The Analects of Confucius 論語
Translated by A. Charles Muller
[16:1] The Ji family was about to attack Zhuanyu. Ran You (Ran Qiu) and Ji Lu (Zilu) went to see Confucius, saying: “The Ji family is getting ready to move against Zhuanyu.” Confucius said, “Qiu, are you not at fault for this? Since ancient times the former kings have maintained Zhuanyu as the site of the sacrifice at Dong Meng mountain. Moreover, it is located within our own country, and has served as the site of our national altars to the soil and grain; why should it be attacked?” Ran You said, “It is our lord who wants to do this; it is not we two ministers who want it.”
Confucius said, “Qiu, there is a saying of Zhou Ren: ‘The one who displays his power is the one who gets the position; those who are not capable give up.’ If a minister does not support his lord when he is in danger, or support him when he is about to fall, then what use is he? Moreover, what you are saying is wrong. When a tiger or wild buffalo 45 escapes from the cage, or the tortoise shell and jade are destroyed in their cases, whose fault is this?” Ran You said, “Now, Zhuanyu is strongly fortified and close to Bi. 46 If we don't seize it now, there will be trouble for the later generations.” Confucius said, Qiu, the Noble Man does not like the one who declines to say what he really wants and who must then make excuses later.
I have heard that the heads of states or noble families do not worry over poverty but instead over equal distribution of wealth; they do not worry over underpopulation, but whether the people are insecure. 47 Now, if there is equality in distribution there will be no poverty; if there is harmony in society there will be no underpopulation, and if there is security, there will be subversion. If it done like this, then if there are distant subjects who do not submit, you can attract them by cultivating refinement and virtue. Once they come, then you can give them security. Now You and Qiu, serving as advisors to your lord, have distant subjects who will not submit, and you are unable to attract them; the country is falling apart, and you can do nothing to preserve it. Yet you now plan military action within your own state. I am afraid that the trouble of the descendants of Ji lies not in Zhuanyu, but rather, within the confines of our own court.
[16:2] The Master said: “When the Way (just government) prevails in the realm, then ritual, music and military campaigns are all initiated by the emperor. When the Way declines in the realm, then ritual, music and military campaigns are initiated by the nobles. When these things are initiated by the nobles, the ruling house will usually lose its power within ten generations. When these things are initiated by the high ministers, the ruling house will usually lose its power within five generations. When they are initiated by the lower officers, the ruling house will lose its power within three generations. When the Way prevails in the realm, the common people do not debate politics among themselves.”
[16:3] Confucius said, “It has been five generations since the assignment of emoluments left the ducal house. It has been four generations since the government came under control of the Councilors. Therefore the descendants of the three Huan 48 have been in decline.”
[16:4] The Master said: “There are three kinds of friendship which are beneficial and three kinds of friendship which are harmful. Friendship with the honest, friendship with the sincere, and friendship with the learned are all beneficial. Friendship with the deceptive, friendship with the unprincipled, and friendship with smooth talkers are harmful.”
[16:5] The Master said: “There are three kinds of enjoyment which are beneficial and three kinds of enjoyment which are harmful. The enjoyment of cultivation in music and ritual, the enjoyment of speaking of the goodness of others and the enjoyment of being surrounded by friends of good character are all beneficial. The enjoyment of arrogance, the enjoyment of dissipation and the enjoyment of comfort are all harmful.”
[16-6] 孔子曰。侍於君子有三愆：言未及之而言、謂之躁』 。言及之而不言、謂之隱』 。未見顏色而言、謂之瞽』 。
[16:6] The Master said: “There are three common mistakes made by those who are of rank:”
(1) To speak when there is nothing to be said; this is imprudence.
(2) To be silent when there is something to be said; this is deception.
(3) To speak without paying attention to the expression on the person's face; this is called blindness.
[16:7] The Master said: “The noble man is on guard against three things:”
(1) When he is a young man and his physical energies are not yet settled, he is on guard against lust.
(2) When he is mature and his physical energy is solid, he is on guard against being drawn into a fight.
(3) When he is old, and his physical power is weakened, he is on guard not to cling to his attainments.
[16:8] The Master said: “The noble man stands in awe of three things:”
(1) He is in awe of the decree of Heaven.
(2) He is in awe of great men.
(3) He is in awe of the words of the sages.
The inferior man does not know the decree of Heaven; he takes great men lightly, and laughs at the words of the sages.
[16:9] The Master said: “Those who are born knowing it are the best. Those who study to know it are next; those who are limited and yet study are next; those who are limited and do not even study are considered to be the lowest level of people.”
[16:10] The Master said: “There are nine patterns which are awarenesses of the noble man. In seeing, he is aware of clarity; in listening, he is aware of sharpness; in faces, is aware of warmth; in the attitude he projects, he is aware of courtesy; in speech, sincerity; in service, reverence. In doubt, he is inclined to question; when angry, he is aware of the difficulties that may ensue. When he sees an opportunity for gain, he thinks of what would be Just.”
[16-11] 孔子曰。見善如不及、見不善而探湯。』 吾見其人矣、吾聞其語矣隱居以求其志、行義以達其道。』 吾聞其語矣、未見其人也 。
[16:11] Confucius cited the proverb:
I regard goodness as something I haven't attained. I regard evil as my deep-welling spring.
and said, “I have seen this kind of person and have heard these words. But as for:”
I hide myself away in order to fathom my own will. I act with fairness to penetrate the Way.
I have heard this said, but haven't seen this kind of person.
[16-12] 齊景公有馬千駟、死之日、民無德而稱焉。伯夷、叔齊餓於首陽之下、民到于今稱之。其斯之謂與 。
[16:12] Duke Ching of Qi had a thousand teams of horses, but when he died, there was nothing for which the people could praise him. Bo Yi and Shu Qi died of starvation at the foot of Shouyang mountain, and the people praise them up till this day. What meaning can you glean from this?
[16-13] 陳亢問於伯魚曰。子亦有異聞乎。對曰。未也。嘗獨立、鯉趨而過庭。曰。學詩乎。』 對曰。未也。』 不學詩、無以言 』 鯉退而學詩。他日、又獨立、鯉趨而過庭。曰。學禮乎。』 對曰。未也。』 不學禮、無以立 』 鯉退而學禮。聞斯二者。陳亢退而喜曰。問一得三：聞詩、聞禮。又聞君子遠其子也。
[16:13] Chenkang asked Boyu (Confucius' son): “Have you heard anything from your father different than we disciples have?”
Boyu replied, “Not yet. Once, when my father was standing by himself, I passed by the hall quickly, and he said, ‘Have you learned the Book of Odes yet?’ I said, ‘Not yet.’ So I went and studied the Book of Odes. On another day, the same scene occurred, and he asked me, ‘Have you learned the Record of Propriety yet?’ I said, ‘Not yet.’ He said, “If you don't learn propriety you will have no structure.” So I went and studied the Propriety. I have only heard these two things.”
Chenkang left, elated, saying, “I questioned on one thing and got three! I learned about the Poems, I learned about the Propriety and I learned that the noble man is not partial to his son.”