Analects: Book 2


Book 2. Wei Chang 為政第二: The Practice of Government


[2:1] The Master said, "He who exercises government by means of his virtue may be compared to the north polar star, which keeps its place and all the stars turn towards it."

[2:2] The Master said, "In the Book of Poetry are three hundred pieces, but the design of them all may be embraced in one sentence: 'Having no depraved thoughts.'"

[2:3] The Master said, "If the people be led by laws, and uniformity sought to be given them by punishments, they will try to avoid the punishment, but have no sense of shame.

"If they be led by virtue, and uniformity sought to be given them by the rules of propriety, they will have the sense of shame, and moreover will become good."

[2:4] The Master said, "At fifteen, I had my mind bent on learning.

"At thirty, I stood firm.

"At forty, I had no doubts.

"At fifty, I knew the decrees of Heaven.

"At sixty, my ear was an obedient organ for the reception of truth.

"At seventy, I could follow what my heart desired, without transgressing what was right."

[2:5] Mang I asked what filial piety was. The Master said, "It is not being disobedient."

Soon after, as Fan Ch'ih was driving him, the Master told him, saying, "Mang-sun asked me what filial piety was, and I answered him, 'not being disobedient.'"

Fan Ch'ih said, "What did you mean?" The Master replied, "That parents, when alive, be served according to propriety; that, when dead, they should be buried according to propriety; and that they should be sacrificed to according to propriety."

[2:6] Mang Wu asked what filial piety was. The Master said, "Parents are anxious lest their children should be sick."

[2:7] Tsze-yu asked what filial piety was. The Master said, "The filial piety of now-a-days means the support of one's parents. But dogs and horses likewise are able to do something in the way of support; without reverence, what is there to distinguish the one support given from the other?"

[2:8] Tsze-hsia asked what filial piety was. The Master said, "The difficulty is with the countenance. If, when their elders have any troublesome affairs, the young take the toil of them, and if, when the young have wine and food, they set them before their elders, is this to be considered filial piety?"

[2:9] The Master said, "I have talked with Hui for a whole day, and he has not made any objection to anything I said — as if he were stupid. He has retired, and I have examined his conduct when away from me, and found him able to illustrate my teachings. Hui! He is not stupid."

[2:10] The Master said, "See what a man does.

"Mark his motives.

"Examine in what things he rests.

"How can a man conceal his character?

How can a man conceal his character?"

[2:11] The Master said, "If a man keeps cherishing his old knowledge, so as continually to be acquiring new, he may be a teacher of others."

[2:12] The Master said, "The accomplished scholar is not a utensil."

[2:13] Tsze-kung asked what constituted the superior man. The Master said, "He acts before he speaks, and afterwards speaks according to his actions."

[2:14] The Master said, "The superior man is catholic and no partisan. The mean man is partisan and not catholic."

[2:15] The Master said, "Learning without thought is labour lost; thought without learning is perilous."

[2:16] The Master said, "The study of strange doctrines is injurious indeed!"

[2:17] The Master said, "Yu, shall I teach you what knowledge is? When you know a thing, to hold that you know it; and when you do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it; this is knowledge."

[2:18] Tsze-chang was learning with a view to official emolument.

The Master said, "Hear much and put aside the points of which you stand in doubt, while you speak cautiously at the same time of the others: then you will afford few occasions for blame. See much and put aside the things which seem perilous, while you are cautious at the same time in carrying the others into practice: then you will have few occasions for repentance. When one gives few occasions for blame in his words, and few occasions for repentance in his conduct, he is in the way to get emolument."

[2:19] The Duke Ai asked, saying, "What should be done in order to secure the submission of the people?" Confucius replied, "Advance the upright and set aside the crooked, then the people will submit. Advance the crooked and set aside the upright, then the people will not submit."

[2:20] Chi K'ang asked how to cause the people to reverence their ruler, to be faithful to him, and to go on to nerve themselves to virtue. The Master said, "Let him preside over them with gravity; then they will reverence him. Let him be filial and kind to all; then they will be faithful to him. Let him advance the good and teach the incompetent; then they will eagerly seek to be virtuous."

[2:21] Someone addressed Confucius, saying, "Sir, why are you not engaged in the government?"

