Chapter I. 1. The Master said, 'Is it not pleasant to learn with a constant perseverance and application? 2. 'Is it not delightful to have friends coming from distant quarters?' 3. 'Is he not a man of complete virtue, who feels no discomposure though men may take no note of him?' [Source: ca. 500 B.C., Project Gutenberg, translated by James Legge, 1861]

Chapter II. 1. The philosopher Yu said, 'They are few who, being filial and fraternal, are fond of offending against their superiors. There have been none, who, not liking to offend against their superiors, have been fond of stirring up confusion. 2. 'The superior man bends his attention to what is radical. That being established, all practical courses naturally grow up. Filial piety and fraternal submission!— are they not the root of all benevolent actions?'

Chapter III. The Master said, 'Fine words and an insinuating appearance are seldom associated with true virtue.'

Chapter IV. The philosopher Tsang said, 'I daily examine myself on three points:— whether, in transacting business for others, I may have been not faithful;— whether, in intercourse with friends, I may have been not sincere;— whether I may have not mastered and practised the instructions of my teacher.'

Chapter V. The Master said, To rule a country of a thousand chariots, there must be reverent attention to business, and sincerity; economy in expenditure, and love for men; and the employment of the people at the proper seasons.'

Chapter VI. The Master said, 'A youth, when at home, should be filial, and, abroad, respectful to his elders. He should be earnest and truthful. He should overflow in love to all, and cultivate the friendship of the good. When he has time and opportunity, after the performance of these things, he should employ them in polite studies.'

Chapter VII. Tsze-hsia said, 'If a man withdraws his mind from the love of beauty, and applies it as sincerely to the love of the virtuous; if, in serving his parents, he can exert his utmost strength; if, in serving his prince, he can devote his life; if, in his intercourse with his friends, his words are sincere:— although men say that he has not learned, I will certainly say that he has.'

Chapter VIII. 1. The Master said, 'If the scholar be not grave, he will not call forth any veneration, and his learning will not be solid. 2. 'Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles. 3. 'Have no friends not equal to yourself. 4. 'When you have faults, do not fear to abandon them.'

Chapter IX. The philosopher Tsang said, 'Let there be a careful attention to perform the funeral rites to parents, and let them be followed when long gone with the ceremonies of sacrifice;— then the virtue of the people will resume its proper excellence.'

Chapter X. 1. Tsze-ch'in asked Tsze-kung, saying, 'When our master comes to any country, he does not fail to learn all about its government. Does he ask his information? or is it given to him?' 2. Tsze-kung said, 'Our master is benign, upright, courteous, temperate, and complaisant, and thus he gets his information. The master's mode of asking information!— is it not different from that of other men?'

Chapter XI. The Master said, 'While a man's father is alive, look at the bent of his will; when his father is dead, look at his conduct. If for three years he does not alter from the way of his father, he may be called filial.'

Chapter XII. 1. The philosopher Yu said, 'In practising the rules of propriety, a natural ease is to be prized. In the ways prescribed by the ancient kings, this is the excellent quality, and in things small and great we follow them. 2. 'Yet it is not to be observed in all cases. If one, knowing how such ease should be prized, manifests it, without regulating it by the rules of propriety, this likewise is not to be done.'

Chapter XIII. The philosopher Yu said, 'When agreements are made according to what is right, what is spoken can be made good. When respect is shown according to what is proper, one keeps far from shame and disgrace. When the parties upon whom a man leans are proper persons to be intimate with, he can make them his guides and masters.'

Chapter XIV. The Master said, 'He who aims to be a man of complete virtue in his food does not seek to gratify his appetite, norin his dwelling place does he seek the appliances of ease; he is earnest in what he is doing, and careful in his speech; he frequents the company of men of principle that he may be rectified:— such a person may be said indeed to love to learn.'

Chapter XV. 1. Tsze-kung said, 'What do you pronounce concerning the poor man who yet does not flatter, and the rich man who is not proud?' The Master replied, 'They will do; but they are not equal to him, who, though poor, is yet cheerful, and to him, who, though rich, loves the rules of propriety.' 2. Tsze-kung replied, 'It is said in the Book of Poetry, "As you cut and then file, as you carve and then polish."— The meaning is the same, I apprehend, as that which you have just expressed.' 3. The Master said, 'With one like Ts'ze, I can begin to talkabout the odes. I told him one point, and he knew its proper sequence.'

Chapter XVI. The Master said, 'I will not be afflicted at men's not knowing me; I will be afflicted that I do not know men.'

Good Websites and Sources on Confucianism: Robert Eno, Indiana University; Confucianism ; ; Religion Facts Confucianism Religion Facts ; Confucius ; Confucian Texts Chinese Text Project ; Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy; Cult of Confucius / ; Confucian Temple China Vista ; Virtual Temple tour Qufu Wikipedia Wikipedia Travel China Guide Travel China Guide ; UNESCO World Heritage Site: UNESCO

Books on Confucianism and Confucius: There is a classic account of Confucius’s biography by Herrlee Creel: Confucius, The Man and the Myth (New York: 1949, also published as Confucius and the Chinese Way), and a recent book by Annping Chin, The Authentic Confucius: A Life in thought and Politics (New York: 2007). According to Dr. Robert Eno: “Among the many translations of the “Analects” , well crafted versions by Arthur Waley (New York: 1938), D.C. Lau (Penguin Books, 1987, 1998), and Edward Slingerland (Indianapolis: 2003) are among the most accessible published. The “Analects” is a terse work with an exceptionally long and varied commentarial tradition; its richness and multiple levels of meaning make it a living document that reads differently to each generation (as true in China as elsewhere). Responsible interpreters vary in specific choices and overall understanding, and no single translation can be viewed as “definitive.”“

Good Websites and Sources on Religion in China: Chinese Government White Paper on Religion ; United States Commission on International Religious Freedom; Articles on Religion in China ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Council of Foreign Relations ; Brooklyn College ; Religion Facts; Religious Tolerance ; Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ; Academic Info ; Internet Guide to Chinese Studies



Chapter I. The Master said, 'He who exercises government by means of his virtue may be compared to the north polar star, which keeps its place and all the stars turn towards it.' [Source: ca. 500 B.C., Project Gutenberg, translated by James Legge, 1861]

Chapter II. The Master said, 'In the Book of Poetry are three hundred pieces, but the design of them all may be embraced in one sentence— "Having no depraved thoughts."'

