What Heaven has conferred is called The Nature; an accordance
with this nature is called The Path of duty; the regulation of
this path is called Instruction.
The path may not be left for an instant. If it could be left,
it would not be the path. On this account, the superior man does
not wait till he sees things, to be cautious, nor till he hears
things, to be apprehensive.
There is nothing more visible than what is secret, and nothing
more manifest than what is minute. Therefore the superior man is
watchful over himself, when he is alone.
While there are no stirrings of pleasure, anger, sorrow, or
joy, the mind may be said to be in the state of Equilibrium. When
those feelings have been stirred, and they act in their due
degree, there ensues what may be called the state of Harmony.
This Equilibrium is the great root from which grow all the human
actings in the world, and this Harmony is the universal path
which they all should pursue.
Let the states of equilibrium and harmony exist in perfection,
and a happy order will prevail throughout heaven and earth, and
all things will be nourished and flourish.
Chung-ni said, "The superior man embodies the course of
the Mean; the mean man acts contrary to the course of the Mean.
"The superior man's embodying the course of the Mean is
because he is a superior man, and so always maintains the Mean.
The mean man's acting contrary to the course of the Mean is
because he is a mean man, and has no caution."
The Master said, "Perfect is the virtue which is
according to the Mean! Rare have they long been among the people,
who could practice it! The Master said, "I know how it is
that the path of the Mean is not walked in:—The knowing go beyond
it, and the stupid do not come up to it. I know how it is that
the path of the Mean is not understood:—The men of talents and
virtue go beyond it, and the worthless do not come up to it.
"There is no body but eats and drinks. But they are few
who can distinguish flavors."
The Master said, "Alas! How is the path of the Mean
The Master said, "There was Shun:—He indeed was greatly
wise! Shun loved to question others, and to study their words,
though they might be shallow. He concealed what was bad in them
and displayed what was good. He took hold of their two extremes,
determined the Mean, and employed it in his government of the
people. It was by this that he was Shun!"
The Master said "Men all say, 'We are wise'; but being
driven forward and taken in a net, a trap, or a pitfall, they
know not how to escape. Men all say, 'We are wise'; but happening
to choose the course of the Mean, they are not able to keep it
for a round month."
The Master said "This was the manner of Hui:—he made
choice of the Mean, and whenever he got hold of what was good, he
clasped it firmly, as if wearing it on his breast, and did not
The Master said, "The kingdom, its states, and its
families, maybe perfectly ruled; dignities and emoluments may be
declined; naked weapons may be trampled under the feet; but the
course of the Mean cannot be attained to."
Tsze-lu asked about energy.
The Master said, "Do you mean the energy of the South,
the energy ofthe North, or the energy which you should cultivate
"To show forbearance and gentleness in teaching others;
and not to revenge unreasonable conduct:—this is the energy of
southern regions, and the good man makes it his study.
"To lie under arms; and meet death without regret:—this
is the energy of northern regions, and the forceful make it their
"Therefore, the superior man cultivates a friendly
harmony, without being weak.—How firm is he in his energy! He
stands erect in the middle, without inclining to either side.—How
firm is he in his energy! When good principles prevail in the
government of his country, he does not change from what he was in
retirement. How firm is he in his energy! When bad principles
prevail in the country, he maintains his course to death without
changing.—How firm is he in his energy!"
The Master said, "To live in obscurity, and yet practice
wonders, in order to be mentioned with honor in future ages:—this
is what I do not do.
"The good man tries to proceed according to the right
path, but when he has gone halfway, he abandons it:—I am not able
so to stop.
"The superior man accords with the course of the Mean.
Though he maybe all unknown, unregarded by the world, he feels no
regret.—It is only the sage who is able for this."
The way which the superior man pursues, reaches wide and far,
and yet is secret.
Common men and women, however ignorant, may intermeddle with
the knowledge of it; yet in its utmost reaches, there is that
which even the sage does not know. Common men and women, however
much below the ordinary standard of character, can carry it into
practice; yet in its utmost reaches, there is that which even the
sage is not able to carry into practice. Great as heaven and
earth are, men still find somethings in them with which to be
dissatisfied. Thus it is that, were the superior man to speak of
his way in all its greatness, nothing in the world would be found
able to embrace it, and were he to speak of it in its minuteness,
nothing in the world would be found able to split it.
It is said in the Book of Poetry, "The hawk flies up to
heaven; the fishes leap in the deep." This expresses how
this way is seen above and below.
The way of the superior man may be found, in its simple
elements, in the intercourse of common men and women; but in its
utmost reaches, it shines brightly through Heaven and earth.
The Master said "The path is not far from man. When men
try to pursue a course, which is far from the common indications
of consciousness, this course cannot be considered The Path.
"In the Book of Poetry, it is said, 'In hewing an ax
handle, in hewing an ax handle, the pattern is not far off. We
grasp one ax handle to hew the other; and yet, if we look askance
from the one to the other, we may consider them as apart.
Therefore, the superior man governs men, according to their
nature, with what is proper to them, and as soon as they change
what is wrong, he stops.
"When one cultivates to the utmost the principles of his
nature, and exercises them on the principle of reciprocity, he is
not far from the path. What you do not like when done to
yourself, do not do to others.
