The Analects

by Confucius

translated by James Legge (1893)

Book 15: Wei Ling Kung

Chapter 1

  1. The Duke Ling of Wei asked Confucius about tactics. Confucius replied, 'I have heard all about sacrificial vessels, but I have not learned military matters.' On this, he took his departure the next day.
  2. When he was in Chan, their provisions were exhausted, and his followers became so ill that they were unable to rise.
  3. Tsze-lu, with evident dissatisfaction, said, 'Has the superior man likewise to endure in this way?' The Master said, 'The superior man may indeed have to endure want, but the mean man, when he is in want, gives way to unbridled license.'

Chapter 2

  1. The Master said, 'Ts'ze, you think, I suppose, that I am one who learns many things and keeps them in memory?'
  2. Tsze-kung replied, 'Yes,— but perhaps it is not so?'
  3. 'No,' was the answer; 'I seek a unity all-pervading.'

Chapter 3

The Master said, 'Yu, those who know virtue are few.'

Chapter 4

The Master said, 'May not Shun be instanced as having governed efficiently without exertion? What did he do? He did nothing but gravely and reverently occupy his royal seat.'

Chapter 5

  1. Tsze-chang asked how a man should conduct himself, so as to be everywhere appreciated.
  2. The Master said, 'Let his words be sincere and truthful, and his actions honourable and careful; — such conduct may be practised among the rude tribes of the South or the North. If his words be not sincere and truthful and his actions not honourable and careful, will he, with such conduct, be appreciated, even in his neighborhood?
  3. 'When he is standing, let him see those two things, as it were, fronting him. When he is in a carriage, let him see them attached to the yoke. Then may he subsequently carry them into practice.'
  4. Tsze-chang wrote these counsels on the end of his sash.

Chapter 6

  1. The Master said, 'Truly straightforward was the historiographer Yu. When good government prevailed in his State, he was like an arrow. When bad government prevailed, he was like an arrow.
  2. 'A superior man indeed is Chu Po-yu! When good government prevails in his state, he is to be found in office. When bad government prevails, he can roll his principles up, and keep them in his breast.'

Chapter 7

The Master said, 'When a man may be spoken with, not to speak to him is to err in reference to the man. When a man may not be spoken with, to speak to him is to err in reference to our words. The wise err neither in regard to their man nor to their words.'

Chapter 8

The Master said, 'The determined scholar and the man of virtue will not seek to live at the expense of injuring their virtue. They will even sacrifice their lives to preserve their virtue complete.'

Chapter 9

Tsze-kung asked about the practice of virtue. The Master said, 'The mechanic, who wishes to do his work well, must first sharpen his tools. When you are living in any state, take service with the most worthy among its great officers, and make friends of the most virtuous among its scholars.'

Chapter 10

  1. Yen Yuan asked how the government of a country should be administered.
  2. The Master said, 'Follow the seasons of Hsia.
  3. 'Ride in the state carriage of Yin.
  4. 'Wear the ceremonial cap of Chau.
  5. 'Let the music be the Shao with its pantomimes.
  6. 'Banish the songs of Chang, and keep far from specious talkers. The songs of Chang are licentious; specious talkers are dangerous.'

Chapter 11

The Master said, 'If a man take no thought about what is distant, he will find sorrow near at hand.'

Chapter 12

The Master said, 'It is all over! I have not seen one who loves virtue as he loves beauty.'

Chapter 13

The Master said, 'Was not Tsang Wan like one who had stolen his situation? He knew the virtue and the talents of Hui of Liu-hsia, and yet did not procure that he should stand with him in court.'

Chapter 14

The Master said, 'He who requires much from himself and little from others, will keep himself from being the object of resentment.'

Chapter 15

The Master said, 'When a man is not in the habit of saying— "What shall I think of this? What shall I think of this?" I can indeed do nothing with him!'

Chapter 16

The Master said, 'When a number of people are together, for a whole day, without their conversation turning on righteousness, and when they are fond of carrying out the suggestions of a small shrewdness; — theirs is indeed a hard case.'

