Translated by A. Charles Muller
Table of Contents
|1A.||King Hui of Liang: Part One 梁惠王上|
|1B.||King Hui of Liang: Part Two 梁惠王下|
|2A.||Gong Sun Chou (part one) 公孫丑上|
|2B.||Gong Sun Chou (part two) 公孫丑下|
|3A.||Teng Wen Gong 滕文公上 (part one)|
|3B.||Teng Wen Gong 滕文公下 (part two)|
|4A.||Li Lou (part one) 離婁上|
|4B.||Li Lou (part two) 離婁下|
|6A.||Gao Zi (part one) 吿子上|
|6B.||Gao Zi (part two) 吿子下|
|7A.||Jin Xin (part one) 盡心, 上|
|7B.||Jin Xin (part two) 盡心下|
When citing, please refer to the URL of this page: http://www.acmuller.net/con-dao/mencius.html
1A. King Hui of Liang: Part One 梁惠王上
1A:1. Opening Question to Mencius
孟子見梁惠王。王曰、 叟、不遠千里而來、亦將有以利吾國乎。孟子對曰、 王何必曰利。亦有仁義而已矣。王曰、何以利吾國。大夫曰、何以利吾家。士庶人曰、何以利吾身。上下交征利、而國危矣。萬乘之國弒其君者、必千乘之家、千乘之國、弒其君者、必百乘之家。萬取千焉、千取百焉、不爲不多矣、苟爲後義而先利、不奪不饜。未有仁而遺其親者也、未有義而後其君者也。王亦曰仁義而已矣、何必曰利。
Mencius went to see King Hui of Liang. The King said: “My good man, since you haven't thought one thousand li too far to come and see me, may I presume that you have something with which I can profit my kingdom?”
Mencius said: “Why must you speak of profit? What I have for you is humaneness and fairness, and that's all. If you always say ‘how can I profit my kingdom?’ your ministers will ask, ‘how can we profit our clans?’ The elites (shi) 1 and the common people will ask: ‘How can we profit ourselves?’ Superiors and inferiors will struggle against each other for profit, and the country will be in chaos.”
“In a kingdom of ten thousand chariots, the murderer of the sovereign is usually from a clan of one thousand chariots. In a thousand-chariot kingdom, the murderer of the sovereign is usually from a clan of one hundred chariots. Now, to have a thousand in ten thousand, or one hundred in a thousand is not a small number. But if you put justice last and profit first, no one will be satisfied unless they can grab something.”
“There has never been a humane man who neglected his parents, and there has never been a just man who put his prince last in his priorities. King, can we not limit our conversation to humaneness and justice? Why must we discuss profit?”
1A:2. The Marvelous Pavilion
孟子見梁惠王、王立於沼上、顧鴻鴈麋鹿。曰、 賢者亦樂此乎。孟子對曰、 賢者而後樂此。不賢者雖有此、不樂也。詩云。‘經始靈臺、經之營之、庶民攻之、不日成之。經始勿亟、庶民子來。王在靈囿、麀鹿攸伏、麀鹿濯濯、白鳥鶴鶴。王在靈沼、於牣魚躍。’文王以民力爲臺爲沼。而民歡樂之、謂其臺曰靈臺、謂其沼曰靈沼、樂其有麋鹿魚鱉。古之人與民偕樂、故能樂也。湯誓曰、‘時日害喪。予及女偕亡。’民欲與之偕亡、雖有臺池鳥獸、豈能獨樂哉。
When Mencius went to see King Hui of Liang, he was standing over his royal lake, watching the geese and deer. The King said: “Shall the Worthy also enjoy this kind of thing?” Mencius replied: “”After one is truly worthy he can enjoy this kind of thing. The unworthy, even if they have it, will not really enjoy it. The Book of Odes says:
He measured and commenced work on the marvelous pavilion.
He measured it and started it,
The people worked hard on it
[He told them] ‘Don't hurry in the work!’.
But all the people came like children to their parent.
When the King was at his wildlife preserve.
All kinds of deer lay down at ease,
Well-fed, with a glossy sheen to their fur.
The cranes were bright white.
When the King was at his marvelous lake,
It was alive with jumping fish
King Wen, using the strength of the people built a pavilion and a lake, and the people delighted in this. They called his pavilion the Marvelous Pavilion, and they called his lake the Marvelous Lake, and they enjoyed the deer, fish, and turtles that were kept there. The ancients were able to enjoy things together with their king. It was because of that that it was enjoyable. The Report of Tang says: “When will this Sun 2 see its demise? I will die together with you.” The people wanted to die together with him. Even though you have a pavilion and lake with birds and animals, how can you enjoy these by yourself?
1A:3. Exerting his Mind
曰、 不可。直不百步耳、是亦走也。曰、 王如知此、則無望民之多於鄰國也。不違農時、穀不可勝食也、數罟不入洿池、魚鼈不可勝食也、斧斤以時入山林、材木不可勝用也、穀與魚鼈不可勝食、材木不可勝用、是使民養生喪死無憾也、養生喪死無憾、王道之始也。
King Hui of Liang said: “I exert my whole consciousness towards my people. When there is disaster in He-nei, I move the people to He-dong and bring grain to He-nei. When there is disaster in He-dong, I do likewise. 3 Now, if you look at the government in neighboring kingdoms, there is no one who is as dedicated to his people as I. Yet why is it that the people don't move from other states and come to mine?”
Mencius replied: “Your majesty, you like war, right? Let me make an example with war: The drummers have psyched the soldiers into the battlefield and the battle is engaged. Some soldiers throw off their heavy armor and flee, dragging their weapons. One fellow runs a hundred paces and stops. Another runs fifty paces and stops. What would you think if the one who ran fifty paces laughs at the one who ran a hundred?”
The King said: “No way. Even though he didn't run a hundred paces, he still ran.”
Mencius said: “If you realize this, then you shouldn't expect people to move to your kingdom. If you don't interfere with the timing of the farmers, there will be more grain than can be eaten. If fine-mesh nets are kept out of the ponds and lakes, there will be more fish and turtles than you can eat. If loggers are regulated in their woodcutting, there will be more wood than can be used. When there is more grain, more fish and turtles than can be eaten, and more wood than can be used, the people will nourish the living and mourn the dead without resentment. Nourishing the living and mourning the dead without resentment is the beginning of the road to true kingship.”
“If mulberry trees are planted around homesteads of an acre, then people fifty years old can be clothed in silk. If, in the raising of fowl, pigs, dogs, and swine, their breeding times are not missed, then people seventy years old can eat meat. If you do not upset the farming schedule in a farm of twenty acres, then a large clan will never be hungry. Pay careful attention to education, basing it on the fairness of filial piety and respect for elders, and the gray-haired people will not be in the streets carrying heavy burdens on their backs. There has never been a case where the people of seventy were eating meat and the common people 4 were free from cold and hunger, where the king was not well regarded.”
“But [in your kingdom], dogs and swine eat the people's food, and you don't control it. People are dying of starvation in the streets and it doesn't occur to you to distribute grain from the storehouses. People die, and you say: ‘It's not my fault; it was a bad harvest.’ How is this different from stabbing a man to death and saying, ‘It wasn't me, it was the knife.’ If you would stop placing the blame on bad harvests, all of the people in the country would come to you.”
1A:4. Receiving Advice
King Hui of Liang said: “I would like to quietly receive your advice.”
Mencius said: “Is there any difference between killing a man with a stick or a sword?”
The King replied: “No difference.”
Mencius said: “Is there any difference between doing it with a sword and doing it with government?”
“No difference” was the reply.
Mencius said: “There are loads of fat meat in your kitchen and fat horses in your stables, while the people have gaunt appearances, and those in the countryside are dying of starvation. Animals are even eating people. Now, men despise animals who feed on each other. And you say you want to be ‘the parent of the people.’ But in the actual handling of your government, you cannot even prevent animals from feeding on men. How can you be regarded as a ‘parent of the people?’”
“Confucius said: ‘Isn't it true that the first fellow who made wooden images for burial with the dead had no posterity?’ This is because he made images of men and used them for such a purpose. What memory shall there be of the man who made his people die of starvation?”
1A:5. 梁上: War with Jin
King Hui of Liang said: “As you know, venerable sir, there is not a stronger state in the country than Jin. Since they attacked me, we have also lost on the east to Qi, where my eldest son died. On the west, we have lost several hundred li of territory to Qin and on the south we have been embarrassed by Chu. I have been shamed by this and would like to clear the slate for my ancestors once and for all. How can I do it? ”
Mencius replied: “A territory one hundred li square is enough to constitute a viable kingship. Your majesty should give a humane government to the people; be careful in punishing crime; make the taxes light; plow the fields deeply and hoe them well. Then all the strong and healthy people can in their leisure time cultivate filial piety, sibling affection, loyalty and sincerity. If they do this, then when they are at home they can serve their fathers and elder brothers, and when they are out in the world they can serve their elders and superiors. These people will be able, with [only] sharpened sticks, to give a beating to Qin and Chu with their hard armor and sharp weapons. ”
“Those rulers snatch the people at the times of cultivation, such that they are unable to do the plowing and hoeing which is necessary to support their parents. Mothers and fathers are cold and hungry; older and younger brothers, wives and children are separated and scattered. In this way these rulers trap and bury their own people. If you, King, would go and chastise them, who will oppose you? Don't doubt the ancient proverb: ‘The Humane man has no one to oppose him.’ King, please don't doubt this!”
1A:6. King Xiang of Liang
Mencius had an audience with King Xiang of Liang. When he came out, he said to some people: “When I saw him at a distance, he did not look like a king, and when I approached him, there was nothing to be in awe of. Abruptly he asked me: ‘How can the situation of the Central Kingdom be settled down?’”
“I answered: ‘It can be settled down by unification.’”
He said: ‘Who can unify it?’
“I replied: ‘He who does not like killing men can unify it.’”
“He asked: ‘Who has the power to grant someone this ability?’”
“I answered again, saying: ‘There is no one in the land who would not grant it. Do you know anything about farming? During the seventh and eighth months it gets dry and the plants wither. The heavens gradually gather clouds, and when there is a sudden downpour of rain, the plants come vibrantly to life. Your situation being like this, who will oppose you? Now, among those who are leaders in this country, there are none who dislike killing men. If there were one who disliked killing men, all the people in the country would stick their necks out merely to get a glimpse of him. If you were really like this, the people would come to you like water running downhill. Who could oppose you?’”
1A:7. King Xuan of Qi
King Xuan of Qi asked: “Can give me your analysis of what happened between Duke Huan of Qi and Duke Wen of Qin? 5 ”
Mencius answered: “None of Confucius' disciples talked about Huan and Wen, so nothing was transmitted down to later generations, and so we haven't heard anything. Since I can't talk about them, how about discussing kingship?”
The king said: “What kind of qualities are necessary for real kingship?”
Mencius said: “If you become a king by taking care of the people, no one can oppose you.”
The king said: “Is someone like me capable of taking care of the people?”
Mencius said: “Sure.”
The king said: “How do you know that I can?”
曰、 臣聞之胡齕曰、王坐於堂上、有牽牛而過堂下者、王見之、曰、牛何之。對曰、 將以釁鐘。王曰、 舍之、吾不忍其觳觫、若無罪而就死地。對曰、 然則廢釁鐘與。曰、 何可廢也。以羊易之。不識有諸。
“I heard this story from Hu He: He said you were sitting up in the main hall and a man walked past the lower part leading an ox. You saw this and asked: ‘What are you doing with the ox?’ He replied: ‘We are going to consecrate a bell with its blood.’ You said: ‘Let it go—I can't stand to see the agony on its face, like that of an innocent person going to execution!’ The man then answered: ‘Shall we forget the consecration of the bell?’ You said: ‘How can it be forgotten? Substitute it with a sheep!’”
Mencius then added: “I don't know if this is a true story.”
曰、 有之。曰、 是心足以王矣。百姓皆以王爲愛也、臣固知王之不忍也。
The king said: “It is.”
Mencius said: “If you possess this kind of mind, you are capable of true kingship. The people all accused you of being cheap, but I am convinced that you really could not stand the sight of the ox.”
