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Chinese Philosophy

Chinese Proverbs
Chinese Folktales
Confucius and Confucianism
Confucius
Hsun Tzu
Tai Chen
Yen Yuan
I Ching
Han Fei Tzu
Mo Tzu
Yang Chu
Li Chi







Sun Tzu said: “Do not repeat tactics just because they have gained you one victory. Let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.”


Sun Tzu said: “…Water in its natural course runs away from high places and hastens downwards. So in war, the Way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.”


Mr. Shih said: “Nothing, in the ordering of this world, is either at all times right or at all times wrong.” (Lieh Tzu Ch. 8)


Mr. Shih said: “There is no fixed rule for seizing opportunities, hitting off the right moment, or adapting oneself to circumstances.” (Lieh Tzu Ch. 8)


Lao Tzu said: “Sometimes lead, sometimes follow; sometimes exhale[1], sometimes inhale[2]; sometimes rigid, sometimes flexible; sometimes advance, sometimes retreat.” (tao Te Ching Ch. 29)


“The superior person shuns excesses and shuns deficits.” (Chinese Proverb)


“Greed will cause pain.” Taiwanese Proverb


Confucius said: “Though the chung yung has supreme te, the people seldom follow it for long.” (Analects 6:27)


Mencius said: “Confucius did not do extreme things.”


Lao Tzu said: “ T'ien's Way can be compared to the bending a bow: what was high is brought low, and what was low is raised up. It lessens where there is too much, and adds to where there is not enough.” (tao Te Ching Ch. 77)


Lao Tzu said: “[He who] knows when he has had enough will always have enough!” (tao Te Ching 46)



Tzu Hsia said to Confucius: “What do you think of Yen Hui?”

Confucius said: “Yen Hui has compassion—more than I do.”

“And Tzu Kung?”

“Tzu Kung is a better speaker than I am.”

“And Tzu Lu?”

“Tzu Lu is incredibly brave—much more than I am.”

“And Tzu Chang?”

“Tzu Chang he can keep dignity better than I can.”

Tzu Hsia then remarked, “So how come all four of them study under your tutelage?”

Confucius said: “Sit down and let me tell you. Yen Hui is indeed compassionate, but he is also inflexible about it. Tzu Kung is indeed a great speaker, but he does not know when to shut up. Tzu Lu is indeed very brave, but he lacks caution. Tzu Chang is indeed very dignified, but he is not harmonious in social interaction. If I could have all of their virtues I would not take them in exchange for my own. That is why they are intent on learning from me.” (Lieh Tzu Ch. 4)


Kung Meng Tzu said: “You believe it is wrong to mourn for three years. So, you are also wrong in mourning for three days.”

Mo Tzu said: “You maintain mourning for three years, and condemn mourning for three days. This is like a naked person, who seeing someone else lifting up his clothing, condemns that person for lewdness.” (Mo Tzu)


Lao Tzu said: “The tao that can be taois not the absolute tao. The name that can be named is not the absolute name.” (tao Te Ching Ch. 1)


Tzu Yu said: “The chun tzu is concerned with the root. Once the root is established, tao unfolds.” (Analects 1:2)


Confucius said: “I have no rigid predeterminations for what should or should not be done.” (Analects 18:8)


Confucius said: “When the chun tzu deals with the world, he is not [biased] for or against anything—he just follows what is right.” (Analects 4:10)


Lao Tzu said: “The great master abides in the substance, and does not abide in the surface; abides in the fruit, and does not abide in the flower—therefore, not taking the one, takes the other.” (tao Te Ching Ch. 38)


Confucius said: “The chun tzu is multi-perspective and not biased. The hsiao jen [lesser person] is biased and not multi-perspective.” (Analects 2:14)


Chuang Tzu said: “He who masters the true-nature of Life does not strive after what is of no use to life.”


Take the inner feelings; leave the outer appearances. Like the inner qualities; hate the outer decorations.


T’an T’ai appeared to be a superior person. Confucius regarded him as having great potential, so he took him in as a disciple. However, after interacting with him for a while, Confucius discovered that his conduct did not correspond with what he appeared to be.

Ts’ai Yu’s speech was brilliant and cultivated. Confucius regarded him as having great potential, so he took him in as a disciple. However, after interacting with him for a while, Confucius discovered that his wisdom did not correspond with his speaking skill.

Thus, Confucius said, “Should I pick people based on their appearance? I made a mistake in regards to T’an-t’ai. Should I pick people based on their speech? I made a mistake in regards to Ts’ai Yu.”

So even Confucius—who was supremely wise—had to acknowledge that his judgment was mistaken. And the speakers of today are more articulate than Ts’ai Yu, and the rulers of today are more easily deceived than Confucius. So if they assign people to office solely based on their satisfaction with their speech, then how are they going to avoid making mistakes? … Mistakes are easily made when people trust others just based on their skill in speaking. (Han Fei Tzu)


Wu Ch’i was leading Wey’s forces in an attack on the Central Hills. One of his soldiers was ill with boils, and Wu Ch’i himself bent down and sucked the pus out of the boil.

The soldier’s mother was observing this nearby, and was crying. The people who saw her said, “The general is being so nice to your son. Why does this make you cry?”

The mother replied, “Wu Ch’i also sucked the pus out of his father’s wound, and his father was later mortally wounded in battle. So, my son will probably die in battle as well. That is why I am crying.” (Han Fei Tzu)


Confucius said: “The chun tzu does not appreciate a person solely on account of his words, nor does he disregard a person’s words solely on account of the person.” (15:22)


Tzu Kung said: “There was no one that Confucius could not learn from, and yet there was no one who was his only teacher.” (19:22)


As he was talking to Ch’eng Tzu, Mo Tzu cited Confucius.

Ch’eng Tzu remarked: “You condemn Confucianism—so why did you just cite Confucius?”

Mo Tzu said: “This only has to do with what is right and cannot be altered. If a bird realizes there is a hazard of heat and drought, it will fly high. If a fish realizes there is a hazard of heat and drought, it will swim low. In situations like these, even the decision-making of Yu and T’ang would do the same. Should I never cite Confucius?” (Mo Tzu)


Lao Tzu said: “tao is empty, and its use is inexhaustible.” (tao Te Ching Ch. 4)


Lao Tzu said: “Everything in the universe leads to tao just like various waters flow into the great seas.” (tao Te Ching Ch. 32)


tao is nameless and unnamable. tao has the form of the formless, and the semblance of the invisible. tao is empty, calm, infinitely deep, immeasurable, complete, and always present. When used, tao is inexhaustible. tao does not have a visible existence, nor does it have an intelligible function.


Lao Tzu said: “When standards begin, names begin. Do not get caught up in names. When you avoid getting caught up in names, this brings security.” (tao Te Ching Ch. 32)


Lao Tzu said: “Fill the hall with gold and jewels, and there will be a lack of safety.” (tao Te Ching Ch. 9)


Lao Tzu said: “When work is accomplished, a person [should] walk away—[this is] the tao of T’ien [Heaven].” (tao Te Ching Ch. 9)


Lao Tzu said: “tao in its regular course practices wu wei [non-action], and there is nothing that remains undone. If leaders could keep tao, everything would of themselves be developed. While being developed they might still be desirous to strive; they could be restrained by simplicity. The nameless simplicity will purify the heart of wrong desire. When wrong desire is restrained, there will be liberation…” (tao Te Ching Ch. 37)


Lao Tzu said: “All things are sustained by Yin and are encompassed by Yang, and the immaterial breath renders them harmonious.” (tao Te Ching Ch. 42)


Han Fei Tzu said: “Rulers and ministers have different interests. Thus, ministers can never be [totally] loyal.”


Han Fei Tzu said: “So the sage, in ruling the state, does not depend on people doing him good. Instead, he makes sure that there is no way they can do him wrong.”