Chapter 17

The Master said, 'The superior man in everything considers righteousness to be essential. He performs it according to the rules of propriety. He brings it forth in humility. He completes it with sincerity. This is indeed a superior man.'

Chapter 18

The Master said, 'The superior man is distressed by his want of ability. He is not distressed by men's not knowing him.'

Chapter 19

The Master said, 'The superior man dislikes the thought of his name not being mentioned after his death.'

Chapter 20

The Master said, 'What the superior man seeks, is in himself. What the mean man seeks, is in others.'

Chapter 21

The Master said, 'The superior man is dignified, but does not wrangle. He is sociable, but not a partisan.'

Chapter 22

The Master said, 'The superior man does not promote a man simply on account of his words, nor does he put aside good words because of the man.'

Chapter 23

Tsze-kung asked, saying, 'Is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one's life?' The Master said, 'Is not reciprocity such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.'

Chapter 24

  1. The Master said, 'In my dealings with men, whose evil do I blame, whose goodness do I praise, beyond what is proper? If I do sometimes exceed in praise, there must be ground for it in my examination of the individual.
  2. 'This people supplied the ground why the three dynasties pursued the path of straightforwardness.'

Chapter 25

The Master said, 'Even in my early days, a historiographer would leave a blank in his text, and he who had a horse would lend him to another to ride. Now, alas! there are no such things.'

Chapter 26

The Master said, 'Specious words confound virtue. Want of forbearance in small matters confounds great plans.'

Chapter 27

The Master said, 'When the multitude hate a man, it is necessary to examine into the case. When the multitude like a man, it is necessary to examine into the case.'

Chapter 28

The Master said, 'A man can enlarge the principles which he follows; those principles do not enlarge the man.'

Chapter 29

The Master said, 'To have faults and not to reform them,— this, indeed, should be pronounced having faults.'

Chapter 30

The Master said, 'I have been the whole day without eating, and the whole night without sleeping: — occupied with thinking. It was of no use. The better plan is to learn.'

Chapter 31

The Master said, 'The object of the superior man is truth. Food is not his object. There is plowing; — even in that there is sometimes want. So with learning; — emolument may be found in it. The superior man is anxious lest he should not get truth; he is not anxious lest poverty should come upon him.'

Chapter 32

  1. The Master said, 'When a man's knowledge is sufficient to attain, and his virtue is not sufficient to enable him to hold, whatever he may have gained, he will lose again.
  2. 'When his knowledge is sufficient to attain, and he has virtue enough to hold fast, if he cannot govern with dignity, the people will not respect him.
  3. 'When his knowledge is sufficient to attain, and he has virtue enough to hold fast; when he governs also with dignity, yet if he try to move the people contrary to the rules of propriety: — full excellence is not reached.'

Chapter 33

The Master said, 'The superior man cannot be known in little matters; but he may be intrusted with great concerns. The small man may not be intrusted with great concerns, but he may be known in little matters.'

Chapter 34

The Master said, 'Virtue is more to man than either water or fire. I have seen men die from treading on water and fire, but I have never seen a man die from treading the course of virtue.'

Chapter 35

The Master said, 'Let every man consider virtue as what devolves on himself. He may not yield the performance of it even to his teacher.'

Chapter 36

The Master said, 'The superior man is correctly firm, and not firm merely.'

Chapter 37

The Master said, 'A minister, in serving his prince, reverently discharges his duties, and makes his emolument a secondary consideration.'

Chapter 38

The Master said, 'In teaching there should be no distinction of classes.'

Chapter 39

The Master said, 'Those whose courses are different cannot lay plans for one another.'

Chapter 40

The Master said, 'In language it is simply required that it convey the meaning.'

Chapter 41

  1. The Music-master, Mien, having called upon him, when they came to the steps, the Master said, 'Here are the steps.' When they came to the mat for the guest to sit upon, he said, 'Here is the mat.' When all were seated, the Master informed him, saying, 'So and so is here; so and so is here.'
  2. The Music-master, Mien, having gone out, Tsze-chang asked, saying. 'Is it the rule to tell those things to the Music-master?'
  3. The Master said, 'Yes. This is certainly the rule for those who lead the blind.'

Next: Book 16

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