Subjects seldom spoken of by Confucius.
The subjects of which the Master seldom spoke were -- profitableness, and also the appointments of Heaven, and perfect virtue.
Amusement of Confucius at the remark of an ignorant man about him.
1. A man of the village of Tâ-hsiang said, "Great indeed is the philosopher K'ung! His learning is extensive, and yet he does not render his name famous by any particular thing."
2. The Master heard the observation, and said to his disciples, "What shall I practice? Shall I practice charioteering, or shall I practice archery? I will practice charioteering."
Some common practices indifferent and others not.
1. The Master said, "The linen cap is that prescribed by the rules of ceremony, but now a silk one is worn. It is economical, and I follow the common practice.
2. "The rules of ceremony prescribe the bowing below the hall, but now the practice is to bow only after ascending it. That is arrogant. I continue to bow below the hall, though I oppose the common practice."
Frailties from which Confucius was free.
There were four things from which the Master was entirely free. He had no foregone conclusions, no arbitrary predeterminations, no obstinacy, and no egoism.
Confucius assured in a time of danger by his conviction of a divine mission.
1. The Master was put in fear in K'wang.
2. He said, "After the death of King Wan, was not the cause of truth lodged here in me?
3. "If Heaven had wished to let this cause of truth perish, then I, a future mortal, should not have got such a relation to that cause. While Heaven does not let the cause of truth perish, what can the people of K'wang do to me?"
On the various ability of Confucius:-- his sagehood not therein.
1. A high officer asked Tsze-kung, saying, "May we not say that your Master is a sage? How various is his ability!"
2. Tsze-kung said, "Certainly Heaven has endowed him unlimitedly. He is about a sage. And, moreover, his ability is various."
3. The Master heard of the conversation and said, "Does the high officer know me? When I was young, my condition was low, and therefore I acquired my ability in many things, but they were mean matters. Must the superior man have such variety of ability? He does not need variety of ability."
4. Lâo said, "The Master said, 'Having no official employment, I acquired many arts.'"
Confucius disclaims the knowledge attributed to him, and declares his earnestness in teaching.
The Master said, "Am I indeed possessed of knowledge? I am not knowing. But if a mean person, who appears quite empty-like, ask anything of me, I set it forth from one end to the other, and exhaust it."
For want of auspicious omens, Confucius gives up the hope of the triumph of his doctrines.
The Master said, "The FANG bird does not come; the river sends forth no map:-- it is all over with me!"
Confucius's sympathy with sorrow, respect for rank, and pity for misfortune.
When the Master saw a person in a mourning dress, or any one with the cap and upper and lower garments of full dress, or a blind person, on observing them approaching, though they were younger than himself, he would rise up, and if he had to pass by them, he would do so hastily.
Yen Yüan's admiration of his master's doctrines; and his own progress in them.
1. Yen Yüan, in admiration of the Master's doctrines, sighed and said, "I looked up to them, and they seemed to become more high; I tried to penetrate them, and they seemed to become more firm; I looked at them before me, and suddenly they seemed to be behind.
2. "The Master, by orderly method, skillfully leads men on. He enlarged my mind with learning, and taught me the restraints of propriety.
3. "When I wish to give over the study of his doctrines, I cannot do so, and having exerted all my ability, there seems something to stand right up before me; but though I wish to follow and lay hold of it, I really find no way to do so."
Confucius's dislike of pretension, and contentment with his condition.
1. The Master being very ill, Tsze-lû wished the disciples to act as ministers to him.
2. During a remission of his illness, he said, "Long has the conduct of Yû been deceitful! By pretending to have ministers when I have them not, whom should I impose upon? Should I impose upon Heaven?
3. "Moreover, than that I should die in the hands of ministers, is it not better that I should die in the hands of you, my disciples? And though I may not get a great burial, shall I die upon the road?"
How the desire for office should be qualified by self-respect.
Tsze-kung said, "There is a beautiful gem here. Should I lay it up in a case and keep it? or should I seek for a good price and sell it?" The Master said, "Sell it! Sell it! But I would wait for one to offer the price."
How barbarians can be civilized.
1. The Master was wishing to go and live among the nine wild tribes of the east.
2. Some one said, "They are rude. How can you do such a thing?" The Master said, "If a superior man dwelt among them, what rudeness would there be?"