The Works of Mencius

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


Chapter 36.

How one's material position affects his air, and much more may moral character be expected to do so.

1. Mencius, going from Fan to Ch'î, saw the king of Ch'î's son at a distance, and said with a deep sigh, 'One's position alters the air, just as the nurture affects the body. Great is the influence of position! Are we not all men's sons in this respect?'

2. Mencius said, 'The residence, the carriages and horses, and the dress of the king's son, are mostly the same as those of other men. That he looks so is occasioned by his position. How much more should a peculiar air distinguish him whose position is in the wide house of the world!

3. 'When the prince of Lû went to Sung, he called out at the T'ieh-châi gate, and the keeper said, "This is not our prince. How is it that his voice is so like that of our prince?" This was occasioned by nothing but the correspondence of their positions.'

Chapter 37.

That he be respected is essential to a scholar's engaging in the service of a prince.

1. Mencius said, 'To feed a scholar and not love him, is to treat him as a pig. To love him and not respect him, is to keep him as a domestic animal.

2. 'Honouring and respecting are what exist before any offering of gifts.

3. 'If there be honouring and respecting without the reality of them, a superior man may not be retained by such empty demonstrations.'

Chapter 38.

Only with a sage does the body act according to its design.

Mencius said, 'The bodily organs with their functions belong to our Heaven-conferred nature. But a man must be a sage before he can satisfy the design of his bodily organization.'

Chapter 39.

Reproof of Kung-sun Ch'âu for assenting to the proposal to shorten the period of mourning.

1. The king Hsüan of Ch'î wanted to shorten the period of mourning. Kung-sun Ch'âu said, 'To have one whole year's mourning is better than doing away with it altogether.'

2. Mencius said, 'That is just as if there were one twisting the arm of his elder brother, and you were merely to say to him "Gently, gently, if you please." Your only course should be to teach such an one filial piety and fraternal duty.'

3. At that time, the mother of one of the king's sons had died, and his tutor asked for him that he might be allowed to observe a few months' mourning. Kung-sun Ch'âu asked, 'What do you say of this?'

4. Mencius replied, 'This is a case where the party wishes to complete the whole period, but finds it impossible to do so. The addition of even a single day is better than not mourning at all. I spoke of the case where there was no hindrance, and the party neglected the thing itself.'

Chapter 40.

How the lessons of the sage reach to all different classes.

1. Mencius said, 'There are five ways in which the superior man effects his teaching.

2. 'There are some on whom his influence descends like seasonable rain.

3. 'There are some whose virtue he perfects, and some of whose talents he assists the development.

4. 'There are some whose inquiries he answers.

5. 'There are some who privately cultivate and correct themselves.

6. These five ways are the methods in which the superior man effects his teaching.'

Chapter 41.

The teacher of truth may not lower his lessons to suit his learners.

1. Kung-sun Ch'âu said, 'Lofty are your principles and admirable, but to learn them may well be likened to ascending the heavens,-- something which cannot be reached. Why not adapt your teaching so as to cause learners to consider them attainable, and so daily exert themselves!'

2. Mencius said, 'A great artificer does not, for the sake of a stupid workman, alter or do away with the marking-line. Î did not, for the sake of a stupid archer, charge his rule for drawing the bow.

3. 'The superior man draws the bow, but does not discharge the arrow, having seemed to leap with it to the mark; and he there stands exactly in the middle of the path. Those who are able, follow him.'

Chapter 42.

One must live or die with his principles, acting from himself, not with regard to other men.

1. Mencius said, 'When right principles prevail throughout the kingdom, one's principles must appear along with one's person. When right principles disappear from the kingdom, one's person must vanish along with one's principles.

2. 'I have not heard of one's principles being dependent for their manifestation on other men.'

Chapter 43.

How Mencius required the simple pursuit of truth in those whom he taught.

1. The disciple Kung-tû said, 'When Kang of T'ang made his appearance in your school, it seemed proper that a polite consideration should be paid to him, and yet you did not answer him. Why was that?'

2. Mencius replied, 'I do not answer him who questions me presuming on his nobility, nor him who presumes on his talents, nor him who presumes on his age, nor him who presumes on services performed to me, nor him who presumes on old acquaintance. Two of those things were chargeable on Kang of T'ang.'

Chapter 44.

Failures in evident duty will be accompanied by failure in all duty. Precipitate advances are followed by speedy retreats.

1. Mencius said, 'He who stops short where stopping is acknowledged to be not allowable, will stop short in everything. He who behaves shabbily to those whom he ought to treat well, will behave shabbily to all.

2. 'He who advances with precipitation will retire with speed.'

Chapter 45.

The superior man is kind to creatures, loving to other men, and affectionate to his relatives.

Mencius said, 'In regard to inferior creatures, the superior man is kind to them, but not loving. In regard to people generally, he is loving to them, but not affectionate. He is affectionate to his parents, and lovingly disposed to people generally. He is lovingly disposed to people generally, and kind to creatures.'

Chapter 46.

Against the princes of his time who occupied themselves with the knowledge of, and regard for, what was of little importance.

1. Mencius said, 'The wise embrace all knowledge, but they are most earnest about what is of the greatest importance. The benevolent embrace all in their love, but what they consider of the greatest importance is to cultivate an earnest affection for the virtuous. Even the wisdom of Yâo and Shun did not extend to everything, but they attended earnestly to what was important. Their benevolence did not show itself in acts of kindness to every man, but they earnestly cultivated an affection for the virtuous.

2. 'Not to be able to keep the three years' mourning, and to be very particular about that of three months, or that of five months; to eat immoderately and swill down the soup, and at the same time to inquire about the precept not to tear the meat with the teeth;-- such things show what I call an ignorance of what is most important.