The Wisdom of Confucius: Whether considering his own life, human nature, or a society’s responsibilities, Confucius’s teachings emphasize morality, social relationships, justice, and sincerity. He pursued social and political reform, leaving a legacy of wisdom that remains vital today. Organized by topic and accompanied with contextual footnotes, this collection of quotations and lessons is often as entertaining as it is educational.
The Wisdom of Mao: In this collection of essays, China’s Chairman Mao Tse-Tung explains his interpretation of Marxism-Leninism that became known as Maoism. From examining the root causes of societal shifts to explaining the necessity of guerilla-based revolution, Mao mixes his philosophical positions with the history of the Chinese people.
Classics in Chinese Philosophy: An anthology of the most important philosophical texts in Chinese history, from Confucius and the I Ching to Mao Tse-Tung and Yu-Lan Fung.
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Opinions respecting certain of his disciples and others — Approach of a disciple to the "golden rule" — Miscellaneous.
1. The Master pronounced Kung-ye Ch'ang (a disciple) to be a marriageable person; for although lying bound in criminal fetters he had committed no crime. And he gave him his own daughter to wife.
Of Nan Yung (a disciple) he observed, that in a State where the government was well conducted he would not be passed over in its appointments, and in one where the government was ill conducted he would evade punishment and disgrace. And he caused his elder brother's daughter to be given in marriage to him.
2. Of Tsz-tsien (a disciple) he remarked, "A superior man indeed is the like of him! (But) had there been none of superior quality in Lu, how should this man have attained to this (excellence)?"
3. Tsz-kung asked, "What of me, then?" "You," replied the Master, —"You are a receptacle." "Of what sort?" said he. "One for high and sacred use," was the answer.
4. Some one having observed of Yen Yung that he was good-natured towards others, but that he lacked the gift of ready speech, the Master said, "What need of that gift? To stand up before men and pour forth a stream of glib words is generally to make yourself obnoxious to them. I know not about his good- naturedness; but at any rate what need of that gift?"
5. When the Master proposed that Tsi-tiau K'ai should enter the government service, the latter replied, "I can scarcely credit it." — The Master was gratified.
6. "Good principles are making no progress," once exclaimed the Master. "If I were to take a raft, and drift about on the sea, would Tsz-lu, I wonder, be my follower there?" That disciple was delighted at hearing the suggestion; whereupon the Master continued, "He surpasses me in his love of deeds of daring. But he does not in the least grasp the pith (of my remark)."
7. In reply to a question put to him by Mang Wu respecting Tsz-lu, — as to whether he might be called good-natured towards others, — the Master said, "I cannot tell"; but, on the question being put again, he answered, "Well, in an important State he might be entrusted with the management of the (military) levies; but I cannot answer for his good nature."
"What say you then of Yen Yu?"
"As for Yen," he replied, "in a city of a thousand families, or in a secondary fief, he might be charged with the governorship; but I cannot answer for his good-naturedness."
"Take Tsz-hwa, then; what of him?"
"Tsz-hwa," said he, "with a cincture girt upon him, standing (as attendant) at Court, might be charged with the addressing of visitors and guests; but as to his good-naturedness I cannot answer."
8. Addressing Tsz-kung, the Master said, "Which of the two is ahead of the other — yourself or Hwúi?" "How shall I dare," he replied, "even to look at Hwúi? Only let him hear one particular, and from that he knows ten; whereas I, if I hear one, may from it know two."
"You are not a match for him, I grant you," said the Master. "You are not his match."
9. Tsai Yu (a disciple) used to sleep in the daytime. Said the Master, "One may hardly carve rotten wood, or use a trowel to the wall of a manureyard! In his case, what is the use of reprimand?"
"My attitude towards a man in my first dealings with him," he added, "was to listen to his professions and to trust to his conduct. My attitude now is to listen to his professions, and towatch his conduct. My experience with Tsai Yu has led to this change."
10. "I have never seen," said the Master, "a man of inflexible firmness." Some one thereupon mentioned Shin Ch'ang (a disciple). "Ch'ang," said he, "is wanton; where do you get at his inflexibleness?"
