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Showing posts from February, 2017

In Lu there was a dispute at law between father and son

There is the following traditional story: In Lu there was a dispute at law between father and son. K’ang-tzŭ wished to have them put to death, but Confucius said, "It would not be right to put them to death. Now the people have long been ignorant that lawsuits between father and son are improper. This case is the result of those in responsible positions neglecting true principles. If superiors were possessed of the proper principles, such people as these would not be." The litigants, hearing of this remark, asked that the case be dropped. K’ang-tzŭ said, "The people are governed through filial piety. Surely it would be proper to put to death one who behaves thus unfittingly as a censure for the unfilial?" Confucius said, "Not at all. Having left them without instruction, to judge their suits is to put to death the guiltless. Though the armies of a great state suffer a severe defeat, they should not be punished. If lawsuits and judgments are not supervised,

Minister Kung-i Hsiu was fond of fish

Kung-i Hsiu, minister of Lu, was fond of fish. A native of the state made him a present of fish, but he would not accept it. His younger brother objected, saying, "You are fond of fish; why do you not accept it?" He said, "It is precisely because I am so fond of fish that I do not accept it. If I accept the fish and lose my place as minister, I will then be unable to supply myself with fish. By not accepting and not losing my place as minister, I will long be able to supply myself with fish. In this matter I understand how to take care of myself." Truly, as Lao-tzŭ said, "Make yourself last and you will be first; put yourself outside, and you will be preserved. Is it not that he had no eye to personal advantage, and was just in this way able to accomplish his personal advantage?" The Ode says, His thoughts are without depravity. This is illustrated in the above. 公仪休相鲁而嗜鱼,一国人献鱼而不受。其弟谏曰:“嗜鱼不受,何也?”曰:“夫欲嗜鱼,故不受也。受鱼而免于相,则不能自给鱼;无受而不免于相,长自给于鱼。”此明于鱼为己者

Duke Huan of Ch’i set up torches in the courtyard

Duke Huan of Ch’i set up torches in the courtyard for the sake of gentlemen who might want to come to see him. For a full year no one came. Then a rustic from the eastern fields came to see him because of his skill in arithmetic. Duke Huan joked with him, saying, "Is arithmetic sufficient reason for an interview?" The villager said, "I had not thought arithmetic to be sufficient reason for an interview. I had heard that Your Highness set up torches in his courtyard so as to await gentlemen, and that for a full year not one came. Now the reason that no gentlemen came was that Your Highness is the sage ruler in the empire, and everywhere gentlemen feel they are not adequate to Your Highness. Therefore they do not come. Now arithmetic is but a wretched accomplishment, yet if Your Highness treats me with courtesy, how much the more could those with worthier accomplishments than arithmetic expect! Now Mt. T’ai does not decline pebbles and stones, nor do rivers and oceans re

There was a great flood in the State of Sung

There is the following traditional story: In Sung there was a great flood. A man from Lu condoled with the Prince of Sung saying, "Heaven has sent down excessive rains, injuring the millet for sacrifices and spreading over your land, to the grief of those in charge of the government. I have been sent respectfully to condole with you." The Prince of Sung replied, "I have not practiced jên. Fasts and prohibitions have not been regulated, nor, in employing the people, has the proper time been chosen; hence Heaven has visited us with disaster. Having in addition caused you concern, I beg to acknowledge the condescension of your message." Confucius heard of this and said, "Sung is almost ready for enlightened government." A disciple said, "What do you mean?" Confucius said, "Of old Chieh and Chou did not admit their faults, and their destruction was swift indeed. Ch’êng-t’ang and King Wên knew enough to recognize their faults, and their ri

Etiquette (li) demands that the pupil come to study, not that the master go to teach.

