The Analects

Book 15: Wei Ling Kung


Chapter I.

Confucius refuses to talk on military affairs. In the midst of distress, he shows the disciples how the superior man is above distress.

1. The duke Ling of Wei asked Confucius about tactics. Confucius replied, "I have heard all about sacrificial vessels, but I have not learned military matters." On this, he took his departure the next day.

2. When he was in Chan, their provisions were exhausted, and his followers became so ill that they were unable to rise.

3. Tsze-lû, with evident dissatisfaction, said, "Has the superior man likewise to endure in this way?" The Master said, "The superior man may indeed have to endure want, but the mean man, when he is in want, gives way to unbridled license."

Chapter 2.

How Confucius aimed at the knowledge of an all-pervading unity.

1. The Master said, "Ts'ze, you think, I suppose, that I am one who learns many things and keeps them in memory?"

2. Tsze-kung replied, "Yes, -- but perhaps it is not so?"

3. "No," was the answer; "I seek a unity all pervading."

Chapter 3.

Few really know virtue.

The Master said, "Yû, those who know virtue are few."

Chapter 4.

How Shun was able to govern without personal effort.

The Master said, "May not Shun be instanced as having governed efficiently without exertion? What did he do? He did nothing but gravely and reverently occupy his royal seat."

Chapter 5.

Conduct that will be appreciated in all parts of the world.

1. Tsze-chang asked how a man should conduct himself, so as to be everywhere appreciated.

2. The Master said, "Let his words be sincere and truthful and his actions honorable and careful;-- such conduct may be practiced among the rude tribes of the South or the North. If his words be not sincere and truthful, and his actions not honorable and careful, will he, with such conduct, be appreciated, even in his neighborhood?

3. "When he is standing, let him see those two things, as it were, fronting him. When he is in a carriage, let him see them attached to the yoke. Then may he subsequently carry them into practice."

4. Tsze-chang wrote these counsels on the end of his sash.

Chapter 6.

The admirable characters of Tsze-yû and Chü Po-yü.

1. The Master said, "Truly straightforward was the historiographer Yü. When good government prevailed in his state, he was like an arrow. When bad government prevailed, he was like an arrow.

2. "A superior man indeed is Chü Po-yü! When good government prevails in his state, he is to be found in office. When bad government prevails, he can roll his principles up, and keep them in his breast."

Chapter 7.

There are men with whom to speak, and men with whom to keep silence. The wise know them.

The Master said, "When a man may be spoken with, not to speak to him is to err in reference to the man. When a man may not be spoken with, to speak to him is to err in reference to our words. The wise err neither in regard to their man nor to their words."

Chapter 8.

High natures value virtue more than life.

The Master said, "The determined scholar and the man of virtue will not seek to live at the expense of injuring their virtue. They will even sacrifice their lives to preserve their virtue complete."

Chapter 9.

How intercourse with the good aids the practice of virtue.

Tsze-kung asked about the practice of virtue. The Master said, "The mechanic, who wishes to do his work well, must first sharpen his tools. When you are living in any state, take service with the most worthy among its great officers, and make friends of the most virtuous among its scholars."

Chapter 10.

Certain rules, exemplified in the ancient dynasties, to be followed in governing:-- a reply to Yen Yüan.

1. Yen Yüan asked how the government of a country should be administered.

2. The Master said, "Follow the seasons of Hsiâ.

3. "Ride in the state carriage of Yin.

4. "Wear the ceremonial cap of Châu.

5. "Let the music be the Shâo with its pantomimes.

6. "Banish the songs of Chang, and keep far from specious talkers. The songs of Chang are licentious; specious talkers are dangerous."

Chapter 11.

The necessity of forethought and precaution.

The Master said, "If a man take no thought about what is distant, he will find sorrow near at hand."

Chapter 12.

The rarity of a true love of virtue.

The Master said, "It is all over! I have not seen one who loves virtue as he loves beauty."

Chapter 13.

Against jealousy of others' talents:-- the case of Tsang Wan, and Hûi of Liû-hsiâ.

The Master said, "Was not Tsang Wan like one who had stolen his situation? He knew the virtue and the talents of Hûi of Liû-hsiâ, and yet did not procure that he should stand with him in court."

Chapter 14.

The way to ward off resentments.

The Master said, "He who requires much from himself and little from others, will keep himself from being the object of resentment."

Chapter 15.

Nothing can be made of people who take things easily, not giving themselves the trouble to think.

The Master said, "When a man is not in the habit of saying -- 'What shall I think of this? What shall I think of this?' I can indeed do nothing with him!"

Chapter 16.

Against frivolous talkers and superficial speculators.

The Master said, "When a number of people are together, for a whole day, without their conversation turning on righteousness, and when they are fond of carrying out the suggestions of a small shrewdness;-- theirs is indeed a hard case."

Chapter 17.

The conduct of the superior man is righteous, courteous, humble, and sincere.

The Master said, "The superior man in everything considers righteousness to be essential. He performs it according to the rules of propriety. He brings it forth in humility. He completes it with sincerity. This is indeed a superior man."

Chapter 18.

Our own incompetency, and not our reputation, the proper business of concern to us.

The Master said, "The superior man is distressed by his want of ability. He is not distressed by men's not knowing him."

Chapter 19.

The superior man wishes to be had in remembrance.

The Master said, "The superior man dislikes the thought of his name not being mentioned after his death."