The Works of Mencius

Book 6, Part 1 (cont.): Kâo Tsze


Chapter 9.

Illustrates the last chapter.-- How the king of Ch'î's want of wisdom was owing to neglect and bad associations.

1. Mencius said, 'It is not to be wondered at that the king is not wise!

2. 'Suppose the case of the most easily growing thing in the world;-- if you let it have one day's genial heat, and then expose it for ten days to cold, it will not be able to grow. It is but seldom that I have an audience of the king, and when I retire, there come all those who act upon him like the cold. Though I succeed in bringing out some buds of goodness, of what avail is it?

3. 'Now chess-playing is but a small art, but without his whole mind being given, and his will bent, to it, a man cannot succeed at it. Chess Ch'iû is the best chess-player in all the kingdom. Suppose that he is teaching two men to play.-- The one gives to the subject his whole mind and bends to it all his will, doing nothing but listening to Chess Ch'iû. The other, although he seems to be listening to him, has his whole mind running on a swan which he thinks is approaching, and wishes to bend his bow, adjust the string to the arrow, and shoot it. Although he is learning along with the other, he does not come up to him. Why?-- because his intelligence is not equal? Not so.'

Chapter 10.

That it is proper to man's nature to love righteousness more than life, and how it is that many act as if it were not so.

1. Mencius said, 'I like fish, and I also like bear's paws. If I cannot have the two together, I will let the fish go, and take the bear's paws. So, I like life, and I also like righteousness. If I cannot keep the two together, I will let life go, and choose righteousness.

2. 'I like life indeed, but there is that which I like more than life, and therefore, I will not seek to possess it by any improper ways. I dislike death indeed, but there is that which I dislike more than death, and therefore there are occasions when I will not avoid danger.

3. 'If among the things which man likes there were nothing which he liked more than life, why should he not use every means by which he could preserve it? If among the things which man dislikes there were nothing which he disliked more than death, why should he not do everything by which he could avoid danger?

4. 'There are cases when men by a certain course might preserve life, and they do not employ it; when by certain things they might avoid danger, and they will not do them.

5. 'Therefore, men have that which they like more than life, and that which they dislike more than death. They are not men of distinguished talents and virtue only who have this mental nature. All men have it; what belongs to such men is simply that they do not lose it.

6. 'Here are a small basket of rice and a platter of soup, and the case is one in which the getting them will preserve life, and the want of them will be death;-- if they are offered with an insulting voice, even a tramper will not receive them, or if you first tread upon them, even a beggar will not stoop to take them.

7. 'And yet a man will accept of ten thousand chung, without any consideration of propriety or righteousness. What can the ten thousand chung add to him? When he takes them, is it not that he may obtain beautiful mansions, that he may secure the services of wives and concubines, or that the poor and needy of his acquaintance may be helped by him?

8. 'In the former case the offered bounty was not received, though it would have saved from death, and now the emolument is taken for the sake of beautiful mansions. The bounty that would have preserved from death was not received, and the emolument is taken to get the service of wives and concubines. The bounty that would have saved from death was not received, and the emolument is taken that one's poor and needy acquaintance may be helped by him. Was it then not possible likewise to decline this? This is a case of what is called-- "Losing the proper nature of one's mind."'

Chapter 11.

How men having lost the proper qualities of their nature should seek to recover them.

1. Mencius said, 'Benevolence is man's mind, and righteousness is man's path.

2. 'How lamentable is it to neglect the path and not pursue it, to lose this mind and not know to seek it again!

3. 'When men's fowls and dogs are lost, they know to seek for them again, but they lose their mind, and do not know to seek for it.

4. 'The great end of learning is nothing else but to seek for the lost mind.'

Chapter 12.

How men are sensible of bodily, and not of mental or moral, defects.

1. Mencius said, 'Here is a man whose fourth finger is bent and cannot be stretched out straight. It is not painful, nor does it incommode his business, and yet if there be any one who can make it straight, he will not think the way from Ch'in to Ch'û far to go to him; because his finger is not like the finger of other people.

2. 'When a man's finger is not like those of other people, he knows to feel dissatisfied, but if his mind be not like that of other people, he does not know to feel dissatisfaction. This is called-- "Ignorance of the relative importance of things."'

Chapter 13.

Men's extreme want of thought in regard to the cultivation of themselves.

Mencius said, 'Anybody who wishes to cultivate the t'ung or the tsze, which may be grasped with both hands, perhaps with one, knows by what means to nourish them. In the case of their own persons, men do not know by what means to nourish them. Is it to be supposed that their regard of their own persons is inferior to their regard for a t'ung or tsze? Their want of reflection is extreme.'