Mêng, Prince of Ch’ang, wishing to study under Min-tzŭ, sent his carriage to go meet him. Min-tzŭ said, "Etiquette (li) demands that the pupil come to study, not that the master go to teach. If you study by having your teacher come to you, you will be unable to learn. If I go to teach you, I will be unable to influence you. Where you would say you were unable to learn if I do not go, I would say I would be unable to influence you if I did go." Mêng Prince of Ch’ang then said, "I respectfully obey your command." Next day, lifting up his robe and hastily taking a low seat, he asked to receive instruction. The Ode says, By daily progress and monthly advance. 孟尝君请学于闵子;使车往迎闵子。闵子曰:“礼有来学,而无往教。致师而学,不能学;往教,则不能化君也。君所谓不能学者也,臣所谓不能化者也。”于是孟尝君曰:“敬闻命矣。”明日、袪衣请受业。《诗》曰:“日就月将。”

When King Wu attacked the tyrant Chou

When King Wu attacked the tyrant Chou, as he came to Hsing-ch’iu, the yoke on his chariot horses broke into three pieces, and rain fell for three days without stopping. King Wu was afraid and summoned T’ai-kung, to whom he said, "It seems to me that the time has not yet come when Chou can be attacked." T’ai-kung replied, "Not so. That the carriage yoke broke into three pieces means our army should be divided into three. The three days' rain without a stop was intended to wash our weapons." King Wu said, "In that case, what shall we do?" T’ai-kung said, "Love for a person reaches to the crows on his roof; hate for a person includes the very walls of his village. Let us slay all our enemies, so that none will be left over." King Wu said, "Ah, the empire is not yet established!" The Duke of Chou hastened forward and said, "Not so. Let each regulate his own home and till his own fields. Without regard for old or new, befrie

King Chuang of Ch’u took to his bed with illness

King Chuang of Ch’u took to his bed with illness. The oracle read, "The River is the evil influence." The Great Officers said, "We beg you to make use of sacrificial animals." King Chuang said, "Stop! In antiquity, according to the sacrifices instituted by the saintly kings, a ruler did not go beyond those within his own borders in sacrificing to the spirits of hills and streams. The Sui, Chang, Chiang, and Han are the rivers Ch’u sacrifices to. Though I am devoid of virtue, it is not the River I have transgressed against." He never did perform the sacrifice, and in three days his disease was cured. Confucius heard of this and said, "It was right that King Chuang of Ch’u should be overlord. He kept within limits and held to his duties, reflecting within himself and acting consistently. Was it not indeed fitting he should be overlord?" The Ode says, Ah! Ah! He keeps within his boundaries. King Chuang is an example of this. 楚庄王寝疾,卜之,曰:“

Marquis Wên of Wei wished to appoint a prime minister

Marquis Wên of Wei wished to appoint a prime minister. Summoning Li K’o, he inquired saying, "I wish to appoint a prime minister, and it is to be either Chai Huang, or Wei Ch’êng-tzŭ. I wish to take your advice in this matter." Li K’o, withdrawing from the mat, declined, saying, "I have heard that a person of mean rank does not dispose of one who is of honourable rank, nor does a stranger come between relatives. I dwell outside the palace, and so dare not accept your command." Marquis Wên said, "Sir, feel yourself free to manage this affair." Li K’o said, "Now if you would investigate a man, when he is living at home, see what he loves; when he is rich, see what he gives away; when he is successful, see whom he recommends; when he is in extremity, see what he will not do; when he is poor, see what he will not take. These five situations suffice for an investigation." Marquis Wên said, "You may go home, sir. My prime minister has been

King Wên dealt with an evil omen

Of old, in the time of King Wên of Chou, when he had ruled the country for eight years, in summer, the sixth month, he took to his bed with illness. After five days there was an earthquake, which, to the east, west, south, and north, did not extend beyond the outskirts of the capital. The functionaries all said, "We have heard that earthquakes occur because of the ruler. Now Your Majesty has been sick in bed for five days, and there has been an earthquake that did not extend beyond the outskirts of the capital in any direction. Your subjects are all frightened and we request that it may be averted." King Wên said, "How are we going to avert it?" They replied, "Undertake a public work and put the masses in motion so as to add to the city's walls: perhaps we can thereby avert it." King Wên said, "It will not do. The Way of Heaven, in causing an evil omen to appear, is thereby to punish the guilty. I must be guilty, and hence this is to punish m

