In a position of wealth and honor, he does what is proper to a
position of wealth and honor. In a poor and low position, he does what
is proper to a poor and low position. Situated among barbarous tribes,
he does what is proper to a situation among barbarous tribes. In a
position of sorrow and difficulty, he does what is proper to a
position of sorrow and difficulty. The superior man can find himself
in no situation in which he is not himself.
In a high situation, he does not treat with contempt his
inferiors. In a low situation, he does not court the favor of his
superiors. He rectifies himself, and seeks for nothing from others, so
that he has no dissatisfactions. He does not murmur against Heaven,
nor grumble against men.
Thus it is that the superior man is quiet and calm, waiting for
the appointments of Heaven, while the mean man walks in dangerous
paths, looking for lucky occurrences.
The Master said, "In archery we have something like the way of the
superior man. When the archer misses the center of the target, he
turns round and seeks for the cause of his failure in himself."
The way of the superior man may be compared to what takes place in
traveling, when to go to a distance we must first traverse the space
that is near, and in ascending a height, when we must begin from the
It is said in the Book of Poetry, "Happy union with wife and
children is like the music of lutes and harps. When there is concord
among brethren, the harmony is delightful and enduring. Thus may you
regulate your family, and enjoy the pleasure of your wife and
The Master said, "In such a state of things, parents have entire
The Master said, "How abundantly do spiritual beings display the
powers that belong to them!
"We look for them, but do not see them; we listen to, but do not
hear them; yet they enter into all things, and there is nothing
"They cause all the people in the kingdom to fast and purify
themselves, and array themselves in their richest dresses, in order to
attend at their sacrifices. Then, like overflowing water, they seem to
be over the heads, and on the right and left of their worshippers.
"It is said in the Book of Poetry, 'The approaches of the spirits,
you cannot sunrise; and can you treat them with indifference?'
"Such is the manifestness of what is minute! Such is the
impossibility of repressing the outgoings of sincerity!"
The Master said, "How greatly filial was Shun! His virtue was that
of a sage; his dignity was the throne; his riches were all within
the four seas. He offered his sacrifices in his ancestral temple,
and his descendants preserved the sacrifices to himself.
"Therefore having such great virtue, it could not but be that he
should obtain the throne, that he should obtain those riches, that
he should obtain his fame, that he should attain to his long life.
"Thus it is that Heaven, in the production of things, is sure to
be bountiful to them, according to their qualities. Hence the tree
that is flourishing, it nourishes, while that which is ready to
fall, it overthrows.
"In the Book of Poetry, it is said, 'The admirable amiable prince
displayed conspicuously his excelling virtue, adjusting his people,
and adjusting his officers. Therefore, he received from Heaven his
emoluments of dignity. It protected him, assisted him, decreed him the
throne; sending from Heaven these favors, as it were repeatedly.'
"We may say therefore that he who is greatly virtuous will be sure
to receive the appointment of Heaven."
The Master said, "It is only King Wan of whom it can be said that he
had no cause for grief! His father was King Chi, and his son was
King Wu. His father laid the foundations of his dignity, and his son
"King Wu continued the enterprise of King T'ai, King Chi, and King
Wan. He once buckled on his armor, and got possession of the
kingdom. He did not lose the distinguished personal reputation which
he had throughout the kingdom. His dignity was the royal throne. His
riches were the possession of all within the four seas. He offered his
sacrifices in his ancestral temple, and his descendants maintained the
sacrifices to himself.
"It was in his old age that King Wu received the appointment to
the throne, and the duke of Chau completed the virtuous course of
Wan and Wu. He carried up the title of king to T'ai and Chi, and
sacrificed to all the former dukes above them with the royal
ceremonies. And this rule he extended to the princes of the kingdom,
the great officers, the scholars, and the common people. If the father
were a great officer and the son a scholar, then the burial was that
due to a great officer, and the sacrifice that due to a scholar. If
the father were a scholar and the son a great officer, then the burial
was that due to a scholar, and the sacrifice that due to a great
officer. The one year's mourning was made to extend only to the
great officers, but the three years' mourning extended to the Son of
Heaven. In the mourning for a father or mother, he allowed no
difference between the noble and the mean.
The Master said, "How far-extending was the filial piety of King
Wu and the duke of Chau!
"Now filial piety is seen in the skillful carrying out of the wishes
of our forefathers, and the skillful carrying forward of their
"In spring and autumn, they repaired and beautified the temple halls
of their fathers, set forth their ancestral vessels, displayed their
various robes, and presented the offerings of the several seasons.
"By means of the ceremonies of the ancestral temple, they
distinguished the royal kindred according to their order of descent.
By ordering the parties present according to their rank, they
distinguished the more noble and the less. By the arrangement of the
services, they made a distinction of talents and worth. In the
ceremony of general pledging, the inferiors presented the cup to their
superiors, and thus something was given the lowest to do. At the
concluding feast, places were given according to the hair, and thus
was made the distinction of years.
"They occupied the places of their forefathers, practiced their
ceremonies, and performed their music. They reverenced those whom they
honored, and loved those whom they regarded with affection. Thus
they served the dead as they would have served them alive; they served
the departed as they would have served them had they been continued
"By the ceremonies of the sacrifices to Heaven and Earth they served
God, and by the ceremonies of the ancestral temple they sacrificed
to their ancestors. He who understands the ceremonies of the
sacrifices to Heaven and Earth, and the meaning of the several
sacrifices to ancestors, would find the government of a kingdom as
easy as to look into his palm!"
