Subjects avoided by Confucius in his conversation.
The subjects on which the Master did not talk, were -- extraordinary things, feats of strength, disorder, and spiritual beings.
How a man may find instructors for himself.
The Master said, "When I walk along with two others, they may serve me as my teachers. I will select their good qualities and follow them, their bad qualities and avoid them."
Confucius calm in danger, through the assurance of having a divine mission.
The Master said, "Heaven produced the virtue that is in me. Hwan T'ûi -- what can he do to me?"
Confucius practised no concealment with his disciples.
The Master said, "Do you think, my disciples, that I have any concealments? I conceal nothing from you. There is nothing which I do that is not shown to you, my disciples;-- that is my way."
The subjects of Confucius's teaching.
There were four things which the Master taught, -- letters, ethics, devotion of soul, and truthfulness.
The paucity of true men in, and the pretentiousness of, Confucius's time.
1. The Master said, "A sage it is not mine to see; could I see a man of real talent and virtue, that would satisfy me."
2. The Master said, "A good man it is not mine to see; could I see a man possessed of constancy, that would satisfy me.
3. "Having not and yet affecting to have, empty and yet affecting to be full, straitened and yet affecting to be at ease:-- it is difficult with such characteristics to have constancy."
The humanity of Confucius.
The Master angled, -- but did not use a net. He shot, -- but not at birds perching.
Against acting heedlessly.
The Master said, "There may be those who act without knowing why. I do not do so. Hearing much and selecting what is good and following it; seeing much and keeping it in memory:-- this is the second style of knowledge."
The readiness of Confucius to meet approaches to him though made by the unlikely.
1. It was difficult to talk (profitably and reputably) with the people of Hû-hsiang, and a lad of that place having had an interview with the Master, the disciples doubted.
2. The Master said, "I admit people's approach to me without committing myself as to what they may do when they have retired. Why must one be so severe? If a man purify himself to wait upon me, I receive him so purified, without guaranteeing his past conduct."
Virtue is not far to seek.
The Master said, "Is virtue a thing remote? I wish to be virtuous, and lo! virtue is at hand."
How Confucius acknowledged his error.
1. The minister of crime of Ch'an asked whether the duke Châo knew propriety, and Confucius said, "He knew propriety."
2. Confucius having retired, the minister bowed to Wû-mâ Ch'î to come forward, and said, "I have heard that the superior man is not a partisan. May the superior man be a partisan also? The prince married a daughter of the house of Wû, of the same surname with himself, and called her, -- 'The elder Tsze of Wû.' If the prince knew propriety, who does not know it?"
3. Wû-mâ Ch'î reported these remarks, and the Master said, "I am fortunate! If I have any errors, people are sure to know them."
The good fellowship of Confucius.
When the Master was in company with a person who was singing, if he sang well, he would make him repeat the song, while he accompanied it with his own voice.
Acknowledgement of Confucius in estimating himself.
The Master said, "In letters I am perhaps equal to other men, but the character of the superior man, carrying out in his conduct what he professes, is what I have not yet attained to."
What Confucius declined to be considered, and what he claimed.
The Master said, "The sage and the man of perfect virtue;-- how dare I rank myself with them? It may simply be said of me, that I strive to become such without satiety, and teach others without weariness." Kung-hsî Hwâ said, "This is just what we, the disciples, cannot imitate you in."
Confucius declines to be prayed for.
The Master being very sick, Tsze-lû asked leave to pray for him. He said, "May such a thing be done?" Tsze-lû replied, "It may. In the Eulogies it is said, 'Prayer has been made for thee to the spirits of the upper and lower worlds.'" The Master said, "My praying has been for a long time."
Meanness not so bad as insubordination.
The Master said, "Extravagance leads to insubordination, and parsimony to meanness. It is better to be mean than to be insubordinate."
Contrast in their feelings between the Chün-tsze and the mean man.
The Master said, "The superior man is satisfied and composed; the mean man is always full of distress."
How various elements modified one another in the character of Confucius.
The Master was mild, and yet dignified; majestic, and yet not fierce; respectful, and yet easy.