Mencius : Chapter 23 |
1. A man of Zan asked the disciple Wû-lû, saying, 'Is an observance of the rules
of propriety in regard to eating, or eating merely, the more important?' The
answer was, 'The observance of the rules of propriety is the more important.'
2. 'Is the gratifying the appetite of sex, or the doing so only according to the
rules of propriety, the more important?' The answer again was, 'The observance
of the rules of propriety in the matter is the more important.'
3. The man pursued, 'If the result of eating only according to the rules of
propriety will be death by starvation, while by disregarding those rules we may
get food, must they still be observed in such a case? If according to the rule
that he shall go in person to meet his wife a man cannot get married, while by
disregarding that rule he may get married, must he still observe the rule in
such a case?'
4. Wû-lû was unable to reply to these questions, and the next day he went to
Tsâu, and told them to Mencius. Mencius said, 'What difficulty is there in
answering these inquiries?'
5. 'If you do not adjust them at their lower extremities, but only put their
tops on a level, a piece of wood an inch square may be made to be higher than
the pointed peak of a high building.
6. 'Gold is heavier than feathers;-- but does that saying have reference, on the
one hand, to a single clasp of gold, and, on the other, to a waggon-load of
7. 'If you take a case where the eating is of the utmost importance and the
observing the rules of propriety is of little importance, and compare the things
together, why stop with saying merely that the eating is more important? So,
taking the case where the gratifying the appetite of sex is of the utmost
importance and the observing the rules of propriety is of little importance, why
stop with merely saying that the gratifying the appetite is the more important?
8. 'Go and answer him thus, "If, by twisting your elder brother's arm, and
snatching from him what he is eating, you can get food for yourself, while, if
you do not do so, you will not get anything to eat, will you so twist his arm ?
If by getting over your neighbour's wall, and dragging away his virgin daughter,
you can get a wife, while if you do not do so, you will not be able to get a
wife, will you so drag her away?"'
1. Chiâo of Tsâo asked Mencius, saying, 'It is said, "All men may be Yâos and
Shuns;"-- is it so?' Mencius replied, It is.'
2. Chiâo went on, 'I have heard that king Wan was ten cubits high, and T'ang
nine. Now I am nine cubits four inches in height. But I can do nothing but eat
my millet. What am I to do to realize that saying?'
3. Mencius answered him, 'What has this-- the question of size--- to do with the
matter? It all lies simply in acting as such. Here is a man, whose strength was
not equal to lift a duckling:-- he was then a man of no strength. But to-day he
says, "I can lift 3,000 catties' weight," and he is a man of strength. And so,
he who can lift the weight which Wû Hwo lifted is just another Wû Hwo. Why
should a man make a want of ability the subject of his grief? It is only that he
will not do the thing.
4. 'To walk slowly, keeping behind his elders, is to perform the part of a
younger. To walk quickly and precede his elders, is to violate the duty of a
younger brother. Now, is it what a man cannot do-- to walk slowly? It is what he
does not do. The course of Yâo and Shun was simply that of filial piety and
5. 'Wear the clothes of Yâo, repeat the words of Yâo, and do the actions of Yâo,
and you will just be a Yâo. And, if you wear the clothes of Chieh, repeat the
words of Chieh, and do the actions of Chieh, you will just be a Chieh.'
6. Chiâo said, 'I shall be having an interview with the prince of Tsâu, and can
ask him to let me have a house to lodge in. I wish to remain here, and receive
instruction at your gate.'
7. Mencius replied, 'The way of truth is like a great road. It is not difficult
to know it. The evil is only that men will not seek it. Do you go home and
search for it, and you will have abundance of teachers.'
1. Kung-sun Ch'âu asked about an opinion of the scholar Kâo, saying, 'Kâo
observed, "The Hsiâo P'ân is the ode of a little man."' Mencius asked, 'Why did
he say so?' 'Because of the murmuring which it expresses,' was the reply.
2. Mencius answered, 'How stupid was that old Kâo in dealing with the ode! There
is a man here, and a native of Yüeh bends his bow to shoot him. I will advise
him not to do so, but speaking calmly and smilingly;-- for no other reason but
that he is not related to me. But if my own brother be bending his bow to shoot
the man, then I will advise him not to do so, weeping and crying the while;--
for no other reason than that he is related to me. The dissatisfaction expressed
in the Hsiâo P'ân is the working of relative affection, and that affection shows
benevolence. Stupid indeed was old Kâo's criticism on the ode.'
3. Ch'âu then said, 'How is it that there is no dissatisfaction expressed in the
4. Mencius replied, 'The parent's fault referred to in the K'âi Fang is small;
that referred to in the Hsiâo P'ân is great. Where the parent's fault was great,
not to have murmured on account of it would have increased the want of natural
affection. Where the parent's fault was small, to have murmured on account of it
would have been to act like water which frets and foams about a stone that
interrupts its course. To increase the want of natural affection would have been
unfilial, and to fret and foam in such a manner would also have been unfilial.
5 'Confucius said, "Shun was indeed perfectly filial! And yet, when he was
fifty, he was full of longing desire about his parents."'
1. Sung K'ang being about to go to Ch'û, Mencius met him in Shih-ch'iû.
2. 'Master, where are you going?' asked Mencius.
3. K'ang replied, 'I have heard that Ch'in and Ch'û are fighting together, and I
am going to see the king of Ch'û and persuade him to cease hostilities. If he
shall not be pleased with my advice, I shall go to see the king of Ch'in, and
persuade him in the same way. Of the two kings I shall surely find that I can
succeed with one of them.'
