The Analects of Confucius 論語
Translated by A. Charles Muller
[17:1] Yang Huo wanted to see Confucius but Confucius would not see him, so he sent Confucius a piglet as a present. Confucius timed his visit of thanks when Yang Huo was not at home. They happened to meet on the road, and Yang said to Confucius, “Come, I want to have a word with you.” And he said, “Hiding one's treasure in one's bosom and letting one's country lose its way — can such a one be called truly humane?” Confucius responded, “No, he can't.” “Liking to be involved in public affairs but always missing the timing — can he be called wise?” “No, he can't.” “The days and months slip away, and time is not on our side.” Confucius said, “Ok, I'll take the job.”
Comment: A somewhat unusual narrative in the Analects, as Confucius clearly loses the argument to a higher moral ground, accepting judgment, at the same time admitting his deep desire to serve the government.
[17:2] The Master said: “People are similar by nature, but through habituation become quite different from each other.” Confucius said: “Only the most wise and the most foolish do not change.”
[17-3] 子之武城、聞弦歌之聲、夫子莞爾而笑曰。割鷄焉用牛刀。子游對曰。昔者、偃也聞諸夫子曰。君子學道則愛人。小人學道則易使也。 子曰。二三子、偃之言是也。前言戲之耳 。
[17:3] When the Master went to Wu Cheng he heard the sound of singing accompanied by lutes, he laughed a bit and said, “Why would one need an ox-cleaver to kill a chicken?” Zi Yu replied, “In the past, I heard you saying, “If the Noble Man learns the Way, he will care about people. If regular people learn the Way, they become easy to employ. ” Confucius said, “My disciple, Yan is right. What I said before was only a joke.””
[17:4] Gongshan Furao, staging a rebellion from Bi [against the Ji family], sent an invitation to Confucius, and the Master wanted to go. Zi Lu, displeased with this, said, “Indeed we may have nowhere to go, but why must we go to see Gongshan?” Confucius said, “If some invites me, how could it be a total waste? If there is someone who is willing to make use of me, shall I not make his land an Eastern Zhou?”
[17-5] 子張問仁於孔子。孔子曰。能行五者於天下、爲仁矣。請問之 曰。恭、寛、信、敏、惠。恭則不侮、寛則得衆、信則人任焉、敏則有功、惠則足以使人。
[17:5] Zi Zhang asked Confucius about fundamental human goodness. Confucius said, “If you can practice these five things with all the people, you can be called a fundamentally good person.”
Zi Zhang asked what they were.
Confucius said, “Courtesy, generosity, honesty, persistence, and kindness. If you are courteous, you will not be disrespected; if you are generous, you will gain everything. If you are honest, people will rely on you. If you are persistent you will get results. If you are kind, you can employ people.”
[17:6] The Master said: “You, have you heard the six phrases about the six distortions?” You answered that he hadn't. “Then stay a moment,” Confucius said, “and I will tell you.”
If you love being kind to others, but don't like to study, then your kindness will be distorted into simplicity.
If you love wisdom, but don't like to study, then your wisdom will be distorted into aimlessness.
If you love trustworthiness, but don't like to study, then your trust will be distorted into harm.
If you love candor, but don't like to study, your candor will be distorted into rudeness.
If you love boldness, but don't like to study, your boldness will be distorted into unruliness.
If you love persistence, but don't like to study, your persistence will be distorted into rashness.
[17:7] Bi Xi invited Confucius [to come and serve in his administration], and Confucius wanted to go. Zi Lu said, “Didn't I once hear you say that the Noble Man will not enter the place of one who has associated himself with evil? Bi Xi has taken Zhongmou 49 against its will, so how can the Master go there?” Confucius said, “Indeed, I did say such a thing. But is it not said that if you polish something hard, it will not wear thin? And it is not said that if something is truly white, if you try to dye it black, it won't change color? Shall I be like a gourd that can be hung, but never eaten?”
[17:8] The Master said: “My disciples, why not study the Book of Odes? The Odes can uplift you, can make you observant, can help you to get along with people, can help you to use your anger [in a proper way]. Applied near at hand, you can serve your father; applied at a distance, you can serve your ruler. You can learn much about the names of birds, beasts, plants, and trees.”
[17:9] Addressing Bo Yu, the Master said: “Have you studied the Zhou Nan and Shao Nan chapters? Isn't the one who does not learn the Zhou Nan and Shao Nan chapters just like someone who stands directly facing a wall?”