The king said: “You are right. Yet the people really did think I was being cheap. But the truth is, even though Qi is a fairly small kingdom, how could I begrudge a lousy ox? I really couldn't stand to see the fear in its face, like that of an innocent man going to his execution. That's why I changed it for a sheep.”
曰、 王無異於百姓之以王爲愛也、以小易大、彼惡知之。王若隱其無罪而就死地、則牛羊何擇焉。王笑曰、 是誠何心哉。我非愛其財而易之以羊也、宜乎百姓之謂我愛也。
Mencius said: “You should not think it strange that the people thought you were stingy. You changed a large animal for a small one, so how could they know your real motivation? If you were really pained at its innocently going to execution, what's the difference between an ox and a sheep?”
The king laughed and said: “What was I really thinking? But I didn't change it because of the expense—no wonder the people have called me cheap!”
Mencius said: “You have not done wrong. What you did was an act of humaneness. You saw the ox, but had not seen the sheep. When it comes to animals, if the Noble Man has seen them while alive, he cannot stand to watch them die. If he hears their screams, he cannot stand to eat their meat. Therefore he stays away from the kitchen.”
The king was pleased and said: “It is said in the Book of Odes: ‘People have their minds, I fathom them.’ What you have just said is exactly what happened with me. But when I sought within myself, I couldn't really see my own motivations. As you have shown me, there is compassion in my heart, but how can this be sufficient for kingship?”
Mencius said: “Suppose someone said this to you: ‘I am strong enough to lift six hundred kilos, but not strong enough to lift a feather; my eyesight is sharp enough to scrutinize the tip of autumn down, but I cannot see a wagon load of firewood. Can you go along with this?’”
“Of course not.”
“Then isn't it quite odd that your compassion reaches to animals, but not down to the people? If the single feather is not lifted, it is because your strength is not used, and when the wagon-load of firewood is not seen it is because your vision is not used. The people's not experiencing your care is because your compassion is not used. Therefore your majesty's lack of true kingship is because of a lack of effort, not a lack of ability.”
The king asked: “Can you clarify the difference between non-effort and inability?”
Mencius replied: “If it is the case of taking Mt. T'ai under your arm and leaping over the North Sea with it, and saying: ‘I am unable’, then this is true inability. If it is the case of snapping a branch off a tree for an elder and you say ‘I am unable,’ this is non-effort, it is not inability. Thus, your majesty's not having a kingly hold over the people is not in the category of taking Mt. Tai under your arm and leaping over the North Sea.” It is the type of not breaking a branch.
If you take care of you own elders, the common people will do the same for their elders. If you are kind to your young, the common people will be kind to their young—you will hold the kingdom in the palm of your hand. The Book of Odes says:
His example affected his wife.
It reached to his brothers,
Such that he could manage
His clan and his state.
This means that if you just extend your heart to all others, and extend your compassion, it will be enough to take care of all those in the continent. If you do not extend your compassion, you will not even be able to take care of your own wife and children. The Way in which the ancients have surpassed all others is none other than this: Their goodness extended through everything they did, and nothing more.
“Now your compassion is sufficient to reach to animals, yet lacks the effectiveness to reach the people. Isn't that something? By weighing we know what is light and heavy. By measuring we know long and short. All things are like this, and especially the mind, so why don't you measure it, king? Nowadays you build up your armaments, endanger your soldiers and officers and instigate trouble with other heads of state. Does this give you pleasure?”
“No, how could I enjoy this? I do it to get what I really want.”
Mencius said: “What is it that you really want?”
The king just smiled and kept his mouth shut.
Mencius continued: “Are all your rich and sweet foods not enough for your taste? Is your wardrobe of winter and summer clothes not enough for your body? Or do you not have enough fancy toys to satisfy your eyes? Do you not have enough music to satisfy your ears? Or do you not have enough servants and concubines to come before you and serve you? All your ministers can certainly get all these things for you, so how can you still want more of these?”
The king said: “No, I don't want these.”
“Then it is obvious what it is you really want,” said Mencius, “you want to expand your territory, make vassals of Qin and Chu, rule the Middle Kingdom, get control over the outlying tribes. Doing the kinds of things you have been doing to get what you want is like climbing a tree to catch fish.”
“Is it that bad?”
“Even worse. If you climb a tree to catch fish, even though you won't catch anything, there will be no great calamity. But if you completely devote all of you energies to getting what you want in this way, you are sure to meet with disaster.”
The king said: “Can you explain how?”
Mencius said: “If there is a war between Zou and Chu, who do you think will win?”
“Chu will win.”
“You are right, and that means that you know that a small state cannot go up against a large state, that a few cannot oppose many, that the weak cannot contend with the strong. The continental territories of one thousand square li are nine in number and Qi (your kingdom) only makes for one. If with one part you try to subdue the other eight, how is this different from Zou's fighting Chu? Please reflect on this essential point.”
“Now if you initiate a government based on goodness, all the officials in the realm will want to come to your court; all the farmers will want to plow your fields; the merchants will want to store their goods in your marketplaces; all the travelers will want to go by your roads, and all the people in the land who are oppressed by their rulers will want to come to you for help. If they feel this way, who will be able to stop them?”
The king said: “I am dull-witted, and unable to carry this out. Please help me clarify my will by instructing me. Even though I am not so sharp, I will try to do it.”
Mencius said: “Only a shi is able to keep a steady mind without a steady livelihood. If the common people lack a steady livelihood, they cannot be secure. If they are not secure, there is nothing they will not do in terms of criminal, depraved and selfish acts. For you to follow them up and punish them once they have committed crimes in this situation is entrapment. How could a benevolent man rule and at the same time entrap his people?”
“Therefore the intelligent ruler will regulate the livelihood of his people so that they have enough to support their parents and their own children. In good years they will eat their full, and in bad years they will never starve. After this you can goad them toward the good, because they will follow easily. As it stands now, you regulate the livelihood of the people in such a way that they do not have enough to take care of their parents or their children. They suffer even in the good years, and in the bad years they cannot escape death. All they can do is try to avoid starving to death, all the time fearing that they will not make it. What kind of free time will there be to cultivate Propriety and fairness?”
“If you really want to bring this about, you'd better get back to the basics. If mulberry trees are planted on plots of one acre, people in their fifties can wear silk. If you do not pull the men away for battle during the breeding times of your livestock, people in their seventies can eat meat. If the proper planting, cultivation and harvesting times are not missed, the family of eight that lives off a twenty-acre farm will not go hungry. Pay careful attention to education, teaching the fairness of filial piety and fraternity, and the gray-haired will not be seen in the streets carrying heavy burdens on their backs.”
“There has never been a case where the elderly wore silk and ate meat, and the black-haired people suffered from neither hunger nor cold, where the kingship was not genuinely respected.”
1B. King Hui of Liang: Part Two 梁惠王下
Preliminary note: Qi attacked the state of Yan in the northwest in the autumn of 315 BCE. Yen's prince, a weakling, had resigned his throne to his prime minister, and great confusion ensued, so that the people welcomed the appearance of the troops of Qi and made no resistance to them. Kuang Chang, the friend of Mencius mentioned in 4B:30 and 3B:10 led the Qi armies. The king and Heir Apparent of Yan were both killed.
Qi attacked Yan and conquered it. King Xuan of Qi said to Mencius, “Some say I should occupy Yen and some say I shouldn't. For a major kingdom to overcome another major kingdom of approximately equal strength and do it within fifty days is beyond just the manpower of the conquering army. If I do not occupy Yen, I may experience some bad fate; but what will happen, on the other hand, if I occupy it?”
Mencius replied, “If you occupy it Yen and its people are really happy, then do so. In ancient times King Wu had this experience. If you try to occupy it and its people are against you, then you shouldn't occupy it. In ancient times King Wen had this experience.”
“When a major power attacks another and its armies are greeted by the people with gifts of food, etc., how could there be any other reason except that they are trying to get out of awful circumstances under their own ruler? But if, on the other hand, the people see you as a greater evil than their own dictator, they will never stop their resistance.”
[1B:11] Qi, having attacked Yan, occupied it. The surrounding states began to plan to come to the aid of Yan. King Xuan of Qi said, “The surrounding powers are planning to attack me. How should I deal with them?”
Mencius replied, “I have heard of a king with only seventy square li ruling the whole land—that was Tang. But I have never heard of a King with a thousand square li (like you) having to be in fear. The Book of History says:”
When Tang first began his war of punishment, he started with (the kingdom of) Go. The whole world believed in him, and so as his campaign went east, the tribes of the west became impatient, and as he went south, the tribes of the north became impatient. They all said: ‘Why does he liberate us last?’
The people waited for him the way we wait for rain after a long drought. The merchants continued their buying and selling and the farmers carried on their farming. (When he came to conquer,) Tang punished their rulers, but took care of the common people. He was like the much-needed rainfall and the people were happy. Again, the Book of History says: “We await our King. When he comes, all will be restored.”
Now the prince of Yen was a tyrant, and you went and punished him. Yen's people thought you were saving them from oppression and they greeted your army with gifts of food. But now you murder Yen's family, chain up his younger relatives, destroy the ancestral temples and rob people's treasures. How can you expect them to take this?
The world may fear your power, but if you keep trying to expand your influence and do not practice Humane government, the armies of the rest of the land will rise up to oppose you. You must issue orders at once to release the captives and stop the looting. Confer with the people of Yen. Appoint a ruler for them and then get out of there. Then those who are capable of hurting you will not attack.
2A. Gong Sun Chou (part one) 公孫丑上
Gongsun Chou asked: “If you were to handle the government of Qi, would you be able to repeat the accomplishmentss of Guan Zhong or Yanzi?” Mencius said, “You are truly of man of Qi: you know about Guan Zhong and Yanzi, and nothing more.”
[Mencius said:] Someone asked Zeng Xi: “Who is superior in terms of character, you or Zi Lu?” Zeng Xi, evidently surprised, answered: “Even my father was in awe of him.” The questioner pursued: “In that case, who is superior in terms of character, you or Guan Zhong?” Not hiding the displeasure in his face, Zeng Xi said: “How dare you compare me with Guan Zhong? Guan Zhong, once gaining the confidence of the ruler, was long entrusted with the full management of the state, yet his achievements were negligible. How can you compare me to him?”
[Mencius] said: “Zeng Xi was not willing to be compared to Guan Zhong, and yet you expect it of me?”
[Gongsun Chou] said: “Guan Zhong made his ruler supreme; Yan Zi made his ruler famous. Are Guan Zhong and Yan Zi are still not fit to be emulated? ”
[Mencius] said: “To make Qi into a real king would be as easy as turning over one's hand.”
Gongsun Chou said: “If this is true, I am even more perplexed. Moreover, even the virtue of King Wen, who lived a hundred years before perishing, was not fully realized throughout the world. It was only due to the subsequent efforts of King Wu, followed by the Duke of Zhou, that [the establishment of Zhou] was fully carried out . If you now say being a real king is easy, then cannot King Wen be taken as an example? ”
[Mencius] said: “How can King Wen 6 be matched? From Tang to Wuding, there were six or seven wise rulers, and the realm was indeed based on the Yin 7 for a long time. Having lasted long, it was difficult to change. When Wuding summoned to nobles to court, he handled the world as if he were spinning it in the palm of his hand. The interval between Zhou and Wu Ding 8 was not long, and hence the ancient traditions and customs persisted along with good government, which still remained. There were also Weizi, Wei Zhong, the prince Bi Gan, Jizi, and Jiao Ge, all of whom were worthy men. They served in turn they served as ministers [to Zhou], and therefore the reign did not so readily collapse. There was not a foot of land he did not control, and not a single citizen who was not his subject. Yet King Wen arose from a territory of just one hundred square li, and therefore it was challenging for him.”
The people of Qi have a saying: “Having wisdom is not as good as taking advantage of the right opportunity. Having a good farming equipment 9 is not as good as waiting for the right season.” Now, the present time is one in which it would be easy to succeed. When the Xia dynasty, the Yin, and the Zhou rose up, none of these upstart had more than a 1,000 li of territory. But Qi [you] have this territory. The neighbors are near enough to hear each other's fowl squawking and dogs barking throughout the realm, so Qi certainly has the requisite population. Further territory need not be opened up, and new people need not be gathered. If you ran a humane government, who could impede you?
