The Works of Mencius/chapter08
Li Lou II
Mencius said, 'Shun was born in Zhu Feng, removed to Fu Xia, and died in Ming Tiao - a man near the wild tribes on the east. King Wen was born in Zhou by mount Qi, and died in Bi Ying - a man near the wild tribes on the west. Those regions were distant from one another more than a thousand li, and the age of the one sage was posterior to that of the other more than a thousand years. But when they got their wish, and carried their principles into practice throughout the Middle Kingdom, it was like uniting the two halves of a seal. When we examine those sages, both the earlier and the later, their principles are found to be the same.'
When Zi Chan was chief minister of the State of Zheng, he would convey people across the Zhen and Wei in his own carriage. Mencius said, 'It was kind, but showed that he did not understand the practice of government. When in the eleventh month of the year the foot-bridges are completed, and the carriage-bridges in the twelfth month, the people have not the trouble of wading. Let a governor conduct his rule on principles of equal justice, and, when he goes abroad, he may cause people to be removed out of his path. But how can he convey everybody across the rivers? It follows that if a governor will try to please everybody, he will find the days not sufficient for his work.'
Mencius said to the king Xuan of Qi, 'When the prince regards his ministers as his hands and feet, his ministers regard their prince as their belly and heart; when he regards them as his dogs and horses, they regard him as another man; when he regards them as the ground or as grass, they regard him as a robber and an enemy.'
The king said, 'According to the rules of propriety, a minister wears mourning when he has left the service of a prince. How must a prince behave that his old ministers may thus go into mourning?'
Mencius replied,'The admonitions of a minister having been followed, and his advice listened to, so that blessings have descended on the people, if for some cause he leaves the country, the prince sends an escort to conduct him beyond the boundaries. He also anticipates with recommendatory intimations his arrival in the country to which he is proceeding. When he has been gone three years and does not return, only then at length does he take back his fields and residence. This treatment is what is called a "thrice-repeated display of consideration." When a prince acts thus, mourning will be worn on leaving his service. Now-a-days, the remonstrances of a minister are not followed, and his advice is not listened to, so that no blessings descend on the people. When for any cause he leaves the country, the prince tries to seize him and hold him a prisoner. He also pushes him to extremity in the country to which he has gone, and on the very day of his departure, takes back his fields and residence. This treatment shows him to be what we call "a robber and an enemy." What mourning can be worn for a robber and an enemy?'
Mencius said, 'When scholars are put to death without any crime, the great officers may leave the country. When the people are slaughtered without any crime, the scholars may remove.'
Mencius said, 'If the sovereign be benevolent, all will be benevolent. If the sovereign be righteous, all will be righteous.'
Mencius said, 'Acts of propriety which are not really proper, and acts of righteousness which are not really righteous, the great man does not do.'
Mencius said, 'Those who keep the Mean, train up those who do not, and those who have abilities, train up those who have not, and hence men rejoice in having fathers and elder brothers who are possessed of virtue and talent. If they who keep the Mean spurn those who do not, and they who have abilities spurn those who have not, then the space between them - those so gifted and the ungifted - will not admit an inch.'
Mencius said, 'Men must be decided on what they will NOT do, and then they are able to act with vigour in what they ought to do.'
Mencius said, 'What future misery have they and ought they to endure, who talk of what is not good in others!'
Mencius said, 'Zhong Ni did not do extraordinary things.'
Mencius said,'The great man does not think beforehand of his words that they may be sincere, nor of his actions that they may be resolute - he simply speaks and does what is right.'
Mencius said, 'The great man is he who does not lose his child's-heart.'
Mencius said, 'The nourishment of parents when living is not sufficient to be accounted the great thing. It is only in the performing their obsequies when dead that we have what can be considered the great thing.'
Mencius said, 'The superior man makes his advances in what he is learning with deep earnestness and by the proper course, wishing to get hold of it as in himself. Having got hold of it in himself, he abides in it calmly and firmly. Abiding in it calmly and firmly, he reposes a deep reliance on it. Reposing a deep reliance on it, he seizes it on the left and right, meeting everywhere with it as a fountain from which things flow. It is on this account that the superior man wishes to get hold of what he is learning as in himself.'
