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The Sayings of Confucius.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.


THE MASTER said: “In governing, cleave to good; as the north star holds his place, and the multitude of stars revolve upon him.”The Master said: “To sum up the three hundred songs in a word, they are free from evil thought.”The Master said: “Guide the people by law, subdue them by punishment; they may shun crime, but will be void of shame. Guide them by example, subdue them by courtesy; they will learn shame, and come to be good.”The Master said: “At fifteen, I was bent on study; at thirty, I could stand; at forty, doubts ceased; at fifty, I understood the laws of Heaven; at sixty, my ears obeyed me; at seventy, I could do as my heart lusted, and never swerve from right.”Meng Yi asked the duty of a son.

The Master said: “Obedience.”

As Fan Ch´ih was driving him, the Master said: “Meng-sun asked me the duty of a son; I answered ‘Obedience.’”
“What did ye mean?” said Fan Ch´ih.
“To serve our parents with courtesy whilst they live,” said the Master; “to bury them with all courtesy when they die; and to worship them with all courtesy.”Meng Wu asked the duty of a son.
The Master said: “What weighs on your father and mother is concern for your health.”Tzu-yu asked the duty of a son.
The Master said: “To-day a man is called dutiful if he keep his father and mother. But we keep both our dogs and horses, and unless we honour parents, is it not all one?”Tzu-hsia 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 cakes to their elders, is this to fulfil their duty?”The Master said: “If I talk all day to Hui, like a dullard, he never stops me. But when he is gone, if I pry into his life, I find he can do what I say. No, Hui is no dullard.”The Master said: “Look at a man’s acts; watch his motives; find out what pleases him: can the man evade you? Can the man evade you?”The Master said: “Who keeps the old akindle and adds new knowledge is fitted to be a teacher.”The Master said: “A gentleman is not a vessel.”Tzu-kung asked, What is a gentleman?
The Master said: “He puts words into deed first, and sorts what he says to the deed.”The Master said: “A gentleman is broad and fair: the vulgar are biassed and petty.”The Master said: “Study without thought is vain: thought without study is dangerous.”The Master said: “Work on strange doctrines does harm.”The Master said: “Yu, shall I teach thee what is understanding? To know what we know, and know what we do not know, that is understanding.”Tzu-chang studied with an eye to pay.
The Master said: “Listen much, keep silent when in doubt, and always take heed of the tongue; thou wilt make few mistakes. See much, beware of pitfalls, and always give heed to thy walk; thou wilt have little to rue. If thy words are seldom wrong, thy deeds leave little to rue, pay will follow.”Duke Ai asked: “What should be done to make the people loyal?”
Confucius answered: “Exalt the straight, set aside the crooked, the people will be loyal. Exalt the crooked, set aside the straight, the people will be disloyal.”Chi K´ang asked how to make the people lowly, faithful, and willing.
The Master said: “Behave with dignity, they will be lowly: be pious and merciful, they will be faithful: exalt the good, teach the unskilful, they will grow willing.”One said to Confucius: “Why are ye not in power, Sir?”
The Master answered: “What does the book say of a good son? ‘An always dutiful son, who is a friend to his brothers, showeth the way to rule.’ This also is to rule. What need to be in power?”The Master said: “Without truth I know not how man can live. A cart without a crosspole, a carriage without harness, how could they be moved?”Tzu-chang asked whether we can know what is to be ten generations hence.
The Master said: “The Yin inherited the manners of the Hsia; the harm and the good that they wrought them is known. The Chou inherited the manners of the Yin; the harm and the good that they wrought them is known. And we may know what is to be, even an hundred generations hence, when others follow Chou.”The Master said: “To worship the ghosts of strangers is fawning. To see the right and not do it is want of courage.”