[17:10]The Master said: “‘Ritual,’ they say, ‘ritual,’ they say: is nothing more than jade and silk? 50 ‘Music’ they say, ‘Music’ they say: is it nothing more than bells and drums?”
[17-10] 子曰。色厲而內荏、譬諸小人、其猶穿窬之盜也與 。
[17:10] The Master said: “If you show a tough face, but are weak inside, you are a miserable fellow, like a thief burrowing through the walls.”
[17-11] 子曰。鄕原、德之賊也 。
[17:11] The Master said: “The ‘conventional townsman’ is a thief of virtue.” 51
[17-12] 子曰。道聽而塗說、德之棄也 。
[17:12] The Master said: “To apprehend the Way and lecture on it before actualization is to throw away your accumulation of virtue.”
[17:13] The Master said: “These low-lifes! How can they ever serve a ruler?! When they don't have something, they make themselves miserable in getting it. Once they get it, they go nuts about losing it. Once they are worried about losing it, there is nothing they won't do.”
[17:14] The Master said: “The ancients had three kinds of shortcomings, some aspects of which are now lost. The wild (guang) 52 of antiquity were unbounded; the wild of today are dissipated. The proud of antiquity were gallant; the proud of today are hot-tempered. The simple-minded of antiquity were straightforward; the simple-minded of today are liars.”
[17:15] The Master said: “Skillful speech and flattering expressions are seldom indicative of true goodness. ”
[17:16] The Master said: “I hate purple because it steals the role of red; I hate the music of Zheng,” 53 because it is are confused with the classical music 54
[17-17] 子曰。予欲無言 子貢曰。子如不言、則小子何述焉 子曰。天何言哉。四時行焉、百物生焉。天何言哉。
[17:17] The Master said: “I wish I could avoid talking.”
Zi Gong said, “Master, if you didn't speak, what would we disciples have to pass on?”
Confucius said, “Does Heaven speak? Yet the four seasons continue to change, and all things are born. Does Heaven speak?”
[17:18] Ru Bei wanted to see Confucius, but Confucius excused himself on the grounds of illness. When his messenger went to the door, the master picked up his lute and began to sing so that Bei could hear him.
[17:19] Zai Wo asked: “Isn't the three-year mourning period [for parents] too long? If the Noble Man does not exercise ritual for three years, the rituals will certainly deteriorate; if music is not played for three years, it will certainly vitiate. Last year's grain is already gone, this years' grain has already sprouted. And the seasonal cycle for the use of wood 55 for producing fire by friction has already passed through. One year is enough. ”
Confucius said, “Are you comfortable with eating good rice and wearing fine silk [soon after your parents have died]?” “Yes, I am fine with it.” “If you are OK with it, then go ahead and do it. When the Noble Man is in mourning, he cannot enjoy the taste of delicious food, cannot enjoy the sound of music, and cannot be comfortable in his own home, and therefore he won't do such a thing. Now, if you are comfortable with it, then do it.” Zai Wo left. Confucius said, “How inhumane Zai Wo is! It is only after three years that a child avoids his parent's embrace. The three-year period of mourning is observed throughout society. Wasn't Zai Wo loved three years by his parents?”
[17-20] 子曰。飽食終日、無所用心、難矣哉。不有博奕者乎。爲之猶賢乎已 。
[17:20] The Master said: “What can be done with a man who stuffs his face with food all day, without exercising his mind. He could at least play cards or chess or something. It would be better than nothing.”
[17:21] Zi Lu said: “Does the noble man esteem bravery?”
Confucius said, “The noble man puts fairness first. If the noble man is brave without fairness, he will be rebellious. If the inferior man is brave without fairness, he will become an outlaw.”
[17:22] Zi Gong asked, “Does the noble man also have things that he hates?”
Confucius said, “He does. He hates those who advertise the faults of others. He hates those who abide in lowliness and slander the great. He hates those who are bold without propriety. He hates those who are convinced of their own perfection, and closed off to anything else. How about you, what do you hate?”
Zi Gong said, “I hate those who take a little bit of clarity as wisdom; I hate those who take disobedience as courage; I hate those who take disclosing people's weak points to be straightforwardness.”
[17:23] The Master said: “Girls and inferior men are hard to get along with. If you get familiar with them, they lose their humility; if you are distant, they resent it.”
[17-24] 子曰。年四十而見惡焉、其終也已 。
[17:26] The Master said: “One who has reached the age of forty and is disliked, will be disliked to the end.”