Analects of Confucius Book 7: new English translation

Read this new English translation of the Analects of Confucius Book 7 to learn more about the teachings of China’s most famous philosopher. It provides a vivid portrait of the sage’s personality and motivations, as well as his opinions on various followers and other contemporary and historical figures.

Chapter 1
子曰:「述而不作,信而好古,竊比於我老彭。」
Confucius said: “I transmit but I don’t create. I am faithful to and love the past. In this respect, I dare to compare myself with Old Peng.”

Chapter 2
子曰:「默而識之,學而不厭,誨人不倦,何有於我哉?」
Confucius said: “Quietly absorbing knowledge, learning and yet never growing weary, teaching and yet never becoming tired – how can any of these be difficult for me?”

Chapter 3
子曰:「德之不修,學之不講,聞義不能徒,不善不能改,是吾憂也。」
Confucius said: “Failure to nurture my virtue, failure to discuss what I have learned, failure to follow what I know to be right, and failure to correct my faults: these are the worries that plague me.”

Chapter 4
「子之燕居,申申如也,夭夭如也。」
When relaxing at home, Confucius was comfortable and leisurely and cheerful and agreeable.

Chapter 5
子曰:「甚矣吾衰也!久矣吾不復夢見周公!」
Confucius said: “I am becoming terribly weak. It has been a long time since I last saw the Duke of Zhou in a dream.”

Chapter 6
子曰:「志於道,據於德,依於仁,游於藝。」
Confucius said: “Set your heart on the way; act in accordance with virtue; hold fast to goodness; enjoy the arts.”

Chapter 7
子曰:「自行束修以上,吾未嘗無誨焉。」
Confucius said: “I have never refused to teach anyone who has asked me to, even if they were too poor to offer no more than a token offering of a bundle of dried meat for their tuition.”

Chapter 8
子曰:「不憤不啟,不悱不發。舉一隅不以三隅反,則不復也。」
Confucius said: “I instruct only the passionate. I enlighten only the fervent. If a student cannot return with the other three corners of the square after I have shown them the first one, I will not repeat the lesson.”

Chapter 9
子食於有喪者之側,未嘗飽也。子於是日哭,則不歌。
When Confucius dined with someone in mourning, he never ate his fill. On a day when he had been weeping, Confucius never sang.

Chapter 10
子謂顏淵曰:「用之則行,舍之則藏,惟我與爾有是夫。」子路曰:「子行三軍,則誰與?」子曰:「暴虎馮河,死而不悔者,吾不與也。必也臨事而懼,好謀而成者也。」
Confucius said to Yan Hui: “To take office when needed and to stay out of sight when dismissed: only you and I can do this.” Zilu said: “If you had command of the Three Armies, who would you appoint to help you?” Confucius said: “I wouldn’t choose someone who wrestles tigers barehanded or swims across rivers without fearing death. But I would choose someone who approaches difficulties with due caution and achieves victories through careful planning.”

Chapter 11
子曰:「富而可求也,雖執鞭之士,吾亦為之。如不可求,從吾所好。」
Confucius said: “If wealth was worth pursuing, I’d go after it even if it meant working as a lowly official. But if not, I’d rather follow my own interests.”

Chapter 12
子之所慎:齊,戰,疾。
Confucius was cautious about these matters: fasting; war; disease.

Chapter 13
子在齊聞韶,三月不知肉味,曰:「不圖為樂之至於斯也。」
When Confucius was in Qi, he heard Shao music. For three months, he didn’t know the taste of meat. He said: “I never imagined that music could reach such heights as this.”

Chapter 14
冉有曰:「夫子為衛君乎?」子貢曰:「諾,吾將問之。」入曰:「伯夷、叔齊何人也?」曰:「古之賢人也。」曰:「怨乎?」曰:「求仁而得仁,又何怨?」出曰:「夫子不為也。」
Ran Qiu said: “Does the Master support the Duke of Wei?” Zigong said: “Well, I’m going to ask him.” Zigong went in and asked Confucius: “What sort of people were Boyi and Shuqi?” “They were virtuous men of old.” “Did they complain?” “They sought goodness and attained goodness. Why should they have complained?” Zigong left and said to Ran Qiu: “The Master does not support the Duke of Wei.”

Chapter 15
子曰:「飯疏食,飲水,曲肱而枕之,樂亦在其中矣。不義而富且貴,於我如浮雲。」
Confucius said: “Even if you have only coarse grain to eat, water to drink, and your bent elbow to use as a pillow, you can still find joy in these things. But wealth and honors obtained by improper means are like passing clouds to me.”

Chapter 16
子曰:「加我數年,五十以學易,可以無大過矣。」
Confucius said: “If I was given a few more years, I would devote fifty to the study of the Book of Changes so that I may be free from serious mistakes.”

Chapter 17
子所雅言,詩、書、執禮,皆雅言也。
Occasions when Confucius used standard pronunciation: when reciting the Book of Songs and the Book of Documents, and when carrying out ritual ceremonies. On all these occasions, he used standard pronunciation.

Chapter 18
葉公問孔子於子路,子路不對。子曰:「女奚不曰,其為人也,發憤忘食,樂以忘憂,不知老之將至云爾。」
The Duke of She asked Zilu about Confucius. Zilu did not reply. Confucius said: “Why didn’t you say, ‘He’s the kind of man who gets so lost in his passions that he forgets to eat and so caught up in his happiness that he forgets his worries and doesn’t even notice he’s growing old?’”

Chapter 19
子曰:「我非生而知之者,好古,敏以求之者也。」
Confucius said: “I wasn’t born with innate knowledge. I simply love the past and am assiduous in seeking it there.”

