Hsun Tzu / Xunzi

Hsun Tzu / Xunzi (310 BC-219 BC) was a Confucian philosopher. Nowadays, his teachings are categorized as a mixture of Confucianism with other early Chinese philosophical systems. However, according to Hsun Tzu / Xunzi himself, his school of Confucianism was the genuine orthodox Way of the Ancient Sages and Confucius. Hsun Tzu / Xunzi believed that the other philosophical schools of his time possessed insight, but promoted narrowminded beliefs and practices. He also stated that even the various sects/schools within Confucianism were more or less prone to the same narrowmindedness, and distorted the true Confucian teachings.

Hsun Tzu / Xunzi is also well known for his view that human nature (hsing) is detestable. We possess a capacity for good and a capacity for enjoying good, But our natural tendency is ultimately detestable, and our natural inclinations lead to us becoming hsiao jen (--common, low character individuals). That being the case, we must use a more more active approach to becoming a superior person (chun tzu), and rely greatly on book learning, and more importantly, good teachers and influences. Even though we are detestable by nature, we can develop a power, knowledge, and affinity for goodness. The aim of learning is to transform our self and character (including our feelings, desires, etc.), and have our conduct reach the proper ideal. The authentic Confucian teachings are available for us to attain perfection by tested and reliable methods of ancient people who themselves made themselves perfected Sages through accumulated acquisition of goodness, due to their experiments in activity, and their sharing, compiling, and passing down of their thoughts and ideas.

In the centuries after Hsun Tzu / Xunzi's life, it was primarily his "human nature is detestable" ideas that made his writings somewhat unpopular, and caused Chu Hsi to brand Hsun Tzu / Xunzi's teachings as heterodox Confucianism, and not include them in the Confucian canon.

Hsun Tzu / Xunzi Quotes (Selections From the Hsun Tzu / Xunzi)

Hsun Tzu / Xunzi Book 1: An Encouragement/Urging/Exhortation to Learn

[Chai, Dubs, Watson, Hutton]

Learning Can Change a Person

The chun tzu says: Learning should never stop. Blue [dye] comes from the indigo plant, yet it is bluer than the indigo. Ice is made from water, yet it is colder than water. A piece of wood as straight as a plumb-line can be steamed and bent into a circle with a curvature conforming to the compass; and if it is later dried in the sun, the wood will not return to its previous straightness. This is because the bending process has caused this change in it. Wood pressed against a plumb line will be straight. Metal put to the whetstone will be sharp.

The chun tzu makes his learning broad and examines himself daily in order to have his knowledge precise/illuminating and his actions faultless.

The Way of the Sage Kings

Without climbing to a high mountain, you will not know T'ien's height. Without looking down into a into a deep gorge, you will not know Earth's depth. Wihtout hearing the words inherited from the Ancient Kings, you will not know the greatness of learning/knowledge.

Self-Transformation with Tao

No Divinity is greater than self-transformation with tao. No happiness is greater than being without unhappiness.

Using Things

"I have thought for a whole day, but it was not as effective as learning for one moment. I have stood on tiptoe, but it was not as effective as going up to a high place."

If someone goes up on a high place and waves, his arm does not become longer, yet it can be seen distantly. If someone shouts with the wind, his voice does not become stronger, yet it can be heard more clearly. If someone uses a horse and carriage, his own feet are not aided, yet he can travel hundreds of miles. If someone uses boats and oars, even if he cannot swim, he will be able to cross rivers.

...The chun tzu is good at using [external] things [to nourish his nature and actions]

Choosing the Right Environment and Companions

The meng dove constructs a quality nest, but attaches that nest to weak stems. If wind blows, the stems will snap, the eggs will be destroyed, and the baby birds will die. This is not due to flaws in the nest, but rather, to flaws in what is attached to the nest. The she-kan/yekan has a stalk that is few inches long. But it grows on top of high mountains, and can see down into very deep valleys. This is not due to the height of the stalk, but rather, to its location. Raspberry vines growing among hemp grow up straight. White sand in black mud at the bottom of a pool also turns black. The huai plant is used to make fine cologne. But if that same root is soaked in urine, no one will use it. The lack of excellence is not in its own substance, but rather, in what surrounds it.

Thus, the chun tzu is very choosy in selecting an environment and associates, in order to ward off what is improper and low/base, and draw-near what is fair/moderate and upright.

Accumulating Goodness

When earth is accumulated to build up a mountain, rain and wind arise. When water is accumulated to fill a gap, dragons appear. When goodness is accumulated to complete/create te, divine understanding comes by itself, and a Sage's heart fully comes.

Thus, if paces and double paces are not accumulated, a distance of hundreds of miles will not be reached. If small streams are not accumulated, a river or sea will not be filled. A great horse cannot cover ten paces in one stride. A worn out horse can cover ten paces in ten periods. Achievement depends on using time. By carving incompletely, a piece of rotten wood cannot be cut through. By carving steadfastly, metal and stone can be carved.


An earthworm does not have claws and teeth or strong muscles and bones, but it can eat dirt and drink spring water. It has heart focus/diligence/purposefulness. A crab has six legs and two claws, but it has no home unless it finds the hole of a snake or eel. It has heart misdirection.

Thus, without deep/steadfast purpose, clear perception, and determined/continuous striving, there will be no illustrious accomplishment.

The person attempting to travel two roads at once will get nowhere. The person attempting to serve two masters will not be favored by either. The eye cannot look at two directions [simultaneously] and see clearly. The ear cannot listen to two things [simultaneously] and hear clearly. The cloud dragon has no feet, but flies. The squirrel has five talents [flying, climbing, swimming, digging, running], but is reduced [because it does not utilize any talent it has..] ...

Thus, the chun tzu has knot-like [and noble] steadfastness.

Goodness Will Not Remain Hidden

In ancient times, when Hu Pa played the zither, deep-water fish came near listen. When Po Ya played the lute, the Six Royal Horses looked up from their feedbags. Verily, no sound is too faint to be heard, and no action is too concealed to be known. "Where jade is buried in the hills, the plants have a special luster. Where pearls are grown in the gaps, the banks do not dry." Perform good actions. Will they not accumulate! And doing so. Will they not be heard of!

Pursuing Learning

Learning continues without even stopping at death. Thus, even though the method of learning has an end [i.e. Sagehood], the purpose of learning must never be abandoned for a single instant. Pursuing it is to be a [true] man. Abandoning it is to be a beast.

Learning Reaches Its Bounds with Li

Learning reaches its bounds with li. This indeed is "the pinnacle of tao and its power."

Learning to Become a Jen Person

The chun tzu's learning goes in his ear, is taken in his heart, expands all the way to the end of his limbs, and is established in his actions. Even in his smallest word or slightest action, he exemplifies. The hsiao jen's learning goes in his ear and out his mouth. And with only a few inches between his ear and mouth, how can that be enough to purify his body? "The ancients learned for their own sake; nowadays people learn for the sake of others." The chun tzu uses learning in order to purify himself. The hsiao jen uses learning in order to gain others' attention. Giving information where it is not asked for--this is officious. Telling two things when asked for one--this is garrulous. It is condemnable to be officious; it is condemnable to be garrulous. The chun tzu is like an echo.

Being Near Worthy Learners and Exalting Li

In learning, nothing is more advantageous than being near a worthy learner. Next best is exalting li. Someone who is unable to devoted to such people or honor li will merely be learning disordered information or mechanically following texts, and thus will never be anything more than an unlearned/absurd Aspirant. In order to make the Ancient Kings our role model and seek jen and yi, we must make li the rectifying byway on which to follow life. ... Thus, someone who honors li--even though he might not fully know--can be called a model scholar; while someone who does not honor li--even if he has knowledge--will merely be an undisciplined student.

Only Follow, Guide, and Learn with Genuine Learners

Do not answer a person whose questions are vulgar. Do not question a person is vulgar. Do not listen to a person whose theories are vulgar. Do not engage in disputation with a person who is merely looking to quarrel. Thus, only deal with a person who has become what he is by [or has come] following tao. Avoid people who did not become what they are by following tao. ... This being so, talking to someone you should not talk to is officiousness/forwardness; not talking to someone you should talk to is secretiveness; and talking to someone without observing his demeanor and moods/looks is blindness. Thus, the chun tzu is not officious, secretive, or blind. He is vigilantly adaptive.

The Complete

Someone who leaves in one direction and returns in another is an alley or street person--an expert in a little, but a neglecter of much, like [the vulgar and unscrupulous] Chieh, Chou, and Robber Chih. Be complete and whole in it to be truly learned. The chun tzu knows that the incomplete and impure does not deserve to be called fine. Thus, he reads and considers explanations in order to penetrate tao , ponders and searches in order to understand it, does it in himself in order to make it part of himself, and obliterates what impedes it in himself in order to hold and mature it. Thus, he trains his eyes to be unwilling to see what is not it, his ears to be unwilling to hear what is not it, his mouth to be unwilling to say what is not it, and his heart to be unwilling to think what is not it, until he reaches the height of it and delights in it. His eyes find enjoyment in the five colors; his ears find enjoyment in the five sounds; his mouth finds enjoyment in the five flavors; and his mind finds enjoyment in possessing the world. Thus, he cannot be subverted/overturned by considerations of power and profit, swayed by cliques and common masses, or deterred by all the world. He follows it from life to death. This indeed is "being resolute in te." Being resolute in te, he is fixed/undistracted/ordered/purposeful. Being purposeful, he is responsive to all [situations]. Being purposeful and responsive to all--this can be called the Complete Person.

