The Analects of Confucius [论语]

Posted: November 8, 2011 in Book Notes, Chinese
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The Fine Young Man

A young man should be respectful to is parents in the home, and to his elders outside. His words should be cautious and trustworthy. He should care for people in general and seek company of benevolent men. If having accomplished these he still has energy to spare, he should study.

Understanding Others

不患人之不己知,患不知人也。

Do not be dismayed when others don’t understand you, be dismayed when you fail to understand others.

Words and Actions

先行其言,而后从之。

A gentleman acts before he speaks, then speaks according to his actions.

Good to All

君子周而不比,小人比而不周。

A gentleman is the same to all without bias; a lesser man is biased without being the same to all.

Study and Contemplation

学而不思则罔,思而不学则殆。

Study without contemplation leads to confusion; contemplation without study is dangerous.

A Benevolent Neighborhood

里仁为美。择不外仁,焉得知?

An atmosphere of benevolence makes a neighborhood attractive. How is one wise who chooses not to live among benevolence?

Residing in Benevolence

不仁者,不可以久处约,不可以长处乐。仁者安仁,知者利仁。

A person who is benevolent cannot live long in hardship, nor can he be happy for long. A benevolent person takes refuge in benevolence; a wise person sees benevolence as advantageous.

The Way in the Morning

朝闻道,夕死可矣。

If one perceives the Way in the morning, he may die content at nightfall!

The Profit Motive

放于利而行,多怨。

He who acts according to profit, stirs up great resentment.

君子喻于义,小人喻于利。

A gentleman understands things in terms of righteousness; a lesser man understands things in terms of profit.

Dwelling on the Past

。。。不念旧恶,怨是用希。

Do not dwell on past ills done to you, and there would be little resentment against you.

The Delight of Study

知之者不如好之者,好之者不如乐之者。

The one who merely knows the value of study is not so good as the one who takes an interest in studying. The one who takes an interest in studying is not so good as the one who delights in studying.

日知其所亡,月无忘其所能,可谓好学也已矣。

To everyday realize all the things you don’t know; every month not forget that which you have mastered; this can be called love of learning.

Wealth and Enjoyment

富而可求也,虽执鞭之士,吾亦为之;如不可求,从吾所好。

If there were a sure way of acquiring wealth, I would crack a whip if that’s what it took. But since there is not, I will do  what I enjoy most.

Extravagance and Parsimony

奢则不孙,俭则固;与其不孙也,宁固。

If extravagance leads to audacity, and parsimony leads to austerity. I will choose austerity over audacity.

A Gentleman’s Freedom

君子坦荡荡,小人长戚戚。

A gentleman has peace of mind; a lesser man is forever on the edge.

A Gentleman’s Worries

德之不修,学之不讲,闻义不能徒,不善不能改,是吾忧也。

Not cultivating virtue, not studying attentively, not acting according to righteousness, not being able to reform my own faults…These are the things I worry about.

Rectitude Leadership

政者正也,子师以正,孰敢不正?

Governing lies in rectitude. If you lead with rectitude, then who will dare not be upright?

其身正,不令而行;其身不正,虽令不从。

When an upright person governs, people act without being given orders. When the person governing is not upright, he may give orders, but the people won’t follow him.

Lead by Example

先之,劳之。。。无倦。

If you want the people to act good, you must first set an example yourself. If you work hard, the people will do so as well. Act first and work hard, untiringly.

An Agreeable Person

君子和而不同,小人同而不和。

A gentleman gets along well with others but does not agree to unprincipled actions. A lesser man agrees to unprincipled actions but does not get along with others.

A Content Person

君子泰而不骄,小人骄而不泰。

A gentleman is content but not conceited. A lesser man is conceited but not content.

Why Study

古之学者为己,今之学者为人。

Scholars of the past studied for themselves. Scholars of today study for others.

Misspeaking

可与言,而部与之言,失人;不可与言,而与之言,失言。知者不失人,亦不失言。

Not speaking with someone worth speaking to is missing an opportunity. Speaking with someone not worth speaking to is misspeaking. A wise person neither misses opportunities nor misspeaks.

Judging People and Words

君子不以言举人,不以人废言。

A gentleman does not recommend people based on what they say; or disregard what is said based on the speaker.

Be Skeptical

众恶者,必察焉;众好者,必察焉。

When everyone labels a person as good or bad, you must look into it for yourself before accepting it.

The Dao

人能弘道,非道弘人。

It is people who can exalt the Way, not the Way that can exalt people.

Transgression

过而不改,是谓过矣。

To commit a transgression and not reform is the real transgression. (People will commit transgressions, and that’s OK as long as they reform.)

Gossip

道听而途说,德之弃也。

Passing on hearsay is the abandonment of virtue.

Benevolence Realized

博学而笃志,切问而近思,仁在其中矣。

One who studies broadly and maintains a firm determination; questions sincerely and reflects on things at hand; will realize benevolence in the midst of these.

Crossing the Line

大德不逾闲,小德出入可也。

If you refuse to cross the line in matters of great moral import, then in matters of minor moral import, there will be room for a little give and take.

Miscellaneous
  • In talking about profit, it is easy to lose sight of righteousness.
  • Fate is too mysterious to talk about intelligently.
  • A gentleman sticks to the proper way without getting caught up in petty arguments of right and wrong.
  • A depraved person only worries about what he can get for himself. Before he has attained something, he worries about not getting it. After he has attained something, he worries about losing it. And if all he worries about losing what he has, he’ll go to any length to keep it.
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