Now, we have never waited this long for the appearance of a [true] king, and there has never been a worse time than this in terms of the suffering of the people. It is easy to feed the hungry, and provide drink for the thirsty.
Confucius said: “The disseminating of virtue is faster than transmitting orders through the mail.”
If, at the present time, in a state of 10,000 carriages, you were to run a humane government, the people would be as delighted as prisoner being released from being hung by his ankles. We are living in a time when a man possessing half the ability of the ancients could double their accomplishments.
[2A:2] Gong Sun Chou asked Mencius: “Let's say you were to become the prime minister of Qi and have the opportunity to set up a good government. Even though your power would really not be different from that of a king, in handling this, wouldn't you lose your mental stability?”
Mencius said, “No. I haven't lost my mental stability since I was forty.”
Chou said, “Then you have far surpassed Meng Pan.”
Mencius said, “It is not so difficult. Gaozi attained mental stability at a younger age than I.”
“Is there a method for attaining mental stability?” asked Chou.
“There is. For example, Bei Gong Yu had a method of developing his courage. When attacked, he would neither flinch nor turn away his eyes. If someone touched a single hair on his body, he would regard it as if he had been publicly beaten in the marketplace. What he would not take from a bum, he would not take from a the rule of a ten-thousand chariot state. He regarded the stabbing of a ruler of such a state just the same as the stabbing of a bum. He had no fear of the great nobles. If slanderous words reached his ears, he would never let it go by without revenge.”
Meng Shishe also had a method of developing his courage. He said: “I regard victory and defeat as the same. To gauge the enemy and then attack; to plan the victory and then engage—this is to be afraid of the opposing army. How can I be sure of winning? I can only be fearless, and that's all.”
Meng Shishe was like Zeng Zi. Bei Gong Yu was like Zi Xia. Between Bei Gong and Meng, I don't know who is better, but Mang Shishe focused on the essentials. For example, in former times, Zeng Zi said to Zi Xiang: “So, you like bravery, do you? I have heard from our Master about great bravery. If I reflect on myself and find that I am not right, then won't I even fear facing a bum off the street? But if I reflect on myself and find myself to be right, then even if it be an army of one hundred thousand, I will go forward.”
But Meng Shishe's attention to his qi is still not equal to Zeng Zi's attention to the essentials.
[Comment] The Chinese ideograph qi originally means “air,” especially breath. Through Mencius' usage, and the usage of later Daoists, martial artists and the Neo-Confucian school, its meaning becomes quite enhanced.
Here qi, as breath, is understood as the vital connection between body and mind. It is the life-force which animates the body to greater or lesser degrees, depending upon its cultivation toward the vigor and vitality of the individual. In the terms with which Mencius describes it, qi can be compared to the prana of Indian yogic systems, which can be cultivated through breath control and various other yogic practices. One of the most relevant points that Mencius makes in regard to the cultivation of qi, is that this cultivation is dependent, more than anything else, on the uninterrupted practice of fairness.
Chou asked, “Will you please tell me about your ‘mental stability’ in relation to Gao Zi's ‘mental stability’?”
Mencius replied, “Gao Zi says that what cannot be attained through words should not be sought for in the mind, and that what cannot be attained in the mind should not be sought for through the qi. This latter proposition is correct, but the first one is not. The will is the director of the qi, and the qi is something that permeates the body. So the will is primary and the qi is secondary. Therefore, it is said: ‘Hold on to your will; do not scatter your qi.’”
Chou said, “You just said that the will is primary; and the qi is secondary. Now you say, ‘hold on to your will, don't scatter your qi.’ Why do you say this?”
Mencius said, “The will influences the qi and the qi influences the will. For instance, jumping and running, though most directly concerned with the qi, also have an effect on the mind.”
“May I ask in what it is that you are superior?”
“I understand language, and I am good at nourishing my vast qi.”
“What do you mean by ‘vast qi’”?
“That is difficult to explain. qi can be developed to great levels of quantity and stability by correctly nourishing it and not damaging it, to the extent that it fills the space between Heaven and Earth. In developing qi, if you are connected with fairness and the Way, you will never be in want of it. It is something that is produced by accumulating fairness, and is not something that you can grab from superficial attempts at fairness. If you act without mental composure, you will become qi-starved.”
“Therefore I would say that Gao Zi has not yet understood fairness, since he regards it as something external. You must be willing to work at it, understanding that you cannot have precise control over it. You can't forget about it, but you can't force it to grow, either.”
“You don't want to be like the man from Song. There was a man from Song who was worried about the slow growth of his crops and so he went and yanked on them to accelerate their growth. Empty-headed, he returned home and announced to his people: ‘I am so tired today. I have been out stretching the crops.’ His son ran out to look, but the crops had already withered. Those in the world who don't ‘help their crops by pulling’ are few indeed. There are also those who regard all effort as wasteful and don't even weed their crops. But those who think they can hurry their growth along by forcing it, are not only not helping their qi, but actually harming it!”
Chou asked, “What do you mean when you say ‘I understand language’?”
Mencius said, “When I hear deceptive speech, I know what it is covering up. When I hear licentious speech, I know its pitfalls. When I hear crooked speech, I know where it departs from the truth. When I hear evasive speech, I know its emptiness. Once born in a person's mind, these words harm the government. Spreading through the government, they damage all sorts of affairs. When a future sage appears, he will attest to my words.”
Chou said: “Zai Wo and Zi Gong were eloquent. Zan Niu, Min Zi and Yan Yuan also spoke well but were known for their virtuous conduct. Confucius embodied both, but when questioned about it, said, ‘When it comes to speaking, I am not so good.’ In this case are you (Mencius) a sage?”
Mencius said: “How can you ask me this? When Zi Gong asked Confucius if he was a sage, Confucius said, ‘Sagehood is beyond me. I study without getting bored and teach without getting tired.’ Zi Gong said: ‘Studying without boredom is wisdom, teaching without weariness is humaneness. Having humaneness and wisdom, you are a sage indeed, Master!’”
Now if Confucius could not accept the name of “sage,” how can I?
Chou said, “I once heard this: Zi Xia, Zi Lu and Zi Chang all had one piece of sagehood, and Zan Niu, Min Zi and Yan Yuan embodied it fully, though in an unmanifest way. May I ask where you stand among these men?”
“Let's leave this aside for now.” said Mencius.
Chou then asked, “What about Bo Yi and I Yin?”
Mencius said, “They had different ways. The way of not serving a ruler he didn't respect, not taking charge of a people whom he didn't approve; coming forward when there was good government and retiring when there was disorder—this was the way of Bo Yi.”
“Serving any ruler, taking charge of any people; coming forward when there was good government, coming forward when there was disorder—this was the way of I Yin.”
“Serving when it was proper to serve, retiring when it was proper to retire; continuing long when it was proper and finishing quickly where it was proper—this was the way of Confucius. I have not yet been able to conduct myself in the way of the ancient sages. But if I could study with one of them, I would choose Confucius.”
“Were Bo Yi and I Yin comparable to Confucius?”
“No way” Mencius replied. “Since the beginning of human existence, there has never been anyone like Confucius.”
“But weren't there at least some ways in which these men were equal to him?”
“Sure. If any of them were to be the ruler of a territory of one hundred li, they would be able to get all the nobles to come to their court, and soon they would have control of the whole realm. And if the acquisition of the realm required a single unjust act, or the murder of one innocent man, they would not do it. In this, they would be the same.”
“Then may I ask how they would differ?”
Mencius said: “Zai Wo, Zi Gong and Yu Jo all had enough wisdom to recognize a sage. If any one of them were in a low position, they would never have resorted to flattery to get something more desirable.”
“Zai Wo said, ‘From what I have seen of our Master, he was far superior to Yao and Shun.’”
“Zi Gong said, ‘I have seen his propriety and have understood his ways of government. I have heard his music and recognize his virtue. From a hundred generations after, through a hundred generations of kings, none will be able to improve on him. From the beginning of human existence, there has never been anyone like the Master.’”
“Yu Jo said, ‘How it be so only among men? Among mammals there is the Qi-lin; among birds there is the phoenix; among hills, Mt. T'ai; among puddles and rivulets, the rivers and oceans. Now, each of these are of the same species, and the sage is of the same species as man, but he emerges from the group and stands out from the crowd. From the beginning of human existence, there has never been one as outstanding as Confucius.’”
[2A:3] Mencius said, “He who uses force as a pretense of humaneness is the de-facto strongman among the princes. But such a strongman must have a large state in order to be effective. The man who uses his virtue to practice humaneness is the true king. To be a real king you don't need an especially large territory. Tang did it with only seventy li and King Wen did it with only one hundred li. When you use your power to force people into submission, they will never submit with their hearts; it is only because they don't have enough strength to resist. When people submit to virtue, they are happy from the bottom of their hearts, and they submit sincerely, the way the seventy disciples submitted to Confucius. The Book of Odes says:”
From the west, from the east,
From the south, from the north;
No one thought of not-submitting.
This is what I am talking about.
[2A:4] Mencius said: “Humaneness brings glory and non-humaneness brings disgrace. So if you hate disgrace but still involve yourself in what is not humaneness, it is like hating moisture and living in a basement. If you really hate it, you should honor virtue and respect the good. Install good men into positions of rank and give jobs to people of ability. During the breaks in warfare, you should take the opportunity to clarify your governmental procedures and legal codes. If you do this, even larger states will have a healthy respect for you. In the Book of Odes there is the verse that goes:”
Before the sky was dark with rain
I collected branches from the mulberry grounds
And built doors and windows for my nest.
Now, you all below,
Who will laugh at me? 10
“Confucius said, ‘Did not the writer of this poem understand the Way of government?’ If you are able to govern well your state or clan, who will dare to take you lightly?”
“But when modern princes have any kind of respite they spend it on indolent pleasure-seeking and gratification, which is to invite misfortune. Fortune and misfortune come from no place other than yourself. The Book of Odes says:”
Always speak according to the Mandate
And you will invite much fortune.Odes, 241
The Tai Jia (a section in the Book of History) says:
The calamities sent from Heaven can still be changed. But the calamities brought on by yourself—from these you cannot escape with your life.
These two citations reflect my point.
Mencius said: “Respect the worthy and employ the capable; put talented people in key positions, then all the shi of the realm will be pleased and will want to be members of your court.”
In the market-places, charge land-rent, but don't tax the goods; or make concise regulations and don't even charge rent. Do this, and all the merchants in the realm will be pleased, and will want to set up shop in your markets.
At the borders, make inspections but don't charge tariffs. Then all the travelers in the realm will be pleased and will want to traverse your highways.
If the farmers merely have to help each other with the government fields, and do not have to pay an additional tax, then all the farmers in the realm will be pleased, and will want to till your fields.
If you do not charge fines to the unemployed in your marketplaces, then all the people in the realm will be pleased, and will want to become your subjects.
“If you are really able to put these five points into practice, then the people from the neighboring states will look up to you as a parent. Now, since the time people have been born into this world, there has never been a case of someone being able to consistently succeed in making children attack their own parents. This being the case, you will have no enemies in the realm. The one who has no enemies in the realm is the vicegerent of Heaven. There is no case of one who attained to this level, and who did not attain to true kingship.”
Mencius said: “All people have a heart which cannot stand to see the suffering of others. The ancient kings had this heart which could not stand to see the suffering of others, and, with this, operated a government which could not stand to see the suffering of the people. If, in this state of mind, you ran a government which could not endure people's suffering, you could govern the realm as if you were turning it in the palm of your hand.”
“Why do I say all human beings have a heart which cannot stand to see the suffering of others? Even nowadays, if an infant were about to fall into a well, anyone would be upset and concerned. This concern would not be due to the fact that the person wanted to get in good with the baby's parents, or because he wanted to improve his reputation among the community or among his circle of friends. Nor would it be because he was afraid of the criticism that might result from a show of non-concern.”
“From this point of view, we can say that if you did lack concern for the infant, you would not be human. Also, to lack a sense of shame and disgust would not be human; to lack a feeling of humility and deference is to be ‘in-human’ and to lack a sense of right and wrong is to be inhuman.”
“The sense of concern for others is the starting point of humaneness. The feeling of shame and disgust is the starting point of fairness. The sense of humility and deference is the starting point of propriety and the sense of right and wrong is the starting point of wisdom.”