The Duke Ai asked about government.
The Master said, "The government of Wan and Wu is displayed in the
records,-the tablets of wood and bamboo. Let there be the men and
the government will flourish; but without the men, their government
decays and ceases.
"With the right men the growth of government is rapid, just as
vegetation is rapid in the earth; and, moreover, their government
might be called an easily-growing rush.
"Therefore the administration of government lies in getting proper
men. Such men are to be got by means of the ruler's own character.
That character is to be cultivated by his treading in the ways of
duty. And the treading those ways of duty is to be cultivated by the
cherishing of benevolence.
"Benevolence is the characteristic element of humanity, and the
great exercise of it is in loving relatives. Righteousness is the
accordance of actions with what is right, and the great exercise of it
is in honoring the worthy. The decreasing measures of the love due
to relatives, and the steps in the honor due to the worthy, are
produced by the principle of propriety.
"When those in inferior situations do not possess the confidence
of their superiors, they cannot retain the government of the people.
"The duties of universal obligation are five and the virtues
wherewith they are practiced are three. The duties are those between
sovereign and minister, between father and son, between husband and
wife, between elder brother and younger, and those belonging to the
intercourse of friends. Those five are the duties of universal
obligation. Knowledge, magnanimity, and energy, these three, are the
virtues universally binding. And the means by which they carry the
duties into practice is singleness.
"Some are born with the knowledge of those duties; some know them by
study; and some acquire the knowledge after a painful feeling of their
ignorance. But the knowledge being possessed, it comes to the same
thing. Some practice them with a natural ease; some from a desire
for their advantages; and some by strenuous effort. But the
achievement being made, it comes to the same thing."
The Master said, "To be fond of learning is to be near to knowledge.
To practice with vigor is to be near to magnanimity. To possess the
feeling of shame is to be near to energy.
"He who knows these three things knows how to cultivate his own
character. Knowing how to cultivate his own character, he knows how to
govern other men. Knowing how to govern other men, he knows how to
govern the kingdom with all its states and families.
"All who have the government of the kingdom with its states and
families have nine standard rules to follow;-viz., the cultivation
of their own characters; the honoring of men of virtue and talents;
affection towards their relatives; respect towards the great
ministers; kind and considerate treatment of the whole body of
officers; dealing with the mass of the people as children; encouraging
the resort of all classes of artisans; indulgent treatment of men from
a distance; and the kindly cherishing of the princes of the states.
"By the ruler's cultivation of his own character, the duties of
universal obligation are set forth. By honoring men of virtue and
talents, he is preserved from errors of judgment. By showing affection
to his relatives, there is no grumbling nor resentment among his
uncles and brethren. By respecting the great ministers, he is kept
from errors in the practice of government. By kind and considerate
treatment of the whole body of officers, they are led to make the most
grateful return for his courtesies. By dealing with the mass of the
people as his children, they are led to exhort one another to what
is good. By encouraging the resort of an classes of artisans, his
resources for expenditure are rendered ample. By indulgent treatment
of men from a distance, they are brought to resort to him from all
quarters. And by kindly cherishing the princes of the states, the
whole kingdom is brought to revere him.
"Self-adjustment and purification, with careful regulation of his
dress, and the not making a movement contrary to the rules of
propriety this is the way for a ruler to cultivate his person.
Discarding slanderers, and keeping himself from the seductions of
beauty; making light of riches, and giving honor to virtue-this is the
way for him to encourage men of worth and talents. Giving them
places of honor and large emolument. and sharing with them in their
likes and dislikes-this is the way for him to encourage his
relatives to love him. Giving them numerous officers to discharge
their orders and commissions:-this is the way for him to encourage the
great ministers. According to them a generous confidence, and making
their emoluments large:-this is the way to encourage the body of
officers. Employing them only at the proper times, and making the
imposts light:-this is the way to encourage the people. By daily
examinations and monthly trials, and by making their rations in
accordance with their labors:-this is the way to encourage the classes
of artisans. To escort them on their departure and meet them on
their coming; to commend the good among them, and show compassion to
the incompetent:-this is the way to treat indulgently men from a
distance. To restore families whose line of succession has been
broken, and to revive states that have been extinguished; to reduce to
order states that are in confusion, and support those which are in
peril; to have fixed times for their own reception at court, and the
reception of their envoys; to send them away after liberal
treatment, and welcome their coming with small contributions:-this
is the way to cherish the princes of the states.
"All who have the government of the kingdom with its states and
families have the above nine standard rules. And the means by which
they are carried into practice is singleness.
"In all things success depends on previous preparation, and
without such previous preparation there is sure to be failure. If what
is to be spoken be previously determined, there will be no
stumbling. If affairs be previously determined, there will be no
difficulty with them. If one's actions have been previously
determined, there will be no sorrow in connection with them. If
principles of conduct have been previously determined, the practice of
them will be inexhaustible.
"When those in 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 get the confidence of his sovereign. There
is a way to being trusted by one's friends;-if one is not obedient
to his parents, he will not be true to friends. There is a way to
being obedient to one's parents;-if one, on turning his thoughts in
upon himself, finds a want of sincerity, he will not be obedient 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 himself.
"Sincerity is the way of Heaven. The attainment of sincerity is
the way of men. He who possesses sincerity is he who, without an
effort, hits what is right, and apprehends, without the exercise of
thought;-he is the sage who naturally and easily embodies the right
way. He who attains to sincerity is he who chooses what is good, and
firmly holds it fast.
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