Confucius said: “The chun tzu is easy to work for and difficult to please. He uses each individual according to his particular capacity, and he is not pleased by non tao efforts to please him.” (Analects 13:25)


Sun Tzu said: “When the general is weak and without authority; when his orders are not clear and distinct; when there are no fixed duties assigned to officers and men, and the ranks are formed in a slovenly haphazard manner, the result is utter disorganization.” (10:18)


Sun Tzu said: “The clever combatant looks to the effect of combined energy, and does not require too much from individuals; hence his ability to pick out the right men and utilize combined energy.” (Art of War 5:21)


Han Fei Tzu said: “Li K’uei was Governor of the Upper Land under Marquis Wen of Wey, and he wanted every man in the region be a good shooter. He issued a decree that if any men were involved in an unsettled legal dispute, they would have a target shooting competition, and the winner would win the suit, while the loser would lose the suit. As soon as the decree was issued, the whole region began practicing archery day and night continuously. And then, when the region went to war with the Ch’ins, they obliterated them due to the fact that everyone was such a good archer.”


Han Fei Tzu said: “For the most part, the difficulty in persuading people is found in knowing someone else’s mind-and-heart, and adapting your words to conform to it.”


Han Fei Tzu said: “The key to persuasion is in knowing how to feature the perspectives that the person you are talking to wants to promote, while you downplay the aspects that he wants to hide.”

Han Fei Tzu said: “Tzu Chang was pulling a push-cart to go across the arch of a bridge, but was unable to bear the weight. So, he sat on the shaft and began singing. Meanwhile, the passers-by from the front stopped, and those from the rear ran forward to help him, until the push-cart reached the top of the arch. Suppose Tzu Chang had no technique to attract people. Then even if he exhausted himself to death, the cart would not have been able to go across the bridge. The reason why he did not exhaust himself while the cart went up the arch of the bridge was because he had the technique to make use of people.”


Han Fei Tzu said: “In general, the order of all-under-Heaven must accord with human feelings. Human feelings have their likes and dislikes, wherefore reward and punishment can be applied.”


Han Fei Tzu said:

Most people will submit to authority; very few will be moved by righteousness. Consider the example of Confucius, who was one of the supreme sages in world history. He had exemplary actions and he illustrated tao. Yet as he traveled about through many areas… he only attracted 70 main disciples. It is very uncommon to see reverence for benevolence and loyalty to righteousness, and it is rather difficult for one to act thus. So in all the wide areas [Confucius traveled], he gathered only 70 [main] disciples. And only one person—Confucius himself—was really righteous and benevolent.

Now consider the example of Duke Ai of Lu. He was a so-so ruler, but when he rose to power as the head of the state, there was nobody throughout the territory who was unobedient to him.

People will by nature submit to authority. Anyone who seizes authority can easily make people submit. This is why Confucius stayed a citizen, and Duke Ai stayed as his ruler. Its not like Confucius was prompted by the righteousness of Duke Ai. It was simply that Duke Ai exercised authority, and thus he caused Confucius acknowledge his preeminence.

It is common in modern times that scholars who are advising a ruler neglect recommending him to use authority, even though it is a sure way to effectiveness. Instead, they are adamant in telling him he should practice benevolence and righteousness in order to be a real ruler. This is like asking him to be like Confucius, and expecting most people to become like Confucius’s disciples. Having an approach like this will most likely lead to poor results.


Lao Tzu said: “The Sage can manage affairs without doing anything, and teach without saying anything. Things change, and she does not deny it. She has things without possessing things. She does things without making assumptions. She accomplishes things without wallowing in the credit. Since she does not wallow in it, the power will last forever.” (tao Te Ching Ch. 2)


Lao Tzu said: “Reach emptiness.” (tao Te Ching Ch. 16)

When tao is abandoned, inferior virtues appear. tao brings harmony, love, and order, but when tao is abandoned, then there are one-sided concepts of knowledge, saintliness, shrewdness, love, justice, loyalty, and patriotism.

Stick to what will endure.


Reveal your simple self and preserve your pureness.


Confucius said: “My homeboys, do you think I conceal things from you? I do not conceal anything from you—there is nothing that I do that is not made known to you. This is Ch’iu [Confucius].” (Analects 7:23)


The highest te comes only from tao.


The chun tzu only uses weapons and warfare when unavoidable. He values peace and quietude highly.


Lao Tzu said: “Superior te [is] not te—thus [it] has te. Inferior te [is] not lost te—thus [it is] without te. Superior te [is] wu we [non-action]” (tao Te Ching Ch. 38)

Lao Tzu said: “[When] highest people hear [about] tao, [they] practice it diligently. [When] mediocre people hear [about] tao, [they] take some lose some. When inferior people hear [about] tao, [they] intensely ridicule it. If [they] did not ridicule [it], [it] would not really be tao. Thus, it is said: brightest tao seems dark, advancing tao seems going back, straight tao seems rugged, superior te seems vacant, great white[3] seems tarnished[4], broad te seems insufficient, solid te seems unsteady, really genuine seems uncertain, great square lacks corners, great vessel[5] is incomplete, great music lacks sound, great form lacks shape. tao [is] hidden with no name, yet only tao is excellent at completing. ” (tao Te Ching Ch. 41)


Lao Tzu said: “Fame or the self—which is more important? The self or money—which is more valuable?” (tao Te Ching Ch. 44)

Lao Tzu said: “Obsession with wealth leads to lack of security.” (tao Te Ching Ch. 44)


Lao Tzu said: “Wealth and approval will lead to vain selves, and bring misery.” (tao Te Ching Ch. 9)


Yang Chu said: “Yuan Hsie[6] lived in mean circumstances in Lu, while Tzu Kung[7] amassed wealth in Wei. Poverty galled the one, and riches caused distress to the other. So poverty will not do, nor wealth either[8]. But what then will do? I answer: ‘Enjoy life and take one’s ease,’ for those who know how to enjoy life are not poor, and he that lives at ease requires no riches.” (Lieh Tzu Ch. 7)


Yang Chu said: “The ignorant, while seeking to maintain fame, sacrifice reality.” (7)


Yang Chu said:

One hundred years is near the heights of what is considered a long life. Less than in a thousand people attain it. Let’s take the standard example of one who does. Infancy and old age account for nearly half of his life. The time he passes unconsciously while asleep at night, and that which is wasted though awake during the day, also accounts about half of what is left. Again, pain and sickness, sorrow and fear/toil, fill up about a half of what is left. This leaves only ten or so years left, and of those, the span for which he is really liberated often amounts to barely one hour.

What then is the object of human life? What makes it pleasant? For one, it is comfort/clothing and elegance/good food, music and beauty. Yet one cannot always gratify the desire for comfort and elegance nor incessantly enjoy beauty and music. [even if they have these things, they will still not truly be satisfied]

Besides, being warned/checked by punishments and exhorted/seduced by rewards, urged/led forward by fame/ reputation and repelled/driven back by laws, people are constantly rendered anxious/competing striving for one vain hour of glory/empty praise and providing for the splendor which is to survive/outlast their death.

And even in their own solitary ways, people contemplate and abide by what they think others want them to see, hear, think, feel, and do, and they discredit what their own selves feel and think; and so they lose the happiest moments of the present, and cannot really give way [to our own thoughts and feelings] for one hour. Is this really that much different from being a chained prisoner?

The Ancients knew that all creatures enter but for a short while/moment into life, and must suddenly/in a moment depart in death. Therefore they gave way to their heart’s and did not go against their desires. They did not deny themselves what was good/pleasurable; consequently, as they were not seeking fame, but were following their own nature, they went smoothly on, never at variance with their inclinations/desires. They did not seek for posthumous fame/reputation. They didn’t do anything based on whether disapproved of or glory and fame, rank and position, as well as of the span of their life. (Lieh Tzu Ch. 7)


Yang Chu said: “Should we care so much for one hour’s blame or praise, that by torturing our spirit and body in the present life, we struggle for reputation that endures several hundred years after our death? Will the halo of glory revive a person’s dried bones, or give it back the joy of living?” (Lieh Tzu Ch. 7)


Lao Tzu said: “Without going outside the door, [one can] know the world. Without looking out the window, [one can] see T’ien tao. The farther one strays, the less one knows. Therefore, the sheng jen [Sage] does not travel, yet knows; does not look, yet names; does not do, yet completes.” (tao Te Ching 47)


Lao Tzu said: “[One who is] devoted to learning gains daily. [One who is] devoted to tao decreases daily—decreases it and decreases until arriving at wu wei [non-action]—wu wei [non-action], but with nothing undone.” (tao Te Ching 48)


Lao Tzu said: “If I have ever so little knowledge, [I shall] walk in the great tao. It is but expansion that I must fear. The great tao is very easy[9], but people are fond of side paths. When the palace is very splendid, the fields are very weedy and granaries very empty. To wear ornaments and gay clothes, to carry sharp swords, to be excessive in drinking and eating, to have a redundance of costly articles—this is the vanity of robbers. Surely, this is not tao.” (tao Te Ching 53)


Lao Tzu said: “[Whatever is] excellently planted will not be uprooted. [Whatever is] excellently will not slip away.” (tao Te Ching 54)


Cultivate tao to your Self, and your Te will be genuine.


