The Works of Mencius

Book 7, Part 1: Tsin Sin


Chapter I.

By the study of ourselves we come to the knowledge of Heaven, and Heaven is served by our obeying our nature?

1. Mencius said, 'He who has exhausted all his mental constitution knows his nature. Knowing his nature, he knows Heaven.

2. 'To preserve one's mental constitution, and nourish one's nature, is the way to serve Heaven.

3. 'When neither a premature death nor long life causes a man any double-mindedness, but he waits in the cultivation of his personal character for whatever issue;-- this is the way in which he establishes his Heaven-ordained being.'

Chapter 2.

Man's duty as affected by the decrees or appointments of Heaven. What may be correctly described ascribed thereto and what not.

1. Mencius said, 'There is an appointment for everything. A man should receive submissively what may be correctly ascribed thereto.

2. 'Therefore, he who has the true idea of what is Heaven's appointment will not stand beneath a precipitous wall.

3. 'Death sustained in the discharge of one's duties may correctly be ascribed to the appointment of Heaven.

4. 'Death under handcuffs and fetters cannot correctly be so ascribed.'

Chapter 3.

Virtue is sure to be gained by seeking it, but riches and other external things not.

1. Mencius said, 'When we get by our seeking and lose by our neglecting;-- in that case seeking is of use to getting, and the things sought for are those which are in ourselves.

2. 'When the seeking is according to the proper course, and the getting is only as appointed;-- in that case the seeking is of no use to getting, and the things sought are without ourselves.'

Chapter 4.

Man is fitted for, and happy in, doing good, and may perfect himself therein.

1. Mencius said, 'All things are already complete in us.

2. 'There is no greater delight than to be conscious of sincerity on self-examination.

3. 'If one acts with a vigorous effort at the law of reciprocity, when he seeks for the realization of perfect virtue, nothing can be closer than his approximation to it.'

Chapter 5.

How many act without thought.

Mencius said, 'To act without understanding, and to do so habitually without examination, pursuing the proper path all the life without knowing its nature;-- this is the way of multitudes.'

Chapter 6.

The value of the feeling of shame.

Mencius said, 'A man may not be without shame. When one is ashamed of having been without shame, he will afterwards not have occasion to be ashamed.'

Chapter 7.

The same subject.

1. Mencius said, 'The sense of shame is to a man of great importance.

2. 'Those who form contrivances and versatile schemes distinguished for their artfulness, do not allow their sense of shame to come into action.

3. 'When one differs from other men in not having this sense of shame, what will he have in common with them?'

Chapter 8.

How the ancient scholars maintained the dignity of their character and principles.

Mencius said, 'The able and virtuous monarchs of antiquity loved virtue and forgot their power. And shall an exception be made of the able and virtuous scholars of antiquity, that they did not do the same? They delighted in their own principles, and were oblivious of the power of princes. Therefore, if kings and dukes did not show the utmost respect, and observe all forms of ceremony, they were not permitted to come frequently and visit them. If they thus found it not in their power to pay them frequent visits, how much less could they get to employ them as ministers?'

Chapter 9.

How a professional advisor of the princes might be always perfectly satisfied. The example of antiquity.

1. Mencius said to Sung Kâu-ch'ien, 'Are you fond, Sir, of travelling to the different courts? I will tell you about such travelling.

2. 'If a prince acknowledge you and follow your counsels, be perfectly satisfied. If no one do so, be the same.'

3. Kâu-ch'ien said, 'What is to be done to secure this perfect satisfaction?' Mencius replied, 'Honour virtue and delight in righteousness, and so you may always be perfectly satisfied.

4. 'Therefore, a scholar, though poor, does not let go his righteousness; though prosperous, he does not leave his own path.

5. 'Poor and not letting righteousness go;-- it is thus that the scholar holds possession of himself. Prosperous and not leaving the proper path;-- it is thus that the expectations of the people from him are not disappointed.

6. 'When the men of antiquity realized their wishes, benefits were conferred by them on the people. If they did not realize their wishes, they cultivated their personal character, and became illustrious in the world. If poor, they attended to their own virtue in solitude; if advanced to dignity, they made the whole kingdom virtuous as well.'

Chapter 10.

How people should get their inspiration to good in themselves.

Mencius said, 'The mass of men wait for a king Wan, and then they will receive a rousing impulse. Scholars distinguished from the mass, without a king Wan, rouse themselves.'

Chapter 11.

Not to be elated by riches is a proof of superiority.

Mencius said, 'Add to a man the families of Han and Wei. If he then look upon himself without being elated, he is far beyond the mass of men.'

Chapter 12.

When a ruler's aim is evidently the people's good, they will not murmur at his harshest measures.

Mencius said, 'Let the people be employed in the way which is intended to secure their ease, and though they be toiled, they will not murmur. Let them be put to death in the way which is intended to preserve their lives, and though they die, they will not murmur at him who puts them to death.'

Chapter 13.

The different influence exercised by a chief among the princes, and by a true sovereign.

1. Mencius said, 'Under a chief, leading all the princes, the people look brisk and cheerful. Under a true sovereign, they have an air of deep contentment.

2. 'Though he slay them, they do not murmur. When he benefits them, they do not think of his merit. From day to day they make progress towards what is good, without knowing who makes them do so.

3. 'Wherever the superior man passes through, transformation follows; wherever he abides, his influence is of a spiritual nature. It flows abroad, above and beneath, like that of Heaven and Earth. How can it be said that he mends society but in a small way!'

Chapter 14.

The value to a ruler of reputation and moral influences.

1. Mencius said, 'Kindly words do not enter so deeply into men as a reputation for kindness.

2. 'Good government does not lay hold of the people so much as good instructions.

3. 'Good government is feared by the people, while good instructions are loved by them. Good government gets the people's wealth, while good instructions get their hearts.'