T'ien manifests brilliance. Earth manifests its breadth. The chun tzu values his completeness.

2: Self-Cultivation

[Dubs, Watson]


When you see good, respectfully/diligently/delightfully investigate/examine yourself. When you see evil, anxiously/sorrowfully examine yourself. When you find good in yourself, firmly/steadfastly approve/prize it. When you find evil in yourself, hate it as something loathsome.

He who correctly criticizes me is my teacher; he who correctly tells me I am right is my friend; and he who flatters me is my culprit. Thus, the chun tzu exalts/esteems/honors his teacher, clings to to his friend, and hates his culprit. He prizes/loves/seeks/cherishes good without ever being self-satisfied/tired. He receives/accepts others' admonitions/reprimands/reproofs, and can thereby be warned and take guard. So even if he does not desire to make progress, how could he fail to do so?

The hsiao jen is the opposite of this. He is very disorderly, but hates that others should criticize him. He is very unworthy, but desires others to consider him worthy. His heart is [avaricious like] a tiger or wolf and his actions are bestial, but he hates/resents that others should consider him a malefactor/enemy/culprit. He closely associates with those who flatter him, and is distant from those who would reprove/reprimand him. He considers uprightness to be a laughing matter, and great loyalty to be his culprit. Thus, though he does not actually desire to be ruined, how can he avoid it?

Use the method of impartially, continuously, and everywhere doing right. Control your feelings/vital-breath and cultivate/nourish your character/life.

Genuine Nobility

Discipline your will, and you will have greater nobility than wealth and eminence. Consider tao to be your riches, and you will not need to be discomposed standing before kings and dukes. Thoroughly examine yourself internally, and you will scorn/disregard external things. An old saying expresses this: The chun tzu uses things. The hsiao jen is used by things. Do what brings serenity, including body labor. Do what is right, even if it disregards profit. ... Thus, a good farmer would not stop plowing because of a flood or drought; a good merchant would not stop going to the bazaar because of occasional losses; and the chun tzu would not neglect tao because of poverty and hardship/want.

Limiting Ourselves to Tao

A great horse can cover hundreds of miles in a day, but even an old nag can cover great distances over time. Will you attempt to exhaust the inexhaustible, and pursue the endless [i.e. the courses of logicians and mystics that do not lead to anything meaningful]? If you do, then even if you wear out your bones and muscles until the day you die, you will most certainly fail to reach your goal. But if you pursue what has an end, then even if it is far, and regardless of whether you arrive sooner or later, or before or after others, how could you not reach your distant goal? Will you be someone who unwittingly plods the road trying to exhaust the inexhaustible, and pursue what has no end? Or will you instead choose what has an end? Problems/propositions about [abstract theoretical paradoxes such as] "black and white," "identity and difference," "dimension and non-dimension"--these are a challenge to penetrate. But the chun tzu refrains from discussing them, because he puts them outside the limits of his goals. Performing strange extraordinary feats--these might be difficult. But the chun tzu refrains from doing them, because he puts them outside the limit of his goals. ...

Thus, by moving steps followed by steps and by continuing, a lame turtle can travel hundreds of miles; by piling up mounds and mounds and by continuing, a high mound will be formed; and by blocking sources and opening/breaking down banks/sluices, Great Rivers will be dried. But with one going forward and another going back, and with one moving left and another moving right, even the Six Royal Horses would get nowhere. People's abilities are by no means as widely differing as a lame turtle and the Six Royal Horses--yet the lame turtle reaches the goal, and the Six Ryoal Horses do not. The only reason is this: one does, the other does not do. Even if the tao is short/near, if a person does not travel on it, he will never arrive. Even if a matter is small, if a person does not do it, it will never be accomplished. If a person takes many days resting, he will not progress much on tao.

The Ideal

He who loves to follow and practice the ideal is an Aspirant. He who has firm purpose and treads it is a chun tzu. He who is inexhaustibly wise in it and illustrious/acute is a Sage. If someone lacks an ideal, he will act with rash and aimless confusion. If he has an ideal but does not recognize what is congruent with it, he will nervously look about, wondering what to do. But only when he relies on an ideal and then deeply penetrates into its application by extending it to other areas, does he act with gentle warmth and calm confidence.


The chun tzu is unvigilant in pursuing profit, but vigilant in avoiding harm. He is timid in shunning/avoiding disgrace, but intrepid in practicing tao requirements [reason].

Hsun Tzu / Xunzi Book 3: Nothing Indecorous

Limiting Ourselves to Tao

In matters of conduct, the chun tzu does not esteem indecorous yet difficult feats. In explanations, he does not prize improper investigations. In matters of reputation, he does not value unsuitable traditions. Instead, he only esteems what is fitting to the occasion. "Carrying a stone on your back and drowning yourself in the Yellow River" is by all means a difficult feat--and one that Shentu Di was able achieve. But the chun tzu does not esteem such a feat. And this is because it transgresses the mean of behavior prescribed by li and by a sense of what is right. Theories such as "Mountains and abysses are level," "Heaven and Earth are comparable," "Qi and Qin are adjacent," "Mountains issue out of mouths," "Old women have whiskers," and "Eggs have feathers" are difficult to uphold--and ones that Hui Shi and Deng Xi were able to uphold. But the chun tzu does not prize such feats of sophistry. And this is because they transgress the mean of behavior prescribed by li and moral principles. The name and reputation of Robber Zh" is spoken of by everyone, and his fame can be seen everywhere like the sun and moon and is unfailingly transmitted to posterity like that of Yu and Shun. However, the chun tzu does not value his reputation. And this is because it transgresses the mean prescribed by li and yi.

Thus, it is said, "In matters of conduct, the chun tzu does not esteem indecorous yet difficult feats. In his explanations, he does not prize improper investigations. In matters of reputation, he does not value unsuitable traditions. Instead, he only esteems what is fitting to the occasion." The Odes say, "Things are in quantities, only in their proper season." This illustrates what I mean.

A Specific Description of the True Chun Tzu

The chun tzu is easy to come to know, but difficult to be familiar with. He is easily made apprehensive, but difficult to intimidate. He dreads suffering, but will not avoid what is required by his moral duty, even at the risk of death. He desires what is beneficial, but will not do what is wrong. He is considerate in his interpersonal relations, but not partial. He makes discriminations in his discussions, but not disordered formulations. ...

When it comes to his abilities, the chun tzu is magnanimous, generous, tolerant, and straightforward--thus opening the way to instruct others. When it comes to his in-capabilities, he is respectful, reverent, moderate, and modest--and thus he is awe-inspired, and undertakes to serve others.

When it comes to his capabilities, the hsiao jen is rude, arrogant, perverted, and depraved--thus, he is filled with an overwhelming pride around others. When it comes to his in-capabilities, he is envious, jealous, resentful, and given to backbiting--thus he subverts and undermines others.

The chun tzu is magnanimous, but not negligent. He is scrupulous, but does not inflict suffering. He debates, but does not cause quarreling. He is critical, but does not provoke others. When he upholds an upright position, he is not merely interested in victory. When hard and strong, he is not haughty. When flexible and tractable, he does not merely drift with the demands of the occasion. He is respectful, reverent, attentive, and cautious, but still remains inwardly at ease. In venerating others' te and celebrating their excellence, the chun tzu does not flatter or toady. In straightforwardly correcting or reproaching, he does not malign or backbite. In speaking of his own glory and beauty, comparing it to Yu and Shun, and placing it in a triadic relation with T'ien and Earth, he does not idly brag and boast. In bending and unbending as the occasion demands and being flexible and tractable like rushes and reeds, he is not a fearful coward. In being unyieldingly strong and fiercely resolute so that he has nothing that has not been straight in him, he does not do so out of pride and haughtiness. And in using the standard of yi to respond to changing conditions, he does so from knowing precisely-fitting/accord for the occasion/situation, whether curved or straight.

The Odes say, "As he moves/rides left, left, the chun tzu moves/does-it properly/with-precise-fittingness. As he moves right, right, the chun tzu posses/has what is needed/the-knsck." This says the chun tzu is able to employ his sense/knowledge of what isyi to bend or straighten, responding to every changing occasion/situation. ...

When the chun tzu is bold of heart, he [reverentially] follows T'ien's tao. When faint of heart, he is awe inspired by his sense of moral duty, and regulates his conduct to accord with it. When he knows, he understands interconnections between phenomenon, and can assign them to their proper logical category. When not knowing, he is honest and diligent, and can follow the ideal. If followed by others, he respectfully restrains himself. When not followed, he reverently regulates himself. When happy, he concords with others and is well-ordered in himself. When sad, he maintains inner quietude and preserves his distinctive qualities. When meeting success, he maintains good form, and makes it illustrious. When in hardship, he is frugal and proceeds with care.