The Master said, "What does the Shu-ching say of filial piety? 'You are filial, you discharge your brotherly duties. These qualities are displayed in government.' This then also constitutes the exercise of government. Why must there be that — making one be in the government?"

[2:22] The Master said, "I do not know how a man without truthfulness is to get on. How can a large carriage be made to go without the cross-bar for yoking the oxen to, or a small carriage without the arrangement for yoking the horses?"

[2:23] Tsze-chang asked whether the affairs of ten ages after could be known.

Confucius said, "The Yin dynasty followed the regulations of the Hsia: wherein it took from or added to them may be known. The Chau dynasty has followed the regulations of Yin: wherein it took from or added to them may be known. Some other may follow the Chau, but though it should be at the distance of a hundred ages, its affairs may be known."

[2:24] The Master said, "For a man to sacrifice to a spirit which does not belong to him is flattery.

"To see what is right and not to do it is want of courage."



Book 2. Wéi Zhèng 為政: The Practice of Government


[2:1] The Master said, Conduct government in accordance with virtue, and it will be like the North Star standing in its place, with all the other stars paying court to it.

[2:2] The Master said, The three hundred poems of the Book of Odes may be summed up in a single phrase: Think nothing base. [F1]

[2:3] The Master said, Guide them with government orders, regulate them with penalties, and the people will seek to evade the law and be without shame. Guide them with virtue, regulate them with ritual, and they will have a sense of shame and become upright.

[2:4] The Master said, At fifteen I set my mind on learning; by thirty I had found my footing; at forty I was free of perplexities; by fifty I understood the will of Heaven; by sixty I learned to give ear to others; by seventy I could follow my heart’s desires without overstepping the line.

[2:5] Meng Yi Zi asked about filial devotion. The Master replied, Never break the rules.

When Fan Chi was driving the carriage, the Master reported this to him, saying, Meng Sun (Meng Yi Zi) asked me about filial devotion. I told him, Never break the rules.

Fan Chi said, What did you mean by that?

The Master said, While they are alive, serve them according to ritual. When they die, bury them according to ritual, and sacrifice to them in accord with ritual.

[2:6] Meng Wu Bo asked about filial devotion. The Master said, Your father and mother should have to worry only about your falling ill.

[Or, according to another interpretation of the last clause:] In the case of one’s father and mother, one just worries about their falling ill.

[2:7] Ziyou asked about filial devotion. The Master said, Nowadays it’s taken to mean just seeing that one’s parents get enough to eat. But we do that much for dogs or horses as well. If there is no reverence, how is it any different?

[2:8] Zixia asked about filial devotion. The Master said, The difficult part is the facial expression. [F2] As for young people taking on the heavy work when there’s something to be done, or older people going first when there’s wine and food — can this be called filial devotion?

[2:9] The Master said, I talk a whole day with Hui, and he never disagrees with me, as though he were stupid. But later, when I examine his private conduct, I see that it fully exemplifies my ideas. No, Hui is not stupid.

[2:10] The Master said, Watch what he does, observe the path he follows, examine where he comes to rest — can any person then remain a mystery? Can any person remain a mystery?

[2:11] The Master said, Be thoroughly versed in the old, and understand the new — then you can be a teacher.

[2:12] The Master said, The gentleman is not a utensil. [F3]

[2:13] Zigong asked about the gentleman. The Master said, First he puts his words into action. Only later does he follow up with explanations.

[2:14] The Master said, The gentleman is fair-minded and not partisan. The petty man is partisan and not fair-minded.

[2:15] The Master said, Learning without thought is pointless. Thought without learning is dangerous.

[2:16] The Master said, To delve into strange doctrines can bring only harm. [F4]

[2:17] The Master said, You (Zilu), shall I teach you what it means to know something? When you know, to know you know. When you don’t know, to know you don’t know. That’s what knowing is.

[2:18] Zizhang was studying to gain an official position. The Master said, Hear much, put aside what’s doubtful, and in your speech apply the rest with caution — then you’ll make few mistakes. Observe much, put aside what’s suspicious, and in your actions apply the rest with caution — then you’ll have little to regret. Making few mistakes, having little to regret — the way to official position lies in this.

