Analects of Confucius, Book 17

Chapter I
Yang Huo wanted to see Confucius, but Confucius would not see him. Yang Huo sent him a suckling pig. Confucius chose a time when Yang Huo was not at home to call on him and give his thanks, but ran into him on the way. Yang Huo said to Confucius: “Come! I have something to say to you.” He continued: “Can a person be called good if they keep their talents hidden while their country has gone astray? I don’t think so. Can a person be called wise if they are eager to take part in public affairs, but constantly miss the opportunity to do so? I don’t think so. The days and months fly by; time is not on our side.” Confucius said: “All right, I shall take office.”

Chapter II
Confucius said: “People are close to each other by nature, but are separated from each other by nurture.”

Chapter III
Confucius said: “Only the smartest and the stupidest people never change.”

Chapter IV
Confucius went to Wucheng. When he heard the sound of stringed instruments and singing, he was amused and broke out into a smile: “Why use an ox cleaver to kill a chicken?” Ziyou replied: “Master, in the past I have heard you say: ‘A leader who has been instructed in the Way loves all people; common people who have been instructed in the Way are easy to govern.’” Confucius said: “My friends, Ziyou is right. The remarks I made a moment ago were just a joke.”

Chapter V
Gongshan Furao, using the town of Bi as a stronghold, launched a revolt. He summoned Confucius to join him and Confucius was tempted to go. Zilu was unhappy about this and said: “We may have nowhere to go, but why must we go to join Gongshan?” Confucius said: “Since he has summoned me, it must be for some purpose. If his purpose is to employ me, perhaps I could establish a new Zhou Dynasty in the East.”

Chapter VI
Zizhang asked Confucius about goodness. Confucius said: “Whoever is capable of putting five qualities into practice throughout the world is good.” “And what are those?” “Respectfulness, tolerance, trustworthiness, enthusiasm, and generosity. If you are respectful, you will not be insulted by others; if you are tolerant, you will win people’s hearts; if you are trustworthy, people will entrust you with responsibility; if you are enthusiastic, you will be successful; if you are generous, you will be capable of managing other people.”

Chapter VII
Bi Xi summoned Confucius. Confucius was tempted to go. Zilu said: “Master, in the past I have heard you say, ‘A leader does not enter the domain of those who commit evil.’ Bi Xi is using his stronghold of Zhongmou as the base of a rebellion. How can you contemplate going to join him?” Confucius said: “It’s true I said that. But hasn’t it also been said, ‘so tough that it can withstand grinding; so white that it can withstand black dye’. Am I no more than a bitter gourd that is hung on a piece of string instead of being eaten?”

Chapter VIII
Confucius said: “Zilu, have you heard of the six virtues and their six attendant vices?” “No, I haven’t.” “Sit down, and I will tell you. Loving goodness without loving learning leads to ignorance. Loving knowledge without loving learning leads to foolishness. Loving trustworthiness without loving learning leads to criminality. Loving frankness without loving learning leads to offensiveness. Loving valor without loving learning leads to chaos. Loving steadfastness without loving learning leads to recklessness.”

Chapter IX
Confucius said: “Little ones, why don’t you study the Book of Songs? The Book of Songs can inspire your imagination, provide a vehicle for self-contemplation, make you more sociable, and voice a complaint more effectively. At home it enables you to serve your father; further afield it helps you serve your lord. You can also learn the names of many birds, animals, plants, and trees from it.”

Chapter X
Confucius said to his son Boyu: “Have you studied the first and the second parts of the Book of Songs? Anyone who hasn’t studied the first and second parts of the Book of Songs will remain stuck as if standing with their face to a wall.”

Chapter XI
Confucius said: “The rites, the rites, surely there is more to them than just jade and silk! Music, music, surely there is more to it than just bells and drums!”

Chapter XII
Confucius said, “A coward who acts tough to conceal his inner weakness cannot even be compared to the common people but to a burglar climbing over a wall to break in.”

Chapter XIII
Confucius said: “Village worthies are the thieves of virtue.”

Chapter XIV
Confucius said: “To peddle gossip is to throw virtue away.”

Chapter XV
Confucius said: “Is it possible to work with a grasping boor in the service of a lord? Before he gets what he wants, he worries about getting it; once he gets it, he worries about losing it; and when he worries about losing it, he becomes capable of anything.”

Chapter XVI
Confucius said: “The ancients had three failings, but people today are not even capable of having these. Whereas the wildness of the ancients was innocent, the wildness of people today is depraved; whereas the pride of the ancients was noble, the pride of people today is brutish; whereas the foolishness of the ancients was genuine, the foolishness of people today is sinister.”

Chapter XVII
The Master said: “Smooth talk and an affected manner are seldom signs of goodness.”

Chapter XVIII
Confucius said: “I loathe purple for replacing vermilion; I loathe the melodies of Zheng for corrupting classical music; I loathe the clever of tongue for creating chaos in the kingdoms and noble families.”

Chapter XIX
Confucius said: “I wish to speak no more.” Zigong said: “Master, if you don’t speak, how will your disciples be able to pass on any of your teachings?” Confucius said: “Does Heaven speak? The four seasons turn and all the creatures continue to be born, but does Heaven speak?”

Chapter XX
Ru Bei wanted to see Confucius. Confucius declined due to illness. As Ru Bei’s messenger was leaving, Confucius picked up his zither and sang loudly enough for him to hear.

Chapter XXI
Zai Yu asked: “Three years of mourning for your parents: this is a long time. If a leader doesn’t practice the rites for three years, the rites are sure to decay; if he doesn’t practice music for three years, music is sure to collapse. As the grain from last year’s crop is used up, grain from this year’s crop ripens, and the flint for lighting the fires is changed with each season. One year of mourning is surely enough.” Confucius said: “Would you be comfortable eating your fine food and wearing your fine clothes then?” “Absolutely.” “In that case, go ahead! When a leader is in mourning fine food is tasteless to him, music offers him no pleasure, and the comforts of home give him no peace, so he prefers to do without these pleasures. But if you think you will be able to enjoy them, go ahead.” Zai Yu left. Confucius said: “Zai Yu has no virtue! During the first three years after a child is born, he doesn’t leave the arms of his parents. Three years of mourning is a custom that is followed throughout the world. Didn’t Zai Yu receive three years of love from his parents?”

Chapter XXII
Confucius said: “I can’t stand those people who eat all day long without ever using their minds! Can’t they play dice and chess? At least playing those games would be better than nothing.”

Chapter XXIII
Zilu said: “Does a leader prize courage?” Confucius said: “A leader prizes rightness above all else. A leader who is courageous but lacking in rightness could create chaos; a petty person who is courageous but lacking in rightness could become a bandit.”

Chapter XXIV
Zigong said: “Does a leader have things that he can’t stand?” Confucius said: “Yes. He can’t stand those who point out the evils in others. He can’t stand those in inferior positions who slander their superiors. He can’t stand those whose courage is not tempered by the rites. He can’t stand those who are impulsive and stubborn.” Confucius continued. “Do you have things that you can’t stand?” “I can’t stand those who pretend to be learned by plagiarizing. I can’t stand those who pretend to be brave by acting arrogant. I can’t stand those who pretend to be frank by being malicious.”

Chapter XXV
Confucius said: “Women and servants are difficult to deal with: if you get too close to them, they become disrespectful; if you get too distant, they resent it.”

Chapter XXVI
Confucius said: “If you reach the age of forty and are still disdained by others it’s all over for you.”

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