Chapter III. 1. The Master said, 'If the people be led by laws, and uniformity sought to be given them by punishments, they will try to avoid the punishment, but have no sense of shame. 2. 'If they be led by virtue, and uniformity sought to be given them by the rules of propriety, they will have the sense of shame, and moreover will become good.'

Chapter IV. 1. The Master said, 'At fifteen, I had my mind bent on learning. 2. 'At thirty, I stood firm. 3. 'At forty, I had no doubts. 4. 'At fifty, I knew the decrees of Heaven. 5. 'At sixty, my ear was an obedient organ for the reception of truth. 6. 'At seventy, I could follow what my heart desired, without transgressing what was right.'

Chapter V. 1. Mang I asked what filial piety was. The Master said, 'It is not being disobedient.' 2. Soon after, as Fan Ch'ih was driving him, the Master told him, saying, 'Mang-sun asked me what filial piety was, and I answered him,— "not being disobedient."' 3. Fan Ch'ih said, 'What did you mean?' The Master replied, 'That parents, when alive, be served according to propriety; that, when dead, they should be buried according to propriety; and that they should be sacrificed to according to propriety.'

Chapter VI. Mang Wu asked what filial piety was. The Master said, 'Parents are anxious lest their children should be sick.'

Chapter VII. Tsze-yu asked what filial piety was. The Master said, 'The filial piety of now-a-days means the support of one's parents. But dogs and horses likewise are able to do something in the way of support;— without reverence, what is there to distinguish the one support given from the other?'

Chapter VIII. Tsze-hsia asked what filial piety was. The Master said, 'The difficulty is with the countenance. If, when their elders have any troublesome affairs, the young take the toil of them, and if, when the young have wine and food, they set them before their elders, is THIS to be considered filial piety?'

Chapter IX. The Master said, 'I have talked with Hui for a whole day, and he has not made any objection to anything I said;— as if he were stupid. He has retired, and I have examined his conduct when away from me, and found him able to illustrate my teachings. Hui!— He is not stupid.'

Chapter X. 1. The Master said, 'See what a man does. 2. 'Mark his motives. 3. 'Examine in what things he rests. 4. 'How can a man conceal his character? 5. How can a man conceal his character?'

Chapter XI. The Master said, 'If a man keeps cherishing his old knowledge, so as continually to be acquiring new, he may be a teacher of others.'

Chapter XII. The Master said, 'The accomplished scholar is not a utensil.'

Chapter XIII. Tsze-kung asked what constituted the superior man. The Master said, 'He acts before he speaks, and afterwards speaks according to his actions.'

Chapter XIV. The Master said, 'The superior man is catholic and no partisan. The mean man is partisan and not catholic.'

Chapter XV. The Master said, 'Learning without thought is labour lost; thought without learning is perilous.'

Chapter XVI. The Master said, 'The study of strange doctrines is injurious indeed!'

Chapter XVII. The Master said, 'Yu, shall I teach you what knowledge is? When you know a thing, to hold that you know it; and when you do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it;— this is knowledge.'

Chapter XVII. 1. Tsze-chang was learning with a view to official emolument. 2. The Master said, 'Hear much and put aside the points of which you stand in doubt, while you speak cautiously at the same time of the others:— then you will afford few occasions for blame. See much and put aside the things which seem perilous, while you are cautious at the same time in carrying the others into practice:— then you will have few occasions for repentance. When one gives few occasions for blame in his words, and few occasions for repentance in his conduct, he is in the way to get emolument.'

Chapter XIX. The Duke Ai asked, saying, 'What should be done in order to secure the submission of the people?' Confucius replied, 'Advance the upright and set aside the crooked, then the people will submit. Advance the crooked and set aside the upright, then the people will not submit.'

Chapter XX. Chi K'ang asked how to cause the people to reverence their ruler, to be faithful to him, and to go on to nerve themselves to virtue. The Master said, 'Let him preside over them with gravity;— then they will reverence him. Let him be filial and kind to all;— then they will be faithful to him. Let him advance the good and teach the incompetent;— then they will eagerly seek to be virtuous.'

Chapter XXI. 1. Some one addressed Confucius, saying, 'Sir, why are you not engaged in the government?' 2. The Master said, 'What does the Shu-ching say of filial piety?— "You are filial, you discharge your brotherly duties. These qualities are displayed in government." This then also constitutes the exercise of government. Why must there be THAT— making one be in the government?'

Chapter XXII. The Master said, 'I do not know how a man without truthfulness is to get on. How can a large carriage be made to go without the cross-bar for yoking the oxen to, or a small carriage without the arrangement for yoking the horses?'

Chapter XXIII. 1. Tsze-chang asked whether the affairs of ten ages after could be known. 2. Confucius said, 'The Yin dynasty followed the regulations of the Hsia: wherein it took from or added to them may be known. The Chau dynasty has followed the regulations of Yin: wherein it took from or added to them may be known. Some other may follow the Chau, but though it should be at the distance of a hundred ages, its affairs may be known.'