Giant millet grows in King Tang’s courtyard

During the Yin dynasty, a ku (rice, millet) started to grow in T’ang's courtyard. In three days it had become as large around as a man could embrace. T’ang inquired of I-yin, "What is this thing?" I-yin answered, "It is a ku tree." T'ang asked, "Why does it grow here?" I-yin said, "The ku is a wild plant that grows in marshes. That it is now growing in Your Majesty's courtyard is not very auspicious." T'ang said, "What is to be done?" I-yin said, "I have heard that evil omens come before disaster, and auspicious signs precede good fortune. If on observing an evil omen, one practices good acts, the disaster will not materialize; if on seeing an auspicious sign, one does not perform good acts, the good fortune will not come." T'ang thereupon fasted and lived quietly, rising early of a morning and retiring late at night. He mourned the dead and made polite inquiries after those who were ill. He pardo

Tzŭ-lu was gathering firewood with Wu-ma Ch’i

Tzŭ-lu was gathering firewood with Wu-ma Ch’i at the foot of Mt. Yün. Among the rich men of Ch’ên there was one named Ch’u-shih with a hundred decorated chariots, who gave himself up to feasting on Mt. Yün. Tzŭ-lu said to Wu-ma Ch’i, "If, without forgetting what you now know, but also without advancing any in what you now are capable of, you attained to such wealth as this, provided you would never get to go back and see the Master again, would you do it?" Wu-ma Ch’i, looking toward Heaven with a deep sigh, stopped and threw his sickle to the ground saying, "I have heard from the Master that a brave gentleman never forgets that he may lose his head, while the determined gentleman or the man endowed with jên never forgets that his end may be in a ditch or a stream. Is it that you do not know me? Or are you trying me? Or is it perhaps your own intention?" Tzŭ-lu was mortally ashamed and, shouldering his firewood, went home first. Confucius said, "Well, Yu

Tzŭ-chien was administering Shan-fu

When Tzŭ-chien was administering Shan-fu, he played the lute without descending from the hall, and still Shan-fu was in order. Wu-ma Ch’i went out to his duties while the stars were still out and did not return until they had again come out at night. Day and night he gave himself no rest, taking care of everything in person, and Shan-fu likewise was in order. Wu-ma Ch’i asked Tzŭ-chien about it, and Tzŭ-chien said, "I use men, while you use strength. He who uses men is at ease, while he who uses strength must labor." People therefore called Tzŭ-chien a superior man. While he rested his four limbs, preserved his sight and hearing, kept his mind and spirit quiet, the various officers still were in order. All he did was to make use of their numbers. Wu-ma Ch’i however did not do this. He misused his own nature and made himself a slave of his feelings, putting his effort into instructions and orders. Although there was order, there was not perfection. The Ode says, You have s

Minister T’ien Jao Wants to Leave his King for a Heron Flight

I-yin left Hsia and joined Yin. T’ien Jao left Lu and went to Yen. Chieh Tzŭ-t’ui left Chin and retired to the mountains. T’ien Jao served Duke Ai of Lu, but was not noticed. He said to Duke Ai, "I am going to leave Your Highness for a heron flight." Duke Ai said, "What do you mean?" He said, "Has Your Highness never seen the cock? On his head he wears a cap: he has civil culture. To his legs are attached spurs: he is possessed of martial qualities. Faced with an enemy, he dares fight: he has courage. When he gets food, he calls his companions: he has fellow-feeling (jên). When he keeps watch at night, he does not miss the time: he is trustworthy. The cock is possessed of these five virtues, yet Your Highness still has him boiled and eats him every day. Why is this? It is because the place he has come from is near at hand. Now take the heron: he goes a thousand li at a flight and stops at the pond in Your Highness' garden. He eats your fish and turtle

King Chieh's wine pond with dikes made of the dregs

Of old Chieh made a wine pond with dikes made of the dregs while he gave free rein to lascivious music. There were men who drank from the pond like cattle. The ministers clutched one another and sang, The river water rushes, Boats and oars separate; Our king is wasteful, Quickly let us turn to Po. For Po is large too. They also said, Rejoice! Rejoice! Strong the four stallions Shining the six reins. Away from what is not good, We go to the good! I-yin realized that the mandate of heaven was about to be withdrawn. Lifting a beaker, he approached Chieh and said, "If Your Majesty does not listen to his servant's words, the mandate of heaven will be withdrawn and the day of disaster not far off." Chieh clapped his hands with a smack and noisily laughed, saying, "So you too speak of evil omens. My possessing the empire is like the sky's having a sun; is the sun ever destroyed? When the sun is destroyed, then I shall be destroyed too." Ther