11. Tsz-kung made the remark: "That which I do not wish others to put upon me, I also wish not to put upon others." — Nay," said the Master, "you have not got so far as that."
12. The same disciple once remarked, "There may be access so as to hear the Master's literary discourses, but when he is treating of human nature and the way of Heaven, there may not be such access."
13. Tsz-lu, after once hearing him upon some subject, and feeling himself as yet incompetent to carry into practice what he had heard, used to be apprehensive only lest he should hear the subject revived.
14. Tsz-kung asked how it was that Kung W n had come to be so styled "W n" (the Talented). The Master's answer was, "Because, though a man of an active nature, he was yet fond of study, and he was not ashamed to stoop to put questions to his inferiors."
15. Respecting Tsz-ch'an, the Master said that he had four of the essential qualities of the "superior man": — in his own private walk he was humble-minded; in serving his superiors he was deferential; in his looking after the material welfare of the people he was generously kind; and in his exaction of public service from the latter he was just.
16. Speaking of Yen Ping, he said, "He was one who was happy in his mode of attaching men to him. However long the intercourse, he was always deferential to them."
17. Referring to Tsang W n, he asked, "What is to be said of this man's discernment? — this man with his tortoise-house, with the pillar-heads and posts bedizened with scenes of hill and mere!"
18. Tsz-chang put a question relative to the chief Minister (of Tsu), Tsz-w n. He said, "Three times he became chief Minister, and on none of these occasions did he betray any sign of exultation. Three times his ministry came to an end, and he showed no sign of chagrin. He used without fail to inform the new Minister as to the old mode of administration. What say you of him?" "That he was a loyal man," said the Master.
"But was he a man of fellow-feeling?" said the disciple.
"Of that I am not sure," he answered; "how am I to get at that?"
(The disciple went on to say): — "After the assassination of the prince of Ts'i by the officer Ts'ui, the latter's fellow-official Ch'in Wan, who had half a score teams of horses, gave up all, and turned his back upon him. On coming to another State, he observed, "There are here characters somewhat like that of our minister Ts'ui," and he turned his back upon them. Proceeding to a certain other State, he had occasion to make the same remark, and left. What say you of him?"
"That he was a pure-minded man," answered the Master.
"But was he a man of fellow-feeling?" urged the disciple.
"Of that I am not sure," he replied; "how am I to get at that?"
19. Ki Wan was one who thought three times over a thing before he acted. The Master hearing this of him, observed, "Twice would have been enough."
20. Of Ning Wu, the Master said that when matters went well in the State he used to have his wits about him: but when they went wrong, he lost them. His intelligence might be equalled, but not his witlessness!
21. Once, when the Master lived in the State of Ch'in, he exclaimed, "Let me get home again! Let me get home! My school-children are wild and impetuous! Though they are somewhat accomplished, and perfect in one sense in their attainments, yet they know not how to make nice discriminations."
22. Of Peh-I and Shuh Ts'i he said, "By the fact of their not remembering old grievances, they gradually did away with resentment."
23. Of Wei-shang Kau he said, "Who calls him straightforward? A person once begged some vinegar of him, and he begged it from a neighbor, and then presented him with it!"
24. "Fine speech," said he, "and studied mien, and superfluous show of deference, "of such things Tso-k'iu Ming was ashamed. I too am ashamed of such things. Also of hiding resentment felt towards an opponent and treating him as a friend "of this kind of thing he was ashamed, and so too am I."
25. Attended once by the two disciples Yen Yuen and Tsz-lu, he said, "Come now, why not tell me, each of you, what in your hearts you are really after?"
"I should like," said Tsz-lu, "for myself and my friends and associates, carriages and horses, and to be clad in light furs! nor would I mind much if they should become the worse for wear."
"And I should like," said Yen Yuen, "to live without boasting of my abilities, and without display of meritorious deeds."
Tsz-lu then said, "I should like, sir, to hear what your heart is set upon."
The Master replied, "It is this: — in regard to old people, to give them quiet and comfort; in regard to friends and associates, to be faithful to them; in regard to the young, to treat them with fostering affection and kindness."