The hsiao jen acts differently. When bold of heart, he is lazy and haughty. When faint of heart, he drifts into lechery and is subversive. When he knows, he is predatory and clandestine. When he does not know, he is poisonously malicious and given to rebelliousness. If followed, he is pleased with himself, and becomes imperious. If not followed, he is resentful and resorts to underhandedness. When happy, he is frivolous and flighty. When saddened, he is crushed and despondent. When meeting success, he is filled with pride, and unjust. When encountering hardship, he is negligent and un-ambitious.

A tradition says: The chun tzu doubly advances. The hsiao jen doubly regresses. This explains what I mean.


"The chun tzu creates order through what itself is well-ordered, and not through what is itself chaotic."

What does this mean? I say: "Well-ordered" refers to li and yi; "chaotic" refers to what is contrary to them. This being so, the chun tzu creates order byli and yi, and does not create order by what is contrary to them.

Thus, when a state is chaotic, wouldn't he attempt to restore order?

I say: Restoring order to a chaotic country does not mean depending on what is chaotic to restore the state to order. Instead, it involves leaving what is chaotic behind, and reaching to what is well ordered.

Similarly, making a vile person cultivated does not mean depending on his vileness for cultivation, but rather in leaving what is vile behind, and transforming him through the cultivation process.

Thus, this is a case of leaving behind what is chaotic rather than making well ordered what is chaotic, and leaving behind what is vile rather than cultivating what is vile.

The Influence of the Chun Tzu

When the chun tzu purifies his character, people of kindred spirit join him; and when he refines his speech, people of his kind respond--just like how a horse neighs and other horses respond, and a cow lows and other cows respond. This is not because of any of their knowledge; rather it is because of how they are internally constituted. ...

On Ch'eng

For the chun tzu to cultivate/nurture his heart, there is nothing better than ch'eng.

Someone who has attained ch'eng will need/concern nothing--he will just uphold jen and practice yi.

If with a ch'eng heart jen is upheld, it will take form. Having taken form, it will become intelligible/spirit-like. Having become intelligible, it can produce transformation.

If with a ch'eng heart yi is practiced, it will accord with natural order. According with natural order, it will become clear. Having become clear, it can produce transformation.

Causing transmutation and transformation to flourish in succession--this is called T'ien te. Though T'ien does not speak, people can infer its loftiness. Though Earth does not speak, people can infer its depth. Though the four seasons do not speak, the Hundred Clans anticipate their arrival. This is all due to their having attained perfect ch'eng and possessing a constant regularity [or these possess constancy because they have perfected their ch'eng].

When the chun tzu has attained perfect te, he is understood even if he is silent, he is beloved/considered-affectionate even if he has not bestowed favors/gifts, and he is-held-in-awe/possesses-awe-inspired-dignity even if he does not display anger. By preserving authenticity of his individual uniqueness, he obeys his destiny [In this way, he can follow along with fate because he is careful even when alone].

Even if someone is good at abiding by tao , if he lacks ch'eng, he is not an individual [or will not be (careful when alone)]. Not being an individual, is he will not take-be formed. Not taking form, even if he mentally creates [it arises in his heart], facially displays intentions [manifests itself in his countenance], and verbally expresses his will [appears in his speech], the people will still not [want to] follow him, and if they must/forced do so, they will do it suspiciously/misgivings.

T'ien and Earth are indeed are great, but if they lacked ch'eng, they could not transmute all things. Sages are surely wise, but if they lacked ch'eng, they could not transmute the people. Father and son have a natural affection for each another, but if they lack ch'eng, they will drift apart. The ruler of superior position is honored, but if he lacks ch'eng, he would be considered base.

The chun tzu cleaves to this very ch'eng, and he makes his government foundation on this very ch'eng--thus, no matter where is lives, those of his kind will come to him.

If he persists in it, he will obtain it. If he gives it up, it will be lost.

By persisting and obtaining it, it will become easy for him. Having become easy for him, he conduct will become individual. Persistently being individual, he will be fulfilled. Brought to fulfillment, his talents completely realized, continuously progressing, and never reverting to his beginnings, he has indeed undergone transmutation. ...


Public spiritedness produces clear understanding; partisanship produces dark obscurity. Straightforwardness and diligence produce success; deceitfulness and falsity produce obstructions. Sincerity and honesty produce perspicacity; boastfulness and bragging produces self-delusion.

These are the six productions the chun tzu is prudent about. It is only these that separate Yu from Jie.

Weighing the Relative Merits of Choosing or Refusing Desires and Aversions

When seeing something desirable, think of whether it also could eventually involve what is detestable. When seeing something beneficial, think of whether it also could eventually involve harm.

Weigh the total of one against that of the other, maturely calculate, and then determine the relative merits of choosing or reusing your desires and aversions. This way, you will regularly avoid failure and becoming ensnared by your choices.

In general, the calamities that beset mankind result from prejudices and the damages they cause.

If, when seeing something desirable, you do not think of whether it could come to be detestable, and when seeing something beneficial, you do not reflect on if it could come to be harmful, then your movements will inevitably ensnare you, and your actions will bring disgrace.

It is this that constitutes the calamity of prejudice, and the damages resulting from it.

4: On/Of Honor and Shame/Disgrace


Yi vs. Gain

He who first things of yi and second of gain is honorable. He who first thinks of gain and second of yi is shameful.

A person can become a Yao or a Yu [a great person]; he can become a Ch'ie or a Chih [a low, base, unscrupulous person]; he can become a day laborer or an artisan; and he can become a farmer or a merchant. It all depends on what he has accumulated in his perspectives/choices and habits.

Yao and Yu were not born wholly as [as great as] they became--they began troublesome, and completed their development by [artificial] cultivation. They had to patiently exert their efforts [in cultivating their capacity]--and only then could they be perfect.

By birth, man is definitely a small-minded man; and without a teacher or set of principles, he can only think of profit [as his ultimate goal].

By birth, man is definitely a small-minded man; and if he also meets an evil era and is influenced by bad customs, he will repeat the smallness of the small, and will acquire the evilness of the evil.

Unless the chun tzu gains skill to meet the situation, he will lack the means to open a way for goodness to enter his heart.

Our Low Nature Makes Us Content with the Wrong Things

People eat and chew, finds things good, and fill themselves full.

If a person lacks a teacher or set of principles, his heart will be like his mouth or belly.

Suppose there was someone who had never seen meat or grain, but had only seen pulse, coarse greens, and bran. He would certainly be very content with them.

However, if someone showed him meat and grains, he would gaze at them in astonishment and say they are funny things, and then he would smell them and they would gratify his nostrils, taste them and they would be sweet in his mouth, eat them and they would be pleasant to his body--and he would certainly eliminate his old diet and take the new food.

Now this parable is like the Ancient Kings' tao, the unifying principles of jen and yi.

Through this, people can live in society, preserve and nourish themselves, make their ways elegant and beautiful, and be peaceful and secure.

Now compare that with Ch'ie and Chih's tao--it is unlike the other.

Isn't it just as unlike as the meat and grain is unlike bran?

Yet most people follow the latter, and few follow the former.

Why? Because their nature is low.

This lowness is the common misfortune of the world, and the great calamity and injury of people.

On Courage/Bravery/Interpidity

There is the dog and boar intrepidity, and the peddler and thief intrepidity.

There is the hsiao jen's courage, and the aspirant's and chun tzu's courage.

Fighting over food and drink, lacking scruples and shame, not knowing right from wrong, not trying to avoid death or injury, not fearing greater strength or numbers, greedily aware of only food and drink--this is the dog's and boar's bravery.

Dealing in transactions of profit, fighting over goods and valuables, lacking concern for politeness in refusals or yielding precedence, being audacious and daring, given to temerity and effrontery, greedily aware of only profit--this is the peddler's and robber's bravery.

Scoring death when filled with passionate intensity [MISSING TEXT]--this is the hsiao jen's courage.

Staying with what is just, not swayed by exigencies of the moment, not given to looking after his own benefit, elevating the interest of the state and assisting in realizing them, not acting to change his point of view, weighing the threat of death but upholding moral duty and not backing away from it--this is the aspirant's and chun tzu's courage.

[? Book 5?]

What makes man truly man?

It is in his making distinctions.

Desiring to eat when hungry, desiring to be warm when cold, desiring to rest when tires, liking what is helpful, and disliking what is injurious--man is born with these actions and does not need to wait to acquire them. In such matter, Yu and Ch'ie were the same.

But man is not truly man more particularly due to having two feet and no feathers, but rather, he is so in his making distinctions.

The yellow haired ape [known for its intelligence] also has two feet and no feathers, but contrast it with a chun tzu who sips soup and carves slices of meat.

Thus, man is not truly man more because particularly due to having two feet and no feathers, but rather, he is so due to his making distinctions. ...

Thus, the tao of human life cannot be without its distinctions.

