The Works of Mencius

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


Chapter 24.

How the great doctrines of the sages dwarf all smaller doctrines, and yet are to be advanced to by successive steps.

1. Mencius said, 'Confucius ascended the eastern hill, and Lû appeared to him small. He ascended the T'âi mountain, and all beneath the heavens appeared to him small. So he who has contemplated the sea, finds it difficult to think anything of other waters, and he who has wandered in the gate of the sage, finds it difficult to think anything of the words of others.

2. 'There is an art in the contemplation of water.-- It is necessary to look at it as foaming in waves. The sun and moon being possessed of brilliancy, their light admitted even through an orifice illuminates.

3. 'Flowing water is a thing which does not proceed till it has filled the hollows in its course. The student who has set his mind on the doctrines of the sage, does not advance to them but by completing one lesson after another.'

Chapter 25.

The different results to which the love of good and the love of gain lead.

1. Mencius said, 'He who rises at cock-crowing and addresses himself earnestly to the practice of virtue, is a disciple of Shun.

2. 'He who rises at cock-crowing, and addresses himself earnestly to the pursuit of giin, is a disciple of Chih.

3. 'If you want to know what separates Shun from Chih, it is simply this,-- the interval between the thought of gain and the thought of virtue.'

Chapter 26.

The errors of Yang, Mo, and Tsze-mo. Obstinate adherence to a course which we may deem abstractly right is perilous.

1. Mencius said, 'The principle of the philosopher Yang was-- "Each one for himself." Though he might have benefited the whole kingdom by plucking out a single hair, he would not have done it.

2. 'The philosopher Mo loves all equally. If by rubbing smooth his whole body from the crown to the heel, he could have benefited the kingdom, he would have done it.

3. 'Tsze-mo holds a medium between these. By holding that medium, he is nearer the right. But by holding it without leaving room for the exigency of circumstances, it becomes like their holding their one point.

4. 'The reason why I hate that holding to one point is the injury it does to the way of right principle. It takes up one point and disregards a hundred others.'

Chapter 27.

The importance of not allowing the mind to be injured by poverty and mean condition.

1. Mencius said, 'The hungry think any food sweet, and the thirsty think the same of any drink, and thus they do not get the right taste of what they eat and drink. The hunger and thirst, in fact, injure their palate. And is it only the mouth and belly which are injured by hunger and thirst? Men's minds are also injured by them.

2. 'If a man can prevent the evils of hunger and thirst from being any evils to his mind, he need not have any sorrow about not being equal to other men.'

Chapter 28.

Hûi of Liû-Hsiâ's firmness.

Mencius said, 'Hûi of Liû-Hsiâ would not for the three highest offices of State have changed his firm purpose of life.'

Chapter 29.

Only that labour is to be prized which accomplishes its object.

Mencius said, 'A man with definite aims to be accomplished may be compared to one digging a well. To dig the well to a depth of seventy-two cubits, and stop without reaching the spring, is after all throwing away the well.'

Chapter 30.

The difference between Yâo, Shun, T'ang, and Wû, on the one hand, and the five chiefs, on the other, in relation to benevolence and righteousness.

1. Mencius said, 'Benevolence and righteousness were natural to Yâo and Shun. T'ang and Wû made them their own. The five chiefs of the princes feigned them.

2. 'Having borrowed them long and not returned them, how could it be known they did not own them?'

Chapter 31.

The end may justify the means, but the principle should not be readily applied.

1. Kung-sun Ch'âu said, 'Î Yin said, "I cannot be near and see him so disobedient to reason," and therewith he banished T'â-chiâ to T'ung. The people were much pleased. When T'â-chiâ became virtuous, he brought him back, and the people were again much pleased.

2. 'When worthies are ministers, may they indeed banish their sovereigns in this way when they are not virtuous?'

3. Mencius replied, 'If they have the same purpose as Î Yin, they may. If they have not the same purpose, it would be usurpation.'

Chapter 32.

The services which a superior man renders to a country entitle him, without his doing official duty, to support.

Kung-sun Ch'âu said, 'It is said, in the Book of Poetry,

"He will not eat the bread of idleness!"

How is it that we see superior men eating without labouring?' Mencius replied, 'When a superior man resides in a country, if its sovereign employ his counsels, he comes to tranquillity, wealth and glory. If the young in it follow his instructions, they become filial, obedient to their elders, true-hearted, and faithful. What greater example can there be than this of not eating the bread of idleness?'

Chapter 33.

How a scholar prepares himself for the duties to which he aspires.

1. The king's son, Tien, asked Mencius, saying, 'What is the business of the unemployed scholar?'

2. Mencius replied, 'To exalt his aim.'

3. Tien asked again, 'What do you mean by exalting the aim?' The answer was, 'Setting it simply on benevolence and righteousness. He thinks how to put a single innocent person to death is contrary to benevolence; how to take what one has not a right to is contrary to righteousness; that one's dwelling should be benevolence; and one's path should be righteousness. Where else should he dwell? What other path should he pursue? When benevolence is the dwelling-place of the heart, and righteousness the path of the life, the business of a great man is complete.'

Chapter 34.

How men judge wrongly of character, overlooking, in their admiration of one striking excellence, great failures and deficiencies.

Mencius said, 'Supposing that the kingdom of Ch'î were offered, contrary to righteousness, to Ch'an Chung, he would not receive it, and all people believe in him, as a man of the highest worth. But this is only the righteousness which declines a dish of rice or a plate of soup. A man can have no greater crimes than to disown his parents and relatives, and the relations of sovereign and minister, superiors and inferiors. How can it be allowed to give a man credit for the great excellences because he possesses a small one?'

Chapter 35.

What Shun and his minister of crime would have done, if Shun's father had committed a murder.

1. T'âo Ying asked, saying, 'Shun being sovereign, and Kâo-yâo chief minister of justice, if Kû-sâu had murdered a man, what would have been done in the case?'

2. Mencius said, 'Kâo-yâo would simply have apprehended him.'

3. 'But would not Shun have forbidden such a thing?'

4. 'Indeed, how could Shun have forbidden it? Kâo-yâo had received the law from a proper source.'

5. 'In that case what would Shun have done?'

6. 'Shun would have regarded abandoning the kingdom as throwing away a worn-out sandal. He would privately have taken his father on his back, and retired into concealment, living some where along the sea-coast. There he would have been all his life, cheerful and happy, forgetting the kingdom.'