“People's having these four basic senses is like their having four limbs. Having these four basic senses and yet claiming inability to act on them is to cheat yourself. To say that the ruler doesn't have them is to cheat the ruler. Since all people have these four basic senses within themselves, they should all understand how to enhance and develop them. It is like when a fire just starts, or a spring first bubbles out of the ground. If you are able to develop these four basic senses, you will be able to take care of everybody within the four seas. If you do not develop them, you won't even be able to take care of your own parents.”
[2A:7] Mencius said: “How is it that the arrow-maker is being less Humane than the armor-maker? The arrow maker is worried about people not getting hurt, while the armor-maker is worried if people do get hurt. The situation is the same with the healer and the coffin maker. Therefore, you should be careful about choosing your occupation.”
“Confucius said: ‘It is the degree of humaneness in a village that determines its beauty. If you choose not to abide in humaneness, how will you ever attain wisdom?’”
Now humaneness is that which Heaven prizes above all else, and it is the proper abode for human beings. Nobody can be hindered from being humane by anyone else—this is merely a hindrance to wisdom. To be not-humane and not wise is to lack propriety and fairness and become a slave to others. Being a slave to others and being ashamed of it is like the bow-maker being ashamed of making bows and the arrow-maker being ashamed of making arrows. If you are ashamed of these things you should work at your humaneness. The Humane person is like an archer. The archer prepares himself before shooting. If, upon shooting, he misses the bull's-eye, he does not blame the man who beat him. He turns and reflects on himself.
[2A:8] Mencius said: “When someone told Zi Lu about one of his faults, he was happy. When Yu heard words of goodness, he would bow in respect. The great Shun surpassed even these men. He regarded the goodness of others to be the same as his. He let go of his arbitrariness and followed others, happily learning from them in order to develop his goodness. From the time when he was a farmer, a potter and a fisherman, up until he became emperor, he never stopped learning from others.”
“To learn from others to develop one's goodness is also to develop goodness together with others. Therefore, for the Noble Man, there is nothing greater than to develop goodness together with others.”
[2A:9] Mencius said: “Bo Yi would not serve a ruler he did not respect, and would not hang around with people he didn't like. He wouldn't attend the court of an evil prince and wouldn't converse with an evil person. To attend the court of an evil prince, or converse with an evil person, would be the same for him as wearing the ceremonial gown and cap and sitting in mud and charcoal. Furthermore, if he were standing with a villager who hat was on crooked, he would leave him in embarrassment, as if he would be polluted by it. Therefore, even if one of the nobles sent him something with good intentions, he would often not accept it. Indeed, he would not let anything near him that he considered dirty.”
Hui Liu Xia was not ashamed to be associated with an impure prince, and was not embarrassed to hold a low-level job. He would show himself without concealing his worth, always keeping to what he considered to be the right way. When he was let go from a job, he did not get resentful, and when in dire straits, he did not complain. Therefore, he used to say: ‘You are you and I am I. Even if you stand right next to me wearing no shirt, you cannot pollute me.’ Thus he associated with people freely, without losing himself. When pressed to stay in government he would stay. In this lack of a need to escape, we can see that he did not need to avoid that which he considered unclean.
Po Yi was rigid and Liu Xia Hui was too relaxed. The Noble Man does not like to be too rigid or too relaxed.
2B. Gong Sun Chou (part two) 公孫丑下
3A. Teng Wen Gong 滕文公上 (part one)
3B. Teng Wen Gong 滕文公下 (part two)
[3B:2] Ching Chun said: “Are not Gong Sun Yen and Chang I great men? If they get angry just once, all the nobles are afraid. If they are relaxed, then the realm is quiet.”
Mencius said: “How can you call them great just because of this? Have you not studied the Record of Rites? When a young man is capped (reaches manhood) his father instructs him. At the marriage of a young woman, the mother instructs her as she walks her to the door. She admonishes her, saying, ‘When you go to your husband's house, you must respect him and be careful not to be disagreeable. To be properly obedient is the way of wives and concubines.’”
If you dwell in the great house of the world, are established in your correct position in the world, walk the great Path of the world; if you attain your ambitions for office, and then share your goodness with the people—or, not attaining your ambitions for office and walking alone on your own Path; if wealth and honor do not dissipate you, poverty and low status do not make you move from your principles; authority and might do not distort you: Then you can be called a “great man.”
4A. Li Lou (part one) 離婁上
4B. Li Lou (part two) 離婁下
[4B:26] Mencius said: “What the people in the world call ‘the nature of people’ is based on what they have done, and nothing more. In the case of what people have done, we take as most fundamental whether the acts were beneficial or not. The reason the [present-day] so-called wise men are disliked, is because of the way they bore into things [to try to bring about some conclusions]. If these wise men would just do something [of benefit] like Yu did when he handled the water works projects [and stopped the flooding], then there would not be such a dislike of wise men. When Yu handled the flooding problems, he did it as if it was not a big deal. If our wise men could, in the same way, do things as if they were not a big deal, then there wisdom would be considered to be great. Heaven is so high; the stars are so distant. If we investigate their works, through the solstices of a thousand years, we can sit and attain them.”
6A. Gao Zi (part one) 吿子上
Gao Zi said: “Human nature is like a willow tree (the wood of which is good for making vessels) and fairness is like the cups and bowls that are carved out of the wood. To make human nature to be Humane and Just is like making the willow wood into cups and bowls.”
Mencius said: “Can you make cups and bowls while keeping the nature of the willow? It is by destroying the willow that you make cups and bowls. If we destroy the willow to make cups and bowls, should we also destroy the human being to make humaneness and fairness? This kind of talk from you will certainly lead the people to dislike humaneness and fairness.”
[6A:2] Gao Zi said: “Human nature is like whirling water. If you let it out on the east side, it will go east. If you let it out on the west side, it will go west. Similarly, human nature has no predisposition for good or evil, just as water has no predisposition for east or west.”
Mencius said: “It is true that water has no predisposition for east or west. But doesn't it have a predisposition for up and down? The goodness of the human nature is just like the downward tendency of water. Just as all water has a down-going tendency, all people have a tendency toward goodness.”
“Now you can splash water and make it fly over your head, or you can force it to rise up by damming it. But are these the nature of water? These are after all, forcing it. You can push people into doing evil, but is this their basic nature? ”
[6A:3] Gao Zi said: “What we mean by life is nature.”
Mencius said: “If life is nature, then this the same as saying white is whiteness?”
“Then is the whiteness of a feather the same as the whiteness of snow? And is the whiteness of snow the same as the whiteness of a pearl?”
“Then is the nature of a dog the same as the nature of a cow? And is the nature of a cow the same as the nature of a person?”
[6A:4] Gao Zi said: “By nature we desire food and sex. Humaneness is internal and not external, the sense of fairness is external and not internal.”
Mencius said: “How can you say humaneness is internal and the sense of fairness is external?”
Gao Zi replied: “If there is an old man and I regard him as old, it is not because the age is in me. It is like seeing something white. I regard it as white because the whiteness is outside of me. Therefore, I say that the sense of fairness is external.”
Mencius said, “Maybe there is no difference in acknowledging the whiteness of a white horse and the whiteness of a white man, but is there no difference between the acknowledgement of the age of an old horse, and the age of an old man? And does the sense of fairness consist in perceiving the age or acknowledging it?”
Gao Zi said: “I love my younger brother, but I might not love the younger brother of a man from Qin. This depends on me, so I call it ‘internal.’ I respect the age of a man of Chu the same way I respect the age of a man of my family. Since this depends on the age, I say it is ‘external.’”
Mencius said, “Our enjoyment of the roast beef of Qin does not differ from that of our own roast beef. If such a thing as roast beef is like this, then is our enjoyment of roast beef also ‘external’?”
Meng Ji Zi asked Gong Du Zi, saying: “Why do you say that the sense of fairness is ‘internal’?” He said “It is the carrying out of my own sense of respect; therefore I say it is internal.”
“If a villager is older than your brother by a year, who should be paid greater respect?” [Gongdu replied] “My elder brother.” “When serving wine, who should be served first?” “The villager should be served first. The one you respect is the former, and the one you treat as an elder is the latter. So after all, the sense of fairness is external, and not internal.”
Gongdu Zi could not respond, and brought the matter to Mencius. Mencius said, “Ask him: who do you respect, your uncle? Or your brother?” He will say to pay respect to your uncle. You should then ask him ‘If your younger brother is playing the role of the deceased at a funeral, to whom should one pay respect?’ In that case he will say that he would pay respect to his younger brother. Then you should say: ‘Why don't you continue to respect your uncle?’ He will that respect in this case is paid according to the position. Then you can also say that it is because of the position that you pay respect to the villager. Usually respect should be given to one's elder brother, but momentary respect should be paid to the villager. Ji Zi, hearing this, said: “When respect is to be paid to my uncle, I will respect him; when respect is to be paid to my younger brother, I will respect him. Thus, in the end, respect is based on the positions of other, and does not come from within.” Gong Du Zi said, “On a winter's day we drink broth; on a summer day we drink water. In this case are eating and drinking also external?”
Gong Duzi said: “Gao Zi says that human nature is neither good nor evil. Others say that human nature can be made good or evil. That is why when Kings Wen and Wu were in power, the people loved goodness, and when Yu and Li were in power, they were incorrigible.”
“Still others say that some people are inherently good and some are inherently evil. Therefore, under a good ruler like Yao, there was such an evil man as Xiang, and to such a bad father as Gu Sou, a good son Shun was born. And with a nephew of the senior branch as evil as Zhou on the throne, such good uncles as Qi, Viscount of Wei, and Prince Bi Gan lived.”
“Now you say that human beings are inherently good. Then are all the others wrong?”
Mencius said: “When I say human beings are inherently good, I am talking about their most fundamental emotional qualities. If someone does evil, it is not the fault of their natural endowment. Everyone has the feeling of concern for the well-being of others; everyone has the sense of shame and disgust at their own evil; everyone has the sense to treat others courteously and respectfully; everyone has the sense of right and wrong.”
The feeling of concern for the well-being of others is humaneness. The sense of shame and disgust is fairness; the sense to treat others with courtesy and respect is Propriety. The sense of right and wrong is Wisdom. Humaneness, fairness, Propriety and Wisdom are not melded into us from the outside. They are our original endowments—you have really not thought it through, have you?
Hence it is said: ‘If you strive for it, you will attain it; if you ignore it, you will lose it.’ Men differ in terms of actualization: some are double, some fivefold and some manifest it to an incalculable degree. This difference is because some are not able to fully develop their natural endowments. The Book of Odes says:
Heaven gives birth to all men
And each thing possesses its principle
When people maintain this norm
They come to love its splendid virtues.
“Confucius said, ‘The writer of this poem certainly knew the Way.’ Therefore, wherever there is anything, there is a concomitant principle. When the people embrace the norms of goodness, they can enjoy its splendid virtues.”
Mencius said: “In years of good harvest the children are wholesome; in years of bad harvest, they are incorrigible. This is not because Heaven imparts different endowments of ability, but because their minds are overcome by external influences.”
Now if you plant wheat and barley and cover them, and the soil is the same, and they are planted at the same time, they will all grow strongly. And when the time is right, they will all be ripe. Even though there are differences, it is because of differences in soil fertility, the nourishment from rain, or the amount of care and cultivation given by the farmers.
So whenever things are of the same species, they will resemble each other. This being so, how could we doubt that it is the same with men? I and the sage are of the same species. Therefore, Longzi said: ‘Even if I don't know the foot-size when making sandals, I know enough that I won't make bushel baskets.’ The similarity in the size of the sandals is because of the similarity in the size of everyone's feet.
We also have similarities in taste. That's how Yi Ya 11 knows what I like beforehand. Imagine if his taste was inherently different than that of others like that of another species such as dog or horse. How could everybody love the taste of Yi Ya's cooking? The fact that everybody agrees that Yi Ya's cooking is the best shows the sameness in people's taste.
It is the same with the ear. The fact that everyone takes the music of Conductor Kuang as the best, shows the sameness in the ears of everyone.
It is the same with the eyes. Everyone knows that there is no one in the world as handsome as Zi Du. And if you don't think he is handsome, you are blind.