There is no distinction greater than social divisions. There is no social division greater than li. There is no li greater than the Sage Kings

6: Against the Ten/Twelve Philosophers


Character vs. Reputation

The chun tzu is able to make himself worthy of honor, but cannot necessarily cause others to honor him. He is able to make himself trustworthy, but cannot necessarily cause others to trust him. ...

Thus the chun tzu is ashamed of remaining uncultivated, but is not ashamed of being publicly reviled.

Proceeding along tao, unswervingly committed to rectifying himself and not allowing himself to be deflected by things--such a person might be called a ch'eng chun tzu.

8: The Merit of the Confucians [Dubs]

The Human Tao

The Ancient Kings' tao is the magnification of jen. Following the mean is acting it out.

What is meant by the mean? It is li and yi.

tao is not primarily T'ien's tao or Earth's tao--it is the tao of human action, and the tao the chun tzu puts into practice.


Vulgar but desiring to be noble, stupid but desiring to be wise, poor but desiring to be rich--can this be done?

I say: It can only be done through learning.

He who has and carries it out is an Aspirant. He who exerts himself and longs for it is a chun tzu. He who is versed in it is a Sage.

What could prevent me from becoming either at best a Sage, or at least an Aspirant or chun tzu?

I formerly was someone lost in the dark street, yet suddenly became equal to Yao or Yu--isn't this being vulgar yet becoming noble?

I formerly was someone lost in dark and unable to distinguish between a door and a house, yet suddenly became the source of jen.htm and yi, and I distinguish right and wrong, turn the world round in the palm of my hand, and distinguish white from black--isn't this being stupid yet becoming wise?

I formerly was a chained man with no property, yet now I control the Empire and its resources--isn't this being poor yet becoming rich?

If someone strenuously hoarded a large gold treasure--even if he begged for food, people would still call him wealthy. With such a treasure, even if wished to have clothes but could not wear it, wished to have food but could not eat it, or wished to sell it but could not liquidate it, people would still call him wealthy.


Isn't this because great wealth's substance is in what one has?

He is self-sufficient as a wealthy man--isn't this being poor yet becoming rich?

... It is said: the chun tzu is retired and yet manifest; he is subtle and yet clear; he yields to others and yet conquers.


The common people's standard of te is that goodness consists of following custom, that life's superlative treasure is possessions and wealth, and that supporting/nurturing parents/life is to be already taking the supreme tao.

Aspirant - Chun Tzu - Sage

When a person's character/conduct is formed according to the ideal, his will/purpose is firm/hardened, and his selfish desires are not permitted to confuse learning, he is a "strong/resolute Aspirant".

When a person's character/conduct is formed according to the ideal, his will/purpose is firm, he enjoys self-cultivation and self-correction according to what he has learned in order to force/reform and beatify/improve his emotional nature, his speech is for the most part apt/correct but he does not know/express everything, his actions are for the most part apt/correct but he is not fully without effort/ease [that comes from being naturally correct], his knowledge and thought for the most part correct but completely so, and he can magnify those he exalts and can instruct/open-the-way-for those who have not already attained his achievements, he is a solid/staunch/substantial chun tzu.

When a person adjusts/cultivate the ideals of the Hundred Kings like [as easily as] distinguishing white from black, he properly respond to the changed situation in a moment like [as easily as] counting "one, two", he can carry out li and treat people ceremoniously yet be at ease in it [naturally] like using his four limbs, he skillfully compel/seek the occasion to show his genius/merit for producing achievements like commanding [announcing the arrival of] the four seasons [like T'ien does], his justness of government harmonizes his people to goodness and collects the thousands and thousands of them and binds them together like one person [balancing, rectifying and hamornizing the goodness of the people with a comprehensiveness that makes the innumerable masses seem like a single person], he is a Sage.

Accurate, accurate/methodical!--he is governed by principles. Majestic, majestic!--he can respect/strict himself. Resolute, resolute/complete!--he has an end and beginning [to his actions]. Contented/tranquil, contented!--he can prolong. Firm/joyous, firm!--he steadily holds to tao. Brilliant, brilliant!--he does the essence of wisdom. Orderly, orderly!--he acts according to fundamental principles. Luxuriant/serene, luxuriant!--he has beauty/refinement. Glorious/gladdened, glorious!--his enjoys the good of people. Mournful/grieving, mournful!--he fears the people doing evil. Such a person can be called a Sage.


This is tao proceeding from one.

What is this one? I say it is steadfastly cleaving to your spirit.

What is this spirit? I say being completely good and fully controlled is this spirit.

What is this steadfastness? I say nothing being able to subvert you is this steadfastness.

Being spiritual and steadfast is being a Sage.


The Sage is tao 's pipe.

Ts'ao-fu was the world's greatest charioteer, but without a chariot and horses, his ability could not have been evident. Yi was the world's greatest archer, but without a bow and arrows, his skill could not have been evident. The great Confucian the world's greatest harmonizer and unifier, but without a territory of thousands of acres, his merit cannot be evident.

Not having heard it is not as good as having heard it. Having heard it is not as good as having seen it [be done]. Having seen it is not as good as knowing it. Knowing it is not as good as doing it/putting it into practice.

Learning reaches its pinnacle in putting into practice [for the sake of yi]. By putting it into practice, one understands/insight [ming] it. By understanding it, one becomes a Sage.

The Sage makes jen andyi his basis, is accurate in right and wrong, makes his words and actions correspond to one another, and does not vary [from what is right] even a little.

The only way to account for this is that he puts it into practice. ...

Thus, without a teacher and ideals, a person, if intelligent, will become a thief; if intrepid, will become a murderer; if versatile/ability, will cause disorder; if investigative, will make bizarre/anomalies; if [verbally] discriminating, will promote what misses the truth.

With a teacher and ideals, a person, if intelligent, will quickly become learned/skilled; if intrepid, will quickly become awe-inspiring; if versatile/ability, will quickly achieve; if investigative, will find truth; if discriminating, will soon find principles.

Thus, the possession of a teacher and ideals is a person's greatest treasure, and the lack of a teacher and ideals is his greatest calamity.

If a person is without a teacher or ideals, he will exalt his nature; and if he has a teacher and ideals, he will exalt accumulation.

Now, a teacher and ideals are acquired by accumulation, and not what is obtained from one's nature.

Nature is not good enough to set itself up in order to establish order.

Nature is what I cannot produce or do, but can be developed. Accumulation is what I do not [originally] have, but can be created or done.

Choices/concentration, goals/collection, plans/practice, and habits/acculturation are the means of developing nature.

Unvaried-concentration/unifying-diversity-and-not-beomcing-divided is the means by which accumulation is perfected.

Practice and acculturation [habitual practice] can alter/move a person's inclinations/will/direction/intention, and if continued/dwelled-at-ease-in-them for a long time, it can alter his inmost substance.

If a person completely has unvaried unification, he will have divine wisdom, and form a triad with T'ien and Earth.

Accumulating Goodness

For by accumulating earth, a mountain is made, and by accumulating water, a sea is made. The accumulation of mornings and evenings is called a year. The pinnacle of height is called T'ien. The pinnacle of lowness is called Earth. The world's six directions are pinnacles.

If a common person on the street accumulates goodness and completely completes its accumulation, he will be a Sage. He must seek it, and then he will obtain; he must do it, and then he will reach perfection; he must accumulate it, and then he can elevate; he must complete it, and then he can be a Sage. Thus, the Sage is the person resulting from accumulation.

One who accumulates hoeing and plowing becomes a farmer; one who accumulates chopping and shaving wood becomes a carpenter; one who accumulates trafficking and merchandising goods becomes a merchant; one who accumulates li and yi becomes a chun tzu.

A carpenter's son follows his father's trade. The people of a city or state are content with its particular customs. He who lives in Chu becomes Chu person; he who lives in Yueh becomes a Yueh person; he who lives in Hsia becomes a Hsia person. This is not from original human nature received from T'ien, but attainted by profuse/polishing accumulation.

Thus, if a person knows how to pay attention to choices, goals, and plans, be careful/circumspect of his habits, and magnify/enlarge profuse/polishing accumulation, he will become a chun tzu. But if he follows his nature and emotions, and if he lacks adequate education, he will become a hsiao jen.

One who becomes a chun tzu is usually peaceful/secure and honorable; one who a hsiao jen is usually in danger and disgraceful.

Humanity generally desires security and honor, and hates danger and disgrace. Thus, the chun tzu is able to obtain what he likes, and the hsiao jen daily invites what he hates.

Ordinary People - Lesser Confucians - Great Confucians

Their purposes/intentions are not free/avoid from crookedness and selfishness, yet they hope people will think them to be public-spirited; their actions are not free from foulness/vile-and-deceptive, yet they hope people will think they act-correctly/cultivated; they are deluded and ignorant, yet they hope people will think them to be wise--such are ordinary people.

In their intentions/heart they restrain/repress selfishness and thus can be public-spirited; in action they restrain their emotional/essential nature and thus can act-correctly/be-cultivated; in knowledge they enjoy investigating-things/inquiring and thus can have-ability/develop-talents--they who are thus public-spirited, act-correctly/cultivated, and-talented--such are lesser Confucians.

