The Works of Mencius

Book 6, Part 1 (cont.): Kâo Tsze


Chapter 14.

The attention given by men to the nourishment of the different parts of their nature must be regulated by the relative importance of those parts.

1. Mencius said, 'There is no part of himself which a man does not love, and as he loves all, so he must nourish all. There is not an inch of skin which he does not love, and so there is not an inch of skin which he will not nourish. For examining whether his way of nourishing be good or not, what other rule is there but this, that he determine by reflecting on himself where it should be applied?

2. 'Some parts of the body are noble, and some ignoble; some great, and some small. The great must not be injured for the small, nor the noble for the ignoble. He who nourishes the little belonging to him is a little man, and he who nourishes the great is a great man.

3. 'Here is a plantation-keeper, who neglects his wû and chiâ, and cultivates his sour jujube-trees;-- he is a poor plantation-keeper.

4. 'He who nourishes one of his fingers, neglecting his shoulders or his back, without knowing that he is doing so, is a man who resembles a hurried wolf.

5. 'A man who only eats and drinks is counted mean by others;-- because he nourishes what is little to the neglect of what is great.

6. 'If a man, fond of his eating and drinking, were not to neglect what is of more importance, how should his mouth and belly be considered as no more than an inch of skin?'

Chapter 15.

How some are great men, lords of reason, and some are little men, slaves of sense.

1. The disciple Kung-tû said, 'All are equally men, but some are great men, and some are little men;-- how is this?' Mencius replied, 'Those who follow that part of themselves which is great are great men; those who follow that part which is little are little men.'

2. Kung-tû pursued, 'All are equally men, but some follow that part of themselves which is great, and some follow that part which is little;-- how is this?' Mencius answered, 'The senses of hearing and seeing do not think, and are obscured by external things. When one thing comes into contact with another, as a matter of course it leads it away. To the mind belongs the office of thinking. By thinking, it gets the right view of things; by neglecting to think, it fails to do this. These-- the senses and the mind-- are what Heaven has given to us. Let a man first stand fast in the supremacy of the nobler part of his constitution, and the inferior part will not be able to take it from him. It is simply this which makes the great man.'

Chapter 16.

There is a nobility that is of Heaven, and a nobility that is of man. The neglect of the former leads to the loss of the latter.

1. Mencius said, 'There is a nobility of Heaven, and there is a nobility of man. Benevolence, righteousness, self-consecration, and fidelity, with unwearied joy in these virtues;-- these constitute the nobility of Heaven. To be a kung, a ch'ing, or a tâ-fû;-- this constitutes the nobility of man.

2. 'The men of antiquity cultivated their nobility of Heaven, and the nobility of man came to them in its train.

3. 'The men of the present day cultivate their nobility of Heaven in order to seek for the nobility of man, and when they have obtained that, they throw away the other:-- their delusion is extreme. The issue is simply this, that they must lose that nobility of man as well.'

Chapter 17.

The true honour which men should desire.

1. Mencius said, 'To desire to be honoured is the common mind of men. And all men have in themselves that which is truly honourable. Only they do not think of it.

2. 'The honour which men confer is not good honour. Those whom Châo the Great ennobles he can make mean again.

3. 'It is said in the Book of Poetry,

"He has filled us with his wine,
He has satiated us with his goodness."

"Satiated us with his goodness," that is, satiated us with benevolence and righteousness, and he who is so satiated, consequently, does not wish for the fat meat and fine millet of men. A good reputation and far-reaching praise fall to him, and he does not desire the elegant embroidered garments of men.'

Chapter 18.

It is necessary to practise benevolence with all one's might. This only will preserve it.

1. Mencius said, 'Benevolence subdues its opposite just as water subdues fire. Those, however, who now-a-days practise benevolence do it as if with one cup of water they could save a whole waggon-load of fuel which was on fire, and when the flames were not extinguished, were to say that water cannot subdue fire. This conduct, moreover, greatly encourages those who are not benevolent.

2. 'The final issue will simply be this-- the loss of that small amount of benevolence.'

Chapter 19.

Benevolence must be matured.

Mencius said, 'Of all seeds the best are the five kinds of grain, yet if they be not ripe, they are not equal to the t'î or the pâi. So, the value of benevolence depends entirely on its being brought to maturity.'

Chapter 20.

Learning must not be by halves.

1. Mencius said, 'Î, in teaching men to shoot, made it a rule to draw the bow to the full, and his pupils also did the same.

2. 'A master-workman, in teaching others, uses the compass and square, and his pupils do the same.'