[2:19] Duke Ai asked, saying, How can I make the common people submissive? Confucius replied, Promote the straight and let them oversee the crooked — then the common people will be submissive. Promote the crooked and let them oversee the straight — then the common people will not be submissive.

[2:20] Ji Kangzi asked, How can I make the common people respectful, loyal, and diligent in their work?

The Master said, If you are strict in overseeing them, they will be respectful. If you are filial and compassionate, they will be loyal. If you promote persons of goodness and teach those who are incompetent, then the people will be diligent.

[2:21] Someone questioned Confucius, saying, Why aren’t you in government?

The Master said, The Book of Documents says: Filial, only be filial, a friend to elder and younger brothers — this contributes to government. [F5] To do this is in fact to take part in government. Why must I be “in government”?

[2:22] The Master said, Persons who lack trustworthiness — I don’t know how they get by! Big carts that have no yoke-bar, little carts that have no collar-bar — how can you go anywhere in them?

[2:23] Zizhang questioned the Master, saying, Can we know how things will be ten generations from now?

The Master said, Yin followed the rites of Xia, and we know in what ways it added to or subtracted from them. Zhou follows the rites of Yin, and we know in what ways it added to or subtracted from them. Whoever carries on from Zhou, we can know how things will be even a hundred generations from now.

[2:24] The Master said, To sacrifice to those who are not one’s ancestors is flattery. To see what is right and not do it is cowardly.





Footnotes

[F1] Quoting a phrase from poem no. 297 and interpreting it out of context, Confucius stresses his view of the didactic import of the Book of Odes. In the poem, the words refer to carriage drivers and mean something like “Ah, never swerving!”

[F2] Watching the faces of one’s parents to make certain how they are reacting Or perhaps the meaning is keeping the proper expression on one’s own face.

[F3] Not something to be used because he has some special knowledge or ability.

[F4] No one knows just what Confucius means by this. Perhaps the term yiduan, translated here as “strange doctrines,” has some quite different meaning, though it suggests going off in an unusual direction.

[F5] From a lost section of the Book of Documents.



Book 2


[2:1] The Master said, He that rules by mind is like the north star, steady in his seat, whilst the stars all bend to him.

[2:2] The Master said, The three hundred poems are summed up in the one line, Think no evil.

[2:3] The Master said, Guide the people by law, aline them by punishment; they may shun crime, but they will want shame. Guide them by mind, aline them by courtesy; they will learn shame and grow good.

[2:4] The Master said, At fifteen, I had the will to learn; at thirty, I could stand; at forty, I had no doubts; at fifty, I understood the heavenly Bidding; at sixty, my ears were opened; [F9] at seventy, I could do as my heart lusted without trespassing from the square.

[2:5] Meng Yi asked the duty of a son.

The Master said, Not to transgress.

As Fan Chi'ih [F10] was driving him, the Master said, Meng-sun [F11] asked me the duty of a son; I answered, Not to transgress.

What did ye mean? said Fan Chi'ih.

To serve our father and mother with courtesy whilst they live; to bury them with courtesy when they die, and to worship them with courtesy.

[2:6] Meng Wu asked the duty of a son.

The Master said, He should not grieve his father and mother by anything but illness.

[2:7] Tzu-yu [F12] asked the duty of a son.

The Master said, He that can feed his parents is now called a good son. But both dogs and horses are fed, and unless we honor our parents, what is the difference?

[2:8] Tzu-hsia [F13] asked the duty of a son.

The Master said, Our manner is the hard part. For the young to be a stay in toil and leave the wine and food to their elders, is this to fulfil their duty?

[2:9] The Master said, If I talk all day to Hui, [F14] like a dullard, he never differs from me. But when he is gone, if I watch him when alone, he can carry out what I taught. No, Hui is no dullard!

[2:10] The Master said, See what he does; watch what moves him; search what pleases him: can the man lie hidden? Can the man lie hidden?

[2:11] The Master said, To keep old knowledge warm and get new makes the teacher.

[2:12] The Master said, A gentleman is not a vessel.

[2:13] Tzu-kung [F15] asked, What is a gentleman?

