The Works of Mencius

Book 4, Part 2 (cont.): Li Lau


Chapter 10.

That Confucius kept the mean.

Mencius said, 'Chung-nî did not do extraordinary things.'

Chapter 11.

What is right is the supreme pursuit of the great man.

Mencius said,'The great man does not think beforehand of his words that they may be sincere, nor of his actions that they may be resolute;-- he simply speaks and does what is right.'

Chapter 12.

A man is great because he is childlike.

Mencius said, 'The great man is he who does not lose his child's-heart.'

Chapter 13.

Filial piety seen in the obsequies of parents.

Mencius said, 'The nourishment of parents when living is not sufficient to be accounted the great thing. It is only in the performing their obsequies when dead that we have what can be considered the great thing.'

Chapter 14.

The value of learning thoroughly in-wrought into the mind.

Mencius said, 'The superior man makes his advances in what he is learning with deep earnestness and by the proper course, wishing to get hold of it as in himself. Having got hold of it in himself, he abides in it calmly and firmly. Abiding in it calmly and firmly, he reposes a deep reliance on it. Reposing a deep reliance on it, he seizes it on the left and right, meeting everywhere with it as a fountain from which things flow. It is on this account that the superior man wishes to get hold of what he is learning as in himself.'

Chapter 15.

[A continuation of the last chapter.]

Mencius said, 'In learning extensively and discussing minutely what is learned, the object of the superior man is that he may be able to go back and set forth in brief what is essential.'

Chapter 16.

[The necessity of the heart in rulers.]

Mencius said, 'Never has he who would by his excellence subdue men been able to subdue them. Let a prince seek by his excellence to nourish men, and he will be able to subdue the whole kingdom. It is impossible that any one should become ruler of the people to whom they have not yielded the subjection of the heart.'

Chapter 17.

[Mencius's explanation of inaupicious words.]

Mencius said, 'Words which are not true are inauspicious, and the words which are most truly obnoxious to the name of inauspicious, are those which throw into the shade men of talents and virtue.'

Chapter 18.

How Mencius explained Confucius's praise of water.

1. The disciple Hsü said, 'Chung-nî often praised water, saying, "0 water! 0 water!" What did he find in water to praise?'

2. Mencius replied, 'There is a spring of water; how it gushes out! It rests not day nor night. It fills up every hole, and then advances, flowing onto the four seas. Such is water having a spring! It was this which he found in it to praise.

3. 'But suppose that the water has no spring.-- In the seventh and eighth when the rain falls abundantly, the channels in the fields are all filled, but their being dried up again may be expected in a short time. So a superior man is ashamed of a reputation beyond his merits.'

Chapter 19.

Whereby sages are distinguished from other men;-- illustrated in Shun.

1. Mencius said, 'That whereby man differs from the lower animals is but small. The mass of people cast it away, while superior men preserve it.

2. 'Shun clearly understood the multitude of things, and closely observed the relations of humanity. He walked along the path of benevolence and righteousness; he did not need to pursue benevolence and righteousness.'

Chapter 20.

The same subject;-- illustrated in Yü, T'ang, Wan, Wû, and Châu-kung.

1. Mencius said, 'Yü hated the pleasant wine, and loved good words.

2. 'T'ang held fast the Mean, and employed men of talents and virtue without regard to where they came from.

3. 'King Wan looked on the people as he would on a man who was wounded, and he looked towards the right path as if he could not see it.

4. King Wû did not slight the near, and did not forget the distant.

5. 'The duke of Châu desired to unite in himself the virtues of those kings, those founders of the three dynasties, that he might display in his practice the four things which they did. If he saw any thing in them not suited to his time, he looked up and thought about it, from daytime into the night, and when he was fortunate enough to master the difficulty, he sat waiting for the morning.'

Chapter 21.

The same subject;-- illustrated in Confucius.

1. Mencius said, 'The traces of sovereign rule were extinguished, and the royal odes ceased to be made. When those odes ceased to be made, then the Ch'un Ch'iû was produced.

2. 'The Shang of Tsin, the Tâo-wû of Ch'û, and the Ch'un Ch'iû of Lû were books of the same character.

3. 'The subject of the Ch'un Ch'iû was the affairs of Hwan of Chî and Wan of Tsin, and its style was the historical. Confucius said, "Its righteous decisions I ventured to make."'

Chapter 22.

The same subject;-- illustrated in Mencius himself.

1. Mencius said, 'The influence of a sovereign sage terminates in the fifth generation. The influence of a mere sage does the same.

2. 'Although I could not be a disciple of Confucius himself, I have endeavoured to cultivate my virtue by means of others who were.'