Chapter XXIV. 1. The Master said, 'For a man to sacrifice to a spirit which does not belong to him is flattery. 2. 'To see what is right and not to do it is want of courage.'

Rongo Analects


Chapter I. Confucius said of the head of the Chi family, who had eight rows of pantomimes in his area, 'If he can bear to do this, what may he not bear to do?' [Source: ca. 500 B.C., Project Gutenberg, translated by James Legge, 1861]

Chapter II. The three families used the YUNG ode, while the vessels were being removed, at the conclusion of the sacrifice. The Master said, '"Assisting are the princes;— the son of heaven looks profound and grave:"— what application can these words have in the hall of the three families?'

Chapter III. The Master said, 'If a man be without the virtues proper to humanity, what has he to do with the rites of propriety? If a man be without the virtues proper to humanity, what has he to do with music?'

Chapter IV. 1. Lin Fang asked what was the first thing to be attended to in ceremonies. 2. The Master said, 'A great question indeed! 3. 'In festive ceremonies, it is better to be sparing than extravagant. In the ceremonies of mourning, it is better that there be deep sorrow than a minute attention to observances.'

Chapter V. The Master said, 'The rude tribes of the east and north have their princes, and are not like the States of our great land which are without them.'

Chapter VI. The chief of the Chi family was about to sacrifice to the T'ai mountain. The Master said to Zan Yu, 'Can you not save him from this?' He answered, 'I cannot.' Confucius said, 'Alas! will you say that the T'ai mountain is not so discerning as Lin Fang?'

Chapter VII. The Master said, 'The student of virtue has no contentions. If it be said he cannot avoid them, shall this be in archery? But he bows complaisantly to his competitors; thus he ascends the hall, descends, and exacts the forfeit of drinking. In his contention, he is still the Chun-tsze.'

Chapter VIII. 1. Tsze-hsia asked, saying, 'What is the meaning of the passage— "The pretty dimples of her artful smile! The well- defined black and white of her eye! The plain ground for the colours?"' 2. The Master said, 'The business of laying on the colours follows (the preparation of) the plain ground.' 3. 'Ceremonies then are a subsequent thing?' The Master said, 'It is Shang who can bring out my meaning. Now I can begin to talk about the odes with him.'

Chapter IX. The Master said, 'I could describe the ceremonies of the Hsia dynasty, but Chi cannot sufficiently attest my words. I could describe the ceremonies of the Yin dynasty, but Sung cannot sufficiently attest my words. (They cannot do so) because of the insufficiency of their records and wise men. If those were sufficient, I could adduce them in support of my words.'

Chapter X. The Master said, 'At the great sacrifice, after the pouring out of the libation, I have no wish to look on.'

Chapter XI. Some one asked the meaning of the great sacrifice. The Master said, 'I do not know. He who knew its meaning would find it as easy to govern the kingdom as to look on this;— pointing to his palm.

Chapter XII. 1. He sacrificed to the dead, as if they were present. He sacrificed to the spirits, as if the spirits were present. 2. The Master said, 'I consider my not being present at the sacrifice, as if I did not sacrifice.'

Chapter XIII. 1. Wang-sun Chia asked, saying, 'What is the meaning of the saying, "It is better to pay court to the furnace than to the south-west corner?"' 2. The Master said, 'Not so. He who offends against Heaven has none to whom he can pray.'

Chapter XIV. The Master said, 'Chau had the advantage of viewing the two past dynasties. How complete and elegant are its regulations! I follow Chau.'

Chapter XV. The Master, when he entered the grand temple, asked about everything. Some one said, 'Who will say that the son of the man of Tsau knows the rules of propriety! He has entered the grand temple and asks about everything.' The Master heard the remark, and said, 'This is a rule of propriety.'

Chapter XVI. The Master said, 'In archery it is not going through the leather which is the principal thing;— because people's strength is not equal. This was the old way.'

Chapter XVII. 1. Tsze-kung wished to do away with the offering of a sheep connected with the inauguration of the first day of each month. 2. The Master said, 'Ts'ze, you love the sheep; I love the ceremony.'

Chapter XVII. The Master said, 'The full observance of the rules of propriety in serving one's prince is accounted by people to be flattery.'

Chapter XIX. The Duke Ting asked how a prince should employ his ministers, and how ministers should serve their prince. Confucius replied, 'A prince should employ his minister according to according to the rules of propriety; ministers should serve their prince with faithfulness.'

Chapter XX. The Master said, 'The Kwan Tsu is expressive of enjoyment without being licentious, and of grief without being hurtfully excessive.'

Chapter XXI. 1. The Duke Ai asked Tsai Wo about the altars of the spirits of the land. Tsai Wo replied, 'The Hsia sovereign planted the pine tree about them; the men of the Yin planted the cypress; and the men of the Chau planted the chestnut tree, meaning thereby to cause the people to be in awe.' 2. When the Master heard it, he said, 'Things that are done, it is needless to speak about; things that have had their course, it is needless to remonstrate about; things that are past, it is needless to blame.'

Chapter XXII. 1. The Master said, 'Small indeed was the capacity of Kwan Chung!' 2. Some one said, 'Was Kwan Chung parsimonious?' 'Kwan,' was the reply, 'had the San Kwei, and his officers performed no double duties; how can he be considered parsimonious?' 3. 'Then, did Kwan Chung know the rules of propriety?' The Master said, 'The princes of States have a screen intercepting the view at their gates. Kwan had likewise a screen at his gate. The princes of States on any friendly meeting between two of them, had a stand on which to place their inverted cups. Kwan had also such a stand. If Kwan knew the rules of propriety, who does not know them?'