The Master said, He puts words into deeds first, and follows these up with words.

[2:14] The Master said, A gentleman is broad and fair; the small man takes sides and is narrow.

[2:15] The Master said, Learning without thought is naught; thought without learning is dangerous.

[2:16] The Master said, To fight strange doctrines does harm.

[2:17] The Master said, Yu, [F16] shall I teach thee what is wisdom? To know what we know, and know what we do not know, is wisdom.

[2:18] Tsu-chang [F17] learned with an eye to pay.

The Master said, Hear much, leave all that is doubtful alone, speak warily of everything else, and few will be offended. See much, leave all that is dangerous alone, deal warily with everything else, and thou wilt have little to rue. If thy words seldom give offence, and thy deeds leave little to rue, pay will follow.

[2:19] Duke Ai [F18] asked, What should I do to win the people?

Confucius answered, Lift up the straight, put away the crooked; and the people will be won. Lift up the crooked, put away the straight; and the people will not be won.

[2:20] Chi K'ang [F19] asked how to make the people lowly, faithful and painstaking.

The Master said, Meet them with dignity, they will be lowly; be a good son and merciful, they will be faithful; lift up the good and teach the unskilled, and they will take pains.

[2:21] One said to Confucius, Why do ye not govern, Sir?

The Master said, What does the Book [F20] say of a good son? 'To be a good son and a friend to thy brothers is to show how to govern.' This, too, is to govern. Must one be in office to govern?

[2:22] The Master said, A man without truth, I know not what good he is! A cart without a crosspole, a carriage without a yoke, how can they be moved?

[2:23] Tzu-chang [F21] asked whether we can know what is to be ten generations hence.

The Master said, The Yin [F22] took over the manners of the Hsia; the harm and the good that they did them can be known. The Chou took over the manners of the Yin; the harm and the good that they did them can be known. And we may know what shall be, even an hundred generations hence, whoever follows Chou.

[2:24] The Master said, To worship the ghosts of men not akin to us is fawning. To see the right and not do it is want of courage.





Footnotes

[F9] Lit., obedient.

[F10] A disciple.

[F11] Meng Yi.

[F12] A disciple.

[F13] A disciple.

[F14] The disciple Yen Yüan.

[F15] A disciple.

[F16] The disciple Tzu-lu.

[F17] A disciple.

[F18] Of Lu.

[F19] The head of the Chi clan.

[F20] The Book of History.

[F21] A disciple.

[F22] Up to the time of Confucius, China had been ruled by three lines of kings. First the T'ang, next the Yin or Shang, then the Chou.



Book 2. Wei zheng 爲政: The Practice of Government


[2:1] The Master said: “If you govern with the power of your virtue, you will be like the North Star. It just stays in its place while all the other stars position themselves around it.” [C1]

[2:2] The Master said: “The 300 verses of the Book of Odes can be summed up in a single phrase: ‘Don't think in an evil way.’”

[2:3] The Master said: “If you govern the people legalistically and control them by punishment, they will avoid crime, but have no personal sense of shame. If you govern them by means of virtue and control them with propriety, they will gain their own sense of shame, and thus correct themselves.”

[2:4] The Master said: “At fifteen my heart was set on learning; at thirty I stood firm; at forty I was unperturbed; at fifty I knew the mandate of heaven; at sixty my ear was obedient; at seventy I could follow my heart's desire without transgressing the norm.”

[2:5] Mengyi Zi asked about the meaning of filial piety. Confucius said, “It means ‘not diverging (from your parents).’” Later, when Fan Chi was driving him, Confucius told Fan Chi, “Mengsun asked me about the meaning of filial piety, and I told him ‘not diverging.’” Fan Chi said, “What did you mean by that?” Confucius said, “When your parents are alive, serve them with propriety; when they die, bury them with propriety, and then worship them with propriety.”

[2:6] Mengwu Bo asked about the meaning of filial piety. Confucius said, “The main concern of your parents is about your health.” [C6]

[2:7] Zi You asked about the meaning of filial piety. Confucius said, “Nowadays filial piety means being able to feed your parents. But everyone does this for even horses and dogs. Without respect, what's the difference?”

