Sacred-texts  Confucianism  Index  Previous  Next 

Mencius Chapter 15

1. Mencius said, 'Shun was born in Chû-fang, removed to Fû-hsiâ, and died in Ming-t'iâo;-- a man near the wild tribes on the east.

2. 'King Wan was born in Châu by mount Ch'î, and died in Pî-ying;-- a man near the wild tribes on the west.

3. 'Those regions were distant from one another more than a thousand lî, and the age of the one sage was posterior to that of the other more than a thousand years. But when they got their wish, and carried their principles into practice throughout the Middle Kingdom, it was like uniting the two halves of a seal.

4. 'When we examine those sages, both the earlier and the later, their principles are found to be the same.'

1. When Tsze-ch'an was chief minister of the State of Chang, he would convey people across the Chan and Wei in his own carriage.

2. Mencius said, 'It was kind, but showed that he did not understand the practice of government.

3. 'When in the eleventh month of the year the foot-bridges are completed, and the carriage-bridges in the twelfth month, the people have not the trouble of wading.

4. 'Let a governor conduct his rule on principles of equal justice, and, when he goes abroad, he may cause people to be removed out of his path. But how can he convey everybody across the rivers?

5. 'It follows that if a governor will try to please everybody, he will find the days not sufficient for his work.'

1. Mencius said to the king Hsüan of Ch'î, 'When the prince regards his ministers as his hands and feet, his ministers regard their prince as their belly and heart; when he regards them as his dogs and horses, they regard him as another man; when he regards them as the ground or as grass, they regard him as a robber and an enemy.'

2. The king said, 'According to the rules of propriety, a minister wears mourning when he has left the service of a prince. How must a prince behave that his old ministers may thus go into mourning?'

3. Mencius replied,'The admonitions of a minister having been followed, and his advice listened to, so that blessings have descended on the people, if for some cause he leaves the country, the prince sends an escort to conduct him beyond the boundaries. He also anticipates with recommendatory intimations his arrival in the country to which he is proceeding. When he has been gone three years and does not return, only then at length does he take back his fields and residence. This treatment is what is called a "thrice-repeated display of consideration." When a prince acts thus, mourning will be worn on leaving his service.

4. 'Now-a-days, the remonstrances of a minister are not followed, and his advice is not listened to, so that no blessings descend on the people. When for any cause he leaves the country, the prince tries to seize him and hold him a prisoner. He also pushes him to extremity in the country to which he has gone, and on the very day of his departure, takes back his fields and residence. This treatment shows him to be what we call "a robber and an enemy." What mourning can be worn for a robber and an enemy?'

Mencius said, 'Acts of propriety which are not really proper, and acts of righteousness which are not really righteous, the great man does not do.'

Mencius said, 'Those who keep the Mean, train up those who do not, and those who have abilities, train up those who have not, and hence men rejoice in having fathers and elder brothers who are possessed of virtue and talent. If they who keep the Mean spurn those who do not, and they who have abilities spurn those who have not, then the space between them-- those so gifted and the ungifted-- will not admit an inch.'

Mencius said, 'Men must be decided on what they will NOT do, and then they are able to act with vigour in what they ought to do.'

Mencius said, 'What future misery have they and ought they to endure, who talk of what is not good in others!'

Mencius said,'The great man does not think beforehand of his words that they may be sincere, nor of his actions that they may be resolute;-- he simply speaks and does what is right.'

Mencius said, 'The superior man makes his advances in what he is learning with deep earnestness and by the proper course, wishing to get hold of it as in himself. Having got hold of it in himself, he abides in it calmly and firmly. Abiding in it calmly and firmly, he reposes a deep reliance on it. Reposing a deep reliance on it, he seizes it on the left and right, meeting everywhere with it as a fountain from which things flow. It is on this account that the superior man wishes to get hold of what he is learning as in himself.'

1. The disciple Hsü said, 'Chung-nî often praised water, saying, "0 water! 0 water!" What did he find in water to praise?'

2. Mencius replied, 'There is a spring of water; how it gushes out! It rests not day nor night. It fills up every hole, and then advances, flowing onto the four seas. Such is water having a spring! It was this which he found in it to praise.

3. 'But suppose that the water has no spring.-- In the seventh and eighth when the rain falls abundantly, the channels in the fields are all filled, but their being dried up again may be expected in a short time. So a superior man is ashamed of a reputation beyond his merits.'

1. Mencius said, 'That whereby man differs from the lower animals is but small. The mass of people cast it away, while superior men preserve it.

2. 'Shun clearly understood the multitude of things, and closely observed the relations of humanity. He walked along the path of benevolence and righteousness; he did not need to pursue benevolence and righteousness.'

1. Mencius said, 'Yü hated the pleasant wine, and loved good words.

2. 'T'ang held fast the Mean, and employed men of talents and virtue without regard to where they came from.

3. 'King Wan looked on the people as he would on a man who was wounded, and he looked towards the right path as if he could not see it.

4. King Wû did not slight the near, and did not forget the distant.

5. 'The duke of Châu desired to unite in himself the virtues of those kings, those founders of the three dynasties, that he might display in his practice the four things which they did. If he saw any thing in them not suited to his time, he looked up and thought about it, from daytime into the night, and when he was fortunate enough to master the difficulty, he sat waiting for the morning.'

2. 'The Shang of Tsin, the Tâo-wû of Ch'û, and the Ch'un Ch'iû of Lû were books of the same character.

3. 'The subject of the Ch'un Ch'iû was the affairs of Hwan of Chî and Wan of Tsin, and its style was the historical. Confucius said, "Its righteous decisions I ventured to make."'

1. Mencius said, 'The influence of a sovereign sage terminates in the fifth generation. The influence of a mere sage does the same.

2. 'Although I could not be a disciple of Confucius himself, I have endeavoured to cultivate my virtue by means of others who were.'