Chieh-yü, the madman of Ch’u

Chieh-yü, the madman of Ch’u, tilled the fields with his own hands for food. One day his wife had gone to the market and had not yet returned. The King of Ch’u sent a messenger with a present of one hundred i of gold to his gate. The messenger said, "The great king has sent me to offer one hundred i of gold and wishes to request you, sir, to administer Huai-nan." Chieh-yü laughed but would not assent. The messenger in the end left without a definite answer from him. When Chieh-yü's wife came back from the market, she said, "When you were young, you practiced your principles (i); why do you abandon them as you grow older? How is it that the carriage tracks outside the gate are so deep?" Chieh-yü said, "Today the king sent a messenger to offer me one hundred i of gold, wishing to have me administer Huai-nan." His wife said, "You did not consent?" He said, "I did not!" His wife said, "When the prince wants to employ yo

Judge Li Li put himself under arrest

Duke Wên of Chin had appointed Li Li to be chief judge. For having wrongly permitted a man to be killed he put himself under arrest in the court and asked for death from the prince. The prince said, "Just as there are high and low officials, so there are light and severe punishments. The inferior officer is guilty; it is not your guilt." Li Li replied, "In occupying my office as chief, I did not make way for inferior officers; in receiving a greater salary I did not share the profit with the inferior officers. Now when I have wrongly permitted a man to be put to death, that an inferior officer should be responsible for his death is unheard of." He refused and did not accept the command. The prince said, "If you insist on considering yourself guilty, then I likewise am guilty." Li Li said, "When the laws are violated, punishment should follow: when punishments are misapplied, death should be the result. Your Highness thought me able to judge ob

Confucius met Ch’êng Pên-tzŭ of Ch’i

There is the following traditional story. When Confucius met Ch’êng Pên-tzŭ of Ch’i in the region of Yen, they put down the canopies of their chariots and talked for the rest of the day. After some time Confucius turned to Tzu-lŭ and said, "Yu, bring ten rolls of silk and present them to this gentleman." Tzu-lŭ did not reply. After some time he again turned and said, "Yu, bring ten rolls of silk and present them to this gentleman." Tzŭ-lu replied abruptly, "I once heard you say, Master, that the superior man does not approve of gentlemen's meeting without introduction, nor of a woman's marrying without an intermediary." Confucius said, "Does not the Ode say, On the moor is the creeping grass, And how heavily is it loaded with dew! There was a beautiful man, Lovely, with clear eyes and fine forehead! We met together accidentally, And so my desire was satisfied. What is more, Ch’êng Pên-tzŭ of Ch’i is one of the sages of the e

Shang Jung would not eat unearned food

Shang Jung had once held the feather and flute. Relying on horse and foot soldiers, he wished to attack the tyrant Chou, but was unable to do so. As a result he went into hiding in T’aih-sing. When King Wu conquered Yin and set himself up as Son of Heaven, he wished to make him one of the Three Grand Dukes (san-kung). Shang Jung refused, saying, "I once relied on horse and foot soldiers, wishing to attack the tyrant Chou, but was unable to do so. That was stupidity. That I went into hiding without fighting was due to a lack of courage. Stupidity and a lack of courage are not sufficient qualifications for a san-kung." He persisted in his refusal to the end and would not accept the king's command. On hearing of this, the superior man says, "Of Shang Jung it can be said that having examined himself he did not falsely represent his abilities. He was a superior man indeed. He put away from himself unearned food." The Ode says, O that superior man! He would not

Judge Shih Shê

King Chao of Ch’u had an officer named Shih Shê, who was characterized by his impartiality and love of the right, and the king made him a judge. At this time someone killed a man on the highway. When Shih Shê went in pursuit of him, it turned out to be his father. He returned to the court and said, "The person who killed the man was my father. To sacrifice one's father to perfect one's administration is not filial; not to put in operation the laws of one's prince is not loyal. My duty is to submit to punishment for having overlooked his crime and disregarded the law." He prostrated himself before the axe and execution block saying, "My life is in your hands." The prince said, "You pursued him without catching him; how can there be any blame? May you go on with your work." Shih Shê said, "Not so. Not to be partial to one's father is not filial; not to carry out the laws of one's prince is not loyal. To go on living when guilty