26. On one occasion the Master exclaimed, "Ah, 'tis hopeless! I have not yet seen the man who can see his errors, so as inwardly to accuse himself."
27. "In a small cluster of houses there may well be," said he, "some whose integrity and sincerity may compare with mine; but I yield to none in point of love of learning."CHAPTER 2
More characteristics of disciples — "Obiter dicta" — Wisdom — Philanthropy.
1. Of (Yen) Yung (a disciple) the Master said, "Yung might indeed do for a prince!"
On being asked by this Yen Yung his opinion of a certain individual, the Master replied, "He is passable. Impetuous, (though)."
"But," argued the disciple, "if a man habituate himself to a reverent regard for duty — even while in his way of doing things he is impetuous — in the oversight of the people committed to his charge, is he not passable? If, on the other hand, he habituate himself to impetuosity of mind, and show it also in his way of doing things, is he not then over impetuous?"
"You are right," said the Master.
2. When the duke Ngai inquired which of the disciples were devoted to learning, Confucius answered him, "There was one Yen Hwúi who loved it, — a man whose angry feelings towards any particular person he did not suffer to visit upon another; a man who would never fall into the same error twice. Unfortunately his allotted time was short, and he died, and now his like is not to be found; I have never heard of one (so) devoted to learning."
3. While Tsz-hwa (a disciple) was away on a mission to Ts'i, the disciple Yen Yu on behalf of his mother applied for some grain. "Give her three pecks," said the Master. He applied for more. "Give her eight, then." Yen gave her fifty times that amount. — The Master said, "When Tsz-hwa went on that journey to Ts'i, he had well-fed steeds yoked to his carriage, and was arrayed in light furs. I have learnt that the 'superior man' should help those whose needs are urgent, not help the rich to be more rich."
When Yuen Sz became prefect under him, he gave him nine hundred measures of grain, but the prefect declined to accept them. "You must not," said the Master. "May they not be of use to the villages and hamlets around you?"
4. Speaking of Yen Yung (again), the Master said, "If the offspring of a speckled ox be red in colour, and horned, even though men may not wish to take it (for sacrifice), would (the spirits of) the hills and streams reject it?"
5. Adverting to Hwúi again, he said, "For three months there would not be in his breast one thought recalcitrant against his feeling of goodwill towards his fellow-men. The others may attain to this for a day or for a month, but there they end."
6. When asked by Ki K'ang whether Tsz-lu was fit to serve the government, the Master replied, "Tsz-lu is a man of decision: what should prevent him from serving the government?"
Asked the same question respecting Tsz-(kung) and Yen Yu he answered similarly, pronouncing Tsz-kung to be a man of perspicacity, and Yen Yu to be one versed in the polite arts.
7. When the head of the Ki family sent for Min Tsz-k'ien to make him governor of (the town of) Pi, that disciple said, "Politely decline for me. If the offer is renewed, then indeed I shall feel myself obliged to go and live on the (further) bank of the Wan."
8. Peh-niu had fallen ill, and the Master was inquiring after him. Taking hold of his hand (held out) from the window, he said, "It is taking him off! Alas, his appointed time has come! Such a man, and to have such an illness!"
9. Of Hwúi (again): "A right worthy man indeed was he! With his simple wooden dish of rice, and his one gourd-basin of drink, away in his poor back lane, in a condition too grievous for others to have endured, he never allowed his cheery spirits to droop. Ay, a right worthy soul was he!"
10. "It is not," Yen Yu once apologized, "that I do not take pleasure in your doctrines; it is that I am not strong enough." The Master rejoined, "It is when those who are not strong enough have made some moderate amount of progress that they fail and give up; but you are now drawing your own line for yourself."
11. Addressing Tsz-hiá, the Master said, "Let your scholarship be that of gentlemen, and not like that of common men."
12. When Tsz-yu became governor of Wu-shing, the Master said to him, "Do you find (good) men about you?" The reply was, "There is Tan-t'ai Mieh-ming, who when walking eschews bye-paths, and who, unless there be some public function, never approaches my private residence."
