Mencius : Chapter 25 |
1. Mencius said, 'He who has exhausted all his mental constitution knows his
nature. Knowing his nature, he knows Heaven.
2. 'To preserve one's mental constitution, and nourish one's nature, is the way
to serve Heaven.
3. 'When neither a premature death nor long life causes a man any
double-mindedness, but he waits in the cultivation of his personal character for
whatever issue;-- this is the way in which he establishes his Heaven-ordained
1. Mencius said, 'There is an appointment for everything. A man should receive
submissively what may be correctly ascribed thereto.
2. 'Therefore, he who has the true idea of what is Heaven's appointment will not
stand beneath a precipitous wall.
3. 'Death sustained in the discharge of one's duties may correctly be ascribed
to the appointment of Heaven.
4. 'Death under handcuffs and fetters cannot correctly be so ascribed.'
1. Mencius said, 'When we get by our seeking and lose by our neglecting;-- in
that case seeking is of use to getting, and the things sought for are those
which are in ourselves.
2. 'When the seeking is according to the proper course, and the getting is only
as appointed;-- in that case the seeking is of no use to getting, and the things
sought are without ourselves.'
1. Mencius said, 'All things are already complete in us.
2. 'There is no greater delight than to be conscious of sincerity on
3. 'If one acts with a vigorous effort at the law of reciprocity, when he seeks
for the realization of perfect virtue, nothing can be closer than his
approximation to it.'
2. 'Those who form contrivances and versatile schemes distinguished for their
artfulness, do not allow their sense of shame to come into action.
3. 'When one differs from other men in not having this sense of shame, what will
he have in common with them?'
Mencius said, 'The able and virtuous monarchs of antiquity loved virtue and
forgot their power. And shall an exception be made of the able and virtuous
scholars of antiquity, that they did not do the same? They delighted in their
own principles, and were oblivious of the power of princes. Therefore, if kings
and dukes did not show the utmost respect, and observe all forms of ceremony,
they were not permitted to come frequently and visit them. If they thus found it
not in their power to pay them frequent visits, how much less could they get to
employ them as ministers?'
1. Mencius said to Sung Kâu-ch'ien, 'Are you fond, Sir, of travelling to the
different courts? I will tell you about such travelling.
2. 'If a prince acknowledge you and follow your counsels, be perfectly
satisfied. If no one do so, be the same.'
3. Kâu-ch'ien said, 'What is to be done to secure this perfect satisfaction?'
Mencius replied, 'Honour virtue and delight in righteousness, and so you may
always be perfectly satisfied.
4. 'Therefore, a scholar, though poor, does not let go his righteousness; though
prosperous, he does not leave his own path.
5. 'Poor and not letting righteousness go;-- it is thus that the scholar holds
possession of himself. Prosperous and not leaving the proper path;-- it is thus
that the expectations of the people from him are not disappointed.
6. 'When the men of antiquity realized their wishes, benefits were conferred by
them on the people. If they did not realize their wishes, they cultivated their
personal character, and became illustrious in the world. If poor, they attended
to their own virtue in solitude; if advanced to dignity, they made the whole
kingdom virtuous as well.'
Mencius said, 'The mass of men wait for a king Wan, and then they will receive a
rousing impulse. Scholars distinguished from the mass, without a king Wan, rouse
Mencius said, 'Add to a man the families of Han and Wei. If he then look upon
himself without being elated, he is far beyond the mass of men.'
Mencius said, 'Let the people be employed in the way which is intended to secure
their ease, and though they be toiled, they will not murmur. Let them be put to
death in the way which is intended to preserve their lives, and though they die,
they will not murmur at him who puts them to death.'
1. Mencius said, 'Under a chief, leading all the princes, the people look brisk
and cheerful. Under a true sovereign, they have an air of deep contentment.
2. 'Though he slay them, they do not murmur. When he benefits them, they do not
think of his merit. From day to day they make progress towards what is good,
without knowing who makes them do so.
3. 'Wherever the superior man passes through, transformation follows; wherever
he abides, his influence is of a spiritual nature. It flows abroad, above and
beneath, like that of Heaven and Earth. How can it be said that he mends society
but in a small way!'
1. Mencius said, 'Kindly words do not enter so deeply into men as a reputation
2. 'Good government does not lay hold of the people so much as good
3. 'Good government is feared by the people, while good instructions are loved
by them. Good government gets the people's wealth, while good instructions get
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.'
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.'
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.'
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
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.'
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
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.'
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.'
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
Mencius : Chapter 25