Mencius said, 'In learning extensively and discussing minutely what is learned, the object of the superior man is that he may be able to go back and set forth in brief what is essential.'
Mencius said, 'Never has he who would by his excellence subdue men been able to subdue them. Let a prince seek by his excellence to nourish men, and he will be able to subdue the whole kingdom. It is impossible that any one should become ruler of the people to whom they have not yielded the subjection of the heart.'
Mencius said, 'Words which are not true are inauspicious, and the words which are most truly obnoxious to the name of inauspicious, are those which throw into the shade men of talents and virtue.'
The disciple Xu said, 'Zhong Ni often praised water, saying, "0 water! 0 water!" What did he find in water to praise?'
Mencius replied, 'There is a spring of water; how it gushes out! It rests not day nor night. It fills up every hole, and then advances, flowing onto the four seas. Such is water having a spring! It was this which he found in it to praise. But suppose that the water has no spring. In the seventh and eighth when the rain falls abundantly, the channels in the fields are all filled, but their being dried up again may be expected in a short time. So a superior man is ashamed of a reputation beyond his merits.'
Mencius said, 'That whereby man differs from the lower animals is but small. The mass of people cast it away, while superior men preserve it. Shun clearly understood the multitude of things, and closely observed the relations of humanity. He walked along the path of benevolence and righteousness; he did not need to pursue benevolence and righteousness.'
Mencius said, 'Yu hated the pleasant wine, and loved good words. Tang held fast the Mean, and employed men of talents and virtue without regard to where they came from. King Wen looked on the people as he would on a man who was wounded, and he looked towards the right path as if he could not see it. King Wu did not slight the near, and did not forget the distant. The duke of Zhou desired to unite in himself the virtues of those kings, those founders of the three dynasties, that he might display in his practice the four things which they did. If he saw any thing in them not suited to his time, he looked up and thought about it, from daytime into the night, and when he was fortunate enough to master the difficulty, he sat waiting for the morning.'
Mencius said, 'The traces of sovereign rule were extinguished, and the royal odes ceased to be made. When those odes ceased to be made, then the Chun Qiu was produced. The Sheng of Jin, the Tao Wu of Chu, and the Chun Qiu of Lu were books of the same character. The subject of the Chun Qiu was the affairs of Huan of Qi and Wen of Jin, and its style was the historical. Confucius said, "Its righteous decisions I ventured to make."'
Mencius said, 'The influence of a sovereign sage terminates in the fifth generation. The influence of a mere sage does the same. Although I could not be a disciple of Confucius himself, I have endeavoured to cultivate my virtue by means of others who were.'
Mencius said, 'When it appears proper to take a thing, and afterwards not proper, to take it is contrary to moderation. When it appears proper to give a thing and afterwards not proper, to give it is contrary to kindness. When it appears proper to sacrifice one's life, and afterwards not proper, to sacrifice it is contrary to bravery.'
Pang Meng learned archery of Yi. When he had acquired completely all the science of Yi, he thought that in all the kingdom only Yi was superior to himself, and so he slew him. Mencius said, 'In this case Yi also was to blame. Gong Meng Yi indeed said, "It would appear as if he were not to be blamed," but he thereby only meant that his blame was slight. How can he be held without any blame? The people of Chang sent Zi Zhuo Ru to make a stealthy attack on Wei, which sent Yu Gong Zhi to pursue him. Zi Zhuo Ru said, "To-day I feel unwell, so that I cannot hold my bow. I am a dead man!" At the same time he asked his driver, "Who is it that is pursuing me?" The driver said, "It is Yu Gong Si," on which, he exclaimed, "I shall live." The driver said, "Yu Gong Si is the best archer of Wei, what do you mean by saying 'I shall live?'" Yu replied, "Yu Gong Si learned archery from Yin Gong Tuo, who again learned it from me. Now, Yin Gong Tuo is an upright man, and the friends of his selection must be upright also." When Yu Gong Si came up, he said, "Master, why are you not holding your bow?" Yu answered him, "To-day I am feeling unwell, and cannot hold my bow." On this Si said, "I learned archery from Yin Gong Tuo, who again learned it from you. I cannot bear to injure you with your own science. The business of to-day, however, is the prince's business, which I dare not neglect." He then took his arrows, knocked off their steel points against the carriage-wheel, discharged four of them, and returned.