In their purpose/intentions they are fixed/at-ease-in in public-spiritedness; in action they are fixed in correct action/cultivated, in knowledge they comprehend all general principles--such are great Confucians.

9: Kingly Government

[Chai, Dubs, Watson]

Kingly Government--please tell us about the art of government.

Rather than regarding seniority, advance the worthy and the able, dismiss the incompetent and the incapable at once, put incorrigible ringleaders to death without trying to reform them, and develop the common people without waiting to compel them by laws.

Advancing the Worthy

Even if someone is the descendant of a king, duke, prefect, or officer, relegate him to the common ranks if he does not observe li and yi.

Even if someone is the descendant of a commoner, elevate him to prime minister, officer, or prefect if he has acquired learning, developed good character, and is able to observeliand yi.

As for lewd people, scandal-mongers, evildoers, people of perverted abilities, shirkers, and unreliable people, they should be trained, given employment, and time for reformation. Stimulate them by rewards; warn them by punishments. If they are satisfied with employment, then keep them; if they are not satisfied to work, then deport them.

Defectives [dumb, deaf, crippled, lame or disabled] should be received and cared for. If they have ability, they should be given positions. The authorities should employ them and clothe and feed them; they should all be cared for without exception.

Those who are incorrigible should be put to death without mercy. For this is what is called Heaven's virtue; this is the government of a king.

The true policy [tao] of the person who knows how to rule by force is not to be anxious to use force. He ponders over the edicts of the emperor; he conserves his strength; he consolidates his power. When his strength is conserved, the feudal nobles cannot weaken him; when his power is consolidated, they cannot despoil him. ...

But the lord protector acts differently. He opens up new lands; he fills granaries and storehouses; he provides good implements; he carefully prepares officers of ability and talent. Then he gives them rewards in order to encourage them to progress; he severely punishes in order to restrain them. He preserves those who have lost their country, and sustains those whose line of succession has run out; he protects the weak and restrains the oppressive. Yet he has no intention of acquiring territory. Then the feudal nobles will be friends with him. His way is to treat enemies as friends [with courtesy and respect]; he respectfully meets the feudal nobles, and then the feudal nobles will be pleased with him. ... Hence, he makes it plain that his motives are not to gain territory; he makes them believe in his tao of treating enemies as friends. ... This is the true policy [tao] of the person who knows how to be a Lord Protector.

King Mi [of Ts'i] was ruined by the five states [that combined to defeat him and force him to flee]; Duke Huan [Lord Protector, chief of the empire's feudal prices] was captured by Chuang of Lu [for Huan's taking territory]--it was solely due to them not following this policy, and instead seeking to be king [emperor].

The righteous king, however, behaves differently. His jen.htm fills the empire. His yipermeates the land. His majesty pervades the country. ...

His unassailable majesty assists in his method [tao] of winning the people [through jen.htm,yiand majesty], and therefore, he conquers without fighting, he captures cities without attacking them, and the entire empire submits without moving a soldier.

The principles of a righteous king: he does not honor those who are without virtue; he does not make those without ability officials; he does not reward those without merit; he does not punish those who have no guilt. In his court, there are no positions for favorites. Among the people, there are none who live off the country [as idle favorites and grafters]. He advances the worthy and employs the able, and doe not neglect any grade [of officialdom]. He represses the unprincipled, and restrains the overbearing--however, his punishments are not extreme. The people are observant, and all know that he who is virtuous in his home will receive rewards at the court, and he who is evil in secret will receive punishment in public. These are the principles of a righteous king.

One starts with general categories and moves to particular ones; one starts with unity and moves to plurality. What begins must end; what ends must begin again; and so the cycle repeats itself without interruption. Abandon this principle, and the empire will fall into decay.

Heaven and earth are the beginning/source of life,liandyiare the source of order, and the chun tzu is the beginning ofliand yi.

Acting on them/carrying them out, practicing them, guarding them/studying them much, and loving them greatly/more than anything else--this is the source of the chun tzu.

For Heaven and Earth give birth to/produce the chun tzu; the chun tzu brings Heaven and Earth into order; the chun tzu forms a triad with Heaven and Earth; he is the controller of all things--the father and mother of the people. Without the superior person, Heaven and Earth are in disorder, andliandyilack control.

Social Organizations

Man is the highest being on earth.

Though he does not possess a buffalo cow's strength or a horse's running ability, he uses both the buffalo cow and the horse.


Because people can form social organizations, while the former cannot form social organizations. ...

When people are harmonious, they can unite; when united, they have greater strength; when they have great strength, they become strong; when strong, they can dominate nature.

Thus, they can have palaces and houses for habitation. Thus, they can order their actions according to the four seasons, and control all things. Thus, they can enjoy the goodness of the entire world. ...

Therefore, if people are to live, they cannot get along without forming social organization. If they form social organizations, but have no social distinctions, then they will quarrel; if they quarrel, there will be disorder; if there is disorder, then the people will fail to cooperate; if they fail to cooperate, then they will be weak; if they are weak, then they will not be able to dominate nature--and therefore, they could not have palaces and houses for habitation. All of this concludes that people cannot abandonliandyieven for an instant. ...

A prince is one who is good at social organization.

On one hand, he [the Sage-King] observes the Heavens [in determining the season and times], and on the other hand, he applies it to Earth. He fills up what is lacking in Heaven and Earth [ordering the natural resources of the country i.e. husbandry], and diffuses it upon all things. He makes plain what was obscure. He lengthens what was too short. He enlarges what was too narrow. He is as wise and great as the gods, and yet he is very simple.




Making impartial assessments, bringing distinction to those living in obscurity, making the illustrious more illustrious, forcing the dissolute to withdraw, and advancing the good.

The chun tzu avoids listening to the praise of people who are his friends and intimates, or who are his partisans or cronies. He does not praise people who are vicious or murderous, or who frame others of crimes. He avoids being close to people who are full of suspicion and envy, or those who attempt to obstruct or conceal others. He does not approve requests that accompany the presentation of payments.

In general, the chun tzu is cautious when dealing with wayward doctrines, theories, undertaking, plans, praises, complaints, or anything that comes to him through irregular means of unofficial channels.

He intelligently and broadly listens and examines things, determining where they are correct and incorrect. Only then does he order punishments and rewards to be promptly distributed.

When he is able to make this the case, dissolute doctrines, theories, undertakings, plans, praises, and complaints will not be promoted, and various intelligent, comprehensive and loyal doctrines, theories, undertakings, plans, praises, and complaints will simultaneously be presented and advanced.

This indeed is the way to "make impartial assessments, bring distinction to those living in obscurity, make the illustrious more illustrious, force the dissolute to withdraw, and advance the good."

17 Concerning T'ien

[Chai, Dubs, Watson]

One should not grumble at T'ien that things happen according to its tao. Thus, to know T'ien's tao and man's duty is to be a Perfect Man.


Completing without acting, and obtaining without seeking--this is what is meant by the "Office of T'ien." [Mencius 5:1:6, Lao Tzu 47]

Therefore, though T'ien's task is deep, he will not put deep thought on it; although it is great, he will not use his ability for it; though it is mysterious/shrewd/perceptive, he will not scrutinize/inquire/discern it.

This is what is meant by "not contesting with T'ien and its office."

T'ien has its seasons, Earth has its wealth, and Man has his government.

This is what is meant by "being able to form a triad."

Abandoning what one should use in order to form a triad, but still longing for the triad--this is suffering from delusion. ...

... The Sage purifies his T'ien ruler, rectifies his T'ien senses/facilities, makes his T'ien nourishment sufficient/complete, obeys T'ien government/rule, and nourishes his T'ien emotions, in order to develop to perfection Natural usefulness/achievement.

When he acts like this, he knows what he should/can and should not do. Then T'ien and Earth fulfill their proper function, and he can employ all things as his foot soldiers. And then his actions are completely governed, the nourishment completely obtained, and in his life he does no injury.

This is what is meant by "knowing T'ien."


For great skill consists in "non-doing," and great wisdom consists in "not reflecting."

If a person who has a responsible post attends to what belongs to T'ien, the people of themselves will keep to the right tao. ...

T'ien does not suspend winter because people dislike coldness; Earth does not reduce/suspend its wide spaces/spaciousness because people dislike distances; the chun tzu does not change his [good] conduct/actions because common/lesser people make a clamor/railings.

T'ien has its invariable/constant tao; earth has its invariable/constant size; the chun tzu has his invariable/constant [decorous] demeanor/deportment.

The chun tzu conforms/talks/guided to the invariable/constant [principle of himself according to tao], but the common/lesser person makes his claims.

The Shih says, "[If a person does not transgress li and yi], why should he be anxious about others' words/talk?"


The King of Chu's great wealth and numerous attendants are not the result of any wisdom he might have; and should a chun tzu have to consume course food and drink, it is not the result of any wisdom he might lack. These are both merely circumstantial.