[2:8] Zi Xia asked about filial piety. Confucius said, “What is important is the expression you show in your face. You should not understand ‘filial’ to mean merely the young doing physical tasks for their parents, or giving them food and wine when it is available.”

[2:9] The Master said: “I can talk with Hui for a whole day without him differing with me in any way - as if he is stupid. But when he retires and I observe his personal affairs, it is quite clear that he is not stupid.” [C9]

[2:10] The Master said: “See a person's means (of getting things). Observe their motives. Examine that in which they rest. How can a person conceal their character? How can a person conceal their character?” [C10]

[2:11] The Master said: “Reviewing what you have learned and learning anew, you are fit to be a teacher.”

[2:12] The Master said: “The noble man is not a utensil.” [C12]

[2:13] Zi Gong asked about the character of the noble man. Confucius said, “First he practices what he preaches and then he follows it.”

[2:14] The Master said: “The noble man is all-embracing and not partial. The inferior man is partial and not all-embracing.”

[2:15] The Master said: “To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous.”

[2:16] The Master said: “To throw oneself into strange teachings is quite dangerous.”

[2:17] The Master said: “You, shall I teach you about knowledge? What you know, you know, what you don't know, you don't know. This is knowledge.” [C17]

[2:18] Zi Zhang was studying to get an upgrade in his civil service rank. [Advising him about self-improvement] Confucius said, “Listen widely to remove your doubts and be careful when speaking about the rest and your mistakes will be few. See much and get rid of what is dangerous and be careful in acting on the rest and your causes for regret will be few. Speaking without fault, acting without causing regret: ‘upgrading’ consists in this.”

[2:19] The Duke of Ai asked: “How can I make the people follow me?” Confucius replied: “Advance the upright and set aside the crooked, and the people will follow you. Advance the crooked and set aside the upright, and the people will not follow you.”

[2:20] Ji Kang Zi asked: “How can I make the people reverent and loyal, so they will work positively for me?” Confucius said, “Approach them with dignity, and they will be reverent. Be filial and compassionate and they will be loyal. Promote the able and teach the incompetent, and they will work positively for you.”

[2:21] Someone asked Confucius: “Why are you not involved in government?” Confucius said, “What does the Book of History say about filial piety? ‘Just by being a good son and friendly to ones brothers and sisters you can have an effect on government.’ Since this is also ‘doing government,’ why do I need to do ‘doing government?’”

[2:22] The Master said: “If a person lacks trustworthiness, I don't know what s/he can be good for. When a pin is missing from the yoke-bar of a large wagon, or from the collar-bar of a small wagon, how can it go?”

[2:23] Zi Zhang asked whether the state of affairs ten generations hence could be known. Confucius said, “The Shang based its propriety on that of the Yin, and what it added and subtracted is knowable. The Zhou has based its propriety on that of the Shang and what it added and subtracted is knowable. In this way, what continues from the Zhou, even if 100 generations hence, is knowable.”

[2:24] The Master said: “To worship to other than one's own ancestral spirits is flattery. If you see what is right and fail to act on it, you lack courage.”





Commentary

[C1] This is the Analects' first statement on government. Scholars of Chinese thought have commonly placed great emphasis on a supposed radical distinction between Confucian “authoritative” government and Daoist “laissez-faire” government. But numerous Confucian passages such as this which suggest of the ruler's governance by a mere attunement with an inner principle of goodness, without unnecessary external action, quite like the Daoist wu-wei are far more numerous than has been noted. This is one good reason for us to be careful when making the commonplace Confucian/Daoist generalizations without qualification.

[C6] When we are separated from our parents for long periods of time, we can set their minds at ease by letting them know that we are in good health.

[C9] Hui (Yan Yuan) was Confucius' favorite disciple, who is praised in many passages of the Analects. He died at a young age, probably around thirty, a fact which Confucius lamented.

[C10] People think that they are successfully hiding the devious thoughts that are going on in their minds. But as the Doctrine of the Mean teaches, “The sincerity on the inside shows on the outside.” When someone is deceitful, everyone knows it. When someone is good and honest, everyone knows it.