Lao Tzu said: “…The sheng jen [Sage] says: ‘Practice wu wei [non-action], and the people will be naturally transformed. Practice tranquility, and the people naturally will be upright. Practice non-meddling, and the people will naturally prosper. Practice non-greed, and the people will naturally be p’u [simple].’” (tao Te Ching Ch. 57)


Lao Tzu said: “Wei wu wei [act without acting]. Shih wu shih [Practice without practicing]. Taste without tasting. [Consider the] greatness [in the] small. [Consider the] much [in the] little. Counter wrong with te. Anticipate difficulty while it [is] easy. Do great while small. All difficulties in the world are sure to arise from [a previous state in which they were] easy. All greatness is sure to arise [from a previous state in which they were] small. Thus, the sheng jen [Sage], while never ‘doing’ the great, is able to accomplish the great. Rash promises surely lack hsin [faith]. Many easy [things] surely involve in many difficulties. Therefore, the sheng jen [Sage] accepts difficult things, and thus avoids any difficulties!” (63)


Confucius said: “Looking at small advantages prevents great affairs from being accomplished.” (13:17)


Confucius said: “A lack of patience in trifling matters might lead to the disruption of great project.” (15:26)


Han Fei Tzu said: “…Overvaluing minor advantages will impede major advantages.”


Mencius said: “Only when someone refuses to do certain things will he be capable of doing great things.”


Mencius said: “The wise embrace all knowledge, but they are most earnest about what is of the greatest importance. … Even the wisdom of Yao and Shun[10] did not extend to everything, but they attended earnestly to what was important.”


Yang Chu had a visit with the King of Leang.

Yang Chu said: “Governing the world is as easy as turning round the palm of your hand.”

The King of Liang said: “You have a wife and a concubine, and are unable to govern them. You have a garden of three acres, and are unable to weed it. How then can you say to me that governing the world is like turning round the palm of the hand?”

Yang Chu said: “Your Majesty, consider the shepherds. One can put a five-foot tall boy in charge to shoulder a whip and drive a hundred sheep. He wants them to go eastward, and they obey him, or westward, and they obey him. Now, let Yao[11] drag a sheep, and Shun[12] follow with a whip, and they will never advance a yard. Fish that swallow ships do not enter into small rivers. Wild geese that soar on high do not light on low marshes, but are born over in their flights. The notes C and Cis do not harmonize with brisk and lively airs, for the sound is too different. Thus, a person who manages important matters does not trouble himself about trifles. And he who accomplishes great deeds does no small ones. That was my meaning.” (Lieh Tzu Ch. 7)


Lao Tzu said: “Things at rest are easily controlled. Things not yet begun are easy to plan/prevent. Things that are feeble are easy to break. Things that are small are easy to scatter. Take action before things happen. Control before disorder has begun. The tree that fills the arms grows from a small sprout. The tower of nine levels starts with a heap of dirt. The journey of a thousand li[13] begins with a single step. Acts means fail. He who holds it loses it. Therefore, the sheng jen [Sage] wu wei [does not act], and thus prevents failure; does not hold, and thus does not lose things. People in their affairs often go near completion but fail. If they were as disciplined at the end as at the onset, then enterprises would not fail. Therefore, the sheng jen [Sage] desires non-desire, does not prize articles difficult to obtain, learns non-learning, returns to what other people miss—[and] thus assists all things in their self natural-course, and does not assumingly act.” (tao Te Ching Ch. 64)


Lao Tzu said: “A person is great only because he resembles the unlikely. Were he to resemble the likely, he would be lastingly mediocre.” (tao Te Ching Ch. 67)


Lao Tzu said: “Excellent warriors are not violent. Excellent fighters are not vulgar. Excellent do not engage. Excellent captains make themselves the foundation—this is called te of non-contending, this is called utilizing the ability of others, this is called complying with T’ien [Heaven] ancient’s ultimate.” (tao Te Ching, Ch. 68)


Lao Tzu said: “It is the greatest misfortune to under-judge the enemy.” (69)


Confucius said: “…Shall I teach you what knowledge is? When you know something and know that you know it, and when you do not know something and know that you do not know it—this is knowledge.” (2:17)


Lao Tzu said: “To know what is unknown—[that is] elevating. To not know what is known—[that is] sickness. (*Verily, you cannot be cured until you know you are sick.) The sheng jen [Sage] is not sick—since he is sick of sickness, hence [he is] is not sick.” (tao Te Ching, Ch. 71)


Lao Tzu said: “… The sheng jen [Sage] knows the self but does not display, loves the self but does not assign a set value—therefore [he] discards this [and] accepts that. (72)


Lao Tzu said: “Bravery carried to indiscipline leads to death. Bravery carried to discipline leads to survival. Both of these things—some benefit, some harm. [But] when T’ien [Heaven / chance] rejects something, then who can know the cause? Therefore, [even] the sheng jen [Sage] regards this as difficult. T’ien’s [Heaven’s] tao does not strive, yet excellently conquers; does not speak, yet responds; does not command, yet naturally comes; [it] behaves patiently, yet excellently plans. T’ien’s [Heaven’s] net is vast—vast meshed, yet loses nothing.” (tao Te Ching, Ch. 73)


Lao Tzu said: “When a great problem is solved, some problems will still remain—how can this be made good? Thus, the sheng jen [Sage] sticks to the duty not yet fulfilled, and does not [unreasonably] blame others.” (tao Te Ching, Ch. 79)


Lao Tzu said: “Hsin words are not pleasant. Pleasant words are not hsin. Good people are not contentious. The contentious are not good. The wise are not erudite/learned. The learned are not wise. (tao Te Ching, Ch. 81)

Confucius said: “Isn’t it a pleasure to learn and apply what you have learned at the right time? (1:1)


Tzu Hsia said: “Someone who day by day gains awareness of his deficiencies, and month by month does not forget what he has become proficient in, can really be called a lover of learning.” (19:5)


Confucius said: “It is all over! I have not yet seen one who could perceive his faults, and inwardly accuse himself.” (5:26)


Tzu Hsia said: “Craftsmen have their shops to dwell in so as to accomplish their works. The chun tzu learns in order to reach tao.” (19:7)


Confucius said: “When you make a mistake, do not hesitate to correct it.” (1:8)


Tzu Hsia said: “The hsiao jen [lesser person] always rationalizes his mistakes.” (19:8)


Tzu Kung said: “The faults of the chun tzu are like the eclipses of the sun and moon. He has his faults, and everyone sees them; he corrects them, and everyone looks up to him.” (19:21)


Confucius said: “The chun tzu does not try to stuff himself when he eats, does not live with excesses, is diligent in his actions and careful in his speech, and pursues tao company and thereby corrects his faults. Such a person is someone who can definitely be considered to love learning.” (1:14)


Confucius said: “Isn’t it a mark of a chun tzu to feel no discomposure even if others do not know him?” (1:1)


Confucius said: “Do not fret over being unknown to others. Fret that you do not know them.” (1:16)


Confucius said: “Do not be concerned that you have no position; be concerned how you may fit yourself to occupy one. Do not be concerned with being unknown; be concerned with being worthy of being known.” (4:14)


Confucius said: “Reviewing[14] old [knowledge] and continuing to learn new [knowledge]—this is an adequate teacher.” (2:11)


