The Analects

Book 12: Yen Yûan


Chapter I.

How to attain to perfect virtue:-- a conversation with Yen Yüan.

1. Yen Yüan asked about perfect virtue. The Master said, "To subdue one's self and return to propriety, is perfect virtue. If a man can for one day subdue himself and return to propriety, all under heaven will ascribe perfect virtue to him. Is the practice of perfect virtue from a man himself, or is it from others?"

2. Yen Yüan said, "I beg to ask the steps of that process." The Master replied, "Look not at what is contrary to propriety; listen not to what is contrary to propriety; speak not what is contrary to propriety; make no movement which is contrary to propriety." Yen Yüan then said, "Though I am deficient in intelligence and vigor, I will make it my business to practice this lesson."

Chapter 2.

Wherein perfect virtue is realized:-- a conversation with Chung-kung.

Chung-kung asked about perfect virtue. The Master said, "It is, when you go abroad, to behave to every one as if you were receiving a great guest; to employ the people as if you were assisting at a great sacrifice; not to do to others as you would not wish done to yourself; to have no murmuring against you in the country, and none in the family." Chung-kung said, "Though I am deficient in intelligence and vigor, I will make it my business to practice this lesson."

Chapter 3.

Caution in speaking a characteristic of perfect virtue:-- a conversation with Tsze-niû.

1. Sze-mâ Niû asked about perfect virtue.

2. The Master said, "The man of perfect virtue is cautious and slow in his speech."

3. "Cautious and slow in his speech!" said Niu;-- "is this what is meant by perfect virtue?" The Master said, "When a man feels the difficulty of doing, can he be other than cautious and slow in speaking?"

Chapter 4.

How the Chün-tsze has neither anxiety nor fear, and conscious rectitude frees from these.

1. Sze-mâ Niû asked about the superior man. The Master said, "The superior man has neither anxiety nor fear."

2. "Being without anxiety or fear!" said Niû;-- "does this constitute what we call the superior man?"

3. The Master said, "When internal examination discovers nothing wrong, what is there to be anxious about, what is there to fear?"

Chapter 5.

Consolation offered by Tsze-hsiâ to Tsze-niû, anxious about the ways of his brother.

1. Sze-mâ Niû, full of anxiety, said, "Other men all have their brothers, I only have not."

2. Tsze-hsiâ said to him, "There is the following saying which I have heard --

3. "'Death and life have their determined appointment; riches and honors depend upon Heaven.'

4. "Let the superior man never fail reverentially to order his own conduct, and let him be respectful to others and observant of propriety:-- then all within the four seas will be his brothers. What has the superior man to do with being distressed because he has no brothers?"

Chapter 6.

What constitutes intelligence:-- addressed to Tsze-chang.

Tsze-chang asked what constituted intelligence. The Master said, "He with whom neither slander that gradually soaks into the mind, nor statements that startle like a wound in the flesh, are successful, may be called intelligent indeed. Yea, he with whom neither soaking slander, nor startling statements, are successful, may be called farseeing."

Chapter 7.

Requisites in government:-- a conversation with Tsze-kung.

1. Tsze-kung asked about government. The Master said, "The requisites of government are that there be sufficiency of food, sufficiency of military equipment, and the confidence of the people in their ruler."

2. Tsze-kung said, "If it cannot be helped, and one of these must be dispensed with, which of the three should be foregone first?" "The military equipment," said the Master.

3. Tsze-kung again asked, "If it cannot be helped, and one of the remaining two must be dispensed with, which of them should be foregone?" The Master answered, "Part with the food. From of old, death has been the lot of an men; but if the people have no faith in their rulers, there is no standing for the state."

Chapter 8.

Substantial qualities and accomplishments in the Chün-tsze.

1. Chî Tsze-ch'ang said, "In a superior man it is only the substantial qualities which are wanted;-- why should we seek for ornamental accomplishments?"

2. Tsze-kung said, "Alas! Your words, sir, show you to be a superior man, but four horses cannot overtake the tongue.

3. "Ornament is as substance; substance is as ornament. The hide of a tiger or a leopard stripped of its hair, is like the hide of a dog or a goat stripped of its hair."

Chapter 9.

Light taxation the best way to secure the government from embrrassment for want of funds.

1. The duke Âi inquired of Yû Zo, saying, "The year is one of scarcity, and the returns for expenditure are not sufficient;-- what is to be done?"

2. Yû Zo replied to him, "Why not simply tithe the people?"

3. "With two tenths," said the duke, "I find it not enough;-- how could I do with that system of one tenth?"

4. Yû Zo answered, "If the people have plenty, their prince will not be left to want alone. If the people are in want, their prince cannot enjoy plenty alone."

Chapter 10.

How to exalt virtue and discover delusions.

1. Tsze-chang having asked how virtue was to be exalted, and delusions to be discovered, the Master said, "Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles, and be moving continually to what is right, -- this is the way to exalt one's virtue.

2. "You love a man and wish him to live; you hate him and wish him to die. Having wished him to live, you also wish him to die. This is a case of delusion.

3. "'It may not be on account of her being rich, yet you come to make a difference.'"