Therefore I say, there is a standard for taste, there is a standard for music, and there is a standard for beauty. Shouldn't it also be so with the things of the mind? What is it that is the same with people's minds? It is that they know the same principle and have the same sense of fairness. The sage knows the sameness of our minds beforehand. Therefore his principles and sense of fairness fit to our minds, in the same way that the meat of grain-eating animals fits our taste.
Mencius said, “The greenery on Niu Mountain was once beautiful, but since it was near a large city, it was attacked by lumberjacks. How could it retain its beauty? Still, by the respite gotten day and night, being nourished by the rain and dew, there was no lack of the growth of new buds and sprouts. But then cattle and sheep came and fed themselves, and by the time they were done, it was completely barren.”
If people saw this barrenness, they might have imagined that there had never been any greenery. How could this be the mountain's original nature?
In the case of people, how could they lack the mind of humaneness and fairness? But the daily damage done to the goodness of their mind is just like the lumberjacks did to the mountain. Being chopped down day after day, how can its beauty have a chance to emerge?
Having some time to rest day and night, and breathing in the morning air, your likes and dislikes may be somewhat similar to those of other people. But due to your daily activities you are suffocated. Being suffocated, you can't get enough fresh air. Fresh air being insufficient, your goodness of mind is not nourished, and there will be little difference between you and the animals. People see our animalistic nature and assume that we have never had great endowments. How could this be our real disposition?
Therefore, if it is properly nourished, there is nothing that will not grow. If it is not nourished, there is nothing that will not die. Confucius said: “Use it and you will keep it; ignore it and you will lose it. No one knows the times of its coming or going, nor its location.” What else could he be talking about but the mind?
Mencius said, “No wonder the king is not wise. With even the hardiest plants in the world, if you expose them to a day of heat and ten days of cold, they will not be able to grow. I rarely have a chance to see the king, and after I leave he is approached by the cold ones. How can I make his wisdom grow?”
Now chess is actually a minor art, but if you don't concentrate well while learning it, you'll never be any good. Chessman Qiu is the best player in the country, and let's say two men are learning from him. One man concentrates completely on everything Qiu says, while the other one, while listening, is thinking about that goose over there and how he would string up a retrievable arrow and shoot it. Even though he is learning together with the other man, he will never be equal to him. Is this because of a difference in intelligence? Of course not.
[6A:10] Mencius said, “I like fish and I like bear's paw, but if I have to choose between them, I will let go of the fish and take the bear's paw. I like life and I like fairness. But if I have to choose between them I will let go of life and take fairness.”
I want life, but there are things more important to me than life. Therefore there are things that I won't do just to live. I hate death, but there are things that I hate more than death, and thus there are certain kinds of suffering that I won't avoid.
If you teach a man to value nothing more than life, then what means will he not use in order to save his life? If you teach people to hate nothing more than death, then what will they not do, in order to avoid death?
But there are some things that people will not do to save their lives and some things that people will not do to avoid death. This means that there are things more important to them than life, and more hateful to them than death. It is not only the worthy who have this capacity. All people have it, but the worthy are able to be consistent in it.
When a bowl of rice or a cup of soup lies between life and death, and you offer it in an insulting way, any man on the street will not accept it. If you kick it at him with your feet, even a beggar will not take it.
Yet a man will accept a huge sum of money without any consideration of propriety. What can the money add to his person? I can beautify my house, gain the favors of wives and concubines, or gain the attention of greedy acquaintances. Yet before, I would not receive a bowl of rice to save my life, but now I will accept lots of money for the beautification of my home, for the favors of wives and concubines or to give to greedy acquaintances. Was it also not possible to decline this?
This is called “losing one's original mind.”
[6A:11] Mencius said, “Humaneness is the mind of human beings. Fairness is their path. To abandon the path and not follow it, or to lose the mind and not know enough to seek it: this is a pity indeed!”
When people lose their chickens and dogs, they know enough to look for them, but when they lose their mind, they do not know enough to seek it. The way of study and inquiry is none other than the search for the lost mind.
[6A:12] Mencius said, “Let's say there is a man whose fourth finger is crooked and will not straighten. It does not cause him pain or hinder his work, yet if he heard of someone who could fix it, he would easily travel as far as Qin or Chu to get it fixed, so that he might be like other men.”
We know enough to be bothered when our finger is not like that of others, but don't know enough to be bothered when our mind is not like that of others. This is called “not knowing the relative importance of things.”
[6A:13] Mencius said, “If someone wanted to raise a large tung or catalpa tree, 12 anyone would know how to cultivate it. But when it comes to themselves, they don't know how to cultivate. How could a person not care as much about himself as he does about a paulownia tree? He does not think deeply enough. ”
[6A:14] Mencius said, “When it comes to their own person, people care about all parts equally. Caring about all parts equally, they should nourish all parts equally. If there is not an inch of their flesh that they do not care about, there should not be an inch of flesh that they do not nourish. Therefore, when it comes to considering whether or not someone is good at it, there is no other way than seeing what he grasps to. In one's body there are is noble and base parts, small and great parts. One does not use the small to damage the great, nor use the base to harm the noble. Those who cultivate the small are lesser men, and those who cultivate the great are great men. Now, if there is a horticulturist who neglects the paulownia and catalpa tree and cultivates the thorny jujube, then he is a lousy horticulturalist. Someone who nourishes one finger and forgets about the back and shoulders is demented. People disdain those who care only about food and drink, since they nourish the small and thus miss what is great. If those who care only about food and drink did not miss out on the great, then how could the mouth and stomach be equal to an inch of flesh?”
[6A:15] Gong Du Zi said, “If all men are equal, how is it that there are greater and lesser men?”
Mencius said, “Some follow their greater part and some follow their lesser part.”
“Why do some follow their greater part and some follow their lesser part?”
Mencius said, “The organs such as the eye and ear cannot discriminate and are thus confused by things. Things are interconnected with other things, which lead one further away. The function of the mind is to discriminate—if you discriminate you will attain it. If you don't discriminate, you won't attain it. These are what Heaven has bestowed upon us. If you first establish yourself in the greater part, then the small part cannot be snatched away from you. This is the essential of being a great man.”
[6A:16] Mencius said: “There is a nobility that belongs to Heaven and a nobility that belongs to man. Humaneness, fairness, loyalty, truthfulness and a tireless delight in the good—these are the nobility of Heaven. Duke, lord, and minister—these are the nobility of man.”
The ancients cultivated the heavenly nobilities and the human nobilities naturally followed. Modern men cultivate the heavenly nobilities in order to gain the human nobilities, and once they have these, they throw away the heavenly nobilities. How mixed up they are! In the end they will lose everything.
[6A:17] Mencius said, “All men desire nobility, and though they all have something truly noble within themselves, they do not reflect on it. The nobility dispensed by people is not true nobility. Those honored by Chao Meng can also be debased by Chao Meng. The Book of Odes says:”
He has made us drunk with his wine
And filled us with virtue.
“This means they have been satiated with humaneness and fairness, and therefore they do not need to taste the fine foods of man. He has received broad and far-reaching praise and therefore has no desire for the finery of men.”
[6A:18] Mencius said: “Humaneness overcomes non-humaneness just as water overcomes fire. But those of modernity who attempt the practice of humaneness are like a person who tries to put out a burning wagonload of wood with a cup of water. When it doesn't work, they say that water cannot put out fire. It is the same situation as those who attempt to deal with non-humaneness in a similar fashion. In the end, they will be completely lost.”
[6A:19] Mencius said: “The seeds of the five grains are the best. But if they do not ripen, they are not even as good as wild grasses. The value of humaneness also resides in its being brought to maturity.”
[6A:20] Mencius said: “When Yi taught archery, he always pulled the bow to its maximum. His students also had to strive to do this. A master carpenter, when teaching, always uses a compass and square. The students must also use a compass and square.”
6B. Gao Zi (part two) 吿子下
[6B:2] . . . Mencius said, “The Way is like a great road. How difficult is it to know about it? The problem with people is that they do not even seek for it. If you just return home and seek it, you will find teachers in excess.”
[6B:12] Mencius said, “If a Noble Man lacks integrity, to what shall he hold?”
[6B:13] The prince of Lu invited Mencius' disciple Yo Chang to run his government. Mencius said, “When I heard about it, I was so happy that I couldn't sleep.”
Gong Sun Chou asked, “Is Yo Chang so strong?”
Mencius said, “No.”
“Is he so wise?”
“Is he broadly learned?”
“Then what made you so happy that you couldn't sleep?”
Mencius said, “He is a man who loves goodness.”
“Is just loving goodness enough?”
“Loving goodness is enough to excel throughout the whole realm. How much more so in just the state of Lu! If the ruler loves goodness, then the people from within the whole area inside the four seas will not consider far to travel one thousand li in order to share their own goodness with him. But if he dislikes goodness, then people will say ‘He's a scoundrel and we know it.’”
The speech and face of a rogue will keep people a thousand li away. If the good shih stay a thousand li away, then all the back-stabbers and sycophants in the realm will come to the ruler. Surrounded by back-stabbers and sycophants, can you really run a government?
[6B:15] Mencius said, “Shun rose up from the grain fields; Fu Yue was found as a construction laborer, Jia Go was pulled up from his fish and salt; Sun Shu Ao from the sea, and Bai Li Xi from the marketplace.”
Thus, when Heaven is going to give a great responsibility to someone, it first makes his mind endure suffering. It makes his sinews and bones experience toil, and his body to suffer hunger. It inflicts him with poverty and knocks down everything he tries to build.
In this way Heaven stimulates his mind, stabilizes his temper and develops his weak points. People will always err, but it is only after making mistakes that they can correct themselves. Only when you have been mentally constricted can you become creative. It will show in your face and be heard in your voice, such that you will affect others. In your own state, if you don't have legal specialists and impartial advisors, and outside your state, you don't have enemy states to harass you, your own state will certainly fall to ruin. From this we can know that life is stimulated from adversity and anxiety, and death results from relaxation and pleasure.
[6B:16] Mencius said: “There are many kinds of teaching techniques. Sometimes I teach by not teaching.”
7A. Jin Xin (part one) 盡心, 上
[7A:1] Mencius said: “If you fully explore your mind, you will know your nature. If you know your nature, you know Heaven. To preserve your mind and nourish your nature is to serve Heaven. Not seeing duality between short life and long life, cultivate yourself by awaiting it. This is the way to set up your destiny.”
[7A:2] Mencius said: “There is nothing that does not have a destiny, so follow your own and accept it as it is. If you do this, when you understand what destiny is, you will not stand under the wall of a high cliff. To fully traverse one's course and then die—this is correct destiny. To die in handcuffs and chains is not correct destiny.”
[7A:3] Mencius said: “Search for it and you gain it. Ignore it and you lose it: this is the searching that has increase in its attainment, the seeking that adds to the self.”
“Search for it, keeping the Way, attain it, keeping with destiny. In this searching, there is no increase upon attainment. This is the searching through which you get rid of things.”
[7A:4] Mencius said: “All things are prepared within me. If I reflect on myself and find that I am sincere, shouldn't I be overjoyed? If I strive to conduct myself on the principle of reciprocity, will the humaneness I seek not be close at hand?”
[7A:5] Mencius said: “Acting without being clear, practicing without close observation: doing this to the end of their lives without ever understanding their own course. This is the way most people are.”
[7A:6] Mencius said: “A person cannot do without shame. If you are ashamed of your shamelessness, you will not need to be ashamed. ”
[7A:7] Mencius said: “Shame is something important for people. Those who operate by clever opportunism have no use for shame. Not having shame, you will not be like others. What will you have in common with them? ”
[7A:8] Mencius said: “The worthy kings of antiquity were impressed by goodness and not by power. How could the worthy elites be different? They delighted in their path and were oblivious to power in others. Therefore, if a king or duke did not treat them with full respect and thorough propriety, he would not have much chance of seeing them. Not having much chance to see them, how could he gain their services?”
[7A:9] Mencius, speaking to Song Gou Jian, said, “You like traveling to different courts, don't you? Let me speak with you about this kind of traveling. If you are acknowledged, just be content, and if you are not acknowledged, just be content.”
Jian asked, “How do you go about ‘just being content.’?”
Mencius said, “If you value virtue and enjoy fairness, you can be content. Hence the gentleman in difficulty does not lose his sense of fairness, and when successful, does not lose the Path. Since he does not lose his sense of fairness when in difficulty, the gentleman is able to keep a grasp on himself. Since he does not lose the Path when he becomes successful, the people are not disappointed in him.”
“When the ancients achieved their aims, they shared it with the people. Not attaining their aims, their self-discipline was an example to succeeding generations. In difficulty they could only cultivate their own goodness. Successful, they could share their goodness with the whole world.”
[7A:10] Mencius said: “Almost all people wait for someone like King Wen to come and uplift them. But the truly outstanding gentleman will uplift himself, even if a King Wen doesn't appear.”
[7A:11] Mencius said: “If, after receiving the wealth of the families of Han and Wei, you still see something missing inside of yourself, then you far surpass others.”
[7A:12] Mencius said: “If you employ people with a sincere motive to make their life more comfortable, then even if they have to work hard, they won't blame you. If you execute people with the true motive of saving lives, then even if someone is killed, no one will blame the executioner.”
[7A:13] Mencius said: “When there is a strong ruler, at least the people can be relaxed. If there is a true king, then they can be completely content. He can conduct executions without blame, and make profit without their feeling abused. The people return to the good every day, without knowing who is making them do so.”
“So wherever the Noble Man passes through, people are transformed; the place where he stays is spiritualized, and Heaven and Earth flow together harmoniously. How could you say ‘he is of little help’?”
[7A:14] Mencius said: “Kind words do not enter as deeply into a person as does a reputation for kindness. Good government is not as effective as good teaching in terms of gaining the support of the people. If you have a good government, the people will be in awe of you. If you teach them well, they will love you. Good government gains people's wealth. Good teaching gains their hearts.”
[7A:15] Mencius said: “When people who have not studied have abilities, these are inherent abilities. When people who have not deliberated have knowledge, this is inherent knowledge. An infant carried in the arms has no lack of knowledge of how to love its parents, and when it gets older, it knows automatically how to respect its older brothers. Loving one's parents is humaneness, respecting one's older brothers is fairness. This is because these principles penetrate all people.”
[7A:16] Mencius said: “When Shun lived deep in the mountains, and he lived among the trees and rocks, and romped with the deer and boar, he differed little from other people of the wilds. But once he heard one impressive talk, and saw one act of kindness, it was like trying to hold back a vast river — nothing could restrain him.”
[7A:17] Mencius said: “Don't do what shouldn't be done and don't desire what shouldn't be desired. That's all there is to it.”
[7A:18] Mencius said: “When people have penetrating wisdom and practical knowledge it is usually because they have spent a long time in difficulty. The orphaned servant and the concubine's son handle situations with caution and think deeply when in distress. Therefore, they handle things well.”
[7A:19] Mencius said, “There are those who serve the prince, and do so to receive his favor. There are those who serve the land, and do so because it makes them happy. There are Heavenly people, who, once their excellence can be actualized in the world, actualize it. There are great men who rectify themselves—and others are rectified.”
[7A:20] Mencius said, “.”
[7A:21] Mencius said, “The Noble Man may enjoy the possession of a large territory with many people, but this is not what he takes delight in. He may delight in being established in the realm and stabilizing the people within the four seas, but this has nothing to do with his basic character. His basic character is not something that can be enhanced by great success, or be hindered by poverty. These are one's lot.”
“The essentials of the Noble Man's character are humaneness, fairness, Propriety and Wisdom, which are rooted in his mind. When they show themselves in his external appearance, their luster can be seen in his face, their fullness can be seen in his back, and go out into his four limbs. The four limbs reveal this without speaking.”
[7A:22] Mencius said: Boyi escaped from Zhou and dwelled in a harbor on the Northern Sea. When he heard of the rise of King Wen he said: “Shall I return? I have heard that Xibo (King Wen) is good at taking care of the elderly.” Taigong escaped from Zhou and dwelled in a harbor of the Eastern Sea. When he heard of the rise of King Wen he said: “Shall I return? I have heard that Xibo (King Wen) is good at taking care of the elderly.” When the people take good care of the aged, then good-hearted people return of their own accord. If you plant mulberry trees at the base of the walls on a homestead of one acre and assign one woman to the task of taking care of silkworms, then the elderly will be able to wear silk garments. If you don't miss the timing for the mating of five hens and two sows, the elderly will never have to miss out on eating meat. If a ten-acre plot is cultivated by one man, a family of eight will never go hungry. So when it is said that Xibo is good at taking care of the elderly, this means that he systematically manages the farms and villages, teaching the people the methods of planting and husbandry. He leads the wives and sons to take care of the elderly. If those aged fifty lack silk they will not be warm; if those aged seventy lack meat they will not be able to eat to their satisfaction, which means that they will be cold and hungry. Among the subjects of King Wen there being no elderly who are cold and hungry has these kinds of implications.
[7A:23] Mencius said: If you properly manage the farmlands and keep the taxes light, the people will live well. If people eat according to the season and use commodities according to propriety, provisions will not be used up. People can't live without water and fire, so if someone comes knocking on the door in the evening seeking water and fire, there is no one who will not give these things, as they are readily available. When the sage governs the world, he makes it so that beans and millet 13 are as readily available as water and fire. When beans and millet are as readily available as water and fire, how can the people not be kind to each other.
[7A:24] Mencius said: When Confucius climbed Mt. Dong, 14 Lu looked small. When he climbed Mt. Tai, the whole world looked small. Hence, those who have seen the ocean have difficulty being satisfied with lesser waters; and those who have had the opportunity to have intercourse with a sage have difficulty being satisfied with lesser chit-chat. There is an art to observing water — you have to pay attention to the ripples. When the sun and moon are shining, their light will definitely penetrate the cracks. It is the character of water to be unable to keep flowing until it fills up the holes along the way. When the noble person sets his mind on the Way, he won't be successful unless he handles minor tasks 15 thoroughly.
[7A:25] Mencius said: “Waking up with the call of the rooster and unstintingly applying oneself to the good — this is the way of the followers of Shun. Waking up with the call of the rooster and unstintingly applying oneself to profit — this is the way of the followers of Zhi 16 Do you want to know the difference between Shun and Zhi? It is nothing other than the difference between profit and goodness.”
[7A:26] Mencius said, “Yang Zi 17 believed in ‘every man for himself.’ If he could have helped the whole world by plucking out a single hair, he would not have done it. Mo Zi 18 believed in ‘universal love.’ If he had to rub his whole body smooth in order to benefit the world, he would have done it. Zi Mo believes in holding to the center. Now ‘holding to the center’ comes close, but still, if you hold to the center, you have no adaptability, since you are just holding to one thing. What is bad about holding to one thing is that it robs from the Way. You hold to one, and let go of a hundred.”
[7A:27] Mencius said, “For the hungry any food is delicious and for the thirsty any drink is tasty. But the hungry and thirsty are not getting the true taste of the food and the drink, since their deprivation has degraded their sensitivity. How could only one's mouth and belly suffer from the afflictions of hunger and thirst? Peoples' minds are also afflicted.”
“When you are able to keep the afflictions of hunger and thirst from affecting your mental state, you need never be concerned about being the equal of others.”
[7A:28] Mencius said, “Liuxia Hui would not change his basic purpose, even to become one of the three high ministers. 19 ”
[7A:29] Mencius said, “Working at a project is like digging a well. If you dig sixty feet and stop without hitting water, it is just like abandoning the whole well.”
[Comment] This passage, like many others in this text, reflects Mencius' belief in the importance of making effort, and following through to the end. A similar point is made in the Daode jing, where Laozi points out that “people usually blow it just before finishing.”
[7A:30] Mencius said: “Yao and Shun [were kind and just] by nature. Tang and Wu acquired these qualities. The five hegemons 20 borrowed them. Since they borrowed them for a long time and did not return them, how could one know that they didn't own them?”
[7A:31] Gong Sun Chou said, Yi Yin said, “‘I can't get along with him’ and thus exiled Tai Jia to Tong, which made the people very happy. When Tai Jia became good, he brought him back, and the people were again very happy. Does this mean that when worthies serve their people poorly as ministers, it is definitely the case that chasing them out is OK? May they indeed kick out their sovereigns in this way when they are not virtuous?” Mencius said: “If one does it with the same intentions as Yi Yi, it is acceptable. Without the intentions of Yi Yi, it is usurpation.”
[7A:32] Gong Sun Chou [said:] “The Odes say: ‘When it comes to eating, the noble man eats, even though he doesn't till the fields.’ What does this mean?” Mencius said: “When there is a noble man in the country, if the ruler properly makes use of him, there will be stability and wealth; he will be respected, and the country will flourish. If the youth of the country follow him, then filial children will have loyalty and be trustworthy. In terms of not getting a free meal, what could be greater than this?”
[7A:33] The king's son, Tien, asked Mencius, “What does a gentleman do?” Mencius said, “He elevates his motives.”
“What does that mean?”
Mencius said, “To live by humaneness and fairness and nothing else. If you kill a single innocent man, you are not Humane. If something is not yours and you take it, you are not Just. Wherever you dwell, make it Humane; whatever course you travel, make it Just. Abiding in humaneness and acting through fairness—this is how the great man completes his work.”
[7A:34] Mencius said: “If Chen Zhong were unjustly offered the kingdom of Qi and refused it, the people would all trust him. But this demonstrates a sense of justice comparable to that of refusing a simple meal of rice or bean broth. There is nothing greater crime than that of a person abandoning his relatives, 21 or his ruler above, or subjects below. Why should we trust the greatness of a person based on trivial acts of goodness? ”
[7A:35] Tao Ying 22 asked: “When Shun was emperor and Gao Yao 23 was his Minister of fairness, if the old Blind Man 24 had killed someone, what would Gao Yao have done?”
Mencius said: “He would have simply arrested him.”
Tao Ying said: “In this case, would Shun not have stopped it?”
Mencius said: “How could Shun have stopped it? Gao Yao had received the right to carry out the law. 25 ”
Tao Ying said: “In that case, what would Shun have done?”
Mencius said: “Shun was a person who regarded the abandonment of the thone as equivalent to throwing away a worn-out shoe. He would have sneaked his father out on his back, running away to the seacoast, happily forgetting about his rulership of the realm.”
[7A:36] When Mencius was traveling from Fan to Qi, he saw the son of the king of Qi from a distance, and sighed deeply, saying: “The influence of one's place on one's physical appearance is like the influence of nutrition on the body. Is not the influence of status great indeed? Are we all not somebody's son?” He added: “The housing, carriages, horses, and clothes of a prince are the same as those of most other people, yet when he uses them, he looks as he does because of his potions. How much more would this be the case of one were to occupy the vast spaces of the world? When the ruler of Lu went to call on Song and called out at the Diezi Gate, the guard there said ‘This is not our ruler. How is it that his voice is so much like that of our ruler?’ This is based on nothing other than his having been in a similar position.”
[Comment] The rulers of Lu and Song, having been raised in similar environments and positions of status, had similar airs, and thus resembled each other.
[7A:37] Mencius said, “To feed someone and not love them is the same as dealing with swine. To love someone but not respect them is like raising domesticated animals. Now, courtesy and respect should come before the presentation of gifts. If courtesy and respect are not genuine, you cannot so easily catch the heart of the Noble Man.”
[7A:38] Mencius said, “Your physical appearance is endowed by Heaven. Only after you are a sage can you be comfortable in your own skin.”
[7A:39] King Xuan of Qi wanted to shorten the mourning period. Gong Sun Chou asked: “Isn't it better to have a one-year period of mourning, rather than doing away with it entirely?” Mencius said: “This is just like someone twisting his older brother's arm, and you were to say to him “Gently, gently please.” Indeed, you should teach him nothing less than proper fraternal respect and filial piety.” The mother of a prince died, and his tutor asked on his behalf for a for a mourning period of several months. Gong Sun Chou asked: “What about this kind of case?” Mencius said: “In this case, he wanted to do a full mourning period, but couldn't. So even if he could extend it by a day, it would be better than nothing at all. The point is, this is not the kind of case where the mourning period is not observed even when there are no obstacles. ”
[7A:40] Mencius said, “The Noble Man teaches in five general ways according to five types of students:”
Those who are transformed by the deluge of a seasonal rain.
Those whose virtue he develops.
