Analects of Confucius Book 14: new English translation

Read this new English translation of the Analects of Confucius Book 14 to learn more about the teachings of China’s most famous philosopher.

Chapter I
Yuan Xian asked about shamefulness. Confucius said: “Caring only about your official salary no matter whether good or bad government prevails in the state. That is shamefulness.” “If you can overcome aggressiveness, arrogance, bitterness, and greed can you be said to have achieved true goodness?” Confucius said: “You can be said to have achieved something difficult; but I don’t know whether it is true goodness.”

Chapter II
Confucius said: “A scholar-official who cherishes his material comforts is not worthy of the name.”

Chapter III
Confucius said: “When the Way prevails in a state, speak boldly and act boldly. When the Way does not prevail in a state, act boldly but speak cautiously.”

Chapter IV
Confucius said: “The virtuous have a lot to teach others; but people who have a lot to teach others are not necessarily virtuous. The good are always brave; but the brave are not necessarily good.”

Chapter V
Nangong Kuo asked Confucius, saying: “Yi was a great archer, and Ao a great sailor, but neither died a natural death. Yu and Ji toiled on the land, but they came to own the world.” Confucius made no reply. Nangong Kuo left. Confucius said: “He is a true leader! This man truly prizes virtue!”

Chapter VI
Confucius said: “Although a leader may not always achieve goodness, a petty person never achieves it.”

Chapter VII
Confucius said: “Can you truly love someone if you are not strict with them? How can you be truly loyal to someone if you refrain from admonishing them?”

Chapter VIII
Confucius said: “Whenever a government edict needed to be written, Pi Chen prepared the first draft, Shi Shu reviewed and revised it, Ziyu, the head of protocol, edited it, and Zichan of Dongli gave it a final polish.”

Chapter IX
Someone asked about Zichan. Confucius said: “He was a generous man.” “And what about Zixi?” “Don’t even mention his name!” “And what about Guan Zhong?” “What a man! He seized over three hundred households in Pian from the head of the Bo family. But even though he was reduced to eating coarse food until the end of his days, the poor man could never bring himself to utter a single word of complaint against him.”

Chapter X
Confucius said: “To be poor without being resentful is difficult; to be wealthy without being arrogant is easy.”

Chapter XI
Confucius said: “Meng Gongchuo is more than qualified to serve as the steward for the Zhao and Wei families, but is not qualified to serve as a minister in the states of Teng and Xue.”

Chapter XII
Zilu asked how to define a “complete man”. Confucius said: “Take a man as wise as Zang Wuzhong, as abstemious as Gongchuo, as brave as Zhuangzi of Bian, and as proficient in the arts as Ran Qiu, as well as being accomplished in the rites and music, and he may be considered a complete man.” Then he added: “But must a complete man be exactly like this today? Someone who thinks of what is right at the sight of profit, who is ready to risk their life when faced with danger, and who can endure hardship without forgetting the teachings that have guided his daily life may also be considered a complete person.”

Chapter XIII
Confucius asked Gongming Jia about Gongshu Wenzi: “Is it true that your master never spoke, laughed, nor took anything?” Gongming Jia replied: “Whoever told you this exaggerated. My master spoke, but only at the right time, and so no one ever thought he spoke too much; he laughed, but only when he was happy, and so no one ever thought that he laughed too much; he took things, but only when it was right, and so no one ever thought that he took too much.” Confucius said: “How commendable! Assuming of course it is true.”

Chapter XIV
Confucius said: “Zang Wuzhong demanded that Fang be acknowledged by the Duke of Lu as his hereditary fief. Although it’s said he didn’t coerce his ruler, I don’t believe it.”

Chapter XV
Confucius said: “Duke Wen of Jin was crafty but not straight; Duke Huan of Qi was straight but not crafty.”

Chapter XVI
Zilu said: “When Duke Huan put Prince Jiu to death, Shao Hu took his own life but Guan Zhong chose to keep his. Should we say that Guan Zhong was a man without goodness?” Confucius said: “Duke Huan was able to bring the rulers of all the states together nine times without having to resort to military force because of the power of Guan Zhong. Such was his goodness, such was his goodness!”

Chapter XVII
Zigong said: “Surely Guan Zhong was not a good person. After Duke Huan had Prince Jiu put to death, he not only chose to live but also served as the Duke’s prime minister.” Confucius said: “By serving as Duke Huan’s prime minister, Guan Zhong imposed his authority over all the states and brought order to the world; the people still reap the benefits of his actions until this day. Without Guan Zhong, we would still be wearing our hair loose and folding our robes on the wrong side. Or would you prefer it if he had drowned himself in a ditch like some wretched husband or wife in their small-minded faithfulness and died with nobody knowing about it?”

Chapter XVIII
The steward of Gongshu Wenzi, Zhuan, was promoted together with him to the duke’s court. Confucius heard this and said: “Gongshu truly deserved to be called ‘the Civilized.’”

Chapter XIX
Confucius said that Duke Ling of Wei didn’t follow the Way. Ji Kangzi said: “If this is the case, how come he has not lost his state?” Confucius said: “He has Zhong Yuzhen looking after guests and foreign delegations, Zhu Tuo taking care of the ancestral temple, and Wangsun Jia in charge of defense. With such officials as these, how could he possibly lose his state?”

Chapter XX
Confucius said: “People who make rash promises will find them hard to keep.”