Confucius said: “The chun tzu is not a utensil.” (2:12)


Confucius said: “To see what is right and not do it is lack of intrepidity.” (2:24)


Confucius said: “It is ideal/beautiful/attractive to live surrounded by jen [ideal virtue]. If a person chooses an environment lacking jen [ideal virtue], is he being wise?” (4:1)


Confucius said: “A person without jen [ideal virtue] cannot deal with adversity or deal with joy for long. A jen [ideally virtuous] person is satisfied with jen [ideal virtue]. A wise person desires jen [ideal virtue] for his benefit.” (4:2)


Confucius said: “If a person’s will is set to jen [ideal virtue], he will be free from evil.” (4:4)


Confucius said: “I have not personally seen a person who [authentically] loved jen [ideal virtue], or one who [authentically] hated non-jen. He who loves jen [ideal virtue] would esteem nothing above it. He who hates non-jen would practice jen [ideal virtue] in a way that it would not allow anything that is non-jen to approach himself. Has any person for one day managed to apply his strength [fully] to jen [ideal virtue]? And I have never seen a case where a person’s strength to do so was insufficient. Should there possibly be any such case, I have not seen it.” (4:6)


Tzu Hsia said: “Learning widely and steadying your desires, questioning and investigating earnestly, and reflecting personally—jen [ideal virtue] lies in all of this.” (19:6)


Confucius said: “Is jen [ideal virtue] a remote thing? I wish to be jen [ideally virtuous], and lo—jen [ideal virtue] is at hand.” (7:29)


Confucius said: “When you see good, think of how to rise to that level. When you see bad, reflect inwards and examine your weak points.” (4:17)


Confucius said: “At first, my method with others was to listen to what they said, and expect them to act accordingly. Now, my method is to listen to what they say, and then observe what they do.” (5:9)


Confucius said: “Superficial talk, an appearance put on to win favor/groveling, and excessive courtesy—Tso Ch’iu Ming was ashamed of them; Ch’iu [Confucius] is also ashamed of them. To conceal resentments for someone and act friendly towards him—Tso Ch’iu Ming was ashamed of such conduct; Ch’iu [Confucius] is also ashamed of it.” (5:24)


The Duke Ai said: “Which of your disciples loved to learn [the most earnestly]?”

Confucius said: “There was Yen Hui; he loved to learn. He did not transfer his blame on others; he did not repeat mistakes. Unfortunately, his appointed time was short and he died; and now there is not such another. I have not yet heard of any one who loves to learn [as he did].” (6:2)


Confucius said: “Such was [Yen] Hui that month-after-month he could be focused on jen [ideal virtue]. Others can do so only for a few days or perhaps a month.” (6:5)


Confucius said: “When raw nature dominates training, we have lacking-cultivation. When training dominates raw nature, we have superficiality. When raw nature and training are combined well, we have a chun tzu.” (6:16)


Confucius said: “Knowing it is not as good as preferring it; preferring it is not as good as delighting in it.” (6:18)


Confucius said: “Not properly cultivating te [virtue-power] that is present; not thoroughly developing what is learned; not following what is known as right; and not being able to change what is not good—these are the things that worry me.” (7:3)


Lao Tzu said: “Supreme excellence is like water. Water’s excellence benefits all things without striving, [and] gathers in unpopular places. Thus, [it is] near tao. Dwelling excellence: earth. Mind-and-heart excellence: depth. Social life excellence: jen. Speaking excellence: hsin. Governing excellence: justice. Work excellence: efficiency-effectiveness. Actions excellence: timeliness—and so not striving, thus without erring.” (tao Te Ching Ch. 8)


Confucius said: “With plants to eat, with water to drink, and with my bended arm for a pillow, I have still joy in the midst of these things. Riches and honors acquired by unrighteousness are to me as a floating cloud.” (7:15)


Tzu Lu asked what constituted the chun tzu.

Confucius said: “He cultivates himself in self-respect.”

Tzu Lu said: “And is this all?”

Confucius said: “He cultivates himself to bring harmony to others” (14:45)


Tzu Hsia said: “The chun tzu is precise in good actions and reveres himself, and he is respectful and courteous.” (12:15)


Confucius was pleasant yet dignified, authoritative yet not overbearing, and respectful yet relaxed. (7:37)


Confucius said: “The chun tzu cultivates a friendly harmony, without being weak—how firm he is in his energy!” (Chung Yung 10:5)


Tzu Tsang said: “The shih [scholar] should have strength and stamina. His burden is heavy and his tao is long. Jen [ideal virtue] is the burden that he considers his to sustain—is it not heavy? Only with death does his tao stop—is it not long?” (8:7)


Confucius said: “Do not enter a state that is unstable, and do not live in a state that is un-harmonious. When tao prevails in the kingdom, show yourself. When tao does not prevail, hide.” (8:13)


Confucius, standing by a stream, said: “It passes on just like this, not ceasing day or night!” (9:16)


Confucius said: “Like when raising a mound, if there is only one basket of earth missing to make the work complete, and I stop, the stopping is my own work. Like when throwing down the earth on the level ground, if but one basketful is thrown at a time, the advancing with it is my own going forward.” (9:18)


Lao Tzu said: “He who knows others is perceptive; he who knows himself is supremely wise. He who conquers others is strong; he who conquers himself is supremely powerful. (tao Te Ching Ch. 33)


Yen Yuan[15] asked about jen [ideal virtue].

Confucius said: “To conquer one’s self and return to li [proper actions] is jen [ideal virtue]. If a person can for one day conquer himself and return to li [proper actions], all under heaven will ascribe jen [ideal virtue] to him. The practice of jen [ideal virtue] is from a person himself—can it really be from others?”

Yen Yuan said: “May I ask the steps of the process?”

Confucius said: “Look not at what is contrary to li [proper actions]; listen not to what is contrary to li [proper actions]; speak not what is contrary to li [proper actions]; act not in a way that is contrary to li [proper actions].”

Yen Yuan said: “Though I am deficient in cleverness, I will make it my business to practice this lesson.” (12:1)


Confucius said: “Those who have self-control rarely go astray. (4:23)


Confucius said: “When neither mind-soaking slanders nor dirt-like-accumulating accusations overtake someone, he may be called clear-sighted. When neither mind-soaking slanders nor dirt-like-accumulating accusations can overtake someone, he may also be called detached.” (12:6)


Confucius said: “The chun tzu, in regard to what he does not know, shows a cautious reserve. (13:3)


Confucius said: “The chun tzu is in harmony, but does not follow the crowd[16]. The hsiao jen [lesser person] follows the crowd, but is not in harmony.” (13:23)


Confucius said: “When I am with others, they are my teachers. I can select their good points and follow them, and select their bad points and avoid them.” (7:21)


Confucius said: “The chun tzu is dignified without vanity. The hsiao jen [lesser person] is vain without being dignified. (Analects 13:26)


Confucius said: “In ancient times, people learned for their own sakes[17]; now they learn for the sake of others[18].” (14:25)


Confucius said: “Alas! No one knows me!”

Tzu Kung said: “Confucius, what do you mean by saying that no one knows you?”

Confucius said: “I am not bitter against T’ien [Heaven] and I do not blame people. My studies go from the fundamentals and penetrate to the high. Perhaps only T’ien [Heaven] knows me.” (14:37)


Confucius said: “The supreme worthiness is to withdraw from the world. Next [best] would be to withdraw from a particular [wrong] place. Next would be to flee withdraw from a certain [wrong] attitude present Next would be to withdraw from certain [wrong] words spoken.” (14:39)


Confucius said: “Someone who neglects exercising foresight into the future will probably encounter worries very soon.” (15:11)


Confucius said: “The chun tzu, in everything, considers righteousness to be essential, and he acts according to li [proper actions], speaks with reserve, and completes it all with sincerity. This indeed is a chun tzu.” (15:17)


Confucius said: “What the chun tzu demands is in himself. What the hsiao jen [lesser person] demands is in others.” (15:20)


Confucius said: “The chun tzu is dignified but does not fight for it. He is sociable, but not exclusive to one social clique.” (15:21)


Confucius said: “When everyone hates something, it is necessary to examine it. When everyone likes something, it is necessary to examine it.” (15:27)


Confucius said: “To make a mistake and not correct it—that indeed is a mistake.” (15:29)


Confucius said: “The chun tzu is not eager to show off petty cleverness, but may be entrusted with great concerns. The hsiao jen [lesser person] may not be entrusted with great concerns, but is eager to show off petty cleverness.” (15:33)


Confucius said: “Let every person consider jen [ideal virtue] as what devolves on himself. It should be prioritized over one’s teacher.” (15:35)


Confucius said: “There are three friendships that are advantageous, and three friendships that are injurious. Friendship with the upright; friendship with the sincere; and friendship with the person of much observation—these are advantageous. Friendship with the fake; friendship with the groveling; and friendship with the glib-tongued—these are injurious.” (16:4)


Confucius said: “There are three things people find enjoyment in that are advantageous, and three things they find enjoyment in that are injurious. To find enjoyment in the discriminating study of li [proper actions] and music; to find enjoyment in appreciating others people’s excellence; to find enjoyment in having many worthy friends—these are advantageous. To find enjoyment in excesses; to find enjoyment in sloth destituteness; to find enjoyment in the pleasures of eating and drinking—these are injurious.” (16:5)


Confucius said: “Yu, have you ever heard of the six good phrases and the six things that becloud[19] them?”

Yu said: “No.”

Confucius said: “Then sit down and I will tell you. Love of jen [ideal virtue] without a love of learning will be beclouded by foolishness. Love of wisdom without a love of learning will be beclouded by excessive speculation. Love of sincerity without a love of learning will be beclouded by deception. Love of straightforwardness without a love of learning will be beclouded by misdirected judgment. Love of boldness without a love of learning will be beclouded by lack of control. Love of persistence without a love of learning will be beclouded by stubbornness.” (17:8)


Confucius said: “Respectfulness without li [proper actions] becomes draining. Prudence without li [proper actions] becomes timid. Courageousness without li [proper actions] becomes undisciplined. Straightforwardness without li [proper actions] becomes reckless.” (8:2)


Confucius said: “I would prefer not speaking.”

Tzu Kung said: Confucius, if you do not speak, what shall we, your disciples, have to record?”

Confucius said: Does T’ien [Heaven] speak? The four seasons pursue their courses, and all things are continually being produced, but does T’ien [Heaven] say anything?” (17:19)


Chuang Tzu said: “Fish traps are employed to catch fish; but when the fish are taken, people forget the traps. Snares are employed to catch rabbits, but when the rabbits are got, people forget the snares. Words are employed to convey ideas; but when the ideas are apprehended, people forget the words. I would love to find and talk to such a person who has forgot the words!”


Mencius said: “People are eager to comment on something when they themselves are not in the situation of doing it.”


Mencius said: “The evil of people can come from their like of being teachers of others.”


Mencius said: “Only when someone refuses to do [certain] things will he be capable of doing [great] things.”


Mencius said: “Anybody who wishes to cultivate the t’ung [tree] or the tzu [tree], which may be grasped with both hands or perhaps with one[20], knows by what means to nourish them. Yet in the case of their own selves, people do not know by what means to nourish them. Is it to be supposed that their regard of their own selves is inferior to their regard for a t’ung [tree] or tzu [tree]? These people[21] really need to rethink things.”


Mencius said: “The principle of Yang Chu was ‘Each person for himself.’ Even if he could have benefited the whole kingdom by plucking out a single hair [from himself][22], he would not have done it. Mo Tzu [, on the other hand,] loves all equally. If he could have benefited the Kingdom by rubbing smooth his whole body from the crown to the heel, he would have done it. Tzu Mo holds a medium between these. By holding that medium, he is nearer the right. But by holding it without leaving room for the pressing needs of circumstances, it becomes like their holding their one point. The reason why I hate holding to one point is the hindrance it does to tao. It takes up one point and disregards a hundred others.”


Mencius said: “It would be better to be without the Book of History than to believe it entirely. In the “Completion of the War” [Chapter], I only accept only two or three strips[23].”


To nourish the mind-and-heart, there is nothing better than sincerity. With sincerity, a person will have few desires, but he can keep his mind-and-heart attentive to them.


Regulate your desires.


To see a great advantage but not advance towards it, and to hear the beginning of a calamity but does not provide against it—this is neglecting preparations for offense and defense. If anything happens and has advantage, master it; and if it has disadvantage, discern the opposite.


Sun Tzu said: “You can ensure the success of your attacks if you only attack places that are undefended. You can ensure the safety of your defense if you only hold positions that cannot be attacked. Therefore, that general is skillful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skillful in defense whose opponent does not know what to attack.” (6:7-8)


Chuang Tzu said: “There was a beginning; and there was a beginning before there was a beginning. And there was a beginning before there was a beginning before there was the beginning. Since there is existence, then there had been a non-existence. And there was a non-non-existence[24] before the beginning of the non-existence. And there was a non-non-non-existence before there was non-non-existence before there was non-existence. If non-existence suddenly sprang up, we don’t know whether it was really something existing, or really not-existing. Now I have just communicated what I just communicated—but I do not know if I have just communicated anything or not.”


Confucius said, “When people fear the dangers of a path, if one man in ten be killed, then fathers and sons, elder brothers and younger, warn one another that they must not go out on a journey without a large number of retainers—and is it not a mark of wisdom to do so? But there are dangers which men incur on the mats of their beds, and in eating and drinking; and when no warning is given against them—is it not a mark of error?” (Chuang Tzu)


Chuang Tzu said: “It is only the Perfect person who is able to enjoy himself in the world, and not be deflected from the right, to accommodate himself to others, and not lose himself.”


Lieh Tzu said: “So, there is life, and there is that imparts life to life. There is form, and there is that which gives form to form. There is sound, and there is that which sounds sound. There is color, and there is that which colors color. There is taste, and there is that which gives taste to taste. Things that have been endowed with life die; but that which produces life itself never comes to an end. The forming of forms is something, but that forms form is nonexistent. The sound of sound is audible, but the sounder of sounds is inaudible. The coloring of colors is visible; but the colorer of color is invisible. The flavor of flavor is tasteable, but the flavorer of flavors cannot be tasted. All these phenomena are functions of the principle of wu wei [non-action]: To be at will either Yin or Yang, soft or hard, short or long, round or square, alive/killing or dead/birth-giving, hot or cold, buoyant or sinking, one note or another note [of sound], present or absent, black or white, sweet or bitter, fetid or fragrant—this it is to be devoid of knowledge, yet all-knowing; destitute of power, yet all-powerful.” (1)


Keng Sang Tzu sad, “My body is in harmony with my mind-and-heart. My mind-and-heart is in harmony with my energies. My energies are in harmony with my spirit. My spirit is in harmony with all and none. I can experience the smallest thing or the slightest sound, what is very distant, or what is right on my eyebrows or eyelashes—nothing is outside my awareness. t. I am not sure whether I perceive it with the seven holes in my head [senses], or with my four limbs [body], or through my mind-and-heart, or in my internal organs [gut]. It is just a pure experience of things.” (4)


Kung Meng Tzu said: “The superior person does not create; he transmits.”

Mo Tzu said: “No. Those who are most lacking superiorness neglect transmitting what is good from the past, and they also neglect making good in the present. Then there are those who are somewhat better—they neglect transmitting what is good from the past, but in order to be praised, they will draw out what they have that is good. Transmitting but not creating is just like creating but not transmitting. To me, it seems that one should transmit the good from the past, and institute the good there is to be taken in the present—and so, there will be the most increase in good.”


Meng Shan[25] was exalting Prince Tze Lu. He said: “During Po Kung’s revolt, Prince Tzu Lu was confined as a captive. Axes were at his waist, and spears pointed towards his heart. Po Kung said to him, ‘You can either be Lord and live, or decline and die.’ Prince Tzu Lu replied, ‘That is a dishonor towards me. You killed my parents, and now are trying to entice me with Ch’u State. Under unrighteous pretenses, I wouldn’t even accept the entire Empire, let alone Ch’u State.’ And so, he refused[26]. Wasn’t Prince Tzu Lu magnanimous?”