As for cultivating the will, having many te acts, having clear knowledge and thoughts, living in the present and also keeping the mind on the [accumulated wisdom of the] ancients--these are all within an individual's own power.

Thus, the chun tzu is concerned/anxious/reverent about what is within his power, and does not desire/seek/long-for what is from T'ien. The hsiao jen neglects/forsakes/does not concern himself with what is within his power, and longs/desires for what is from T'ien [through luck / chance].

How can glorifying T'ien and longing for it compare to raising its creatures and regulating them? How can following T'ien and singing hymns in its praise compare to regulating the T'ien Mandate and using it? How can watching for the seasons and awaiting what they bring compare to responding to the season and using it? How can passively relying on things and waiting for them to multiply compare to employing them according to their qualities and transforming them? How can pondering things as simply another thing among them compare with grasping their underlying pattern and not letting it go? How can longing for the origin of things compare with mastering what things are perfected by?

Thus, if you cast aside the human in order to long for T'ien, you will miss out on the essential nature of all things. ...

Li and Yi

In T'ien, there is nothing/none as bright/brilliant as the sun and moon. On earth, there is nothing as bright as water and fire. Among things, there is nothing as bright as pearls and gems/jade. Among man, there is nothing as bright as li and yi. ...

One-Sided Doctrines

All things are one section of tao.

One thing is a section of all things.

The stupid person sees only one section of one thing and thinks he knows tao--but he lacks this knowledge.

Shen Tzu [said that the worthy should not be rewarded, and the able should not be given office] has insight about what is behind/leading back but none about what is before/leading the way. Lao Tzu [discussed the bent being better than the straight and the weak overcoming the strong] has insight about the bent/bending, but not about the straight/straightening. li], he shall by all means be destroyed.

Li is the greatest thing in order and making distinctions; it is the root of strength and security...

All li begin in accumulating rules, are perfected in becoming beautiful, and end in producing joy. Hence when they have reached perfection, men's emotions and sense of beauty are both fully expressed. ....

Li is that whereby... love and hatred are tempered, and joy and anger keep their proper place. It causes the lower orders [of people] to obey, and the upper orders to be illustrious; through a myriad changes it prevents going astray. ... Its end and beginning reach each other. It is most beautiful, but preserves the distinctions. It can be most closely scrutinized, and will be found to be explicable. ...

The principle ofliis truly deep--but should discussions of "hardness and whiteness" or "likeness and unlikeness" enter, it is submerged. ...

...When the plumb-line [string and ink] is truly laid out, one cannot be deceived as to whether a thing is crooked or straight; when the balances [steelyard] are truly suspended, one cannot be cheated in weight; when the compass and square are truly applied, a person cannot be cheated as to squareness or roundness; when the chun tzu has investigated into li, he cannot be cheated as to what is false.

For the plumb-line is the extreme of straightness; the balances are the extreme of equableness; the compass and square are the extreme of squareness and roundness;liis the utmost of human tao.

Moreover, those who do not followli and are not satisfied with it are people who lack a direction in life; while they who followli and are satisfied with it are gentlemen who have a direction to their life. ....

The man who observesliconsiders wealth and things as that which proper conduct uses...

A liis embellished when its beauty is great, but its emotional content is small. Aliis simplified when its beauty is small and its emotional content is great. A rite (li) reaches the mean when its beauty and emotional content are related as inner and outer, when the visible actions and the inner emotions go along together and revolve around each other. Hence the chun tzu, when dealing with superiors, reaches the grand heights; when dealing with inferiors he makes it very simple; but when dealing with equals he keeps to the middle. Walking, fast riding, galloping, and furious galloping, are not exempt from this. This is the chun tzu's terrace and his palace [that sets the limits of his actions; he is always in the realm of proper conduct as if it were his home.

If a man keeps within this boundary, he is a scholar or chun tzu; if he goes beyond this, he is an ignorant fellow. Then he who walks up and down, makes a circuit within these boundaries [of li] and indirectly gains its order is a Sage.

For he who is dignified is so because lie has created habits of observing li; he who is great is so because he has made broad his observance of li; he who is exalted is so because he has magnified li; he who is illustrious is so because he has completely observed li.

An Ode says, "Every li is according to rule; every smile and word is as it should be." This expresses what I mean.

The man who observes lisedulously cares for life and death. Birth is the beginning death of man; death is the end of man; when the end and beginning [life's whole] are both beautiful, the tao of man is complete. Hence the chun tzu respects the beginning [of man] and venerates the end [of man]. To make the end and beginning [previous life] previous alike is the tao of the chun tzu and the beauty ofliand yi. Then to dignify his beginning and make mean his death [as the Mohists do] is to respect him when he has knowledge and disrespect him when he has no knowledge--this is the tao of an evil man, and shows a rebellious mind.

21: Eliminating Beclouding

[Dubs, Watson]

People tend to suffer from a proneness to being beclouded by a single corner, thereby causing the Great Order to remain hidden from them.

But nowadays, the dukes/feudal-lords have strange/different [unorthodox] governments, and the Hundred Schools have strange doctrines/explanations--and so, right and wrong are mixed up, and orderliness and disorderliness are mixed up.

And thus, although princes of erring/chaotic countries and members of erring/disorderly schools may genuinely seek to be right, and consider themselves to be the judge of right and wrong, their partiality causes them to be in error, averse to tao, and misled by others who cater to what they follow.

Partial to what they have accumulated, they fear hearing its evilness. And leaning on their partialness, they fear hearing the praise of differing arts--even if they inquire into them.

What brings beclouding?

Desire can bring beclouding, the beginning can bring beclouding, the end can bring beclouding, distance can bring beclouding, nearness can bring beclouding, the profound can bring beclouding, the superficial can bring beclouding, the ancient can bring beclouding, the present can bring beclouding.

The major scholars of earlier times were beclouded--and from them came the disordered schools.

Mo Tzu was beclouded by [narrow standards of] utility, and did not know life's elegancies [that are also beneficial]. Sung Tzu [,believing that desires naturally seek little amd should be given reign to] was beclouded by desire and did not know virtue. Shen Tzu [emphasized having one prince and using laws; taught that worthy officials, honoring the worthy, and employing the able are not that important] was beclouded by law, and did not know worthiness. Shen Tzu [(not the same person as the aforementioned Shen Tzu) believed that the ruler should only delegate his power to a person of talent] was beclouded by power/technique/method, and did not know wisdom. Huei Tzu [Neo-Mohist leader who stressed dialectic] was beclouded by words and did not know reality. Chuang Tzu [mystical philosopher] was beclouded by Nature, and did not know man.

If we consider tao from the standpoint/perspective of utility, it will merely be seeking gain. If we consider tao from the perspective of desire, it will merely be seeking satisfaction. If we consider tao from the perspective of law, it will merely be an art. If we consider tao from the perspective of power, it will merely be convenience. If we consider tao from the perspective of words, it will merely be dialectic. If we consider tao from the standpoint of Nature, it will merely be relying on things as they are.

These different presentations are all an aspect of tao.

But tao is constant, and includes all changes. One aspect is not sufficient to present the whole.

Those with partial knowledge perceive an aspect of tao, but are unable to know its totality--and thus, they think it is sufficient, and they gloss things over.

They confuse themselves and they mislead others.

Rulers end up beclouding inferiors, and inferiors end up beclouding superiors.

The Sage knows the afflictions that befall the mind, and sees calamities that come from being beclouded/prejudiced and hindered from knowing the truth. Therefore, he considers neither desire nor hate, beginning nor end, nearness nor distance, the universal nor the superficial, ancient nor the present. He is equally able to dispose of all things, and keeps balances level [rightly judges the value of things]. And thus, no sect can prejudice him or confuse his perception of the organizing principles of life.

Tao is the Correct Standard

What should be considered the weight used in the balances [used to weigh everything else]?

It is tao.

Therefore, one's heart dare not be ignorant of tao. If one's heart is ignorant of tao, then it cannot approve of tao, and can only approve of non tao.

If he picks people according to a heart that approves of tao, this will cause him to be like tao people, and unlike non-tao people.

The Heart/Mind Can Know Tao Through Emptiness, Unity, and Stillness

How can a person know tao?

I say: By the heart.

How does the heart know?

I say: By emptiness, unity, and stillness.

The heart never stops storing [impressions], yet it also has what is called "emptiness." The heart never stops having multiplicity/division/duality/diversity [of objects], yet it also has what is called "unity." The heart never stops moving, yet it also has what can be called quiescence/stillness.

A person from birth has the capacity to know things. With this knowing is intention/collected-data-and-memory. This intention is what is storing [impressions]. But there is also what is called emptiness. What does not allow what is already stored to harm [with partiality] what is about to received is called emptiness.

A person from birth has a heart that has the capacity/accumulation for knowledge. This knowledge contains distinctions/differentiation. These distinctions consist of the simultaneous knowing of multiple things. This simultaneous knowing of multiple things is plurality/division. But there is also what is called unity. What does not allow impression/awareness/knowing to harm impression/knowing [and what allows a person to focus on what is most essential at the time] is called unity.