Mencius said, 'If the lady Xi had been covered with a filthy head-dress, all people would have stopped their noses in passing her. Though a man may be wicked, yet if he adjust his thoughts, fast, and bathe, he may sacrifice to God.'
Mencius said, 'All who speak about the natures of things, have in fact only their phenomena to reason from, and the value of a phenomenon is in its being natural. What I dislike in your wise men is their boring out their conclusions. If those wise men would only act as Yu did when he conveyed away the waters, there would be nothing to dislike in their wisdom. The manner in which Yu conveyed away the waters was by doing what gave him no trouble. If your wise men would also do that which gave them no trouble, their knowledge would also be great. There is heaven so high; there are the stars so distant. If we have investigated their phenomena, we may, while sitting in our places, go back to the solstice of a thousand years ago.'
The officer Gong Hang having on hand the funeral of one of his sons, the Master of the Right went to condole with him. When this noble entered the door, some called him to them and spoke with him, and some went to his place and spoke with him. Mencius did not speak with him, so that he was displeased, and said, 'All the gentlemen have spoken with me. There is only Mencius who does not speak to me, thereby slighting me.'
Mencius having heard of this remark, said, 'According to the prescribed rules, in the court, individuals may not change their places to speak with one another, nor may they pass from their ranks to bow to one another. I was wishing to observe this rule, and Zi Ao understands it that I was slighting him - is not this strange?'
Mencius said, 'That whereby the superior man is distinguished from other men is what he preserves in his heart - namely, benevolence and propriety. The benevolent man loves others. The man of propriety shows respect to others. He who loves others is constantly loved by them. He who respects others is constantly respected by them. Here is a man, who treats me in a perverse and unreasonable manner. The superior man in such a case will turn round upon himself, "I must have been wanting in benevolence; I must have been wanting in propriety - how should this have happened to me?" He examines himself, and is specially benevolent. He turns round upon himself, and is specially observant of propriety. The perversity and unreasonableness of the other, however, are still the same. The superior man will again turn round on himself, "I must have been failing to do my utmost." He turns round upon himself, and proceeds to do his utmost, but still the perversity and unreasonableness of the other are repeated. On this the superior man says, "This is a man utterly lost indeed! Since he conducts himself so, what is there to choose between him and a brute? Why should I go to contend with a brute?" Thus it is that the superior man has a life-long anxiety and not one morning's calamity. As to what is matter of anxiety to him, that indeed be has. He says, "Shun was a man, and I also am a man. But Shun became an example to all the kingdom, and his conduct was worthy to be handed down to after ages, while I am nothing better than a villager." This indeed is the proper matter of anxiety to him. And in what way is he anxious about it? Just that he maybe like Shun: then only will he stop. As to what the superior man would feel to be a calamity, there is no such thing. He does nothing which is not according to propriety. If there should befall him one morning's calamity, the superior man does not account it a calamity.'
Yu and Ji, in an age when the world was being brought back to order, thrice passed their doors without entering them. Confucius praised them. The disciple Yan, in an age of disorder, dwelt in a mean narrow lane, having his single bamboo-cup of rice, and his single gourd-dish of water; other men could not have endured the distress, but he did not allow his joy to be affected by it. Confucius praised him. Mencius said, 'Yu, Ji, and Yan Hui agreed in the principle of their conduct. Yu thought that if any one in the kingdom were drowned, it was as if he drowned him. Ji thought that if any one in the kingdom suffered hunger, it was as if he famished him. It was on this account that they were so earnest. If Yu and Ji, and Yanzi, had exchanged places, each would have done what the other did. Here now in the same apartment with you are people fighting - you ought to part them. Though you part them with your cap simply tied over your unbound hair, your conduct will be allowable. If the fighting be only in the village or neighbourhood, if you go to put an end to it with your cap tied over your hair unbound, you will be in error. Although you should shut your door in such a case, your conduct would be allowable.'
