To this attainment there are requisite the extensive study of
what is good, accurate inquiry about it, careful reflection on it, the
clear discrimination of it, and the earnest practice of it.
"The superior man, while there is anything he has not studied, or
while in what he has studied there is anything he cannot understand,
Will not intermit his labor. While there is anything he has not
inquired about, or anything in what he has inquired about which he
does not know, he will not intermit his labor. While there is anything
which he has not reflected on, or anything in what he has reflected on
which he does not apprehend, he will not intermit his labor. While
there is anything which he has not discriminated or his discrimination
is not clear, he will not intermit his labor. If there be anything
which he has not practiced, or his practice fails in earnestness, he
will not intermit his labor. If another man succeed by one effort,
he will use a hundred efforts. If another man succeed by ten
efforts, he will use a thousand.
"Let a man proceed in this way, and, though dull, he will surely
become intelligent; though weak, he will surely become strong."
When we have intelligence resulting from sincerity, this condition
is to be ascribed to nature; when we have sincerity resulting from
intelligence, this condition is to be ascribed to instruction. But
given the sincerity, and there shall be the intelligence; given the
intelligence, and there shall be the sincerity.
It is only he who is possessed of the most complete sincerity that
can exist under heaven, who can give its fun development to his
nature. Able to give its full development to his own nature, he can do
the same to the nature of other men. Able to give its full development
to the nature of other men, he can give their full development to
the natures of animals and things. Able to give their full development
to the natures of creatures and things, he can assist the transforming
and nourishing powers of Heaven and Earth. Able to assist the
transforming and nourishing powers of Heaven and Earth, he may with
Heaven and Earth form a ternion.
Next to the above is he who cultivates to the utmost the shoots of
goodness in him. From those he can attain to the possession of
sincerity. This sincerity becomes apparent. From being apparent, it
becomes manifest. From being manifest, it becomes brilliant.
Brilliant, it affects others. Affecting others, they are changed by
it. Changed by it, they are transformed. It is only he who is
possessed of the most complete sincerity that can exist under
heaven, who can transform.
It is characteristic of the most entire sincerity to be able to
foreknow. When a nation or family is about to flourish, there are sure
to be happy omens; and when it is about to perish, there are sure to
be unlucky omens. Such events are seen in the milfoil and tortoise,
and affect the movements of the four limbs. When calamity or happiness
is about to come, the good shall certainly be foreknown by him, and
the evil also. Therefore the individual possessed of the most complete
sincerity is like a spirit.
Sincerity is that whereby self-completion is effected, and its way
is that by which man must direct himself.
Sincerity is the end and beginning of things; without sincerity
there would be nothing. On this account, the superior man regards
the attainment of sincerity as the most excellent thing.
The possessor of sincerity does not merely accomplish the
self-completion of himself. With this quality he completes other men
and things also. The completing himself shows his perfect virtue.
The completing other men and things shows his knowledge. But these are
virtues belonging to the nature, and this is the way by which a
union is effected of the external and internal. Therefore, whenever
he-the entirely sincere man-employs them,-that is, these virtues,
their action will be right.
Hence to entire sincerity there belongs ceaselessness.
Not ceasing, it continues long. Continuing long, it evidences
Evidencing itself, it reaches far. Reaching far, it becomes large
and substantial. Large and substantial, it becomes high and brilliant.
Large and substantial;-this is how it contains all things. High
and brilliant;-this is how it overspreads all things. Reaching far and
continuing long;-this is how it perfects all things.
So large and substantial, the individual possessing it is the
co-equal of Earth. So high and brilliant, it makes him the co-equal of
Heaven. So far-reaching and long-continuing, it makes him infinite.
Such being its nature, without any display, it becomes manifested;
without any movement, it produces changes; and without any effort,
it accomplishes its ends.
The way of Heaven and Earth may be completely declared in one
sentence.-They are without any doubleness, and so they produce
things in a manner that is unfathomable.
The way of Heaven and Earth is large and substantial, high and
brilliant, far-reaching and long-enduring.
The Heaven now before us is only this bright shining spot; but
when viewed in its inexhaustible extent, the sun, moon, stars, and
constellations of the zodiac, are suspended in it, and all things
are overspread by it. The earth before us is but a handful of soil;
but when regarded in its breadth and thickness, it sustains
mountains like the Hwa and the Yo, without feeling their weight, and
contains the rivers and seas, without their leaking away. The mountain
now before us appears only a stone; but when contemplated in all the
vastness of its size, we see how the grass and trees are produced on
it, and birds and beasts dwell on it, and precious things which men
treasure up are found on it. The water now before us appears but a
ladleful; yet extending our view to its unfathomable depths, the
largest tortoises, iguanas, iguanodons, dragons, fishes, and
turtles, are produced in it, articles of value and sources of wealth
abound in it.
