Analects of Confucius, Book 2

Chapter I
Confucius said: “A ruler who governs by the power of virtue is like the Pole Star, which remains fixed in place while all the other stars orbit respectfully around it.”

Chapter II
Confucius said: “There are three hundred poems in the Book of Songs, but the meaning of them can be summed up in a single phrase: ‘Hey, do not stray from the right path.’”

Chapter III
Confucius said: “If you rule people by laws and regulations and keep them under control through punishments, they will evade them and have no sense of shame. If you lead them by virtue and keep them in line with the rites, they will develop a sense of shame and unite behind you.”

Chapter IV
Confucius said: “At fifteen, I applied my mind to learning. At thirty, I set my course. At forty, I had no doubts. At fifty, I knew the will of Heaven. At sixty my ear was attuned. At seventy, I followed all my heart’s desires without overstepping the line.”

Chapter V
Meng Yizi asked Confucius about filial piety. Confucius said: “Never disobey.” While Fan Chi was driving him in his chariot, Confucius told him: “Meng Yizi asked me about filial piety and I replied: ‘Never disobey.’” Fan Chi asked: “What does that mean?” Confucius replied: “When your parents are alive, serve them according to the rites. When they die, bury them according to the rites, and make sacrifices to them according to the rites.”

Chapter VI
Meng Wubo asked about filial piety. Confucius said: “The only time a son should make his parents worried is when he is sick.”

Chapter VII
Ziyou asked about filial piety. Confucius said: “These days, men regard themselves as dutiful sons simply by feeding their parents. But they also feed their dogs and horses. Unless they show their parents due respect, what’s the difference?”

Chapter VIII
Zixia asked about filial piety. Confucius said: “It is the attitude that counts. If young people just offer their help when there is work to do, or serve their elders wine and food when they need to drink and eat, how could this ever be considered as filial piety?”

Chapter IX
Confucius said: “I can talk to Yan Hui all day without him ever arguing with me, as if he is stupid. But when I take a close look at how he behaves in private after he has retired from my presence, I can see that he has learned everything I have taught him. Indeed, Hui is not stupid at all.”

Chapter X
Confucius said: “Observe a man’s motives, examine how he pursues them, and find out what makes him feel at peace. How then can he conceal his true character? How then can he conceal his true character?”

Chapter XI
Confucius said: “A man who brings new meaning to the old in order to understand the new is worthy of being a teacher.”

Chapter XII
Confucius said: “A leader is not a vessel.”

Chapter XIII
Zigong asked what constitutes a leader. Confucius said: “Someone who practices what he preaches.”

Chapter XIV
Confucius said: “A leader looks at a question from every perspective. A small-minded man looks at a question from his own perspective.”

Chapter XV
Confucius said: “Learning without thinking is futile. Thinking without learning is perilous.”

Chapter XVI
Confucius said: “To attack a question from the wrong starting point is harmful.”

Chapter XVII
Confucius said: “Zilu, let me teach you what knowledge is. Recognize what you know as what you know and what you don’t know as what you don’t know. That is knowledge.”

Chapter XVIII
Zizhang was studying with the aim of securing an official position. Confucius said: “Listen for as much information as possible, but ignore anything that is suspect, and be cautious when talking about the rest; that way you will only rarely say anything out of place. Observe as much as possible, ignore anything that is dangerous, and be cautious about applying the rest to your actions; that way you will rarely have reason for regret. By making few mistakes in what you say and minimizing the number regrets for missteps, your career is set.”

Chapter XIX
Duke Ai asked: “What should I do to win the support of the people?” Confucius replied: “Promote the ethical and place them above the unethical, and the people will support you. Promote the unethical and place them above the ethical, and the people will not support you.”

Chapter XX
Ji Kangzi asked: “What should I do to make the people respectful, loyal, and eager to follow me? Confucius said: “Treat them with dignity, and they will be respectful. Show you are a good son and a loving father, and they will be loyal. Promote the good and teach those who lack ability, and they will be eager to follow you.”

Chapter XXI
Someone asked Confucius: “Sir, why don’t you take part in government?” Confucius replied: “In the Book of Documents it says: ‘Simply by acting as a good son and being kind to your brothers, you will be contributing to the smooth running of the government.’ In doing this, you are already engaging in government; why do you need to make a conscious effort to actively take part in government?”

Chapter XXII
Confucius said: “I wouldn’t know what to do with someone whose word cannot be trusted. How would you pull a wagon without a yoke-bar or a chariot without a collar-bar?”

Chapter XXIII
Zizhang asked: “Can we predict the future ten generations from now?” Confucius said: “The Yin dynasty adopted the rites of the Xia dynasty; we know what was discarded and what was added. The Zhou dynasty adopted the rites of the Yin dynasty: we know what was discarded and what was added. If the Zhou dynasty has successors, we know what they will be like, even a hundred generations from now.”

Chapter XXIV
Confucius said: “To sacrifice to spirits that don’t belong to your ancestors is presumptuous. To do nothing when rightness demands action is cowardice.”

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