The disciple Gong Du said, 'Throughout the whole kingdom everybody pronounces Kuang Zhang unfilial. But you, Master, keep company with him, and moreover treat him with politeness. I venture to ask why you do so.'
Mencius replied, 'There are five things which are pronounced in the common usage of the age to be unfilial. The first is laziness in the use of one's four limbs, without attending to the nourishment of his parents. The second is gambling and chess-playing, and being fond of wine, without attending to the nourishment of his parents. The third is being fond of goods and money, and selfishly attached to his wife and children, without attending to the nourishment of his parents. The fourth is following the desires of one's ears and eyes, so as to bring his parents to disgrace. The fifth is being fond of bravery, fighting and quarrelling so as to endanger his parents. Is Zhang guilty of any one of these things? Now between Zhang and his father there arose disagreement, he, the son, reproving his father, to urge him to what was good. To urge one another to what is good by reproofs is the way of friends. But such urging between father and son is the greatest injury to the kindness, which should prevail between them. Moreover, did not Zhang wish to have in his family the relationships of husband and wife, child and mother? But because he had offended his father, and was not permitted to approach him, he sent away his wife, and drove forth his son, and all his life receives no cherishing attention from them. He settled it in his mind that if he did not act in this way, his would be one of the greatest of crimes. Such and nothing more is the case of Zhang.'
When the philosopher Zeng dwelt in Wu Cheng, there came a band from Yue to plunder it. Someone said to him, 'The plunderers are coming - why not leave this?' Zeng on this left the city, saying to the man in charge of the house, 'Do not lodge any persons in my house, lest they break and injure the plants and trees.' When the plunderers withdrew, he sent word to him, saying, 'Repair the walls of my house. I am about to return.' When the plunderers retired, the philosopher Zeng returned accordingly. His disciples said, 'Since our master was treated with so much sincerity and respect, for him to be the first to go away on the arrival of the plunderers, so as to be observed by the people, and then to return on their retiring, appears to us to be improper.' Shen You Xing said, 'You do not understand this matter. Formerly, when Shen You was exposed to the outbreak of the grass-carriers, there were seventy disciples in our master's following, and none of them took part in the matter.'
When Zi Si was living in Wei, there came a band from Qi to plunder. Some one said to him, 'The plunderers are coming - why not leave this?' Zi Si said, 'If I go away, whom will the prince have to guard the State with?'
Mencius said, 'The philosophers Zeng and Zi Si agreed in the principle of their conduct. Zeng was a teacher - in the place of a father or elder brother. Zi Si was a minister - in a meaner place. If the philosophers Zeng and Zi Si had exchanged places the one would have done what the other did.'
The officer Chu said to Mencius, 'Master, the king sent persons to spy out whether you were really different from other men.'
Mencius said, 'How should I be different from other men? Yao and Shun were just the same as other men.'
A man of Qi had a wife and a concubine, and lived together with them in his house. When their husband went out, he would get himself well filled with wine and flesh, and then return, and, on his wife's asking him with whom he ate and drank, they were sure to be all wealthy and honourable people. The wife informed the concubine, saying, 'When our good man goes out, he is sure to come back having partaken plentifully of wine and flesh. I asked with whom he ate and drank, and they are all, it seems, wealthy and honourable people. And yet no people of distinction ever come here. I will spy out where our good man goes.'
Accordingly, she got up early in the morning, and privately followed wherever her husband went. Throughout the whole city, there was no one who stood or talked with him. At last, he came to those who were sacrificing among the tombs beyond the outer wall on the east, and begged what they had over. Not being satisfied, he looked about, and went to another party - and this was the way in which he got himself satiated. His wife returned, and informed the concubine, saying, 'It was to our husband that we looked up in hopeful contemplation, with whom our lot is cast for life - and now these are his ways!' On this, along with the concubine she reviled their husband, and they wept together in the middle hall. In the meantime the husband, knowing nothing of all this, came in with a jaunty air, carrying himself proudly to his wife and concubine.
In the view of a superior man, as to the ways by which men seek for riches, honours, gain, and advancement, there are few of their wives and concubines who would not be ashamed and weep together on account of them.