Book 1: Learning

Confucius: To learn, and then to practise opportunely what one has learned, brings satisfaction

  • To have associates in study coming to one from distant parts means pleasure.
  • And are not those who, while not comprehending all that is said, still remain not unpleased to hear, men of the superior order?"

Scholar Yu: True people who are dutiful to their parents and elder brothers rarely turn currishly on their superiors.

  • it has never yet been the case that such as desire not to commit that offence have been men willing to promote anarchy or disorder.
  • Men of superior mind busy themselves first in getting at the root of things.
  • When they have succeeded in this the right course is open to them.
  • Well, are not filial piety and friendly subordination among brothers a root of that right feeling which is owing generally from man to man.

Confucius: Rarely do we meet with the right feeling due from one man to another where there is fine speech and studied men.

Scholar Tsang: On three points I examine myself daily:

  • whether, in looking after other people's interests, I have not been acting whole-heartedly,
  • whether, in my intercourse with friends, I have not been true, and
  • whether, after teaching, I have not myself been practising what I have taught.

The Master once observed that to rule well one of the larger States meant:

  • strict attention to its affairs,
  • conscientiousness on the part of the ruler,
  • careful husbanding of its resources,
  • a tender care for the interests of all classes
  • the employing of the masses in the public service at suitable seasons.

Confucius: Let young people show filial piety at home, respectfulness towards their elders when away from home.

  • Let them be circumspect, be truthful; their love going out freely towards all, cultivating good-will to men.
  • If, in such a walk, there be time or energy left for other things, let them employ it in the acquisition of literary or artistic accomplishments.

The disciple Tsz-hi: The evidence of learning are:

  • the appreciation of worth in men of worth,
  • diverting the mind from lascivious desires
  • ministering to parents while one is the most capable of so doing
  • serving one's ruler when one is able to devote himself entirely
  • being sincere in one's language in intercourse with friends.

Others may say that these are not signs of learning.

Confucius: If the great man be not grave, he will not be revered, neither can his learning be solid.

  • "Give prominent place to loyalty and sincerity.
  • Have no associates in study who are not advanced somewhat like yourself.
  • When you have erred, be not afraid to correct yourself."

Scholar Tsang: "The virtue of the people is renewed and enriched when attention is seen to be paid to the departed, and the remembrance of distant ancestors kept and cherished."

Tsz-k'in asked his fellow disciple Tsz-kung: "When our Master comes to this or that State, he learns without fail how it is being governed. Does he investigate matters? or are the facts given him?"

Tsz-kung answered: "Our Master is a man of pleasant manners, and of probity, courteous, moderate, and unassuming: it is by his being such that he arrives at the facts. Is not his way of arriving at things different from that of others?"

Confucius: He who, after three years' observation of the will of his father when alive, or of his past conduct if dead, does not deviate from that father's ways, is entitled to be called 'a dutiful son.'

Scholar Yu: "For the practice of the Rules of Propriety,[1] one excellent way is to be natural. This naturalness became a great grace in the practice of kings of former times; let everyone, small or great, follow their example.

  • "It is not, however, always practicable; and it is not so in the case of a person who does things naturally, knowing that he should act so, and yet who neglects to regulate his acts according to the Rules.
  • "When truth and right are hand in hand, a statement will bear repetition. When respectfulness and propriety go hand in hand, disgrace and shame are kept afar-off. Remove all occasion for alienating those to whom you are bound by close ties, and you have them still to resort to."

A man who has a greater mind:

  • does not crave to eat to the full when he is eating, and
  • does not crave for the comforts in it.

Such a man can be become a devoted student, especially if he:

  • is active and earnest in his work,
  • careful in his words towards men of high principle to maintain his own rectitude.

Tsz-kung asked: "What say you, sir, of the poor who do not cringe and fawn; and what of the rich who are without pride and haughtiness?" "They are passable,"

Yet they are scarcely in the same category as the poor who are happy, and the rich who love propriety.

Tsz-kung: In the 'Book of the Odes we read of one Polished, as by the knife and file, The graving-tool, the smoothing-stone.

Confucius: You may well commence a discussion on the Odes. If one tell you how a thing goes, you know what ought to come.

  • It do not mind that men do not know me
  • My great concern is, my not knowing them.

[Footnote 1: An important part of a education. The text-book, "The Li Ki," contains rules for behavior and propriety for the whole life, from the cradle to the grave.]