Those whose abilities he uncovers.
Those whose questions he answers.
Those who develop themselves by their own reflection [under his influence].
The Noble Man teaches in these five ways.
(13.41) 公孫丑曰、「道則高矣美矣、宜若登天然、似不可及也。何不使彼爲可幾及、而日孳孳也。」 孟子曰、「大匠不爲拙工改廢繩墨、羿不爲拙射變其彀率。君子引而不發、躍如也。中道而立、能者從之。」
[7A:41] Gong Sun Chou said: “The Way is so lofty and exquisite, so ascending it is like reaching to the heavens. Can you not make it somewhat more accessible, to that people keep striving every day to reach it?”
Mencius said, “A master carpenter does not give up using the plumb line because of a clumsy helper, and Archer Yi would never change his principles of bowmanship for a clumsy archer. The Noble Man pulls the bow, but does not release the arrow, 26 thus keeping the interaction fresh and lively. He establishes himself in the midst of the Way, and those who are able, follow him.”
[7A:42] Mencius said, “When the Way prevails in the realm, people should use the Way to find themselves. When the Way is lost in the realm, people should use themselves to find the Way. I have not heard of case using the Way to seek in other people.”
(13.43) 公都子曰、「勝更之在門也、若在所禮而不答、何也。」 孟子曰、「挾貴而問、挾賢而問、挾長而問、挾有勛勞而問、挾故而問、皆所不答也。勝更有二焉。」
[7A:43] Gong Du Zi said: “When Geng Dang last came to see you, even though his approach was not improper, you would not answer him. May I ask why?”
Mencius said, “One who asks presuming upon his rank, his ability, his seniority; who presumes on what I might owe him, or presumes on our former acquaintance, I will not answer. In Geng Dang's case two of these apply.”
[7A:44] Mencius said, “If you stop once when you shouldn't, you will always stop short. If you take one essential thing lightly, you will take everything lightly. If you advance too sharply, you will subside quickly.”
[7A:45] Mencius said, “The Noble Man cares about 27 creatures but does not love them as if they are people. He loves people as people, but not in the intimate way he loves his parents. He loves his parents intimately and is humane to people. He is human to people and cares about creatures.”
[7A:46] Mencius said, “There is nothing the wise cannot understand, but they will focus on the important things. There is no one the Humane person cannot love, but he will focus on cultivation of intimacy with the Good. The understanding of Yao and Shun did not include everything, but they took care of what was important. Their humaneness did not extend to every single person, but they were concerned about being intimate with the Good.”
“Those who are meticulous about the details of minor mourning for distant relatives, but who can't carry out the heavy mourning required for their parents, or the people who gorge down their food and swill their soup, yet ask questions about the propriety of tearing meat with the teeth—these are people who don't know what is important.”
7B. Jin Xin (part two) 盡心下
[7B:1] Mencius said, “King Hui of Liang is the epitome of unkindness. The Humane man treats those he does not love as if he loves them. The inhumane man treats those he loves as if he does not love them.”
Gong Sun Chou said, “What do you mean?”
Mencius said, “King Hui, just for the sake of gaining more territory, trampled on his own people and sent them into battle. Even when they were being beaten badly, he would just send them back in again. Afraid of losing the engagement, he sent his beloved son into the fray, who was also killed. This is what I mean by ‘treating those one loves as if one does not love them.’”
[7B:2] Mencius said, “In the Spring and Autumn period there are no just wars, simply some that are better than others. Conquest is always done by the stronger state over the weaker state. Peer states do not attempt to conquer each other.”
[7B:3] Mencius said, “Rather than believing the Book of History in its entirety, it would be better not to have it at all. In the chapter on “Consummate Warfare” 28 I can accept no more than two or three sections. ‘The Humane man has no rival in the world.’ If, with perfect humaneness he strikes down the inhumane, how could blood flow such that it carried with it the shields [of the warriors]?” 29
[7B:4] Mencius said, “There are men who say, ‘I am good at tactics’ and say ‘I am good at military strategy.’ This is a grave sin. If the ruler of the state loves humaneness, he will have no enemies in the realm. When [Tang] quelled the barbarians in the south, the Di tribes in the north were disappointed. When he quelled the barbarians in the east, the Yi in the west were disappointed, saying ‘we are left to be last.’ When Wu attacked the Yin, he had three hundred chariots and three thousand crack troops. He said ‘Don't be afraid, be at ease: I will not attack the common people,’ and they all crumbled down to the ground in respect. To ‘quell’ 征 means to ‘correct’ 正. If people have the desire to correct themselves, what need is there of war?”
[7B:5] Mencius said, “A carpenter or a carriage-maker can give someone a compass or a square, but cannot give them skills.”
[7B:6] Mencius said, “When Shun was eating dried grains and grasses, it was as if he would being doing so for the rest of his life. And when he became emperor, and wore fine robes, played the lute, and enjoyed being attended upon by the two daughters [of Yao] it was like all of it had originally been his.”
[7B:7] Mencius said, “From now I know the gravity of the crime of killing someone's kin. If you kill a man's father, that man will also kill your father. If you kill someone's elder brother, that man will also kill your elder brother. Thus, even though you do not kill them yourself, you are just one remove from having done it.”
[7B:8] Mencius said, “In ancient times, border gates were set up to prevent violence. Nowadays they are established in order to perpetrate violence.”
[7B:9] Mencius said, “If you don't practice the Way yourself, it will not be practiced in the family. If you don't use the Way in your dealings with others, you will not be able to use it in your family life.”
[7B:10] Mencius said, “If you really understand how to take advantage of things, you cannot die in a year of bad harvest. If you really understand virtue, you cannot be corrupted in a dissolute age.”
[7B:11] Mencius said, “Someone who loves fame will be able to cede a state of a thousand chariots. But if he is not [really] this sort of person, [the enjoyment of a mere] bowl of simple food, and a cup of bean soup will show in the countenance.”
[7B:12] Mencius said, “If one does not put one's trust in the kind and the worthy, then the state is like an empty shell. If it lacks propriety and justice, then there will be strife between those above and those below. Lacking proper governance, its assets will come up short. ”
[7B:13] Mencius said, “There are cases of evil men possessing a kingdom, but there has never been a case where an evil man got possession of the whole realm.”
[7B:14] Mencius said, “The common people are the most valuable; next are the national altars of the soil and grain; the ruler is insignificant. Therefore, he who can gain the hearts of the common people will be the son of heaven, and he who has the confidence of the Son of Heaven becomes a feudal lord; he who has the confidence of the feudal lords becomes a grandmaster. When the feudal lords endanger the national altars, they are replaced. When the sacrificial animals are prime, and the sacrificial grain is purified, and the sacrifice is carried out in a timely fashion, but yet there are droughts and floods, then the national altars are replaced. ”
[7B:15] Mencius said, “The Sage is a teacher of one hundred generations. For example, Bo Yi and Hui Liu Xia. When people hear of the ways of Bo Yi, the obstinate become easy to get along with and the spineless arouse determination. When they hear of the ways of Hui Liu Xia, shallow people become warm and the narrow-minded become wide-open. 30 They have encouraged people for the last one hundred generations and those of the next hundred generations who hear of them will certainly be aroused. Could they have such an effect if they were not sages? And can you imagine the amount of influence they had on those closely associated with them?”
[7B:16] Mencius said: “Ren means ‘humanity.’ The harmonious combination of the two is called the Way.”
[7B:17] Mencius said: “When Confucius left Lu, he said ‘I am leaving.’ This is the way to leave one's homeland. When he left Qi, he took up the washed rice and departed. This is the way to leave another country.”
[7B:18] Mencius said: “When the noble man was in trouble in Chen and Cai, there was no interaction between superiors and inferiors.”
[7B:19] Mo Qi said: “I am not a good speaker.” Mencius said, “There is no harm in that. The scholars loathe loquaciousness. When the Odes say: ‘I suffer, I am troubled, being loathed by petty men,’ 31 that is Confucius. “He did not willfully remove their grudges, but he also did not damage himself.” 32 This was King Wen.”
[7B:20] Mencius said, “The worthies made people clear with their own clarity. Nowadays people try to make others clear through their ignorance.”
[7B:21] Mencius said to [his disciple] Gao, “If mountain trails are well used, then they will become like roads. But if they are not used for a while, they become overgrown with weeds. Now weeds are overgrowing in your mind.”
[7B:22] “The music of Yu surpassed the music of King Wen.” Mencius said, “Why do you say that?” Gao said, “Because [the cord of the bell] is worn through.” Mencius said, “Is this sufficient evidence? Were the ruts in the entrance to the city made by a single carriage?”
[7B:23] There was a famine in Qi, and Chen Zhen said, “All the people thought that you were going to reopen the granaries, but perhaps that won't happen?” Mencius said, “Then I would be like Feng Fu. There was a man from Jin named Feng Fu, who was good at wrestling with tigers, and who in the end became a gentleman. It happened that out in the countryside there was a group of people chasing a tiger, which they had cornered in a nook in the mountains, with no one daring to get any closer. In the distance they saw Feng Fu, and rushed out to greet him. Feng Fu got down from his carriage and rolled up his sleeves. The crowd was delighted, but the gentlemen in the crowd found it comical. ”
[7B:24] Mencius said, “The enjoyment by the tongue of flavor, the enjoyment by the eye of color, the enjoyment by the ear of music, the enjoyment by the nose of perfumes, and the enjoyment by the body of comfort, are natural and endowed by Heaven. But the Noble Man doesn't regard these as his innermost nature.”
The experience of love between parents and children, the practice of fairness between ruler and minister, the observance of proper manners between host and guest, the possession of the wisdom for discerning goodness, and the sage's intimacy with the Way are endowed and natural, but the Noble Man doesn't consider them as his endowments.
[7B:25] Haoshang Buhai asked, “What kind of man is Yo Zheng Zi?”
Mencius said, “He is good, and he is trustworthy.”
“What do you mean by ‘good,’ and what do you mean by ‘trustworthy’?”
“A man that people like to be with is good. A man who keeps this goodness in himself is trustworthy. One who fully develops his goodness is called ‘excellent.’ One whose full development of goodness shines forth is called ‘great.’ One whose greatness transforms others is called a sage. A sage who is unfathomable is called ‘transcendent.’ Yo Zheng fits in the first two levels, but is not up to the last four.”
[7B:26] Mencius said, “Those who leave the Mohist school usually go to the school of Yang. Those who leave the Yang school usually come to us.”
“If they come, they should be received without hesitation. Those who participate in the current Yang-Mo debate are like someone chasing a stray pig and after it is in the pen, tying it up.”
[Comment] Anyone who has worked on a farm and has had to get a hold of a stray pig and then try to tie it, can appreciate Mencius' simile.
[7B:27] Mencius said, “There is tax by hemp and silk; there is tax by grain; and there is tax by manpower. The smart ruler will just use one and let go of the other two. If you use two of these, there will be starvation among the people; if you use all three, families will be torn apart.”
[7B:28]Mencius said, “The feudal lords treasure three things: land, the people, and the government. Those who treasure pearls and jade invite disaster on themselves.”
[7B:29]Ban Chang Guo obtained an official position in Qi. Mencius said: “Ban Chang Guo—he's finished!”
Ban Chang Guo did indeed meet his death in Qi, so the disciples asked Mencius, “How did you know he would meet his demise?”
Mencius said: “He was a man of little ability who had not learned of the great Way of the Noble Man. Thus, he knew enough to get himself killed, and that's it.”
When Mencius stayed in Teng, he took lodging in the upper palace. A worker placed his sandals on the window sill, and when a member of the hotel staff look for them he couldn't find them. Someone asked [Mencius], saying “Perhaps one of your followers is hiding them.” Mencius said, “Do you think we came here to steal sandals?” He said “Perhaps not? In your system of instruction, you do not chase after those who leave, and do not refuse any who come. If they come to you in full sincerity, you accept them as they are.” 33
[7B:31] Mencius said, “All people have something that they cannot bear to see. The effect that this brings on what they can bear is humaneness. All people have something that they will not do. The effect that this has on what they will do is fairness. When people fully develop a mind lacking a desire to harm others, then their humaneness is beyond the point of ever being overcome. If they are able to fully develop the kind of mind in which theft is inconceivable, then their fairness is beyond the point of ever being overcome. When a man can fully develop his dislike for being addressed, “Hey, you,” there is no place he will go and not be Just. When the gentleman should not speak, but does, this is deception through speech. When he should speak, but doesn't, this is deception by silence. Both can be considered as thievery.”