Ts’ui Chu had assassinated Duke Chuang

After Ts’ui Chu had assassinated Duke Chuang, he ordered the nobles and Great Officers to make a covenant with him. The covenanters all had laid aside their swords before entering. Those who did not speak quickly or who did not touch the blood with their fingers were put to death. Over ten men had been killed when it came to Yen-tzŭ's turn. He raised up the cup of blood, and, facing Heaven, said with a sign, "Alas! that Ts’ui Chu has been so unrighteous as to slay his prince!" Whereupon the covenanters all looked at him. Ts’ui Chu said to Yen-tzŭ, "If you help me, I will share the state with you. If you do not help me, I will kill you: A straight sword will pierce you, and a curved one will hook you. I hope you will think about it." Yen-tzŭ said, "I have heard that he who, being deterred by profit, is unfaithful to his prince lacks jên, and he who permits himself to be forced by weapons to abandon his determination lacks courage. The Ode says, Luxu

Yen Yüan was sitting by Duke Ting of Lu

Yen Yüan was sitting by Duke Ting of Lu on a raised platform, when Tung-yeh Pi drove his horse and chariot past. Duke Ting said, "How well Tung-yeh Pi drives!" Yen Yüan said, "He is all right, but his horses are going to run away." Duke Ting was not pleased and said to his retainers, "I had heard that a superior man does not slander people; does he then really engage in slander?" Yen Yüan withdrew. Suddenly a man from the Imperial Stables came and announced that Tung-yeh Pi's horses had run away. Duke Ting withdrew from the mat and got up, saying, "Quickly send a chariot to call back Yen Yüan." When Yen Yüan arrived, Duke Ting said, "A little while ago I said, ‘How well Tung-yeh Pi drives,' and you said, ‘He is all right, but his horses are going to run away.' How did you know it?" Yen Yüan said, "From principles of government I knew it. In olden times Shun was expert in handling people and Tsao-fu was expe

Min Tzŭ-ch’ien had a hungry look

When Min Tzŭ-ch’ien first appeared before the Master, he had a hungry look. Later on he had a well-fed look. Tzŭ-kung asked him, "At first you had a hungry look, while now you have a well-fed look. Why is this?" Min-tzŭ said, "I had come out from the ‘reeds and rushes’ and entered the Master's gate. Now the Master, within, was ‘cut and polished' by filial piety, and, without, he displayed for me the methods of the ancient kings (?). In my heart I secretly rejoiced. I went out and saw plumed chariot canopies and dragon flags, silken banners and fur garments following one another, and in my heart I rejoiced also at these. When the two feelings were mutually opposed in my breast, I was not able to bear it. This is why I had a hungry look. By now I have become deeply imbued with the Master's culture, and, thanks to you gentlemen, I have been ‘cut and polished’ and brought forward. Inside, I am clear about what is proper to leave and what to take up. Outside,

The hegemony of Ch’u was due to Fan-chi's efforts

King Chuang of Ch’u-held morning audience until late. Fan-chi went down the hall to meet him, saying, "How late you have dismissed court! Are you not hungry and tired?" King Chuang said, "Today I was listening to loyal and worthwhile discourse, so that I felt neither hunger nor fatigue." Fan-chi said, "This person Your Highness speaks of as loyal and worthy, is he a guest from one of the other feudal lords, or is he an officer of the Middle Kingdom?" King Chuang said, "Why it is my Prime Minister Shên." Fan-chi covered her mouth and laughed. The king said, "What are you laughing at?" Fan- chi said, "For eleven years I have been privileged to wait on your Highness when you were bathing and washing your hair by holding your towel and comb and by spreading your coverlet and mat. But there was never a time I was not sending men into Liang and Chêng to seek out beautiful women whom I could bring into Your Highness's prese