Mo Tzu said: “His decision certainly was difficult, but not so much magnanimous. If he felt that the Lord was deviating from tao, shouldn’t he have taken the position and been the one to run the government? If he believed that Po Kung was unrighteous, how come he didn’t choose to accept the Lordship, and then execute Po Kung, and then the Lordship to the Lord? And so I say that his decision certainly was difficult, but not so much magnanimous.”


Han Fei Tzu said: “It is dangerous for a ruler of people to trust others. A person who trusts others can be manipulated by others.”


Han Fei Tzu said: “Even if a ruler is wise, he should not be excessively meddlesome, and he should let things find their proper place. And even if he is excellent, he should not make assumptions about his acts, and he should intently observe what motivates ministers’ actions.”


Han Fei Tzu said:

In early times, Mi Tzu Hsia became popular with the ruler of Wei State. At the time, the laws of Wei State said that any person who covertly used the ruler’s carriage would face punishment of having his feet cut off.

One day, someone went into the palace late at night and informed Mi Tzu Hsia that his mother was sick. Upon hearing this, Mi Tzu Hsia forged a fake request from the ruler in order to use his carriage, and then took it to go see his mother.

When the ruler found out about this, [not only was he not offended, but] he only had good things to say, and remarked, “What a filial child! Over his concern for his mother, he went to the extent of risking his feet being cut off!”

Another time, Mi Tzu Hsia was walking outdoors with the ruler, and began eating a peach. Tasting how delicious it was, he offered the remaining half to the ruler, who remarked, “Your love for me is truly genuine! You put your appetite aside, and instead are concerned with offering me tasty food!”

But later, when Mi Tzu Hsia was older and less attractive, and the ruler was not so enamored with him anymore, a charge was brought against him by the ruler, who remarked, “Don’t forget, this guy once stole my carriage, and another time he offered me a peach that he already ate half of!”

Although Mi Tzu Hsia’s actions were the same way as before, he was praised in the earlier instances, but charged with wrongdoing in the later instance—and this was all because the ruler’s love for him had converted into disdain.


Han Fei Tzu said: “Eels are similar to snakes. Silkworms are similar to caterpillars. People are scared when they see snakes, and surprised when they see caterpillars. And yet, fishermen are willing to hold eels in their hands, and women are willing to pick up silkworms. So, when there is [a motive of] profit, people turn as brave as Meng Pen and Chuan Chu.”


Han Fei Tzu said:

A man from Cheng wanted to purchase a new pair of shoes for himself. He measured his feet first, and left the measurements in his chair. Then when he arrived at the marketplace, he noticed that he had forgotten the measurements. Even though he already had found a pair of shoes he desired, he thought to himself, “I forgot to bring the measurements with me. I am going to go back and get them.”

So he left, and when he finally got back, the marketplace was closed and he could not get the shoes. He told someone what had happened, and the person said, “Why didn’t you just try the shoes with your own feet?”

The man replied, “I have confidence in my measurements, but not in my own feet.”


Han Fei Tzu said: “Tsao Fu managed four horses. He drove them at maximum speed, maneuvered them expertly, and could go in any direction he wanted. He could mange the horses in whatever way he wanted, since he was in control of the whip and reins. But, when a jumping pig scared the horses, Tsao Fu lost control of the horses. This is not because the severity of the whip and rein decreased. This is because his authority over the horses was superceded by the impact of the jumping pig.”


“It is easier to visit friends than to live with them.” Chinese Proverb


“The person who waits for a roast duck to fly in his mouth must wait a very long time.” Chinese Proverb


“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.” Chinese Proverb


“Everything in the past died yesterday, and everything in the future is born today.” Chinese Proverb


“Listening well is as powerful as talking well, and is also as essential to true conversation.” Chinese Proverb


“Do not believe that you will reach your destination without leaving the shore.” Chinese Proverb


“A clever person turns great troubles into little ones, and little ones into none at all.” Chinese Proverb


“Listen to all, pluck a feather from every passing goose, but follow no one absolutely.” Chinese Proverb


“Only one who can swallow an insult is a man.” Chinese Proverb


“It’s better to be without a book than to believe a book entirely.” Chinese Proverb


“The melon seller does not announce, ‘Bitter melons.’” Chinese Proverb


“You can be cautious of the future, but not of the past.” Chinese Proverb


“Think about your own faults during the first half of the night, and the faults of others during the second half.” Chinese Proverb


“There are two kinds of perfect people: those who are dead, and those who have not been born yet.” Chinese Proverb


“A man who cannot tolerate small misfortunes can never accomplish great things.” Chinese Proverb


“Solve one problem, and you keep a hundred others away.” Chinese Proverb


“If you want to avoid being cheated, ask for prices at three different stores.” Chinese Proverb


“Do everything at its right time, and one day will seem like three.” Chinese Proverb


“The best doctor prevents illness, a mediocre one treats illnesses that are about to occur, and an unskilled one treats current illnesses.” Chinese Proverb


“The people who talk the best are not the only ones who can tell you the most interesting things.” Chinese Proverb


“The people sitting in the free theatre seats are the first ones to boo.” Chinese Proverb


“Ripe fruit falls by itself—but it doesn’t fall in your mouth.” Chinese Proverb


“He who cheats the earth will be cheated by the earth.” Chinese Proverb


“To know another is not to know that person’s face, but to know that person’s heart.” Chinese Proverb


“He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.” Chinese Proverb


“Better the cottage where one is merry than the palace where one weeps.” Chinese Proverb


“A person of high principles is one who can watch an entire chess game without making a comment.” Chinese Proverb


“The person who has never been cheated cannot be a good businessman.” Chinese Proverb


“He who thinks too much about every step he takes will always stay on one leg.” Chinese Proverb


“Tenacity and adversity are old foes.” Chinese Proverb


“A wise man makes his own decisions, but an ignorant man mindlessly follows the crowd.” Chinese Proverb


“Of all female qualities, a warm heart is the most valuable.” Chinese Proverb


“Before preparing to improve the world, first look around your own home three times.” Chinese Proverb


“All things change, and we change with them.” Chinese Proverb


“If you curse your wife in the evening, you will sleep alone at night.” Chinese Proverb


“Never do anything standing that you can do sitting, or anything sitting that you can do lying down.” Chinese Proverb


“The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.” Chinese Proverb


“Some prefer carrots while others like cabbage.” Chinese Proverb


“Do not tear down the east wall to repair the west wall.” Chinese Proverb


“A hasty man drinks his tea with a fork.” Chinese Proverb


“If you are standing upright, don’t worry if your shadow is crooked.” Chinese Proverb


“Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.” Chinese Proverb


“Everyone should carefully observe which way his heart draws him, and then choose that way with all his strength.” Chinese Proverb


“Whatever joy you seek, it can be found by yourself; whatever misery you seek, it can be found by yourself.” Bhutanese Proverb


“You must first walk around a little before you can understand the distance from the valley to the mountain.” Bhutanese Proverb


“You don’t have to cut down a tree to get its fruit.” Cambodian Proverb


“Nothing is difficult when you get used to it.” Indonesian Proverb


“Character can be built on daily routine.” Japanese Proverb


“Fitting ability in the fitting place.” Japanese Proverb


“A few kind words can warm three winter months.” Japanese Proverb


“The heart is the most essential human quality.” Okinawan Proverb


“One who eats plain food is healthy.” Okinawan Proverb


“Don’t use up your arrows before you go to battle.” Burmese Proverb


“If you only depend on others, you will soon go hungry.” Nepalese Proverb


“Opportunities come, but do not linger.” Nepalese Proverb


“Avoiding danger is not cowardice.” Filipino Proverb


“Courage without discretion is no good.” Filipino Proverb


“Alertness and courage are life’s shield.” Filipino Proverb

“If you like what you are doing, nothing is too far and no job is too hard.” Filipino Proverb


“A good character is more valuable than gold.” Filipino Proverb


“A good character is real beauty that never fades.” Filipino Proverb


“It takes sweat to work on things, but it only takes saliva to criticize things.” Taiwanese Proverb


“It takes nine months to have a baby.” Taiwanese Proverb


“A husband and wife often fight intensely at one moment and then kiss intensely at the next moment.” Taiwanese Proverb


“A beautiful person might not have a beautiful life.” Taiwanese Proverb


“Even champions make mistakes—there is no one who does not mistakes.” Taiwanese Proverb
















In planning for others, have I lacked [zhong] conscientiousness?

