The tranquil prosperity of the kingdom depends on the discharge of the common relations of life.
Mencius said, 'The path of duty lies in what is near, and men seek for it in what is remote. The work of duty lies in what is easy, and men seek for it in what is difficult. If each man would love his parents and show the due respect to his elders, the whole land would enjoy tranquillity.'
The great work of men should be to strive to attain perfect sincerity.
1. Mencius said, 'When those occupying inferior situations do not obtain the confidence of the sovereign, they cannot succeed in governing the people. There is a way to obtain the confidence of the sovereign:-- if one is not trusted by his friends, he will not obtain the confidence of his sovereign. There is a way of being trusted by one's friends:-- if one do not serve his parents so as to make them pleased, he will not be trusted by his friends. There is a way to make one's parents pleased:-- if one, on turning his thoughts inwards, finds a want of sincerity, he will not give pleasure to his parents. There is a way to the attainment of sincerity in one's self:-- if a man do not understand what is good, he will not attain sincerity in himself.
2. 'Therefore, sincerity is the way of Heaven. To think how to be sincere is the way of man.
3. Never has there been one possessed of complete sincerity, who did not move others. Never has there been one who had not sincerity who was able to move others.'
The influence of government like that of king Wan.
1. Mencius said, 'Po-Î, that he might avoid Châ'u, was dwelling on the coast of the northern sea. When he heard of the rise of king Wan, he roused himself, and said, "Why should I not go and follow him? I have heard that the chief of the West knows well how to nourish the old." T'âi-kung, that he might avoid Châu, was dwelling on the coast of the eastern sea. When he heard of the rise of king Wan, he roused himself, and said, "Why should I not go and follow him? I have heard that the chief of the West knows well how to nourish the old."
2. 'Those two old men were the greatest old men of the kingdom. When they came to follow king Wan, it was the fathers of the kingdom coming to follow him. When the fathers of the kingdom joined him, how could the sons go to any other?
3. 'Were any of the princes to practise the government of king Wan, within seven years he would be sure to be giving laws to the kingdom.'
Against the ministers of his time, who pursued their warlike and other schemes, regardless of the happiness of the people.
1. Mencius said, 'Ch'iû acted as chief officer to the head of the Chî family, whose evil ways he was unable to change, while he exacted from the people double the grain formerly paid. Confucius said, "He is no disciple of mine. Little children, beat the drum and assail him."
2. 'Looking at the subject from this case, we perceive that when a prince was not practising benevolent government, all his ministers who enriched him were rejected by Confucius:-- how much more would he have rejected those who are vehement to fight for their prince! When contentions about territory are the ground on which they fight, they slaughter men till the fields are filled with them. When some struggle for a city is the ground on which they fight, they slaughter men till the city is filled with them. This is what is called "leading on the land to devour human flesh." Death is not enough for such a crime.
3. 'Therefore, those who are skilful to fight should suffer the highest punishment. Next to them should be punished those who unite some princes in leagues against others; and next to them, those who take in grassy commons, imposing the cultivation of the ground on the people.'
The pupil of the eye the index of the heart.
1. Mencius said, 'Of all the parts of a man's body there is none more excellent than the pupil of the eye. The pupil cannot be used to hide a man's wickedness. If within the breast all be correct, the pupil is bright. If within the breast all be not correct, the pupil is dull.
2. 'Listen to a man's words and look at the pupil of his eye. How can a man conceal his character?'
Deeds, not words or manners, necessary to prove mental qualities.
Mencius said, 'The respectful do not despise others. The economical do not plunder others. The prince who treats men with despite and plunders them, is only afraid that they may not prove obedient to him:-- how can he be regarded as respectful or economical? How can respectfulness and economy be made out of tones of the voice, and a smiling manner?'
Help-- effectual help-- can be given to the world only in harmony with right and propriety.
1. Shun-yü K'wan said, 'Is it the rule that males and females shall not allow their hands to touch in giving or receiving anything?' Mencius replied, 'It is the rule.' K'wan asked, 'If a man's sister-in-law be drowning, shall he rescue her with his hand?' Mencius said, 'He who would not so rescue the drowning woman is a wolf. For males and females not to allow their hands to touch in giving and receiving is the general rule; when a sister-in-law is drowning, to rescue her with the hand is a peculiar exigency.'
2. K'wan said, 'The whole kingdom is drowning. How strange it is that you will not rescue it!'
3. Mencius answered, 'A drowning kingdom must be rescued with right principles, as a drowning sister-in-law has to be rescued with the hand. Do you wish me to rescue the kingdom with my hand?'
How a father may not himself teach his son.
1. Kung-sun Ch'âu said, 'Why is it that the superior man does not himself teach his son?'
2. Mencius replied, 'The circumstances of the case forbid its being done. The teacher must inculcate what is correct. When he inculcates what is correct, and his lessons are not practised, he follows them up with being angry. When he follows them up with being angry, then, contrary to what should be, he is offended with his son. At the same time, the pupil says, 'My master inculcates on me what is correct, and he himself does not proceed in a correct path." The result of this is, that father and son are offended with each other. When father and son come to be offended with each other, the case is evil.
3. 'The ancients exchanged sons, and one taught the son of another.
4. 'Between father and son, there should be no reproving admonitions to what is good. Such reproofs lead to alienation, and than alienation there is nothing more inauspicious.'