When the heart sleeps, it dreams. When it takes its ease, it indulges in reverie/wandering. When it is used, it reflects/schemes. Thus, the mind is always moving. But it also has what is called stillness. What does not allow dreams and fantasies to disturb/disorder one's knowledge is called stillness.

Someone who is seeking tao but does not know it should be told about emptiness, unity, and stillness, in order to attain/act.

Someone who intends to seek tao will be able to receive it by having emptiness. Someone who intends to serve of tao will be able to do it in its entirety by having unity. Someone who desires to contemplate tao will be able to be discerning by having stillness.

Someone who perceives/understands tao, discerns it, and puts it into practice--such a person embodies tao.

Emptiness, unity, and equanimity can be said to be The Illustriousness of Following the Right Principle and Virtue / Great Clear/Pure Brightness/Understanding.

... When the heart is divided, it possesses no knowledge; when it is upset; it is not quick witted; when it is wandering, it is in doubt. But when it is not so, it can be used to help investigate, and all things can be embraced and known.

Thus, the human heart is like a tub of [muddy] water. Place it upright and do not move it, and the muddiness/impurities will settle to the bottom, and the water surface will be clear and bright enough to mirror the beard and eyebrows, and show the complexion's condition.

But if a little wind crosses its surface, the mud/impurities will rise/be-stirred from the bottom, and the surface clearness and brightness will be disturbed, until a person cannot even use it to see whether he is standing upright.

The heart is like that. Therefore, if it is guided by principle and nourished by purity, no things will be able to overturn/tilt it, and it will be able to determine right and wrong, and decide what should be disliked and suspected.

But should a little thing leads/pulls it astray, a person's orientation/aplomb will alter and his heart will be tilted, rendering him enable to decide matter in general. ...


The Sage gives free reign to his desires and satisfies his passions, but is controlled by and accords with principle--so why should he need to be forced/will-strength, repressed/endurance, or anxious/caution?

For the jen person's acting out/practicing of tao is wu wei, and the Sage's acting out/performance of tao is without forcing himself. The thoughts of the jen.htm person reverence the thoughts of the Sage [or the jen.htm person's thoughts are reverent, and those of the Sage are joyful]. To rejoice in this is the tao of the person of a controlled heart [developing te internally].


When observing things, if there is doubt and the heart is uncertain, things will not be apprehended clearly--and when one's thoughts lack clarity, one cannot decide whether a thing is or is not.

If someone is walking in the dark and sees a stone on the ground, he will take it to be a crouching tiger; or if he sees trees standing upright, he will take them to be standing men. The darkness has perverted his clear-sightedness.

If a drunken person is crossing a wide aqueduct, he will take it to be a narrow ditch; or if he exits a city gate, he will bend down his head and take it to be a small private door. The wine has confused his spirit.

If someone sticks his finger in his eye and looks, one thing will appear as two; and if he covers his ears and listens, he will take a small sound to be a big noise. The circumstances have confused his senses.

In looking down from a mountain, a cow looks like a sheep; but someone who wants a sheep would not go down and lead it away. The distance has obscured its size.

In looking from the foot of a mountain, a big tree looks like a chopstick; but someone who wants a chopstick would not go down and break it off. The height of the mountain has obscured its length. ...

When a blind person lifts his head and looks, he does not see the stars. His blindness has misled him.

If someone made judgments under such circumstances, he would be really stupid for doing so.

In his judgments, the stupid person uses doubtful premises to make decisions. Using doubtful premises to make decisions, he cannot be correct. Not able to be correct, how can he be without fault?

... The true student studies resolutely until the end.

What is the end?

The end is until there is no deficiency.

What may be called "until there is no deficiency?

The Sage Kings' tao.

It is said: the chun tzu hates considering the splitting of words to be investigation, and the discussion of things to be discrimination.

The chun tzu hates shallow knowledge and violent aspirations

Resolve upon your action at the moment. When the affair comes, respond to it. When the situation arises, adapt yourself to it.

22: On Rectifying Terms

[Dubs, Chai, Watson]

The chun tzu's discourses are wide-ranging in subject, yet contain the matter's essence; are simply presented, yet precisely applicable to the subject; are diverse in content, yet have unity. [They are simplified but not oversimplified].

He uses names correctly, and makes his prepositions fit with the facts, in order to ensure that their meaning and intention are made plainly evident.

Their types of words and propositions act as messengers of intention and meaning. If these are considered enough to communicate, they do not explicate the matter any further.

Making words and propositions more involved will have pernicious results.

Thus, is a name is enough to point to its object, and if a proposition is enough to manifest the mater's core, then do not explicate the matter further. What goes beyond this is called "belaboring the point."

The chun tzu throws away such laboriousness over speech; but the fool seizes it and considers it his own treasure. Thus, the fool's speech is hastily formulated/frivolous and crude, given to contention but not proper to the category of its subject, and endlessly babbles on and on and gushes forth. He uses words to seduce, and makes propositions deceptive, but there is no depth to their meaning and intentions. Thus, they investigate and borrow, but there is no core meaning; they work quite hard, but lack accomplishment; and though they covet one, they acquire no reputation.

Thus, the wise person's speech is easy to understand when reflected on, readily produces security when acted on, and is easy to establish when upheld.

In miscellaneous psychological terms, the essential factor at birth is man's original nature. That which at birth is produced by the concord of the yin and yang, whose essence is suitable for the stimulus and response relation, and is not produced by training, but exists spontaneously, is called original nature. The love, hate, joy, anger, sorrow, and pleasure of original nature are called emotions.

When the heart selects from among the emotions by which by which it is moved--this is called reflection. When the heart/mind reflects and can act accordingly--this is called acquired training. When reflection is practiced and a person's powers are trained, and only then is formed--this is called acquired character. ...

That in man by which he knows is called knowledge. That knowledge that corresponds to reality is called wisdom.

That in which it can be carried out is called his ability. That which corresponds to what really can be done is called ability.

On Desire

General doctrines of self-control/order/health that depend on removing desire, generally have no way to guide/curb desires, and are hampered by the presence/numerousness of desire/s. [18.10, 22.3b]

The presence of desire or the absence of desire is one class of phenomena and one of the elements of human nature. It is not the result of self-control or disorderly conduct.

The numerousness of desires or the fewness of desires is a different class of phenomena. It depends on the strength of the emotions, and not on self-control or disorderly conduct.

Desire does not depend/consider/await the possibility of attainment/satisfaction. But the seeking of something follows/considers what is possible/approved.

"Desire does not depend on the possibility of attainment/satisfaction"--this is what is received from T'ien. "Seeking for anything follows what is possible/approved"--this is what is received from the heart. ...

What people desire most is life. What people hate most is death. And yet, there are some people who follow after life and find death [or abandon life and follow death / turn their back on life and choose death]. This is not because they do not desire life and they desire death. It is because they do not approve of [or see their way clear to] life, but approve of death.

Thus, if someone's desires transgress, his actions can be limited by the heart.

If the heart assents/dictates to what is in accordance with moral/just law/reason/principle, then even if the desires are many, what harm are they to order? When a person's desires are weak/don't go far/deficient, his actions can transgress, sicne mind is the cause/commander of this. If what the heart assents to deviates from the moral law, then although the desires be few, how would that stop disorder?

Therefore, order and disorder depend on the assent of the heart, and not on the desires of the essence/affective/emotional-nature.

If you do not seek for order where it is, and instead seek for it where it is not, then even if you say "I have it," you have lost it. [18.10]

Guiding Desires

Human nature is the product of T'ien. The emotional nature is the essence of human nature. Desires are the reactions of emotional nature. The emotional nature is not able to escape from making the assumption that what a person desires can be attained.

The starting point of wisdom must be to consider the desires necessary, but to guide them. For even if someone is a doorkeeper, his desires cannot be removed; and even if he is an Emperor, his desires cannot be completely fulfilled.

Although desires cannot be completely fulfilled, they can almost be completely fulfilled. Although desires cannot be removed, their pursuit can be temperate.

Although desires cannot completely be fulfilled, a person who seeks for it can be as if almost completely satisfied. Although desire cannot be removed, if what he wants cannot be obtained, the person who reflects will desire to restrain his pursuit.

In the case of a person who knows tao, if he obtains power and wealth, he can come close to satisfying all his desires; and if he lacks power and wealth, he can [still] come close to satisfying all his desires--for if he lacks power and wealth, he can [properly] restrain his pursuit. There is nothing else in the world better than this.


People generally follow what they deem possible/good, and reject they deem impossible/bad.

Thus, there is nothing better than knowing tao--and those who do will without fail follow it.

Suppose someone likes the South, never considering it too much; and hates the North, never considering it too little. If he could not obtain the entire South, he certainly would not leave the South and go North.

When it comes to what people desire, they never consider it too much/difficult; and when it comes to what they hate, they never consider it too little/ it is regardless of how easy they are obtained. If they cannot obtain all they desire, they certainly would not leave the tao of their desires instead seek what they hate.

