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Confucius was studying the lute under the music master Hsiang-tzŭ

Confucius was studying the lute under the music master Hsiang-tzŭ, but made no progress. Master Hsiang-tzŭ said, "It is within your power, sir, to make progress."

Confucius said, "I have already grasped the melody, but as yet I have not got the structure of this music."

After a while Hsiang-tzŭ said, "It is within your power, sir, to make more progress."

Confucius said, "I have already grasped the structure, but as yet I do not have its meaning."

After a while Hsiang-tzŭ again said, "It is within your power, sir, to make more progress," and Confucius said, "I have already got its meaning, but I have not yet got the man."

After a while (Hsiang-tzŭ) again said, "It is within your power, sir, to make (more) progress," and (Confucius) said,

"I have already got the man who composed the piece, but I still have not managed to place him." For a while he gazed off into the distance, lost in deep thought. Then he said, "Pensive and majestic is he who must have composed this music. Darkly black, and grandly tall he rules the empire and attracts to his court the feudal lords: it can be no other than King Wên."

Master Hsiang-tzŭ withdrew from the mat, bowed twice, and said, "Good. Music masters attribute this song to King Wên."

So it was that Confucius, in apprehending the sounds composed by King Wên knew what he must be like as a man.

Master Hsiang-tzŭ said, "I venture to ask how you knew the song was by King Wên?"

Confucius said, "A man characterized by jên values repression; (?) a harmonious man values decoration; a wise man values simplicity, (?) and a man with the intention of being sincere values beauty. (??) This is how I knew it was song by King Wên."

Traditionally, that man is a saint who penetrates to the true nature of a thing from having experienced only its external manifestations.

孔子学鼓琴于师襄子而不进。师襄子曰:“夫子可以进矣!”孔子曰:“丘已得其曲矣,未得其数也。”有间,曰:“天子可以进矣!”曰:“丘已得其数矣,未得其意也。”有间,复曰:“夫子可以进矣!”曰:“丘已得其人矣,未得其类也。”有间,曰:“邈然远望,洋洋乎!翼翼乎!必作此乐也,默然思,戚然而怅,以王天下,以朝诸侯者,其惟文王乎?”师襄子避席再拜曰:“善!师以为文王之操也。”孔子持文王之声,知文王之为人。师襄子曰:“敢问何以知其文王之操也?”孔子曰:“然。夫仁者好伟,和者好粉,智者好弹,有殷勤之意者好丽。丘是以知文王之操也。”

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