Chapter XXI
Chen Chengzi assassinated Duke Jian of Qi. Confucius took a ritual bath and went to court, where he told Duke Ai of Lu: “Chen Heng killed his ruler. Please punish him.” The Duke said: “Report this to the three lords.” Confucius said: “As a former official myself, I had no choice but to make this report. Yet my lord has only said: ‘Report this to the three lords.’” He went and made his report to the three lords. They refused to intervene. Confucius said: “As a former official myself, I had no choice but to make this report.”

Chapter XXII
Zilu asked how to serve a ruler. Confucius said: “Don’t deceive him; be willing to oppose him.”

Chapter XXIII
Confucius said: “A leader reaches up. A petty person reaches down.”

Chapter XXIV
Confucius said: “In ancient times people studied to improve themselves. Nowadays they study to show off to other people.”

Chapter XXV
Qu Boyu sent a messenger to Confucius. Confucius sat together with him and asked: “How is your master?” The messenger replied: “My master wishes to reduce his faults, but he hasn’t succeeded yet.” The messenger left. Confucius said: “He’s quite a messenger! He’s quite a messenger!”

Chapter XXVI
Confucius said: “Do not concern yourself with the policies of an office that you do not hold.” Zengzi said: “A leader would never consider overstepping the bounds of his position.”

Chapter XXVII
Confucius said: “A leader is ashamed if his actions don’t match his words.”

Chapter XXVIII
Confucius said: “A leader adheres to three principles that I have been unable to live up to: the good are never anxious; the wise are never perplexed; the brave are never afraid.” Zigong said: “Master, you have just described yourself.”

Chapter XXIX
Zigong was in the habit of criticizing other people. Confucius said: “Zigong must already be perfect. I have no free time for that.”

Chapter XXX
Confucius said: “Don’t be concerned if people fail to recognize your abilities; be concerned about your own lack of them.”

Chapter XXXI
Confucian said: “Without anticipating deception or suspecting bad faith, but still to be able to sense them beforehand, is that not what wisdom is?”

Chapter XXXII
Weisheng Mu said to Confucius: “Qiu, why do you flit around preaching all over the place? Is it to show off how clever you are?” Confucius said: “I wouldn’t dare presume that I am clever; I simply can’t stand willful ignorance.”

Chapter XXXIII
Confucius said: “A fine horse is admired not for its strength but its heart.”

Chapter XXXIV
Someone said: “What do you think of repaying evil with kindness?” Confucius said: “In that case how will you repay kindness? Better repay evil with justice, and kindness with kindness.”

Chapter XXXV
Confucius said: “No one understands me!” Zigong said: “How is it that no one understands you?” Confucius said: “I neither complain about Heaven nor do I blame men. Here below I am learning so that I can reach enlightenment up above. If there is anyone who understands me, it must be Heaven.”

Chapter XXXVI
Gongbo Liao made accusations against Zilu to Jisun. Zifu Jingbo reported this to Confucius, saying: “My master’s mind is being led astray by Gongbo Liao; but I still have enough power to splay Liao’s corpse open in the market and court.” Confucius said: “Will the Way prevail? That is for fate to decide. Will the Way be cast aside? That is for fate to decide. What does Gongbo Liao matter compared with fate?”

Chapter XXXVII
Confucius said: “The wise withdraw from the world; next come those who withdraw from a particular state; next come those who withdraw because of a particular look; next come those who withdraw because of a particular word.” Confucius said: “Seven men did this.”

Zilu stayed for the night at the Stone Gate. In the morning, the gatekeeper said: “Where are you coming from?” Zilu said: “From the household of Confucius.” “Isn’t he the one who knows what he is doing is impossible but still keeps on doing it?”

Chapter XXXIX
Confucius was striking some stone chimes in Wei. A man carrying a basket on passed in front of the gate of the house where he was staying and said: “Whoever is playing music like that seems to have something else on his mind!” A little while later, he added: “What a racket! If no one takes any notice of you, it really doesn’t matter!
When the water is deep, wade through it with your clothes on;
When the water is shallow, hold up the hem of your gown.”
Confucius said: “He certainly doesn’t mince his words! I don’t have any response to that!”

Chapter XL
Zizhang said: “In the Book of Documents it is written: ‘When King Gaozong was mourning his father, he did not speak for three years.’ What does this mean?” Confucius said: “This did not apply only to King Gaozong; all the ancients did the same. When a king died, all the officials gathered together and took their orders from the prime minister for three years.”

Chapter XLI
Confucius said: “When their rulers love the rites, the people are easy to manage.”

Chapter XLII
Zilu asked what makes a leader. Confucius said: “Rigorous self-cultivation.” Zilu asked: “Is that all there is to it?” Confucius said: “He cultivates himself to bring comfort to the people. He cultivates himself to bring comfort to the people: this is something even Yao and Shun would have found very difficult.”

Chapter XLIII
Yuan Rang sat cross-legged waiting for Confucius. Confucius said: “You were disobedient when you were young, achieved nothing of note when you grew up, and you’re still not dead now that you’re old: you’re nothing but an incorrigible rogue.” Then he struck him across the shin with his staff.

Chapter XLIV
A boy from the village of Que came bearing a message. Someone asked about him, saying: “Is he likely to improve himself?” Confucius said: “I have noticed that he seats himself among others and walks alongside people older than himself. He is not looking to improve himself; he wants to grow up too fast.”

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *