Mencius : Chapter 26 |
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.'
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.'
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
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.'
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.'
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.'
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?'
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.'
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
1. The king's son, Tien, asked Mencius, saying, 'What is the business of the
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
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?'
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.'
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.'
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.'
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.'
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
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
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.'
1. Mencius said, 'There are five ways in which the superior man effects his
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
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.'
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.'
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.'
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.'
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
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.
Mencius : Chapter 26