The Works of Mencius

Book 7, Part 1 (cont.): Tsin Sin


Chapter 15.

Benevolence and righteousness are natural to man, parts of his constitution.

1. Mencius said, 'The ability possessed by men without having been acquired by learning is intuitive ability, and the knowledge possessed by them without the exercise of thought is their intuitive knowledge.

2. 'Children carried in the arms all know to love their parents, and when they are grown a little, they all know to love their elder brothers.

3. 'Filial affection for parents is the working of benevolence. Respect for elders is the working of righteousness. There is no other reason for those feelings;-- they belong to all under heaven.'

Chapter 16.

How what Shun was discovered itself in his greatest obscurity.

Mencius said, 'When Shun was living amid the deep retired mountains, dwelling with the trees and rocks, and wandering among the deer and swine, the difference between him and the rude inhabitants of those remote hills appeared very small. But when he heard a single good word, or saw a single good action, he was like a stream or a river bursting its banks, and flowing out in an irresistible flood.'

Chapter 17.

A man has but to obey the law in himself.

Mencius said, 'Let a man not do what his own sense of righteousness tells him not to do, and let him not desire what his sense of righteousness tells him not to desire;-- to act thus is all he has to do.'

Chapter 18.

The benefits of trouble and affliction.

1. Mencius said, 'Men who are possessed of intelligent virtue and prudence in affairs will generally be found to have been in sickness and troubles.

2. 'They are the friendless minister and concubine's son, who keep their hearts under a sense of peril, and use deep precautions against calamity. On this account they become distinguished for their intelligence.'

Chapter 19.

Four different classes of ministers.

1. Mencius said, 'There are persons who serve the prince;-- they serve the prince, that is, for the sake of his countenance and favour.

2. 'There are ministers who seek the tranquillity of the State, and find their pleasure in securing that tranquillity.

3. 'There are those who are the people of Heaven. They, judging that, if they were in office, they could carry out their principles, throughout the kingdom, proceed so to carry them out.

4. 'There are those who are great men. They rectify themselves and others are rectified.'

Chapter 20.

The things which the superior man delights in.

1. Mencius said, 'The superior man has three things in which he delights, and to be ruler over the kingdom is not one of them.

2. 'That his father and mother are both alive, and that the condition of his brothers affords no cause for anxiety;-- this is one delight.

3. 'That, when looking up, he has no occasion for shame before Heaven, and, below, he has no occasion to blush before men;-- this is a second delight.

4. 'That he can get from the whole kingdom the most talented individuals, and teach and nourish them;-- this is the third delight.

5. 'The superior man has three things in which he delights, and to be ruler over the kingdom is not one of them.'

Chapter 21.

Man's own nature the most important thing to him, and the source of his true enjoyment.

1. Mencius said, 'Wide territory and a numerous people are desired by the superior man, but what he delights in is not here.

2. 'To stand in the centre of the kingdom, and tranquillize the people within the four seas;-- the superior man delights in this, but the highest enjoyment of his nature is not here.

3. What belongs by his nature to the superior man cannot be increased by the largeness of his sphere of action, nor diminished by his dwelling in poverty and retirement;-- for this reason that it is determinately apportioned to him by Heaven.

4. 'What belongs by his nature to the superior man are benevolence, righteousness, propriety, and knowledge. These are rooted in his heart; their growth and manifestation are a mild harmony appearing in the countenance, a rich fullness in the back, and the character imparted to the four limbs. Those limbs understand to arrange themselves, without being told.'

Chapter 22.

The government of king Wan by which the aged were nourished.

1. Mencius said, 'Po-î, that he might avoid Châu, 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, to avoid Châu, was dwelling on the coast of the eastern sea. When he heard of the rise of king Wan, he said, "Why should I not go and follow him? I have heard that the chief if the West knows well how to nourish the old." If there were a prince in the kingdom, who knew well how to nourish the old, all men of virtue would feel that he was the proper object for them to gather to.

2. 'Around the homestead with its five mâu, the space beneath the walls was planted with mulberry trees, with which the women nourished silkworms, and thus the old were able to have silk to wear. Each family had five brood hens and two brood sows, which were kept to their breeding seasons, and thus the old were able to have flesh to eat. The husbandmen cultivated their farms of 100 mâu, and thus their families of eight mouths were secured against want.

3. 'The expression, "The chief of the West knows well how to nourish the old," refers to his regulation of the fields and dwellings, his teaching them to plant the mulberry and nourish those animals, and his instructing the wives and children, so as to make them nourish their aged. At fifty, warmth cannot be maintained without silks, and at seventy flesh is necessary to satisfy the appetite. Persons not kept warm nor supplied with food are said to be starved and famished, but among the people of king Wan, there were no aged who were starved or famished. This is the meaning of the expression in question.'

Chapter 23.

To promote the virtue of the people, the first care of a government should be to consult for their being well off.

1. Mencius said, 'Let it be seen to that their fields of grain and hemp are well cultivated, and make the taxes on them light;-- so the people may be made rich.

2. 'Let it be seen to that the people use their resources of food seasonably, and expend their wealth only on the prescribed ceremonies:-- so their wealth will be more than can be consumed.

3. 'The people cannot live without water and fire, yet if you knock at a man's door in the dusk of the evening, and ask for water and fire, there is no man who will not give them, such is the abundance of these things. A sage governs the kingdom so as to cause pulse and grain to be as abundant as water and fire. When pulse and grain are as abundant as water and fire, how shall the people be other than virtuous?'