It is said in the Book of Poetry, "The ordinances of Heaven, how
profound are they and unceasing!" The meaning is, that it is thus that
Heaven is Heaven. And again, "How illustrious was it, the singleness
of the virtue of King Wan!" indicating that it was thus that King
Wan was what he was. Singleness likewise is unceasing.
How great is the path proper to the Sage!
Like overflowing water, it sends forth and nourishes all things, and
rises up to the height of heaven.
All-complete is its greatness! It embraces the three hundred rules
of ceremony, and the three thousand rules of demeanor.
It waits for the proper man, and then it is trodden.
Hence it is said, "Only by perfect virtue can the perfect path, in
all its courses, be made a fact."
Therefore, the superior man honors his virtuous nature, and
maintains constant inquiry and study, seeking to carry it out to its
breadth and greatness, so as to omit none of the more exquisite and
minute points which it embraces, and to raise it to its greatest
height and brilliancy, so as to pursue the course of the Mean. He
cherishes his old knowledge, and is continually acquiring new. He
exerts an honest, generous earnestness, in the esteem and practice
of all propriety.
Thus, when occupying a high situation he is not proud, and in a
low situation he is not insubordinate. When the kingdom is well
governed, he is sure by his words to rise; and when it is ill
governed, he is sure by his silence to command forbearance to himself.
Is not this what we find in the Book of Poetry,-"Intelligent is he and
prudent, and so preserves his person?"
The Master said, Let a man who is ignorant be fond of using his
own judgment; let a man without rank be fond of assuming a directing
power to himself; let a man who is living in the present age go back
to the ways of antiquity;-on the persons of all who act thus
calamities will be sure to come.
To no one but the Son of Heaven does it belong to order
ceremonies, to fix the measures, and to determine the written
Now over the kingdom, carriages have all wheels, of the-same size;
all writing is with the same characters; and for conduct there are the
One may occupy the throne, but if he have not the proper virtue,
he may not dare to make ceremonies or music. One may have the
virtue, but if he do not occupy the throne, he may not presume to make
ceremonies or music.
The Master said, "I may describe the ceremonies of the Hsia dynasty,
but Chi cannot sufficiently attest my words. I have learned the
ceremonies of the Yin dynasty, and in Sung they still continue. I have
learned the ceremonies of Chau, which are now used, and I follow
He who attains to the sovereignty of the kingdom, having those three
important things, shall be able to effect that there shall be few
errors under his government.
However excellent may have been the regulations of those of former
times, they cannot be attested. Not being attested, they cannot
command credence, and not being credited, the people would not
follow them. However excellent might be the regulations made by one in
an inferior situation, he is not in a position to be honored.
Unhonored, he cannot command credence, and not being credited, the
people would not follow his rules.
Therefore the institutions of the Ruler are rooted in his own
character and conduct, and sufficient attestation of them is given
by the masses of the people. He examines them by comparison with those
of the three kings, and finds them without mistake. He sets them up
before Heaven and Earth, and finds nothing in them contrary to their
mode of operation. He presents himself with them before spiritual
beings, and no doubts about them arise. He is prepared to wait for the
rise of a sage a hundred ages after, and has no misgivings.
His presenting himself with his institutions before spiritual
beings, without any doubts arising about them, shows that he knows
Heaven. His being prepared, without any misgivings, to wait for the
rise of a sage a hundred ages after, shows that he knows men.
Such being the case, the movements of such a ruler, illustrating his
institutions, constitute an example to the world for ages. His acts
are for ages a law to the kingdom. His words are for ages a lesson
to the kingdom. Those who are far from him look longingly for him; and
those who are near him are never wearied with him.
It is said in the Book of Poetry,-"Not disliked there, not tired
of here, from day to day and night tonight, will they perpetuate their
praise." Never has there been a ruler, who did not realize this
description, that obtained an early renown throughout the kingdom.
Chung-ni handed down the doctrines of Yao and Shun, as if they had
been his ancestors, and elegantly displayed the regulations of Wan and
Wul taking them as his model. Above, he harmonized with the times of
Heaven, and below, he was conformed to the water and land.
He may be compared to Heaven and Earth in their supporting and
containing, their overshadowing and curtaining, all things. He may
be compared to the four seasons in their alternating progress, and
to the sun and moon in their successive shining.
All things are nourished together without their injuring one
another. The courses of the seasons, and of the sun and moon, are
pursued without any collision among them. The smaller energies are
like river currents; the greater energies are seen in mighty
transformations. It is this which makes heaven and earth so great.
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