4. Mencius said, 'I will not venture to ask about the particulars, but I should
like to hear the scope of your plan. What course will you take to try to
persuade them?' K'ang answered, 'I will tell them how unprofitable their course
is to them.' 'Master,' said Mencius, 'your aim is great, but your argument is
5. 'If you, starting from the point of profit, offer your persuasive counsels to
the kings of Ch'in and Ch'û, and if those kings are pleased with the
consideration of profit so as to stop the movements of their armies, then all
belonging to those armies will rejoice in the cessation of war, and find their
pleasure in the pursuit of profit. Ministers will serve their sovereign for the
profit of which they cherish the thought; sons will serve their fathers, and
younger brothers will serve their elder brothers, from the same consideration:--
and the issue will be, that, abandoning benevolence and righteousness, sovereign
and minister, father and son, younger brother and elder, will carry on all their
intercourse with this thought of profit cherished in their breasts. But never
has there been such a state of society, without ruin being the result of it.
6. 'If you, starting from the ground of benevolence and righteousness, offer
your counsels to the kings of Ch'in and Ch'û, and if those kings are pleased
with the consideration of benevolence and righteousness so as to stop the
operations of their armies, then all belonging to those armies will rejoice in
the stopping from war, and find their pleasure in benevolence and righteousness.
Ministers will serve their sovereign, cherishing the principles of benevolence
and righteousness; sons will serve their fathers, and younger brothers will
serve their elder brothers, in the same way:-- and so, sovereign and minister,
father and son, elder brother and younger, abandoning the thought of profit,
will cherish the principles of benevolence and righteousness, and carry on all
their intercourse upon them. But never has there been such a state of society,
without the State where it prevailed rising to the royal sway. Why must you use
that word "profit."'
1. When Mencius was residing in Tsâu, the younger brother of the chief of Zan,
who was guardian of Zan at the time, paid his respects to him by a present of
silks, which Mencius received, not going to acknowledge it. When he was
sojourning in P'ing-lû, Ch'û, who was prime minister of the State, sent him a
similar present, which he received in the same way.
2. Subsequently, going from Tsâu to Zan, he visited the guardian; but when he
went from Ping-lû to the capital of Ch'î, he did not visit the minister Ch'û.
The disciple Wû-lû was glad, and said, 'I have got an opportunity to obtain some
3. He asked accordingly, 'Master, when you went to Zan, you visited the chief's
brother; and when you went to Ch'î, you did not visit Ch'û. Was it not because
he is only the minister?'
4. Mencius replied, 'No. It is said in the Book of History, "In presenting an
offering to a superior, most depends on the demonstrations of respect. If those
demonstrations are not equal to the things offeredred, we say there is no
offering, that is, there is no act of the will presenting the offering."
5. 'This is because the things so offered do not constitute an offering to a
6. Wû-lû was pleased, and when some one asked him what Mencius meant, he said,
'The younger of Zan could not go to Tsâu, but the minister Ch'û might have gone
1. Shun-yü K'wan said, 'He who makes fame and meritorious services his first
objects, acts with a regard to others. He who makes them only secondary objects,
acts with a regard to himself. You, master, were ranked among the three chief
ministers of the State, but before your fame and services had reached either to
the prince or the people, you have left your place. Is this indeed the way of
2. Mencius replied, 'There was Po'î;-- he abode in an inferior situation, and
would not, with his virtue, serve a degenerate prince. There was Î Yin;-- he
five times went to T'ang, and five times went to Chieh. There was Hûi of
Liû-hsiâ;-- he did not disdain to serve a vile prince, nor did he decline a
small office. The courses pursued by those three worthies were different, but
their aim was one. And what was their one aim? We must answer-- "To be perfectly
virtuous." And so it is simply after this that superior men strive. Why must
they all pursue the same course?'
3. K'wan pursued, 'In the time of the duke Mû of Lû, the government was in the
hands of Kung-î, while Tsze-liû and Tsze-sze were ministers. And yet, the
dismemberment of Lû then increased exceedingly. Such was the case, a specimen
how your men of virtue are of no advantage to a kingdom!'
4. Mencius said, 'The prince of Yü did not use Pâi-lî Hsi, and thereby lost his
State. The duke Mû of Chin used him, and became chief of all the princes. Ruin
is the consequence of not employing men of virtue and talents;-- how can it rest
with dismemberment merely?'
5. K'wan urged again, 'Formerly, when Wang P'âo dwelt on the Ch'î, the people on
the west of the Yellow River all became skilful at singing in his abrupt manner.
When Mien Ch'ü lived in Kâo-t'ang, the people in the parts of Ch'î on the west
became skilful at singing in his prolonged manner. The wives of Hwa Châu and
Ch'î Liang bewailed their husbands so skilfully, that they changed the manners
of the State. When there is the gift within, it manifests itself without. I have
never seen the man who could do the deeds of a worthy, and did not realize the
work of one. Therefore there are now no men of talents and virtue. If there
were, I should know them.'
6. Mencius answered, 'When Confucius was chief minister of Justice in Lû, the
prince came not to follow his counsels. Soon after there was the solstitial
sacrifice, and when a part of the flesh presented in sacrifice was not sent to
him, he went away even without taking off his cap of ceremony. Those who did not
know him supposed it was on account of the flesh. Those who knew him supposed
that it was on account of the neglect of the usual ceremony. The fact was, that
Confucius wanted to go away on occasion of some small offence, not wishing to do
so without some apparent cause. All men cannot be expected to understand the
conduct of a superior man.'
Mencius : Chapter 23