Analects of Confucius, Book 3

Chapter I
When he heard that the head of the Ji Family used eight rows of dancers to perform in the ceremonies at his ancestral temple, Confucius commented: “If he is capable of that, what isn’t he capable of?”

Chapter II
When the Three Families performed the Yong ode while the vessels were being removed at the end of their ancestral sacrifices, Confucius said: “‘The lords are in attendance, the Son of Heaven sits solemnly on his throne.’ How can such words be used in the halls of the Three Families?”

Chapter III
Confucius said: “If a man has no goodness, what can he have to do with the rites? If a man has no goodness, what can he have to do with music?”

Chapter IV
Lin Fang asked: “What is the essence of the rites?” Confucius said: “That is a big question! For festive ceremonies, simplicity is better than extravagance; for funerals, genuine grief is better than excessive formality.”

Chapter V
Confucius said: “The Yi and Di tribes with chieftains are not equal to the various states in our land that don’t have them.”

Chapter VI
The head of the Ji Family was about to set off to carry out a sacrifice on Mount Tai. Confucius said to Ran Qiu: “Can you not stop this?” Ran Qiu replied: “I cannot.” The Master said: “Oh no! Has it ever been said that the spirit of Mount Tai have even less knowledge of the rites than Lin Fang?”

Chapter VII
Confucius said: “A leader avoids competing with others. But if he does have to compete, it should be at archery. As he bows and exchange courtesies before the contest and enjoy drinks after it, he still remains a leader even when competing.”

Chapter VIII
Zixia asked: “What do these verses mean: ‘Ah, the lovely dimples of her artful smile! Ah, the black and white of her beautiful eyes! It’s on plain white silk that colors sparkle.’” Confucius said: “Painting comes after plain white silk.” Zixia said: “Are the rites also something that comes afterwards?” Confucius said: “You have opened up my eyes to true meaning of these verses! It is only with a man like you that I can discuss the Book of Songs!”

Chapter IX
Confucius said: “How can I talk about the rites of the Xia Dynasty? The state of Qi has not preserved sufficient evidence. How can I talk about the rites of Yin Dynasty? The state of Song has not preserved sufficient evidence. There are not enough written records and learned men; if there were, I could obtain evidence from them.”

Chapter X
Confucius said: “After the opening libation has been performed at the sacrifice to the great imperial ancestor, I have no desire to watch the rest of the ceremony.”

Chapter XI
When someone asked about the meaning of the sacrifice to the great imperial ancestor, Confucius replied: “I do not know. Anyone who knows that would rule the world as easily as I can put this here.” Then he pointed his finger towards the palm of his hand.

Chapter XII
Sacrifice requires presence: you should sacrifice to the spirits as if they are there. Confucius said: “If I am not fully present at the sacrifice, it’s as if I didn’t attend the sacrifice at all.”

Chapter XIII
Wangsun Jia asked: “What does this saying mean: ‘Better pray to the kitchen god rather than the house god.’?” Confucius said: “This is nonsense. If you sin against Heaven, you have no god you can pray to.”

Chapter XIV
Confucius said: “The Zhou dynasty modeled itself upon the two previous dynasties. What a great civilization! I follow the Zhou.”

Chapter XV
When Confucius visited the Grand Ancestral Temple, he asked about everything that was happening there. Someone said: “Who said this guy was an expert on the rites? When he visited the Grand Ancestral Temple, he had to ask about everything that was happening.” Hearing this, Confucius said: “Exactly, this is the rites.”

Chapter XVI
Confucius said: “In archery, it does not matter whether you pierce the target, because archers may have different levels of strength. This was the way of the ancients.”

Chapter XVII
Zigong wished to do away with the sacrifice of a sheep for the ceremony welcoming the new moon. Confucius said: “You love the sheep; I love the rites.”

Chapter XVIII
Confucius said: “When someone serves his lord in full accordance with the rites, people regard him as a sycophant.”

Chapter XIX
Duke Ding asked: “How should a lord treat his ministers? How should ministers serve their lord?” Confucius replied: “A lord should treat his ministers in accordance with the rites; ministers should serve their lord with loyalty.”

Chapter XX
Confucius said: “The first poem in the Book of Songs is joyful without being wanton and sad without being painful.”

Chapter XXI
Duke Ai asked which wood should be used for the altar of the spirits of the earth. Zai Yu replied: “The men of Xia used pine; the men of Yin used cypress; the men of Zhou used chestnut, for they said the people should fear.” When Confucius heard of this, he said: “You do not explain away what has already been done; you do not argue about affairs that have already been concluded; you do not condemn what has already happened.”

Chapter XXII
Confucius said: “Guan Zhong was a man of truly mediocre capabilities.” Someone objected: “Wasn’t Guan Zhong frugal?” Confucius replied: “Guan Zhong had three households, each one staffed by a huge retinue. How could he be called frugal?” “But didn’t he know the rites?” “Even though only the ruler of a state can place a screen to mask the view of his gate, he also had one installed. Even though only the ruler of a state can use a special stand to place his inverted cup on when meeting with another ruler, Guan Zhong had one too. If you say Guan Zhong knew the rites, then who doesn’t know them?”

Chapter XXIII
Confucius was talking about music with the music master of Lu. He said: “We can know this much about music: It begins with everyone trying to play together; when it gets in full swing it flows harmoniously, clearly, and continuously until it reaches the end.”

Chapter XXIV
A border official at the town of Yi requested a meeting with Confucius. He said: “Whenever a gentleman has come to these parts, I have never failed to meet him.” The disciples arranged the meeting, and coming out of it the official said: “Sirs, why worry about his dismissal? The world has been without the Way for a long while. Heaven is going to use your master like the wooden clapper of a bell.”

Chapter XXV
Confucius described the music of the Emperor Shun as being perfectly beautiful and perfectly good and the music of King Wu as being perfectly beautiful but not perfectly good.

Chapter XXVI
Confucius said: “How can I bear to even contemplate a person who lacks tolerance when in high office, reverence when performing the rites, and grief when in mourning?”

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