[7B:32] Mencius said, “Down-to-earth speech, which has far-reaching meaning is good speech. To preserve the essentials yet learn extensively—this is the good way. The words of the Noble Man are not hidden, yet the Way is contained in them. The Noble Man concentrates on the cultivation of his own character. The common error of people is that they forget about their own garden and try to cultivate gardens of others. They expect much from others and little from themselves.”
[7B:33] Mencius said, “What Yao and Shun had it by nature, Tang and Wu returned to it. When your every action and expression are circumscribed by propriety, your virtue will be overflowing.”
Grief at funeral ceremonies is not for the purpose of the living. Holding to virtue unswervingly is not for the purpose of reward from a higher office. Speech that is truly sincere is not so in order to be called “right behavior.” The Noble Man acts according to the pattern of the world in await his destiny. That's all he does.
[7B:34] Mencius said, “When speaking to an important person, you should look on him with a degree of contempt and not be taken in by his lofty status. Their halls are several meters in height with rafters protruding several feet. If I achieved my aims, I would not do this. Food laid out in front with several hundred concubines; if I achieved my aims I would not do this. Indulging in pleasure and drinking wine, hunting in the fields with a retinue of a thousand carriages. If I achieved my aims, I would not do this. All the things they do, I would not do. What I do is follow the system of the ancients. Why should I be afraid of them? ”
[7B:35] Mencius said, “For nourishing the mind, there is nothing better than lessening desire. If you have few desires, even if there are things you don't have, they will seem few. If you have many desires, even if you attain them, they will seem few.”
[7B:36]Zeng Xi enjoyed jujubes, but his son, Zeng Zi could not stand them. Gongsun Chou asked: “Which is tastier, cooked meat or jujubes?” Mencius said: “Cooked meat!” Gongsun Chou asked, “In that case, why did Zeng Zi [while mourning his father's death] eat cooked meat rather than jujubes?” Mencius said, “Cooked meat is something that everyone eats, whereas jujubes are something that is only the particular choice of certain people. The reason personal names are made taboo, but surnames are not, is because surnames are so common.”
[7B:37] Wan Zhang asked: “When Confucius was staying in Chan and said ‘Let me return home, my students are ardent 34 and impatient—they go and get what they want. I cannot forget that they are beginners.’ Now, what made Confucius worry about his ardent students in Lu?”
Mencius said, “When Confucius could not get a hold of students who followed the Middle Way, he had no recourse but to select from the ardent and the prudent. The ardent will go and get what they want. The prudent can limit themselves. Of course Confucius wanted students who could follow the Middle Way, but not necessarily being able to find such people, he had to think of his next option.”
“May I venture to ask who he was thinking of when he said ‘ardent’?”
“Men like Qin Zhang, Zang Xi and Mu Bei.”
“Why did he call them ‘ardent’?”
“With grandiose aspirations they would say ‘The ancients did this, the ancients did that.’ Boldly planning their actions, they often couldn't make good on them. Now, if the daring cannot be gotten hold of, then Confucius would try to find those scholars who would not let themselves be defiled. These are the prudent, who are next best.”
Chang asked, “Confucius said: ‘When someone passes by my gate and does not enter, the only time I don't regret it is when it is a “conventional townsman.” These conventional townsmen are thieves of virtue.’ What sort of people were these, that he called ‘conventional townsmen’?”
Mencius said, “[They criticize the ardent], saying ‘How can they be so grandiose such that their words do not reflect their actions and actions do not reflect their words, and how can they justify themselves with ‘the ancients did this, and the ancients did that.’’”
“[And they criticize the prudent], saying, ‘How can they be so aloof and cold? We are all born in this world, so we should be part of it. Being good here and now is sufficient.’ They obsequiously flatter their contemporaries. These are the so-called ‘conventional townsmen.’”
Wan Chang said, “The whole town calls them ‘acceptable men’—there is no place where they can go where they will not be regarded as ‘acceptable men.’ Why did Confucius call them ‘thieves of virtue’?”
Mencius answered: “If you want to blame them for something, there is nothing in particular that you can blame them for. If you want to correct them, there is nothing in particular that you can correct them for. They follow the current customs and consent to the vices of the age. They seem to abide in loyalty and honesty, and their actions seem pure. Everyone follows them and because people follow them, people become incapable of entering the Way of Yao and Shun. Thus, they are called ‘thieves of virtue.’”
“Confucius said, ‘I don't like things that are not what they appear to be. I don't like tares (grain weeds) because they can be confused with real grain. I don't like eloquence, because it can be confused with fairness. I don't like sharpness of tongue, because it might be confused with honesty. I don't like the music of Chang, because it might be confused with good music. I don't like purple, because it might be confused with vermilion and I don't like conventional townsmen, because they might be confused with the virtuous.’”
“The Noble Man returns to the constant and nothing more. Once the constant is properly apprehended, the people will be awakened. Once they are awakened, there will be no more of their evil.”
[7B:38] Mencius said, “From Yao and Shun up to Tang, it was more than five hundred years. In the case of Yu and Gao Yao, they knew the ways [of these ancient sages] by directly seeing them. In the case of Tang, he knew their ways by hearing about them. From the time of Tang up to King Wen, it was more than five hundred years. In the case of Yi Yin and Lai Zhu, they knew the ways of Tang by directly seeing him. In the case of King Wen, he knew by hearing of him. From the time of King Wen to Confucius, more than five hundred years passed. In the case of Taigong Wang and San Yisheng, they know King Wen's ways by seeing him. In the case of Confucius, he knew his ways by hearing of him. From the time of Confucius up to the present, it has been more than one hundred years. The time since the departure of the sage is not long, and the place where the sage lived is quite near. However, since there is no one who understands his Way, how can there be anyone who apprehends it?”
1. The title shih is translated into English with such terms as “elite”, “knight”, “scholar,” etc. While the shih of later Chinese history is more definitely a scholar than a knight, in the Analects, what Confucius is referring to is a level of spiritual/moral development, as well as academic and martial cultivation which is clearly above that of the average person. Thus, we can understand the shih to be a person who is well on the way toward becoming a “Noble Man,” (君子) but is not quite there yet.
2. According to Zhuxi's commentary, “Sun” refers to King Jie of Xia 夏桀. Jie had said of himself: “My living in this world can be compared to the sun being in the sky. I won't die until the Sun disappears.” His subjects resented his tyranny so much that they quoted his words and said, “When will this sun disappear? I am willing to die with it, if my death makes it disappear.” Their words show how badly they wanted him to want him to die. 桀嘗自言, 吾有天下, 如天之有日, 日亡吾乃亡耳. 民怨其虐, 故因其自言而目之日, 此日何時亡乎? 若亡則我寧與之倶亡, 蓋欲其亡之甚也. [Note provided by Ji Eun Kang]
3. He-nei and He-dong were neighboring regions separated by a large river.
4. 黎民 means “tanned people” — thus, people who are out in the sunshine; regular people, common people, like 庶民.
5. Two somewhat infamous rulers of the 7th century BCE.
6. King Wen of Western Zhou 西周 (c.1050 BCE) , given name Chang 昌. Son of Wang Xi 王季 and the father of King Wu 武王. He laid the foundations for his son to defeat Yin 殷 and become the feudal king of China. Later considered as one of the sage kings of antiquity as a founder of one of the Sandai 三代 dynasties along with kings Yu 禹 and Tang 湯. He was also called Western Hegemon 西伯 after King Zhou 紂 of Yin appointed him to the position.
7. Yin is the first reign title of the Shang 商 dynasty. Established by King Tang 湯王 when he defeated Jie 桀王 of the Xia 夏. The first dynasty to be centered in the delta of the Yellow river 黃河. Established the capital at Bo 亳. Gave way to the Zhou led by King Wu 武王 who defeated King Zhou 紂王 (around BCE 1030).
8. Wu Ding (c. 14th century BCE) was a legendary founder and wise ruler of the Shang 商 dynasty. His surname was Cheng 成, personal name Wu Ding, called Gaozong 高宗 by later generations. He was the son of Xiao Yi 小乙, the younger brother of Pan Geng 盤庚. He is said to have duly valued worthy officials during his 59-year reign.
9. Lit. a “large hoe.”
10. From the Book of Odes, 231. This verse is from a story about a small bird who is being harassed by an owl, and who used a moment of respite to provide some self-protection.
11. A legendary famous cook in ancient China.
12. Both trees produce high-quality timber. Van Norden renders this as “mahogany.”
13. Staple foods.
14. A mountain in the state of Lu.
15. Other translators tend to take 成章 as “achieving a beautiful pattern.” But what would that mean? I take 章 to refer to individual items, such as the chapters and sections of a book. If you don't want to pay attention to details, your projects won't be carried out properly.
16. The name of a notorious gangster from Lü, named Brigand Zhi 盜蹠. Subsequently becomes used as a reference to robbers or robbery.
17. A noted Chinese Warring States philosopher.
18. Mozi; personal name Modi 墨翟. Chinese philosopher of the warring states period who espoused a doctrine of universal love. He thus opposed war. His school developed a sizeable following during the former Han 前漢, but would later be suppressed when Confucianism became the official state doctrine.
19. The “Three Princes” or three important ministers to the Emperor. During the Zhou period, these were the Taishi 太師, Taifu 太傅, and Taibao 太保.
20. The five hegemons — the five successive leaders of alliances of states in the Spring and Autumn 春秋 period: Duke Huan of Qi 齊桓公, Duke Xiang of Song 宋襄公, Duke Wen of Jin 晉文公, Duke Mu of Qin 秦穆公, and Duke Zhuang of Chu 楚莊王. Mencius criticized them, but still gave them credit for having preserved a degree of order.
21. As Chen Zhong is said to have done.
22. A disciple of Mencius, of whom little else is known.
23. A legendary ancient worthy, a minister to Emperor Shun who studied legal principles, and created a system of just laws and punishments. He also established a prison and became its first warden.
24. Gu Sou was the father of Shun, who was blind, but the word 瞽瞍 also means “blind,” so there is a play on words here, wherein the question could be taken in the sense of the adjustment of the punishment for a blind person, and for one' father, as well as the combination of the two.
25. The Chinese text 夫有所受之也 is terse here, and could also be interpreted as “[Gu Sou] was deserving of some punishment.” The overall point, however, remains the same.
26. I.e., he leads the student along without giving away the whole thing.
27. Both Lau and Van Norden render 愛 as “sparing,” rather than as “kind,” “caring” etc. This would seem to miss the point slightly, if we are taking these as gradations of concern for others. I agree with Legge and Bloom, who understand this to mean something like “kindness,” “caring,” etc.
28. The title of the third book in the fifth part of the Shu Jing.
29. Irene Bloom, following Legge, translates 杵 as “pestles of mortars” — whatever that may mean. Van Norden renders with “threshing sticks,” but it seems that D. C. Lau shows more awareness of the circumstances of bloody warfare when he translates as “staves.” There is another interpretive tradition, which makes the most sense to us, that takes 杵 in its sense of “shield” 楯 — the most likely thing to be “floating” in the rivers of the blood of war.
30. Bo Yi fled from the tyrant Zhou but returned to serve King Wen. Liu Xia Hui was a statesman of Lu, famous for his integrity (Analects 18:2).
31. Ode 26.
32. Ode 237.
33. An interesting, and somewhat problematic passage, for which there are two general traditions of interpretation. Legge, Bloom, and others take 往者不追 as “you do not investigate into your student's past,” implying that Mencius indiscriminately takes on students, even if, for example, they may have a criminal record. D.C. Lau, Van Norden (following Zhuxi) and others read it the way I have rendered, apparently taking into full account the obvious parallel structure, as well as the attitude toward instruction expressed by Mencius elsewhere in the text. Remembering that this story is being recounted by Mencius himself, it seems that he is happily accepting the criticism from the inn's staff member as an affirmation of his fair method of teaching.
34. Wan Zhang is referring to the story in Analects 5:21. For a discussion of the term “ardent” (guang), see the comment to Analects 13:21.