In interaction with friends, have I lacked [xin] sincerity?

In regards to teachings, have I neglected to put them into practice?


Confucius said: “The superior person does not try to stuff himself when he eats, does not live with excesses, is diligent in his actions and careful in his speech, and pursues the right company—this is all conducive to Tao. Such a person is someone who can definitely be considered to love learning.”

Confucius said: “When you know something and know that you know it; and when you don’t know something and know that you don’t know it; —this is knowledge.”


Confucius said: “It is ideal to live surrounded by ideal virtue. If a person chooses an environment lacking ideal virtue, is he being wise?”


Confucius said: “A person without ideal virtue cannot deal with adversity or deal with joy for long.


Confucius said, “An ideally virtuous person is satisfied with ideal virtue. A wise person desires ideal virtue for his advantage/gain/flourish/benefit.”


Confucius said: “The ancients were cautious of what they said, because they feared their actions might not match it.”


Confucius said: “The superior person wishes to be less eager to speak and more eager to act.”


Confucius said: “Virtue-power will not remain secluded. The person who practices it will attract company.”


When Tzu Lu heard a teaching and had not put it into practice yet, he was uneager to hear about some other teaching in the meantime.


Do not be ashamed to ask and learn from your inferiors.


Confucius said: “It is all over! I have not yet seen one who could perceive his faults, and inwardly accuse himself.”


Confucius said: “When raw nature dominates training, you will be rustic. When training dominates raw nature, you will be clerical. When raw nature and training are combined well, you will be a superior person.”


Confucius said: “Not properly cultivating te [virtue-power] that is present; not thoroughly developing what is learned; not following what is known as yi [right]; and not being able to change what [conduct] is not good—these are the things worry me.”


Confucius said: “Set your will on Tao. Stick to virtue-power. Pursue ideal virtue. Find relaxing enjoyment in the arts.”


Confucius said: “With plants to eat, with water to drink, and with my bended arm for a pillow, I have still joy in the midst of these things. Riches and honors acquired by unrighteousness, are to me as a floating cloud.”


Confucius said: “When I am with others, they are my teachers. I can select their good points and follow them, and select their bad points and avoid them.”


Confucius said: “My homeboys, do you think I conceal things from you? I do not conceal anything from you—there is nothing that I do that is not made known to you. This is Confucius.”


Confucius said: “Is ideal virtue a remote thing? I wish to be ideally virtuous, and lo—ideal virtue is at hand.”


Confucius said: “Maintain sincere faith, love learning, persist throughout your life in the good Tao.”


Confucius said: “When you have faults, do not stop yourself from abandoning them.”


Confucius said: “You can take away the commander of a large army, but you cannot take away the free-will of even a common person.”

The superior person is precise is good actions and reveres himself, and he is respectful and courteous to otters. That is his harmony. Why should he care if he has no brothers?


Confucius said: “Faithfully admonish your friend, and skillfully lead him to Tao. If you find him impracticable, stop. Do not disgrace yourself.”


Confucius said: “The superior person, in regard to what he does not know, shows a cautious reserve.”


Confucius said: “Toughness, endurance/resoluteness, simplicity, and discipline? are near jen [ideal virtue].” (13:27)


Confucius asked Kung Ming Chia about Kung Shu Wan, saying: “Is it true that your master does not speak, does not laugh, and does not take?”

Kung Ming Chia replied: “That is an exaggeration. My master speaks when it is the time to speak, so people do not get tired of his speaking. He laughs when there is occasion to be joyful, so people do not get tired of his laughing. He takes when it is consistent with righteousness to do so, so people do not get tired of his taking.”

Confucius said: “So! But is it so with him?”


Confucius said: “The superior person does not say more than he does.”


Confucius said: “I won’t be concerned with other people not knowing me; I will be concerned with my lack of ability.”


Confucius said: “A horse is called a chi [a title in reference to a legendary horse known for its supreme excellence], not because of its strength, but because of its [total] virtue.”


Confucius said: “Alas! No one understands me!”

Tzu Kung said: “Confucius, what do you mean by saying that no one understands you?”

Confucius said: “I am not bitter against Heaven and I don’t blame people. My studies go from the fundamentals and penetrate to the high. Perhaps only Heaven understands me.”


Confucius said: “The supreme worthiness is to withdraw from the world. Next [best] would be to withdraw from a particular place. Next would be to flee withdraw from a certain [wrong] attitude present Next would be to withdraw from certain [wrong] words spoken.”


Cultivates yourself in self-respect, and then to bring harmony to others.


Confucius said: “If you don’t talk with those you should talk to, you lose people. If you talk with those you shouldn’t talk to, you lose words. Wise people do not lose people, nor do they lose words.”

Confucius said: “Someone who neglects exercising foresight into the future will probably encounter worries very soon.”


Confucius said: “The person more interested in requiring from himself than he is in requiring from others will keep himself from being the object of major resentment.”


Confucius said: “If a person is not in the habit of asking, ‘What is this? What is this?’ then I cannot do anything for him.”


Confucius said: “When a number of people are together for a whole day without their conversation turning on righteousness, and when they are fond of carrying out the suggestions of a small shrewdness—theirs is indeed a hard case.”


Confucius said: “The superior person, in everything, considers righteousness to be essential, and he acts according to proper actions, speaks with reserve, and completes it all with sincerity. This indeed is a superior person.”


Confucius said: “The superior person does not appreciate a person solely on account of his words, nor does he disregard a person’s words solely on account of the person.”


Confucius said: “When everyone hates something, it is necessary to examine it. When everyone likes something, it is necessary to examine it.”


Confucius said: “The superior person is not eager to show off petty cleverness, but may be entrusted with great concerns. The lesser person may not be entrusted with great concerns, but is eager to show off petty cleverness.”


Confucius said: “The superior person is adequately resolute, but not recklessly inflexible.”


Mencius said: “People are eager to comment on something when they themselves are not in the situation of doing it.”


Mencius said: “The evil of people can come from their like of being teachers of others.”


Mencius said: “Only when someone refuses to do certain things will he be capable of doing great things.”


Mencius said: “Confucius did not do extreme things.”


Mencius said: “Great is the person who has not lost his childlike heart.”


Mencius said: “To nourish the mind, there is nothing better than to make the desires few. For the person whose desires are few, there will be some things he may not be able to keep his heart, but they will be few. To the person whose desires are many, there will be some things he may be able to keep his heart, but they will be few.”


Nature does not stop winter because people do not like cold. The earth does not make its spaces smaller because people do not like distances. The superior person does not change his actions because lesser people clamor.

Nature has its method. Earth has its size. The superior person has his Way.

The superior person adapts to the Way. The lesser person complains against it.

The old school sages said: If a person abides by Tao, why should he be anxious about other people’s words?


If a person goes up to a high place and makes a signal, his arm stays the same length, but it can be seem form far away. If a person shouts with the wind, his voice is at the same strength, but tit can be heard more.

If a person uses an automobile, he can travel many miles, even if he is not a good walker or runner. If a person uses a boat, he can cross rivers, even if he cannot swim. The superior person is not that much different than others. However, he is good at using things.

The superior person is prudent, vigilant, and careful about his learning.

When enough water accumulated to make a stream, crocodiles begin to appear. When enough properness is accumulated to make virtue, spiritual enlightenment comes of itself, and a Sage heart is attained.

Steps are needed to cover a long journey. Little streams are needed to form rivers and seas.

Even a kanthaka steed is unable to cover ten paces at one stride. But even a very decrepit horse can cover the distance in several days. Perseverance is the concept here. Without perseverance, one cannot cut down a piece of weak wood. With perseverance, one can engrave stone or metal.