Chapter 20
子不語怪力亂神。
Confucius never talked of strange phenomena, feats of strength, disorder, or spirits.

Chapter 21
子曰:「三人行,必有我師焉:擇其善者而從之,其不善者而改之。」
Confucius said: “Let me take a stroll with any two people, and I can always be sure of learning something from them. I can take their good points and emulate them, and I can take their bad points and correct them in myself.”

Chapter 22
子曰:「天生德於予,桓魋其如予何?」
Confucius said: “Heaven has bestowed me with virtue. What do I have to fear from Huan Tui?”

Chapter 23
子曰:「二三子以我為隱乎?吾無隱乎爾。吾無行而不與二三子者,是丘也。」
Confucius said to his followers: “My friends, do you think I’m hiding something from you? I’m hiding nothing at all. There’s nothing I do without sharing it with you. That’s my way.”

Chapter 24
子以四教:文,行,忠,信。
Confucius covered four subjects in his teaching: culture; conduct; loyalty; and trustworthiness.

Chapter 25
子曰:「聖人,吾不得而見之矣,得見君子者,斯可矣。」子曰:「善人,吾不得而見之矣,得見有恒者,斯可矣。亡而為有,虛而為盈,約而為泰,難乎有恒矣。」
Confucius said: “I have no hope of ever meeting a great sage; I suppose I would be content to meet a true leader.” Confucius said: “I cannot ever hope to meet a perfect person; I suppose I would be content to meet someone who sticks to their principles. Yet in an age when nothing masquerades as something, emptiness masquerades as fullness, and penury masquerades as affluence, it is hard enough just to stick to your principles.”

Chapter 26
子釣而不綱,弋不射宿。
Confucius fished using a line – not a net. When hunting, he never shot at a bird that was nesting.

Chapter 27
子曰:「蓋有不知而作之者,我無是也。多聞,擇其善者而從之。多見而識之,知之次也。」
Confucius said: “Perhaps there are some people who can create something new without really understanding what they’re doing, but I’m not one of them. I listen a lot, pick the best of it, and follow it; I observe a lot and take note of it. This is the best way for me to learn.”

Chapter 28
互鄉難與言,童子見,門人惑。子曰:「與其進也,不與其退也,唯何甚?人潔己以進,與其潔也,不保其往也。」
The people of Hu Village were difficult to communicate with, so when a boy from there came to visit Confucius his followers didn’t know what to think. Confucius said: “Just because I approve of his desire to improve himself doesn’t mean that I approve of his past mistakes. Why be so hard on him? If people make the effort to improve themselves, we should approve of their progress and ignore their previous missteps.”

Chapter 29
子曰:「仁遠乎哉?我欲仁,斯仁至矣。」
Confucius said: “Is goodness really so far away? No sooner do I desire goodness than it’s at hand.”

Chapter 30
陳司敗問昭公知禮乎,孔子曰:「知禮。」孔子退,揖巫馬期而進之曰:「吾聞君子不黨,君子亦黨乎?君取於吳,為同姓,謂之吳孟子。君而知禮,孰不知禮?」巫馬期以告。子曰:「丘也幸,苟有過,人必知之。」
The Minister of Justice of Chen asked: “Did Duke Zhao understand ritual?” Confucius said: “Yes, he understood the rites.” Confucius withdrew. With a bow, the minister invited Wuma Qi to come forward and said to him: “I’ve heard it said that a true leader is never biased. But isn’t your master biased after all? The duke took a wife from the state of Wu; but because she had the same family name, he called her Wu Mengzi. If the duke understood ritual, who doesn’t understand it?” Wuma Qi reported this to Confucius. Confucius said: “I’m fortunate indeed: whenever I make a mistake, there’s always someone on hand to let me know about it.”

Chapter 31
子與人歌而善,必使反之,而後和之。
Whenever Confucius was together with other people who were singing and they sang a song well, he always asked them to repeat it before joining in the harmony.

Chapter 32
子曰:「文,莫吾猶人也。躬行君子,則吾未之有得。」
Confucius said: “Although my commitment is as strong as anyone’s when it comes to cultural knowledge and refinement, I haven’t yet hit the target of becoming a true leader in how I conduct myself.”

Chapter 33
子曰:「若聖與仁,則吾豈敢?抑為之不厭,誨人不倦,則可謂云爾已矣。」公西華曰:「正唯弟子不能學也。」
Confucius said: “How could I possibly dare to claim that I’m a man of great wisdom and goodness? All that can be said of me is that I never grow weary of learning and never get tired of teaching others.” Gongxi Chi said: “This is exactly what we students are unable to grasp.”

Chapter 34
子疾病,子路請禱。子曰:「有諸?」子路對曰:「有之。誄曰:『禱爾于上下神祗』」子曰:「丘之禱久矣。」
When Confucius fell seriously ill, Zilu asked permission to pray. Confucius said: “Does such a practice exist?” Zilu replied: “Certainly. The liturgy says: ‘We pray to the spirits from above and the spirits from below.’” Confucius said: “If that’s the case, I’ve been praying for myself for a long time now.”

Chapter 35
子曰:「奢則不孫,儉則固。與其不孫也,寧固。」
Confucius said: “Just as extravagance leads to arrogance, frugality leads to meanness. It’s better to be mean rather than arrogant.”

Chapter 36
子曰:「君子坦蕩蕩,小人長戚戚。」
Confucius said: “A leader is calm and at ease; a petty person is anxious and on edge.”

Chapter 37
子溫而厲,威而不猛,恭而安。
Confucius was gracious but serious; commanding but not severe; respectful but at ease.

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