Chapter XXXII. The Master instructing the grand music-master of Lu said, 'How to play music may be known. At the commencement of the piece, all the parts should sound together. As it proceeds, they should be in harmony while severally distinct and flowing without break, and thus on to the conclusion.'

Chapter XXIV. The border warden at Yi requested to be introduced to the Master, saying, 'When men of superior virtue have come to this, I have never been denied the privilege of seeing them.' The followers of the sage introduced him, and when he came out from the interview, he said, 'My friends, why are you distressed by your master's loss of office? The kingdom has long been without the principles of truth and right; Heaven is going to use your master as a bell with its wooden tongue.'

Chapter XXV. The Master said of the Shao that it was perfectly beautiful and also perfectly good. He said of the Wu that it was perfectly beautiful but not perfectly good.

Chapter XXVI. The Master said, 'High station filled without indulgent generosity; ceremonies performed without reverence; mourning conducted without sorrow;— wherewith should I contemplate such ways?'


Chapter I. The Master said, 'It is virtuous manners which constitute the excellence of a neighborhood. If a man in selecting a residence, do not fix on one where such prevail, how can he be wise?' [Source: ca. 500 B.C., Project Gutenberg, translated by James Legge, 1861]

Chapter II. The Master said, 'Those who are without virtue cannot abide long either in a condition of poverty and hardship, or in a condition of enjoyment. The virtuous rest in virtue; the wise desire virtue.'

Chapter III. The Master said, 'It is only the (truly) virtuous man, who can love, or who can hate, others.'

Chapter IV. The Master said, 'If the will be set on virtue, there will be no practice of wickedness.'

Chapter V. 1. The Master said, 'Riches and honours are what men desire. If it cannot be obtained in the proper way, they should not be held. Poverty and meanness are what men dislike. If it cannot be avoided in the proper way, they should not be avoided. 2. 'If a superior man abandon virtue, how can he fulfil the requirements of that name? 3. '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.'

Chapter VI. 1. The Master said, 'I have not seen a person who loved virtue, or one who hated what was not virtuous. He who loved virtue, would esteem nothing above it. He who hated what is not virtuous, would practise virtue in such a way that he would not allow anything that is not virtuous to approach his person. 2. 'Is any one able for one day to apply his strength to virtue? I have not seen the case in which his strength would be insufficient. 3. 'Should there possibly be any such case, I have not seen it.'

Chapter VII. The Master said, 'The faults of men are characteristic of the class to which they belong. By observing a man's faults, it may be known that he is virtuous.'

Chapter VIII. The Master said, 'If a man in the morning hear the right way, he may die in the evening without regret.'

Chapter IX. The Master 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 with.'

Chapter X. The Master said, 'The superior man, in the world, does not set his mind either for anything, or against anything; what is right he will follow.'

Chapter XI. The Master said, 'The superior man thinks of virtue; the small man thinks of comfort. The superior man thinks of the sanctions of law; the small man thinks of favours which he may receive.'

Chapter XII. The Master said: 'He who acts with a constant view to his own advantage will be much murmured against.'

Chapter XIII. The Master said, 'If a prince is able to govern his kingdom with the complaisance proper to the rules of propriety, what difficulty will he have? If he cannot govern it with that complaisance, what has he to do with the rules of propriety?'

Chapter XIV. The Master said, 'A man should say, I am not concerned that I have no place, I am concerned how I may fit myself for one. I am not concerned that I am not known, I seek to be worthy to be known.'

Chapter XV. 1. The Master said, 'Shan, my doctrine is that of an all-pervading unity.' The disciple Tsang replied, 'Yes.' 2. The Master went out, and the other disciples asked, saying, 'What do his words mean?' Tsang said, 'The doctrine of our master is to be true to the principles of our nature and the benevolent exercise of them to others,— this and nothing more.'

Chapter XVI. The Master said, 'The mind of the superior man is conversant with righteousness; the mind of the mean man is conversant with gain.'

Chapter XVII. The Master said, 'When we see men of worth, we should think of equalling them; when we see men of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves.'

Chapter XVIII. The Master said, 'In serving his parents, a son may remonstrate with them, but gently; when he sees that they do not incline to follow his advice, he shows an increased degree of reverence, but does not abandon his purpose; and should they punish him, he does not allow himself to murmur.'

Chapter XIX. The Master said, 'While his parents are alive, the son may not go abroad to a distance. If he does go abroad, he must have a fixed place to which he goes.'

Chapter XX. The Master said, 'If the son for three years does not alter from the way of his father, he may be called filial.'

Chapter XXI. The Master said, 'The years of parents may by no means not be kept in the memory, as an occasion at once for joy and for fear.'

Chapter XXII. The Master said, 'The reason why the ancients did not readily give utterance to their words, was that they feared lest their actions should not come up to them.'

Chapter XXIII. The Master said, 'The cautious seldom err.'

Chapter XXIV. The Master said, 'The superior man wishes to be slow in his speech and earnest in his conduct.'

Chapter XXV. The Master said, 'Virtue is not left to stand alone. He who practises it will have neighbors.'

Chapter XXVI. Tsze-yu said, 'In serving a prince, frequent remonstrances lead to disgrace. Between friends, frequent reproofs make the friendship distant.'


Chapter I. 1. The Master said of Kung-ye Ch'ang that he might be wived; although he was put in bonds, he had not been guilty of any crime. Accordingly, he gave him his own daughter to wife. 2. Of Nan Yung he said that if the country were well governed he would not be out of office, and if it were ill-governed, he would escape punishment and disgrace. He gave him the daughter of his own elder brother to wife. [Source: ca. 500 B.C., Project Gutenberg, translated by James Legge, 1861]

Chapter II. The Master said of Tsze-chien, 'Of superior virtue indeed is such a man! If there were not virtuous men in Lu, how could this man have acquired this character?'

Chapter III. Tsze-kung asked, 'What do you say of me, Ts'ze? The Master said, 'You are a utensil.' 'What utensil?' 'A gemmed sacrificial utensil.'

Chapter IV. 1. Some one said, 'Yung is truly virtuous, but he is not ready with his tongue.' 2. The Master said, 'What is the good of being ready with the tongue? They who encounter men with smartnesses of speech for the most part procure themselves hatred. I know not whether he be truly virtuous, but why should he show readiness of the tongue?'

Chapter V. The Master was wishing Ch'i-tiao K'ai to enter on official employment. He replied, 'I am not yet able to rest in the assurance of THIS.' The Master was pleased.

Chapter VI. The Master said, 'My doctrines make no way. I will get upon a raft, and float about on the sea. He that will accompany me will be Yu, I dare say.' Tsze-lu hearing this was glad, upon which the Master said, 'Yu is fonder of daring than I am. He does not exercise his judgment upon matters.'

Chapter VII. 1. Mang Wu asked about Tsze-lu, whether he was perfectly virtuous. The Master said, 'I do not know.' 2. He asked again, when the Master replied, 'In a kingdom of a thousand chariots, Yu might be employed to manage the military levies, but I do not know whether he be perfectly virtuous.' 3. 'And what do you say of Ch'iu?' The Master replied, 'In a city of a thousand families, or a clan of a hundred chariots, Ch'iu might be employed as governor, but I do not know whether he is perfectly virtuous.' 4. 'What do you say of Ch'ih?' The Master replied, 'With his sash girt and standing in a court, Ch'ih might be employed to converse with the visitors and guests, but I do not know whether he is perfectly virtuous.'

Chapter VII. 1. The Master said to Tsze-kung, 'Which do you consider superior, yourself or Hui?' 2. Tsze-kung replied, 'How dare I compare myself with Hui? Hui hears one point and knows all about a subject; I hear one point, and know a second.' 3. The Master said, 'You are not equal to him. I grant you, you are not equal to him.'

Chapter IX. 1. Tsai Yu being asleep during the daytime, the Master said, 'Rotten wood cannot be carved; a wall of dirty earth will not receive the trowel. This Yu!— what is the use of my reproving him?' 2. The Master said, 'At first, my way with men was to hear their words, and give them credit for their conduct. Now my way is to hear their words, and look at their conduct. It is from Yu that I have learned to make this change.'

Chapter X. The Master said, 'I have not seen a firm and unbending man.' Some one replied, 'There is Shan Ch'ang.' 'Ch'ang,' said the Master, 'is under the influence of his passions; how can he be pronounced firm and unbending?'

Chapter XI. Tsze-kung said, 'What I do not wish men to do to me, I also wish not to do to men.' The Master said, 'Ts'ze, you have not attained to that.'

Chapter XII. Tsze-kung said, 'The Master's personal displays of his principles and ordinary descriptions of them may be heard. His discourses about man's nature, and the way of Heaven, cannot be heard.'

Chapter XIII. When Tsze-lu heard anything, if he had not yet succeeded in carrying it into practice, he was only afraid lest he should hear something else.

Chapter XIV. Tsze-kung asked, saying, 'On what ground did Kung-wan get that title of Wan?' The Master said, 'He was of an active nature and yet fond of learning, and he was not ashamed to ask and learn of his inferiors!— On these grounds he has been styled Wan.'

Chapter XV. The Master said of Tsze-ch'an that he had four of the characteristics of a superior man:— in his conduct of himself, he was humble; in serving his superiors, he was respectful; in nourishing the people, he was kind; in ordering the people, he was just.'

Chapter XVI. The Master said, 'Yen P'ing knew well how to maintain friendly intercourse. The acquaintance might be long, but he showed the same respect as at first.'

Chapter XVII. The Master said, 'Tsang Wan kept a large tortoise in a house, on the capitals of the pillars of which he had hills made, and with representations of duckweed on the small pillars above the beams supporting the rafters.— Of what sort was his wisdom?'

Chapter XVIII. 1. Tsze-chang asked, saying, 'The minister Tsze- wan thrice took office, and manifested no joy in his countenance. Thrice he retired from office, and manifested no displeasure. He made it a point to inform the new minister of the way in which he had conducted the government;— what do you say of him?' The Master replied. 'He was loyal.' 'Was he perfectly virtuous?' 'I do not know. How can he be pronounced perfectly virtuous?' 2. Tsze-chang proceeded, 'When the officer Ch'ui killed the prince of Ch'i, Ch'an Wan, though he was the owner of forty horses, abandoned them and left the country. Coming to another State, he said, "They are here like our great officer, Ch'ui," and left it. He came to a second State, and with the same observation left it also;— what do you say of him?' The Master replied, 'He was pure.' 'Was he perfectly virtuous?' 'I do not know. How can he be pronounced perfectly virtuous?'

Chapter XIX. Chi Wan thought thrice, and then acted. When the Master was informed of it, he said, 'Twice may do.'

Chapter XX. The Master said, 'When good order prevailed in his country, Ning Wu acted the part of a wise man. When his country was in disorder, he acted the part of a stupid man. Others may equal his wisdom, but they cannot equal his stupidity.'

Chapter XXI. When the Master was in Ch'an, he said, 'Let me return! Let me return! The little children of my school are ambitious and too hasty. They are accomplished and complete so far, but they do not know how to restrict and shape themselves.'

Chapter XXII. The Master said, 'Po-i and Shu-ch'i did not keep the former wickednesses of men in mind, and hence the resentments directed towards them were few.'

Chapter XXIII. The Master said, 'Who says of Wei-shang Kao that he is upright? One begged some vinegar of him, and he begged it of a neighbor and gave it to the man.'

Chapter XXIV. The Master said, 'Fine words, an insinuating appearance, and excessive respect;— Tso Ch'iu-ming was ashamed of them. I also am ashamed of them. To conceal resentment against a person, and appear friendly with him;— Tso Ch'iu-ming was ashamed of such conduct. I also am ashamed of it.'

Chapter XXV. 1. Yen Yuan and Chi Lu being by his side, the Master said to them, 'Come, let each of you tell his wishes.' 2. Tsze-lu said, 'I should like, having chariots and horses, and light fur dresses, to share them with my friends, and though they should spoil them, I would not be displeased.' 3. Yen Yuan said, 'I should like not to boast of my excellence, nor to make a display of my meritorious deeds.' 4. Tsze-lu then said, 'I should like, sir, to hear your wishes.' The Master said, 'They are, in regard to the aged, to give them rest; in regard to friends, to show them sincerity; in regard to the young, to treat them tenderly.'

Chapter XXVI. The Master said, 'It is all over! I have not yet seen one who could perceive his faults, and inwardly accuse himself.'

Chapter XXVII. The Master said, 'In a hamlet of ten families, there may be found one honourable and sincere as I am, but not so fond of learning.'


Confucius and his students

Chapter I. 1. The Master said, 'There is Yung!— He might occupy the place of a prince.' 2. Chung-kung asked about Tsze-sang Po-tsze. The Master said, 'He may pass. He does not mind small matters.' 3. Chung-kung said, 'If a man cherish in himself a reverential feeling of the necessity of attention to business, though he may be easy in small matters in his government of the people, that may be allowed. But if he cherish in himself that easy feeling, and also carry it out in his practice, is not such an easy mode of procedure excessive?' 4. The Master said, 'Yung's words are right.' [Source: ca. 500 B.C., Project Gutenberg, translated by James Legge, 1861]

Chapter II. The Duke Ai asked which of the disciples loved to learn. Confucius replied to him, 'There was Yen Hui; HE loved to learn. He did not transfer his anger; he did not repeat a fault. Unfortunately, his appointed time was short and he died; and now there is not such another. I have not yet heard of any one who loves to learn as he did.'

Chapter III. 1. Tsze-hwa being employed on a mission to Ch'i, the disciple Zan requested grain for his mother. The Master said, 'Give her a fu.' Yen requested more. 'Give her an yu,' said the Master. Yen gave her five ping. 2. The Master said, 'When Ch'ih was proceeding to Ch'i, he had fat horses to his carriage, and wore light furs. I have heard that a superior man helps the distressed, but does not add to the wealth of the rich.' 3. Yuan Sze being made governor of his town by the Master, he gave him nine hundred measures of grain, but Sze declined them. 4. The Master said, 'Do not decline them. May you not give them away in the neighborhoods, hamlets, towns, and villages?'

Chapter IV. The Master, speaking of Chung-kung, said, 'If the calf of a brindled cow be red and horned, although men may not wish to use it, would the spirits of the mountains and rivers put it aside?'

Chapter V. The Master said, 'Such was Hui that for three months there would be nothing in his mind contrary to perfect virtue. The others may attain to this on some days or in some months, but nothing more.'

Chapter VI. Chi K'ang asked about Chung-yu, whether he was fit to be employed as an officer of government. The Master said, 'Yu is a man of decision; what difficulty would he find in being an officer of government?' K'ang asked, 'Is Ts'ze fit to be employed as an officer of government?' and was answered, 'Ts'ze is a man of intelligence; what difficulty would he find in being an officer of government?' And to the same question about Ch'iu the Master gave the same reply, saying, 'Ch'iu is a man of various ability.'

Chapter VII. The chief of the Chi family sent to ask Min Tsze- ch'ien to be governor of Pi. Min Tsze-ch'ien said, 'Decline the offer for me politely. If any one come again to me with a second invitation, I shall be obliged to go and live on the banks of the Wan.'

Chapter VIII. Po-niu being ill, the Master went to ask for him. He took hold of his hand through the window, and said, 'It is killing him. It is the appointment of Heaven, alas! That such a man should have such a sickness! That such a man should have such a sickness!'

Chapter IX. The Master said, 'Admirable indeed was the virtue of Hui! With a single bamboo dish of rice, a single gourd dish of drink, and living in his mean narrow lane, while others could not have endured the distress, he did not allow his joy to be affected by it. Admirable indeed was the virtue of Hui!'

Chapter X. Yen Ch'iu said, 'It is not that I do not delight in your doctrines, but my strength is insufficient.' The Master said, 'Those whose strength is insufficient give over in the middle of the way but now you limit yourself.'

Chapter XI. The Master said to Tsze-hsia, 'Do you be a scholar after the style of the superior man, and not after that of the mean man.'

Chapter XII. Tsze-yu being governor of Wu-ch'ang, the Master said to him, 'Have you got good men there?' He answered, 'There is Tan-t'ai Mieh-ming, who never in walking takes a short cut, and never comes to my office, excepting on public business.'

Chapter XIII. The Master said, 'Mang Chih-fan does not boast of his merit. Being in the rear on an occasion of flight, when they were about to enter the gate, he whipped up his horse, saying, "It is not that I dare to be last. My horse would not advance."'

Chapter XIV. The Master said, 'Without the specious speech of the litanist T'o and the beauty of the prince Chao of Sung, it is difficult to escape in the present age.'