"In the way of the superior man there are four things, to
not one of which have I as yet attained.—To serve my father, as I
would require my son to serve me: to this I have not attained; to
serve my prince as I would require my minister to serve me: to
this I have not attained; to serve my elder brother as I would
require my younger brother to serve me: to this I have not
attained; to set the example in behaving to a friend, as I would
require him to behave to me: to this I have not attained. Earnest
in practicing the ordinary virtues, and careful in speaking about
them, if, in his practice, he has anything defective, the
superior man dares not but exert himself; and if, in his words,
he has any excess, he dares not allow himself such license. Thus
his words have respect to his actions, and his actions have
respect to his words; is it not just an entire sincerity which
marks the superior man?"
The superior man does what is proper to the station in which
he is; he does not desire to go beyond this.
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
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
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 lower ground.
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 children."
The Master said, "In such a state of things, parents have
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 without them.
"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
"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
"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 transmitted it.
"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 undertakings.
"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
"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
"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 among them.
"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 propermen. 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
"When those in inferior situations do not possess the
confidence of their superiors, they cannot retain the government
of the people.
"Hence the sovereign may not neglect the cultivation of
his own character. Wishing to cultivate his character, he may not
neglect to serve his parents. In order to serve his parents, he
may not neglect to acquire knowledge of men. In order to know
men, he may not dispense with a knowledge of Heaven.
"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
"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 mposts 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 away 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
"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.
"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
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
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
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 byit. 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
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
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
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
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. Hecherishes his old knowledge, and is continually
acquiring new. Heexerts 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
illgoverned, 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 same rules.
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 Chau."
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
haracter 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
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
maybe 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.
It is only he, possessed of all sagely qualities that can
exist under heaven, who shows himself quick in apprehension,
clear in discernment, of far-reaching intelligence, and all-embracing
knowledge, fitted to exercise rule; magnanimous, generous,
benign, and mild, fitted to exercise forbearance; impulsive,
energetic, firm, and enduring, fitted to maintain a firm hold;
self-adjusted, grave, never swerving from the Mean, and correct,
fitted to command reverence; accomplished, distinctive,
concentrative, and searching, fitted to exercise discrimination.
All-embracing is he and vast, deep and active as a fountain,
sending forth in their due season his virtues.
All-embracing and vast, he is like Heaven. Deep and active as
a fountain, he is like the abyss. He is seen, and the people all
reverence him; he speaks, and the people all believe him; he
acts, and the people all are pleased with him.
Therefore his fame overspreads the Middle Kingdom, and extends
to all barbarous tribes. Wherever ships and carriages reach;
wherever the strength of man penetrates; wherever the heavens
overshadow and the earth sustains; wherever the sun and moon
shine; wherever frosts and dews fall:—all who have blood and
breath unfeignedly honor and love him. Hence it is said,—"He
is the equal of Heaven."
It is only the individual possessed of the most entire
sincerity that can exist under Heaven, who can adjust the great
invariable relations of mankind, establish the great fundamental
virtues of humanity, and know the transforming and nurturing
operations of Heaven and Earth;—shall this individual have any
being or anything beyond himself on which he depends?
Call him man in his ideal, how earnest is he! Call him an
abyss, how deep is he! Call him Heaven, how vast is he!
Who can know him, but he who is indeed quick in apprehension,
clear in discernment, of far-reaching intelligence, and all-embracing
knowledge, possessing all Heavenly virtue?
It is said in the Book of Poetry, "Over her embroidered
robe she puts a plain single garment," intimating a dislike
to the display of the elegance of the former. Just so, it is the
way of the superior man to prefer the concealment of his virtue,
while it daily becomes more illustrious, and it is the way of the
mean man to seek notoriety, while he daily goes more and more to
ruin. It is characteristic of the superior man, appearing
insipid, yet never to produce satiety; while showing a simple
negligence, yet to have his accomplishments recognized; while
seemingly plain, yet to be discriminating. He knows how what is
distant lies in what is near. He knows where the wind proceeds
from. He knows how what is minute becomes manifested. Such a one,
we may be sure, will enter into virtue.
It is said in the Book of Poetry, "Although the fish sink
and lie at the bottom, it is still quite clearly seen."
Therefore the superior man examines his heart, that there may be
nothing wrong there, and that he may have no cause for
dissatisfaction with himself. That wherein the superior man
cannot be equaled is simply this,—his work which other men cannot
It is said in the Book of Poetry, "Looked at in your
apartment, be there free from shame as being exposed to the light
of Heaven. "Therefore, the superior man, even when he is not
moving, has a feeling of reverence, and while he speaks not, he
has the feeling of truthfulness.
It is said in the Book of Poetry, "In silence is the
offering presented, and the spirit approached to; there is not
the slightest contention." Therefore the superior man does
not use rewards, and the people are stimulated to virtue. He does
not show anger, and the people are awed more than by hatchets and
It is said in the Book of Poetry, "What needs no display
is virtue. All the princes imitate it." Therefore, the
superior man being sincere and reverential, the whole world is
conducted to a state of happy tranquility.
It is said in the Book of Poetry, "I regard with pleasure
your brilliant virtue, making no great display of itself in
sounds and appearances." The Master said, "Among the
appliances to transform the people, sound and appearances are but
trivial influences. It is said in another ode, 'His Virtue is
light as a hair.' Still, a hair will admit of comparison as to
its size. 'The doings of the supreme Heaven have neither sound
nor smell. 'That is perfect virtue."