The Daughter of a Gatekeeper of Lu Cried at Midnight

Ying, the daughter of a gatekeeper of Lu was weaving with another girl. At midnight she cried. Her companion said, "Why are you weeping?" Ying said, "I have heard that the Heir Apparent of Wei is unworthy; therefore I weep." Her companion said, "That the Heir Apparent of Wei is unworthy is the worry of the feudal lords. Why should you weep because of it?" Ying said, "What I have heard is at variance with what you say. Formerly the ssŭ-ma Huan of Sung fell into disfavor with the Prince of Sung and left the country for Lu. His horse got loose and rolled in my garden and ate the mallows there. For that year I have heard that the gardener lost half his harvest. When the king of Yüeh, Kou-chien, raised troops to attack Wu, the feudal lords feared his power, and Lu sent him a present of girls, among them my sister. My elder brother went to see her and succumbed to the perils of the road. Now it was Wu who was overawed by Yüeh's army, but it was I

King Chuang of Ch'u was besieging the capital of Sung

King Chuang of Ch'u was besieging the capital of Sung. When he had rations for only seven days, he said, "If we exhaust these supplies without conquering, then we are going to withdraw and go back home." Whereupon he had the Ssŭ-ma Tzŭ-fan climb up on the mound built by the besiegers  to spy on the town of Sung. The Prince of Sung sent Hua Yüan to climb up on the mound to intercept him. Tzŭ-fan said, "How are things with your state?" Hua Yüan said, "We are exhausted! We exchange our children  and eat them, splitting and cooking the bones." Tzŭ-fan said, "Alas! Extreme straits indeed! However, I have heard that in besieged states they gag their horses when they give them grain  and send out the fat ones to meet the enemy. Now, how is it that you, sir, are so frank?" Hua Yüan said, "I have heard that the superior man, seeing another's distress, has compassion on him; while the mean man, seeing another's distress, rejoices in

Pao Chiao met Tzŭ-kung on the road

Pao Chiao's clothes were so worn his skin showed through; he was holding a basket and gathering vegetables when he met Tzŭ-kung on the road. Tzŭ-kung said, "My dear sir, what has brought you to this?" Pao Chiao said, "In the empire there are a host of teachers who have abandoned virtue. How could I not have come to this? I have heard that the man who keeps on acting when the world does not know him is acting wrongly, and he who persists in taking part when his superiors do not use him is spoiling his integrity. If his conduct is wrong and his integrity spoiled, and even so he does not desist, it is because he is deluded by profit." Tzŭ-kung said, "I have heard that one who finds fault with the time should not make his living on profit derived therefrom, and one who thinks his prince is impure should not walk in his territory. Now you, sir, thinking your prince impure, still walk in his territory, and finding fault with the times, you still gather vegeta

Shên-t’u Ti thought he was born out of his time

Shên-t’u Ti thought he was born out of his time, and was about to cast himself into the River. Ts’ui Chia learning of this stopped him, saying, "I have heard that the function of the saintly man and the humane gentleman between Heaven and Earth is to be father and mother to the people. Now is it right not to come to the rescue of a drowning man by reason of fearing wet feet?" Shên-t’u said, "Not so. Of old Chieh by putting Kuan Lung-fêng to death, and Chou by killing the Prince Pi-kan, lost their empires. Wu by killing Tzŭ-hsü, and Ch’ên by killing Hsieh Yeh, had their states destroyed. Therefore the loss of a state or the destruction of a family is not caused by a lack of saints and sages, but it is the result of not using them." Whereupon embracing a stone, he sank into the River. When the superior man hears of this he says, "He was scrupulous indeed, but as to his being benevolent (jên), this I have yet to see." The Ode says, So it is! Heaven h

The people of Sung killed their ruler

At the time of Duke Ling of Chin the people of Sung killed their Duke Chao. Chao Hsüan-tzŭ asked Duke Ling for an army to aid those loyal to the Duke. Duke Ling said, "This is not the concern of the state of Chin." Hsüan-tzŭ said, "That is not so. The most important thing is the relation between Heaven and Earth; next comes that between prince and subject. These relations are the means whereby accord is brought about. Now they have killed their prince, and in so doing have turned against the relation between Heaven and Earth and have acted contrary to the Way of man. Certainly Heaven will visit them with calamity. If Chin, as Executor of the Covenant, does not go to the rescue, it is to be feared that Heaven's punishment will come to us. The Ode says, When among common people there was a death, I crawled on my knees to help them. How much the more should one do so when it is the ruler of a state!" Thereupon Duke Ling followed his advice by raising an ar