Chapter XV. The Master said, 'Who can go out but by the door? How is it that men will not walk according to these ways?'

Chapter XVI. The Master said, 'Where the solid qualities are in excess of accomplishments, we have rusticity; where the accomplishments are in excess of the solid qualities, we have the manners of a clerk. When the accomplishments and solid qualities are equally blended, we then have the man of virtue.'

Chapter XVII. The Master said, 'Man is born for uprightness. If a man lose his uprightness, and yet live, his escape from death is the effect of mere good fortune.'

Chapter XVIII. The Master said, 'They who know the truth are not equal to those who love it, and they who love it are not equal to those who delight in it.'

Chapter XIX. The Master said, 'To those whose talents are above mediocrity, the highest subjects may be announced. To those who are below mediocrity, the highest subjects may not be announced.'

Chapter XX. Fan Ch'ih asked what constituted wisdom. The Master said, 'To give one's self earnestly to the duties due to men, and, while respecting spiritual beings, to keep aloof from them, may be called wisdom.' He asked about perfect virtue. The Master said, 'The man of virtue makes the difficulty to be overcome his first business, and success only a subsequent consideration;— this may be called perfect virtue.'

Chapter XXI. The Master said, 'The wise find pleasure in water; the virtuous find pleasure in hills. The wise are active; the virtuous are tranquil. The wise are joyful; the virtuous are long-lived.'

Chapter XXII. The Master said, 'Ch'i, by one change, would come to the State of Lu. Lu, by one change, would come to a State where true principles predominated.'

Chapter XXIII. The Master said, 'A cornered vessel without corners.— A strange cornered vessel! A strange cornered vessel!'

Chapter XXIV. Tsai Wo asked, saying, 'A benevolent man, though it be told him,— 'There is a man in the well' will go in after him, I suppose.' Confucius said, 'Why should he do so?' A superior man may be made to go to the well, but he cannot be made to go down into it. He may be imposed upon, but he cannot be fooled.'

Chapter XXV. The Master said, 'The superior man, extensively studying all learning, and keeping himself under the restraint of the rules of propriety, may thus likewise not overstep what is right.'

Chapter XXVI. The Master having visited Nan-tsze, Tsze-lu was displeased, on which the Master swore, saying, 'Wherein I have done improperly, may Heaven reject me, may Heaven reject me!'

Chapter XXVII. The Master said, 'Perfect is the virtue which is according to the Constant Mean! Rare for a long time has been its practise among the people.'

Chapter XXVIII. 1. Tsze-kung said, 'Suppose the case of a man extensively conferring benefits on the people, and able to assist all, what would you say of him? Might he be called perfectly virtuous?' The Master said, 'Why speak only of virtue in connexion with him? Must he not have the qualities of a sage? Even Yao and Shun were still solicitous about this. 2. 'Now the man of perfect virtue, wishing to be established himself, seeks also to establish others; wishing to be enlarged himself, he seeks also to enlarge others. 3. 'To be able to judge of others by what is nigh in ourselves;— this may be called the art of virtue.'


Book of Aniquities, another Confucian classic

Chapter I. The Master said, 'A transmitter and not a maker, believing in and loving the ancients, I venture to compare myself with our old P'ang.' [Source: ca. 500 B.C., Project Gutenberg, translated by James Legge, 1861]

Chapter II. The Master said, 'The silent treasuring up of knowledge; learning without satiety; and instructing others without being wearied:— which one of these things belongs to me?'

Chapter III. The Master said, 'The leaving virtue without proper cultivation; the not thoroughly discussing what is learned; not being able to move towards righteousness of which a knowledge is gained; and not being able to change what is not good:— these are the things which occasion me solicitude.'

Chapter IV. When the Master was unoccupied with business, his manner was easy, and he looked pleased.

Chapter V. The Master said, 'Extreme is my decay. For a long time, I have not dreamed, as I was wont to do, that I saw the duke of Chau.'

Chapter VI. 1. The Master said, 'Let the will be set on the path of duty. 2. 'Let every attainment in what is good be firmly grasped. 3. 'Let perfect virtue be accorded with. 4. 'Let relaxation and enjoyment be found in the polite arts.'

Chapter VII. The Master said, 'From the man bringing his bundle of dried flesh for my teaching upwards, I have never refused instruction to any one.'

Chapter VIII. 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.'

Chapter IX. 1. When the Master was eating by the side of a mourner, he never ate to the full. 2. He did not sing on the same day in which he had been weeping.

Chapter X. 1. The Master said to Yen Yuan, 'When called to office, to undertake its duties; when not so called, to lie retired;— it is only I and you who have attained to this.' 2. Tsze-lu said, 'If you had the conduct of the armies of a great State, whom would you have to act with you?' 3. The Master said, 'I would not have him to act with me, who will unarmed attack a tiger, or cross a river without a boat, dying without any regret. My associate must be the man who proceeds to action full of solicitude, who is fond of adjusting his plans, and then carries them into execution.'

Chapter XI. The Master said, 'If the search for riches is sure to be successful, though I should become a groom with whip in hand to get them, I will do so. As the search may not be successful, I will follow after that which I love.'

Chapter XII. The things in reference to which the Master exercised the greatest caution were — fasting, war, and sickness.

Chapter XIII. When the Master was in Ch'i, he heard the Shao, and for three months did not know the taste of flesh. 'I did not think'' he said, 'that music could have been made so excellent as this.'