The earthworm does not have sharpness of teeth or claws, nor does it have strength of muscles and bone, and yet it manages to eat dirt above and to drink water below. It has equanimity of mind.

The crab has six legs and two claws, and yet it can barely do anything. It has an unsteady mind.

Thus, he who lacks a steady and focused goal will not accomplish the magnificent. He who attempts to travel two roads at once will get nowhere. He who looks at two directions will not see clearly. He who listens to two things cannot hear distinctly.

The superior person is equnimous like a knot.


When you locate good in yourself, approve of it with determination. When you locate evil in yourself, despise it as something detestable.


Wisdom is treating right as right, and wrong as wrong. Foolishness is treating right as wrong, and wrong as right.


The superior person uses things. The lesser person is used by things.


Humans are evil by nature. Goodness is acquired.

A person is born fond of profit, and if does not control this, he will enter conflicts, and will abandon any acquired courtesy. A person is born with feelings of envy and hate, and if he does not control this, he will commit violent cruelty, and will abandon any acquired loyalty. A person is born with a desire and fondness for entertainment, and if he does not control them, he will be immoral and unrestricted, and will abandon any acquired righteousness and proper actions.

Thus, those who do not control their evil nature will enter conflicts and benevolence, and commit malevolent acts.

This is why I say that a person must find instruction in righteousness and be guided by it.


There should be no stop to learning.


The valley spirit is immortal. It is called the Mysterious Woman. It is the root of Heaven and Earth. It is always here. Use it effortlessly. It will never finish.


Heaven and Earth endure and are lasting because they do not live fixated on themselves.

Come to the front by putting yourself behind. Preserve yourself by detaching yourself. Fulfill yourself by not being fixated on yourself.


There is a Creative Principle which is itself uncreated; there is a Principle of Change which is itself unchanging. The Uncreated is able to create life; the Unchanging is able to effect change. The created cannot but continue creating; the changed cannot but continue evolving. Hence, there is constant creation and constant changing. The law of constant creating and of constant changing at no time ceases to operate. So is it with the Yin and the Yang, so is it with the Four Seasons.


There was once a man who, though born in Yen, was brought up in Ch’u, and it was only in his old age that he went to return to his native country [of Yen].

On the way there [traveling from Ch’u to Yen], as he was passing through Chin, a fellow traveler played a practical joke on him. Pointing to the city he said, “Here is the capital of the Yen State”; whereupon the old man flushed with excitement.

Then pointing out a certain shrine, he told him, “This is your own village altar,” and the old man heaved a deep sigh.

Then he showed him a house, and said, “This is where your ancestors lived,” and tears welled up into the old man’s eyes.

Finally, a mound was pointed out to him as the tomb where his ancestors lay buried, whereupon the old man could control himself no longer, and wept aloud. But his fellow traveler burst into roars of laughter.

“I have been hoaxing you,” he cried; “this is only the Chin State.”

His victim was greatly mortified; and when he arrived at his journey’s end and really did see before him the city and altars of Yen, with the actual abode and tombs of his ancestors, his emotion was much less acute.


An official from Ch’en went to Lu [for official business], and while there he made a social visit to Shu Sun.

Shu Sun said, “We have a sage in our state.”

The Ch’en man said, “You are talking about the sage Confucius, right?”

“Yes,” replied Shu Sun.

“How can you assert he is a sage?” the Ch’en man asked.

Shu Sun replied, “I heard his disciple Yen Hui said that Confucius can release his mind and use his body [like his brain].”

The Ch’en man then said, “We also have a sage in our state. Ave you heard about him?”

“Who are you referring to?” asked Shu Sun.

“He is Lao Tzu’s disciple.” said the Ch’en man. “His name is Keng Sang Tzu. He has mastered Lao Tzu’s Way, and he can see with his ears and listen with his eyes.”

Soon the Marquis of Lu heard about this sage and was so curious that he sent out a noble person to give him a royal invitation and bring him to Lu. When Keng Sang Tzu arrived, The Marquis of Lu, with great respect, asked about the skill.

Keng Sang Tzu replied, “That is just a rumor. It is not true that I can make my ears see and my eyes hear. But, I can see and hear without using my eyes or my ears.”

The Marquis said, “That is even greater. What kind of Way is that? You must tell me about it.”

Keng Sang Tzu sad, “My body is in harmony with my heart/mind. My heart/mind is in harmony with my energies. My energies are in harmony with my spirit. My spirit is in harmony with all and none. I can experience the smallest thing or the slightest sound, what is very distant, or what is right on my eyebrows or eyelashes—nothing is outside my awareness. (t) I am not sure whether I perceive it with the seven holes in my head [senses], or with my four limbs [body], or through my heart [brain], or in my internal organs [gut]. It’s just a pure experience of things.”

The Marquis of Lu was pleased [hearing the answer]. Later, he told Confucius about it, and Confucius just smiled and did not say anything.

Tzu Hsia said to Confucius, “What do you think of Yen Hui?”

Confucius said, “Yen Hui has compassion—more than I do.”

“And Tzu Kung?”

“Tzu Kung is a better speaker than I am.”

“And Tzu Lu?”

“Tzu Lu is incredibly brave—much more than I am.”

“And Tzu Chang?”

“Tzu Chang he can keep dignity better than I can.”

Tzu Hsia then remarked, “So how come all four of them study under your tutelage?”

Confucius said, “Sit down and let me tell you. Yen Hui is indeed compassionate, but he is also inflexible about it. Tzu Kung is indeed a great speaker, but he does not know when to shut up. Tzu Lu is indeed very brave, but he lacks caution. Tzu Chang is indeed very dignified, but he is not pleasant/harmonious in social interaction. If I could have all of their virtues I would not take them in exchange for my own. That is why they are intent on learning from me.”


Lieh Tzu was very poor, and his face wore a hungry look. A certain stranger spoke about it to Tzu Yang, of Cheng. He said, “Lieh Yu-K’ou is a scholar in possession of Tao. Yet here he is, living in destitution, within your Excellency’s dominion. It surely cannot be that you have no liking for scholars?”

Tzu Yang forthwith directed that an official allowance of grain should be sent to him. Lieh Tzu came out to receive the messengers, made two low bows and declined the gift, whereupon the messengers went away, and Lieh Tzu reentered the house.

There he was confronted by his wife, who beat her breast and cried aloud, “I have always understood that the wife and family of a man of Tao live a fife of ease and pleasure. Yet now, when his Honor sends you a present of food, on account of your starved appearance, you refuse to accept it! I suppose you will call that “destiny!”’

Lieh Tzu smiled and replied, “The Minister did not know about me himself. His present of grain was made on the suggestion of another. If it had been a question of punishing me, that too would have been done at some one else’s prompting. That is the reason why I did not accept the gift.”

Later on, the masses rose in actual rebellion against Tzu Yang, and slew him. If Lieh Tzu had joined him earlier, he too would have been probably killed as well. Lieh Tzu’s independence of spirit brought him safety in this instance.



[1] Intense, warm

[2] take is easy, cool

[3] purity / clarity

[4] shamed

[5] talent

[6] a disciple of Confucius

[7] a disciple of Confucius

[8] they can both hurt a person

[9] / even / simple

[10] Ancient Chinese Emperors

[11] a legendary Emperor

[12] another legendary Emperor

[13] one li equals about 0.3 miles; a thousand li is the distance a great horse can travel in one day

[14] literally, “heating” or “warming up”

[15] a.k.a. Yen Hui

[16] conform / accommodate/ sacrifice himself and his principles to agree with others and be like others

[17] their own enjoyment / satisfaction / self-improvement

[18] to impress others and gain their approval

[19] obscure / prejudice /make one-sided

[20] because they are small and young trees

[21] who place more regards on nourishing trees than themselves

[22] Though Mencius says that Yang Chu would not sacrifice one hair to benefit the Kingdom, other sources say that Yang Chun would not sacrifice a hair to gain possession of the Kingdom.

[23] Each portion was written on a strip of bamboo

[24] when even non-existence didn’t exist

[25] a follower of Mo Tzu

[26] and according to another historical document, he was subsequently killed