Thus, when people approve of and follow tao, how could this bring loss and cause disorderly conduct [how could increasing the desires produce disorder]; and when they do not approve of tao and desert it, how could it bring gain and self-control [how could decreasing the desires produce order]? [Mencius 7:1:3]

Therefore, the wise person is only concerned with tao , and all the longings of the trivial school's exotic theories fade away.


In general, when people choose, they never get only what they desired, and never lose only what they disliked.

[In other words, they always end up with some sort combination of what they desired and dislked.]

People's actions should always correspond to the [right] standard.

When a steelyard [that is used for weighing things] is not held properly, a heavy article will cause it to swing up high, and people will think it is light; and a light item will cause the steelyard to hang down low, and people will think it is heavy. In this way, people are misled about weights.

When the correct steelyard bob [i.e. the standard] is not right, calamity is mixed with desire, and people think it is happiness; or happiness is mixed with hatred, and people think it is calamity. In this way, too, people are misled about calamity and happiness.

tao is the correct steelyard bob [i.e. standard] in ancient times and in the present. If you depart from tao and select your own inner standard, then you will not know what calamity or happiness takes for a pretext to delude you.


If a trader exchanges one for one, people say, "He has neither loss nor gain." If he exchanges one for two, people say, "There is no loss, but a gain." If he exchanges two for one, people say, "There is no gain, but a loss."

The schemer gets as much as he can; the person who plans takes all that he can. No one will exchange two for one, because they know the art of evaluating things.

Following tao is like exchanging one for two--how can there be a loss? Leaving tao and choosing subjective standards is like exchanging two for one--how can there be any gain?

Exchanging the accumulated desire of a hundred years for the contentment of one moment--this is a case of not knowing the art of evaluating things.

The chun tzu is cautious about untried doctrine, actions which have not been previously seen, and plans that may have been unheard among people.

23: Man's Nature is Detestable

[Dubs, Chai, Watson]

...Crooked/warped wood needs steaming and bending to conform to the carpenter's rule, and only then is it straight; blunt/dull metal needs grinding and whetting, and only then is it sharp; and human nature--evil as it is nowadays--must have teachers and precepts in order to be upright, and must have li and yi in order to be orderly.

In ancient times, the Sage Kings knew that human nature was detestable, selfish, vicious, unrighteous, rebellious, and of itself did not bring about order--and thus, they created li and yi and established laws and ordinances, in order to force and beautify the natural feelings of man, and to thereby rectify them. They trained to obedience and civilized man's natural feelings, thus guiding them. Then order arose and people followed tao.

Nowadays, the people who are influenced by good teachers and laws, accumulate literature and knowledge, and are led by li and yi become chun tzu; while those who give reign to their natural feelings, take joy in haughtiness, and break li and yi become hsiao jen.

All li and yi comes from the acquired training/nature of a Sage, and not from original human nature.

[The inborn nature might contain it, but it does not contain the inclination to form it].

Thus, when a potter shapes clay to make a vessel, this is the making of the acquired nature of the potter, and not of his inborn nature; and when an artisan carves a vessel from wood, this is made from his acquired nature and not part of his inborn nature.

The Sage accumulates ideas and thoughts, and becomes skilled by his acquired training/nature, so as to bring forth li andyi , and develop laws and standards.

Thus,li and yi and laws and standards are made from the Sage's acquired nature, and not from what is in his inborn nature.

Someone may say: The Sage attains that stage by accumulation--and yet, not everyone accumulates to this. Why is that?

I reply: They have the capability, but they do not use it/induced/made to do so.

Thus, the hsiao jen can/capable become a chun tzu, but he is not willing/refuses to become a chun tzu. The chun tzu can become a hsiao jen, but he is not willing/refuses to become a hsiao jen.

It is not impossible for the hsiao jen and the chun tzu to change places, but they nevertheless do not. It is possible, but they do not use it/induced. made to do so.

Thus, though it is possible for a man in the street to become a Yu, he will not necessarily have the true ability/will to become a Yu. Though one is unable to become a Yu, this does not mean it is impossible/not-capable for him to become a Yu. [4.8, 8.11]

Choosing the Right Teachiners and Friends


Therefore, even is someone has fine natural-qualities/innate-substance and is perceptive and knowledgeable, he still needs to seek a worthy teacher to serve, and needs to select out excellent friends to associate with.

Having found a worthy teacher, all he will hear will be the tao of Yao, Chun, Yu, and Tang. Having found and begun association with excellent friends, all he will see will be loyalty, trustworthiness, respectfulness, and polite conduct.

This way, his person can regularly progress in jen and yi, and unconsciously grow like those people.

Now, should he instead reside among those who lack virtue, all he would hear is deception and hypocrisy, and all he would see is corruption, lascivious, and greedy conduct.

This way, his person will regularly and unconsciously become more and more criminalized, also as a result of having been changed by habituation.

Great Compendium

When presented with the chun tzu [ideal], someone who loves it is the type who can actually attain it. ...

When presented with what is contrary to the chun tzu, someone who loves it is not the type who can actually become a chun tzu.

If you take someone who is not the type who can actually become a chun tzu, and you nevertheless attempt to educate him, he will become a common thief, or fall in with a gang of bandits.

The wheel of a cart was once a tree on Tai Chan. Having been subjected to the press-frame for three to five months, it can be twisted into the wheel hub cover, and will never revert back to its original shape.

Thus, the chun tzu must take care in choosing his press-frame. Be careful!

The root of the orchid and valerian are already fragrant, but if you soak them in honey or sweet liquor, they will double in value. On the other hand, even a proper chun tzu is open to slander if he is soaked in the reed of liquor. Thus, the chun tzu must be careful about what he is soaking in.

Yi and gain are the two things that humans have.

Yao and Shun could not eliminate the people's desire for gain--but they were able to cause their desire for gain to not overcome their fondness for yi .

Jie and Zhou could not eliminate the people's fondness foryi --but they could case their fondness for yi to not overcome their desire for gain.

Thus, when yi defeats gain, there is an ordered age, and when gain overcomes yi , there is a disordered age.

Hsun Tzu / Xunzi Quotes

t. The speech of the chun tzu is profound yet refined, readily understood yet systematic, and making distinctions yet having unity. He rectifies the names and makes his words appropriate, so that his meaning and intention can be clarified. The names and words are the messengers of his meaning and intention. When they are fully expressed and understood, he stops. To use them improperly is wickedness. Hence, when the names fully designate the actualities, and when his words make the ideas manifest, he stops. Beyond this, he is considered to be slow of speech. This is what the chun tzu rejects and the stupid person considers to be his treasure. For the speech of the stupid person is hasty and coarse, boisterous and unsystematic, babbling and bubbling. He sophisticates the names and mystifies his words, without making any sense of them. Hence he goes far, but there is no destination. He works hard, but there is no result. He covets fame, but none is acquired.

When a person is imprudent, lackadaisical, and neglecting of himself, it makes him highly vulnerable to harm.

The basis of accomplishment is in never quitting.

The superior person is committed to focus.

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.

In order to properly understand the big picture, everyone should fear becoming mentally clouded and obsessed with one small section of truth.

... I say: If the heart is sidetracked/branches-off, it will lack knowledge; if it is unbalanced/tilted, it will lack discernment/being-concentrated; if it is split-up/divided, it will become subject to doubt and confusion/false-conclusions.

If people do not have teachers to guide them, they will have a tendency to follow evil, and not uprightness.

The superior person trains his eyes so that they only want to see what is right, his ears so that only want to hear what is right, and his mind so that it only wants to think what is right--until he has really learned to love/enjoy what is right...

When he has come to such a stage, he cannot be taken off course by power or the love for profit, he cannot be influenced by the masses, and he cannot be swayed by the world.

The chun tzu acquires the good by fixing it firmly in his mind, and absorbing it so that it becomes part of him.

The chun tzu is never tired of the good. He listens to sound advice and corrects himself accordingly.

The chun tzu studies all angles of a problem, and sense the golden mean.

If [natural innate] emotions are trimmed and stretched, broadened and narrowed, supplemented and decreased, put in their proper categories and fully exhausted, brought to fruition and made beautiful--if one could cause the root and branch, end and beginning, to all flow along in their proper places and serve it as principle sufficient to serve then thousand generations--then you have li. Only the chun tzu who has become obedient and has thoroughly adorned himself through wei can know how to do this.

Thus I say: Nature is the root and beginning, the raw material and original simplicity. Wei is the refinement and patterned order, the flourishing and culmination.

Without nature, there would not be anything for wei to apply itself to. Without wei, nature would not have a way to beautify itself.

Only when nature and wei have been properly matched are the name of the Sage and the work of unifying the world brought to completion.

If your classifications are modeled after the Sage Kings, you will know what is valuable. If you useyi to regulate affairs, you will know what is beneficial.

If in your classifications you know what is valuable, you will know the means by which to cultivate things. If in your affairs you know what is beneficial, you will know what motivates your movements.

These two things are the root of right and wrong, and the source of success and failure.

The Son of T'ien does not look and yet sees, does not listen and yet hears, does not contemplate and yet know, does not act and yet is successful. Like a clod he sits alone and the whole world follows him like a single body, like four limbs following the heart.