1. Mencius said, 'Confucius ascended the eastern hill, and Lû appeared to him small. He ascended the T'âi mountain, and all beneath the heavens appeared to him small. So he who has contemplated the sea, finds it difficult to think anything of other waters, and he who has wandered in the gate of the sage, finds it difficult to think anything of the words of others.
2. 'There is an art in the contemplation of water.-- It is necessary to look at it as foaming in waves. The sun and moon being possessed of brilliancy, their light admitted even through an orifice illuminates.
3. 'Flowing water is a thing which does not proceed till it has filled the hollows in its course. The student who has set his mind on the doctrines of the sage, does not advance to them but by completing one lesson after another.'
1. Mencius said, 'He who rises at cock-crowing and addresses himself earnestly to the practice of virtue, is a disciple of Shun.
2. 'He who rises at cock-crowing, and addresses himself earnestly to the pursuit of giin, is a disciple of Chih.
3. 'If you want to know what separates Shun from Chih, it is simply this,-- the interval between the thought of gain and the thought of virtue.'
1. Mencius said, 'The principle of the philosopher Yang was-- "Each one for himself." Though he might have benefited the whole kingdom by plucking out a single hair, he would not have done it.
2. 'The philosopher Mo loves all equally. If by rubbing smooth his whole body from the crown to the heel, he could have benefited the kingdom, he would have done it.
3. 'Tsze-mo holds a medium between these. By holding that medium, he is nearer the right. But by holding it without leaving room for the exigency of circumstances, it becomes like their holding their one point.
4. 'The reason why I hate that holding to one point is the injury it does to the way of right principle. It takes up one point and disregards a hundred others.'
1. Mencius said, 'The hungry think any food sweet, and the thirsty think the same of any drink, and thus they do not get the right taste of what they eat and drink. The hunger and thirst, in fact, injure their palate. And is it only the mouth and belly which are injured by hunger and thirst? Men's minds are also injured by them.
2. 'If a man can prevent the evils of hunger and thirst from being any evils to his mind, he need not have any sorrow about not being equal to other men.'
Mencius said, 'A man with definite aims to be accomplished may be compared to one digging a well. To dig the well to a depth of seventy-two cubits, and stop without reaching the spring, is after all throwing away the well.'
1. Mencius said, 'Benevolence and righteousness were natural to Yâo and Shun. T'ang and Wû made them their own. The five chiefs of the princes feigned them.
2. 'Having borrowed them long and not returned them, how could it be known they did not own them?'
1. Kung-sun Ch'âu said, 'Î Yin said, "I cannot be near and see him so disobedient to reason," and therewith he banished T'â-chiâ to T'ung. The people were much pleased. When T'â-chiâ became virtuous, he brought him back, and the people were again much pleased.
2. 'When worthies are ministers, may they indeed banish their sovereigns in this way when they are not virtuous?'
3. Mencius replied, 'If they have the same purpose as Î Yin, they may. If they have not the same purpose, it would be usurpation.'
Kung-sun Ch'âu said, 'It is said, in the Book of Poetry,
"He will not eat the bread of idleness!"
How is it that we see superior men eating without labouring?' Mencius replied, 'When a superior man resides in a country, if its sovereign employ his counsels, he comes to tranquillity, wealth and glory. If the young in it follow his instructions, they become filial, obedient to their elders, true-hearted, and faithful. What greater example can there be than this of not eating the bread of idleness?'
1. The king's son, Tien, asked Mencius, saying, 'What is the business of the unemployed scholar?'
2. Mencius replied, 'To exalt his aim.'
3. Tien asked again, 'What do you mean by exalting the aim?' The answer was, 'Setting it simply on benevolence and righteousness. He thinks how to put a single innocent person to death is contrary to benevolence; how to take what one has not a right to is contrary to righteousness; that one's dwelling should be benevolence; and one's path should be righteousness. Where else should he dwell? What other path should he pursue? When benevolence is the dwelling-place of the heart, and righteousness the path of the life, the business of a great man is complete.'
Mencius said, 'Supposing that the kingdom of Ch'î were offered, contrary to righteousness, to Ch'an Chung, he would not receive it, and all people believe in him, as a man of the highest worth. But this is only the righteousness which declines a dish of rice or a plate of soup. A man can have no greater crimes than to disown his parents and relatives, and the relations of sovereign and minister, superiors and inferiors. How can it be allowed to give a man credit for the great excellences because he possesses a small one?'
1. T'âo Ying asked, saying, 'Shun being sovereign, and Kâo-yâo chief minister of justice, if Kû-sâu had murdered a man, what would have been done in the case?'
2. Mencius said, 'Kâo-yâo would simply have apprehended him.'
3. 'But would not Shun have forbidden such a thing?'
4. 'Indeed, how could Shun have forbidden it? Kâo-yâo had received the law from a proper source.'
5. 'In that case what would Shun have done?'
