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
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
The Master said, "Alas! How is the path of the Mean untrodden!"
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 lose it."
The Master said, "The kingdom, its states, and its families, may
be 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 of the 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
"The superior man accords with the course of the Mean. Though he
may be 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 some things 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 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
"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 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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
"When those in inferior situations do not possess the confidence
of their superiors, they cannot retain the government of the
"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
"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 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
"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.
"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
"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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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 see.
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."