from them. The richest fruit of propriety is this,--
the ordering and adorning those two things. The richest fruit of
music is this,-- the rejoicing in those two things. When they
are rejoiced in, they grow. Growing, how can they be repressed?
When they come to this state that they cannot be repressed, then
unconsciously the feet begin to dance and the hands to move.'
2. 'By Shun's
completely fulfilling everything by which a parent could be
served, Kû-sâu was brought to find delight in what was good.
When Kû-sâu was brought to find that delight, the whole kingdom
was transformed. When Kû-sâu was brought to find that delight,
all fathers and sons in the kingdom were established in their
respective duties. This is called great filial piety.'