6. 'Shun would have regarded abandoning the kingdom as throwing away a worn-out sandal. He would privately have taken his father on his back, and retired into concealment, living some where along the sea-coast. There he would have been all his life, cheerful and happy, forgetting the kingdom.'
1. Mencius, going from Fan to Ch'î, saw the king of Ch'î's son at a distance, and said with a deep sigh, 'One's position alters the air, just as the nurture affects the body. Great is the influence of position! Are we not all men's sons in this respect?'
2. Mencius said, 'The residence, the carriages and horses, and the dress of the king's son, are mostly the same as those of other men. That he looks so is occasioned by his position. How much more should a peculiar air distinguish him whose position is in the wide house of the world!
3. 'When the prince of Lû went to Sung, he called out at the T'ieh-châi gate, and the keeper said, "This is not our prince. How is it that his voice is so like that of our prince?" This was occasioned by nothing but the correspondence of their positions.'
1. Mencius said, 'To feed a scholar and not love him, is to treat him as a pig. To love him and not respect him, is to keep him as a domestic animal.
2. 'Honouring and respecting are what exist before any offering of gifts.
3. 'If there be honouring and respecting without the reality of them, a superior man may not be retained by such empty demonstrations.'
Mencius said, 'The bodily organs with their functions belong to our Heaven-conferred nature. But a man must be a sage before he can satisfy the design of his bodily organization.'
1. The king Hsüan of Ch'î wanted to shorten the period of mourning. Kung-sun Ch'âu said, 'To have one whole year's mourning is better than doing away with it altogether.'
2. Mencius said, 'That is just as if there were one twisting the arm of his elder brother, and you were merely to say to him "Gently, gently, if you please." Your only course should be to teach such an one filial piety and fraternal duty.'
3. At that time, the mother of one of the king's sons had died, and his tutor asked for him that he might be allowed to observe a few months' mourning. Kung-sun Ch'âu asked, 'What do you say of this?'
4. Mencius replied, 'This is a case where the party wishes to complete the whole period, but finds it impossible to do so. The addition of even a single day is better than not mourning at all. I spoke of the case where there was no hindrance, and the party neglected the thing itself.'
1. Mencius said, 'There are five ways in which the superior man effects his teaching.
2. 'There are some on whom his influence descends like seasonable rain.
3. 'There are some whose virtue he perfects, and some of whose talents he assists the development.
4. 'There are some whose inquiries he answers.
5. 'There are some who privately cultivate and correct themselves.
6. These five ways are the methods in which the superior man effects his teaching.'
1. Kung-sun Ch'âu said, 'Lofty are your principles and admirable, but to learn them may well be likened to ascending the heavens,-- something which cannot be reached. Why not adapt your teaching so as to cause learners to consider them attainable, and so daily exert themselves!'
2. Mencius said, 'A great artificer does not, for the sake of a stupid workman, alter or do away with the marking-line. Î did not, for the sake of a stupid archer, charge his rule for drawing the bow.
3. 'The superior man draws the bow, but does not discharge the arrow, having seemed to leap with it to the mark; and he there stands exactly in the middle of the path. Those who are able, follow him.'
1. Mencius said, 'When right principles prevail throughout the kingdom, one's principles must appear along with one's person. When right principles disappear from the kingdom, one's person must vanish along with one's principles.
2. 'I have not heard of one's principles being dependent for their manifestation on other men.'
1. The disciple Kung-tû said, 'When Kang of T'ang made his appearance in your school, it seemed proper that a polite consideration should be paid to him, and yet you did not answer him. Why was that?'
2. Mencius replied, 'I do not answer him who questions me presuming on his nobility, nor him who presumes on his talents, nor him who presumes on his age, nor him who presumes on services performed to me, nor him who presumes on old acquaintance. Two of those things were chargeable on Kang of T'ang.'
1. Mencius said, 'He who stops short where stopping is acknowledged to be not allowable, will stop short in everything. He who behaves shabbily to those whom he ought to treat well, will behave shabbily to all.
2. 'He who advances with precipitation will retire with speed.'
Mencius said, 'In regard to inferior creatures, the superior man is kind to them, but not loving. In regard to people generally, he is loving to them, but not affectionate. He is affectionate to his parents, and lovingly disposed to people generally. He is lovingly disposed to people generally, and kind to creatures.'
1. Mencius said, 'The wise embrace all knowledge, but they are most earnest about what is of the greatest importance. The benevolent embrace all in their love, but what they consider of the greatest importance is to cultivate an earnest affection for the virtuous. Even the wisdom of Yâo and Shun did not extend to everything, but they attended earnestly to what was important. Their benevolence did not show itself in acts of kindness to every man, but they earnestly cultivated an affection for the virtuous.
2. 'Not to be able to keep the three years' mourning, and to be very particular about that of three months, or that of five months; to eat immoderately and swill down the soup, and at the same time to inquire about the precept not to tear the meat with the teeth;-- such things show what I call an ignorance of what is most important.