[C12] The noble man is not a technician, to be used by others to do a single job. On another level, his mind is not narrowly oriented by a specific task. The junzi thinks broadly and does not limit himself quickly into a certain world-view, and cannot easily be used as a cog in someone else's machine.

[C17] The stage of “knowing what you know and knowing what you don't know” is not easy to attain. It has been noted in the teachings of other religious traditions to be a very high level of attainment.



為政第二


【第一章】子曰、爲政以德、譬如北辰、居其所、而眾星共之。

【第二章】子曰、詩三百、一言以蔽之、曰、思無邪。

【第三章】【一節】子曰、道之以政、齊之以刑、民免而無恥。【二節】道之以德、齊之以禮、有恥且格。

【第四章】【一節】子曰、吾十有五而志于學。【二節】三十而立。【三節】四十而不惑。【四節】五十而知天命。【五節】六十而耳順。【六節】七十而從心所欲、不踰矩。

【第五章】【一節】孟懿子問孝、子曰、無違。【二節】樊遲御、子吿之曰、孟孫問孝於我、我對曰、無違。【三節】樊遲曰、何謂也、子曰、生事之以禮、死葬之以禮、祭之以禮。

【第六章】孟武伯問孝、子曰、父母唯其疾之憂。

【第七章】子游問孝、子曰、今之孝者、是謂能養、至於犬馬、皆能有養、不敬、何以別乎。

【第八章】子夏問孝、子曰、色難、有事、弟子服其勞、有酒食、先生饌、曾是以爲孝乎。

【第九章】子曰、吾與回言終日、不違、如愚。退而省其私、亦足以發、回也不愚。

【第十章】【一節】子曰、視其所以。【二節】觀其所由。【三節】察其所安。【四節】人焉廋哉、人焉廋哉。

【十一章】子曰、溫故而知新、可以爲師矣。

【十二章】子曰、君子不器。

【十三章】子貢問君子、子曰、先行其言、而後從之。

【十四章】子曰、君子周而不比、小人比而不周。

【十五章】子曰、學而不思則罔、思而不學則殆。

【十六章】子曰、攻乎異端、斯害也己。

【十七章】子曰、由、誨女知之乎、知之爲知之、不知爲不知、是知也。

【十八章】【一節】子張學干祿。【一節】子曰、多聞闕疑、愼言其餘、則寡尤、多見闕殆、愼行其餘、則寡悔、言寡尤、行寡悔、祿在其中矣。

【十九章】哀公問曰、何爲則民服。孔子對曰、擧直錯諸枉、則民服、擧枉錯諸直、則民不服。

【二十章】季康子問使民敬忠以勸、如之何。子曰、臨之以莊、則敬、孝慈、則忠、擧善而教不能、則勸。

【廿一章】【一節】或謂孔子曰、子奚不爲政。【二節】子曰、書云孝乎、惟孝友于兄弟、施於有政、是亦爲政、奚其爲爲政。

【廿二章】子曰、人而無信、不知其可也、大車無輗、小車無軏、其何以行之哉。

【廿三章】【一節】子張問十世、可知也。【二節】子曰、殷因於夏禮、所損益、可知也、周因於殷禮、所損益、可知也、其或繼周者、雖百世、可知也。

【廿四章】【一節】子曰、非其鬼而祭之、諂也。【二節】見義不爲、無勇也。



Confucius (Kǒng Fūzǐ (孔夫子; Kong Qui) traveled the country in an ox cart observing and teaching his numerous disciples on the subjects of civics, ethics, literature, music and science. Of course, he claimed no divine inspiration and so naturally the writings attributed to him, recorded by his disciples, also make no such claim.



  • Back to the Sanctuary, by Terry Redlin: 1986 (original uncropped image)
  • Animations: Dragonset, Matters of Grave Concern, The Pillars of Barad-Dur, Heart of Stone, Golden Leaves, Gravity, and Dragons in Moonlight, by Steven David Bennett





Dragonset, by Steven David Bennett Matters of Grave Concern, by Steven David Bennett The Pillars of Barad-Dur, by Steven David Bennett Heart of Stone, by Steven David Bennett Golden Leaves, by Steven David Bennett Gravity, by Steven David Bennett Dragons in Moonlight, by Steven David Bennett