13. "Mang Chi-fan" said the Master, "is no sounder of his own praises. During a stampede he was in the rear, and as they were about to enter the city gate he whipped up his horses, and said, ''Twas not my daring made me lag behind. My horses would not go.'"
Obiter dicta of the Master: —
14. "Whoever has not the glib utterance of the priest T'o, as well as the handsomeness of (prince) Cháu of Sung, will find it hard to keep out of harm's way in the present age.
15. "Who can go out but by (that) door? Why walks no one by these guiding principles?
16. "Where plain naturalness is more in evidence than polish, we have — the man from the country. Where polish is more in evidence than naturalness, we have — the (town) scribe. It is when naturalness and polish are equally evident that we have the ideal man.
17. "The life of a man is — his rectitude. Life without it — such may you have the good fortune to avoid!
18. "They who know it are not as those who love it, nor they who love it as those who rejoice in it [i. e. have the fruition of their love for it].
19. "To the average man, and those above the average, it is possible to discourse on higher subjects; to those from the average downwards, it is not possible."
20. Fan Ch'i put a query about wisdom. The Master replied, "To labour for the promoting of righteous conduct among the people of the land; to be serious in regard to spiritual beings, and to hold aloof from them; — this may be called wisdom."
To a further query, about philanthropy, he replied, "Those who possess that virtue find difficulty with it at first, success later."
21. "Men of practical knowledge," he said, "find their gratification among the rivers (of the lowland), men of sympathetic social feeling find theirs among the hills. The former are active and bustling, the latter calm and quiet. The former take their (day of) pleasure, the latter look to length of days."
22. Alluding to the States of Ts'i and Lu, he observed, that Ts'i, by one change, might attain to the condition of Lu; and that Lu, by one change, might attain to good government.
23. An exclamation of the Master [satirizing the times, when old terms relating to government were still used while bereft of their old meaning]: — "A quart, and not a quart! quart, indeed! quart, indeed!"
24. Tsai Wo (a disciple) put a query. Said he "Suppose a philanthropic person were told, 'There's a fellow-creature down in the well!' Would he go down after him?"
"Why should he really do so?" answered the Master. "The good man [or, a superior man] might be induced to go, but not to go down. He may be misled, but not befooled."
25. "The superior man," said he, "with his wide study of books, and hedging himself round by the Rules of Propriety, is not surely, after all that, capable of overstepping his bounds."
26. Once when the Master had had an interview with Nan-tsz, which had scandalized his disciple Tsz-lu, he uttered the solemn abjuration, "If I have done aught amiss, may Heaven reject me! may Heaven reject me!
27. "How far-reaching," said he, "is the moral excellence that flows from the 'Constant Mean!' It has for a long time been rare among the people."
28. Tsz-kung said, "Suppose the case of one who confers benefits far and wide upon the people, and who can, in so doing, make his bounty universally felt, — how would you speak of him? Might he be called philanthropic?"
The Master exclaimed, "What a work for philanthropy! He would require indeed to be a sage! He would put into shade even Yau and Shun! — Well, a philanthropic person, desiring for himself a firm footing, is led on to give one to others; desiring for himself an enlightened perception of things, he is led on to help others to be similarly enlightened. — If one could take an illustration coming closer home to us (than yours), that might be made the starting point for speaking about philanthropy."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Chinese Thinkers Through the Ages"
Copyright © 1972 Philosophical Library, Inc..
Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
THE WISDOM OF CONFUCIUS,
THE WISDOM OF MAO,
I. The Two World Outlooks,
II. The Universality of Contradiction,
III. The Particularity of Contradiction,
IV. The Principal Contradiction and the Principal Aspect of a Contradiction,
V. The Identity and Struggle of the Aspects of a Contradiction,
VI. The Place of Antagonism in Contradiction,
On New Democracy,
I. Whither China?,
II. We Want to Build a New China,
III. China's Historical Characteristics,
IV. The Chinese Revolution is Part of the World Revolution,
V. The Politics of New Democracy,
VI. The Economy of New Democracy,
VII. Refutation of Bourgeois Dictatorship,
VIII. Refutation of "Left" Phrase-Mongering,
IX. Refutation of the Die-Hards,
X. The Three People's Principles, Old and New,
XI. The Culture of New Democracy,
XII. The Historical Characteristics of China's Cultural Revolution,
XIII. The Four Periods,
XIV. Some Wrong Ideas About the Nature of Culture,
XV. A National, Scientific and Mass Culture,
CLASSICS IN CHINESE PHILOSOPHY,
Confucius (551-478 B.C.),
The Teachings of the Master,
I Ching (Book of Changes),
Lao Tzu (480-390 B.C.),
Tâo Te Ching,
Mo Tzu (470-396 B.C.),
The Mo Tzu Book,
Lieh Tzu (450-375 B.C.),
Yang Chu (440-260 B.C.),
The Yang Chu Chapter of the Lieh-tzu,
Shang Yang (400-338 B.C.),
The Book of Lord Shang,
Hui Shih (380-305 B.C.),
Chuang Tzu (bet. 399-286 B.C.),
The Writings of Chuang Tzu,
Mencius (372-289 B.C.),
The Sayings of Mencius,
Tzu Ssu (335-288 B.C.),
The Way of the Mean,
Hsun Tzu (bet. 335-238 B.C.),
Kung-sun Lung (320-250 B.C.),
A Discussion on White Horses,
Han Fei Tzu (280-233 B.C.),
Li Ssu (d. 208 B.C.),
Huai-nan Tzu (180-122 B.C.),
Placing Customs on a Par,
Tung Chung-shu (177-104 B.C.),
Luxuriant Gems of the Spring and Autumn Annals,
Wang Ch'ung (27-97 A.D.),
Wrong Notions About Happiness (Fu-Hsü),
Gautama Buddha (563-483 B.C.),
The Attainment of Buddhahood,
Ko Hung (268-334 A.D.),
The Philosopher who Embraces Simplicity,
Kuo Hsiang (d. 312 A.D.),
Commentary on the Chuang Tzu,
Hui-Yüan (334-416 A.D.),
A Monk Does Not Bow Down Before a King,
T'an-luan (476-542 A.D.),
Commentary to Vasubandhu's Essay on Rebirth,
Chih K'ai (538-597),
The Scripture of the Lotus of the Wonderful Law,
Confirmation of the Consciousness-only System,
The Golden Lion,
The Platform Scripture,
Han Yü (768-824),
What Is The True Way (Yüan Tâo),
Hui Hai (fl c. 780),
On Sudden Illumination,
Huang Po (d. 850),
Sermons and Dialogues,
Shao Yung (1011-1077),
The Supreme Principles Governing the World,
Chou Tun-i (1017-1073),
An Explanation of the Diagram of the Great Ultimate,
Chang Tsai (1020-1077),
Ch'eng Hao (1032-1086),
Ten Matters Calling for Reform,
Ch'eng I (1033-1107),
Philosophy of Human Nature,
Yüan-Wu Ko-Chin (1063-1135),
Fa-Yen Answers Hui-Chao Regarding the Buddha Question,
Chu Hsi (1130-1200),
The Doctrine of the Mean,
Lu Hsiang-shan (1139-1192),
Law, Mind and Nature,
Wang Yang-Ming (1472-1528),
Instructions for Practical Life,
Huang Tsung-Hsi (1610-1695),
Ku Yen-Wu (1613-1682),
True Learning: Broad Knowledge, and a Sense of Shame,
Wang Fu-Chih (1619-1693),
Man's Nature & Destiny,
K'ang Yu-Wei (1858-1927),
Entering the World and Seeing Universal Suffering,
Sun Yat-Sen (1864-1925),
General Theory of Knowledge and Action,
T'an Ssu-T'ung (1865-1898),
On the Study of Humanity,
Hu Shih (1891-1962),
Mao Tse-Tung (1893-),
Yu-Lan Fung (1895-),
Philosophy of Contemporary China,
About the Contributors,