Chapter XIV. 1. Yen Yu said, 'Is our Master for the ruler of Wei?' Tsze-kung said, 'Oh! I will ask him.' 2. He went in accordingly, and said, 'What sort of men were Po-i and Shu-ch'i?' 'They were ancient worthies,' said the Master. 'Did they have any repinings because of their course?' The Master again replied, 'They sought to act virtuously, and they did so; what was there for them to repine about?' On this, Tsze-kung went out and said, 'Our Master is not for him.'

Chapter XV. The Master said, 'With coarse rice to eat, with water to drink, and my bended arm for a pillow;— I have still joy in the midst of these things. Riches and honours acquired by unrighteousness, are to me as a floating cloud.'

Chapter XVI. The Master said, 'If some years were added to my life, I would give fifty to the study of the Yi, and then I might come to be without great faults.'

Chapter XVII The Master's frequent themes of discourse were— the Odes, the History, and the maintenance of the Rules of Propriety. On all these he frequently discoursed.

Chapter XVIII. 1. The Duke of Sheh asked Tsze-lu about Confucius, and Tsze-lu did not answer him. 2. The Master said, 'Why did you not say to him,— He is simply a man, who in his eager pursuit (of knowledge) forgets his food, who in the joy of its attainment forgets his sorrows, and who does not perceive that old age is coming on?'

Chapter XIX. The Master said, 'I am not one who was born in the possession of knowledge; I am one who is fond of antiquity, and earnest in seeking it there.'

Chapter XX. The subjects on which the Master did not talk, were— extraordinary things, feats of strength, disorder, and spiritual beings.

Chapter XXI. The Master said, 'When I walk along with two others, they may serve me as my teachers. I will select their good qualities and follow them, their bad qualities and avoid them.'

Chapter XXII. The Master said, 'Heaven produced the virtue that is in me. Hwan T'ui— what can he do to me?'

Chapter XXIII. The Master said, 'Do you think, my disciples, that I have any concealments? I conceal nothing from you. There is nothing which I do that is not shown to you, my disciples;— that is my way.'

Chapter XXIV. There were four things which the Master taught,— letters, ethics, devotion of soul, and truthfulness.

Chapter XXV. 1. The Master said, 'A sage it is not mine to see; could I see a man of real talent and virtue, that would satisfy me.' 2. The Master said, 'A good man it is not mine to see; could I see a man possessed of constancy, that would satisfy me. 3. 'Having not and yet affecting to have, empty and yet affecting to be full, straitened and yet affecting to be at ease:— it is difficult with such characteristics to have constancy.'

Chapter XXVI. The Master angled,— but did not use a net. He shot,— but not at birds perching.

Chapter XXVII. The Master said, 'There may be those who act without knowing why. I do not do so. Hearing much and selecting what is good and following it; seeing much and keeping it in memory:— this is the second style of knowledge.'

Chapter XXVIII. 1. It was difficult to talk (profitably and reputably) with the people of Hu-hsiang, and a lad of that place having had an interview with the Master, the disciples doubted. 2. The Master said, 'I admit people's approach to me without committing myself as to what they may do when they have retired. Why must one be so severe? If a man purify himself to wait upon me, I receive him so purified, without guaranteeing his past conduct.'

Chapter XXIX. The Master said, 'Is virtue a thing remote? I wish to be virtuous, and lo! virtue is at hand.'

Chapter XXX. 1. The minister of crime of Ch'an asked whether the duke Chao knew propriety, and Confucius said, 'He knew propriety.' 2. Confucius having retired, the minister bowed to Wu-ma Ch'i to come forward, and said, 'I have heard that the superior man is not a partisan. May the superior man be a partisan also? The prince married a daughter of the house of Wu, of the same surname with himself, and called her,— "The elder Tsze of Wu." If the prince knew propriety, who does not know it?' 3. Wu-ma Ch'i reported these remarks, and the Master said, 'I am fortunate! If I have any errors, people are sure to know them.'

Chapter XXXI. When the Master was in company with a person who was singing, if he sang well, he would make him repeat the song, while he accompanied it with his own voice.

Chapter XXXII. The Master said, 'In letters I am perhaps equal to other men, but the character of the superior man, carrying out in his conduct what he professes, is what I have not yet attained to.'

Chapter XXXIII. The Master said, 'The sage and the man of perfect virtue;— how dare I rank myself with them? It may simply be said of me, that I strive to become such without satiety, and teach others without weariness.' Kung-hsi Hwa said, 'This is just what we, the disciples, cannot imitate you in.'

Chapter XXXIV. The Master being very sick, Tsze-lu asked leave to pray for him. He said, 'May such a thing be done?' Tsze-lu replied, 'It may. In the Eulogies it is said, "Prayer has been made for thee to the spirits of the upper and lower worlds."' The Master said, 'My praying has been for a long time.'

Chapter XXXV. The Master said, 'Extravagance leads to insubordination, and parsimony to meanness. It is better to be mean than to be insubordinate.'

Chapter XXXVI. The Master said, 'The superior man is satisfied and composed; the mean man is always full of distress.'

Chapter XXXVII. The Master was mild, and yet dignified; majestic, and yet not fierce; respectful, and yet easy.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons,

Text Sources: Robert Eno, Indiana University /+/ ; Asia for Educators, Columbia University <|>; University of Washington’s Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization, /=\; National Palace Museum, Taipei \=/; Library of Congress; New York Times; Washington Post; Los Angeles Times; China National Tourist Office (CNTO); Xinhua;; China Daily; Japan News; Times of London; National Geographic; The New Yorker; Time; Newsweek; Reuters; Associated Press; Lonely Planet Guides; Compton’s Encyclopedia; Smithsonian magazine; The Guardian; Yomiuri Shimbun; AFP; Wikipedia; BBC. Many sources are cited at the end of the facts for which they are used.

Last updated September 2016

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