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Mencius : Chapter 5


1. Kung-sun Ch'u asked Mencius, saying, 'Master, if you were to obtain the ordering of the government in Ch', could you promise yourself to accomplish anew such results as those realized by Kwan Chung and Yen?'


2. Mencius said, 'You are indeed a true man of Ch'. You know about Kwan Chung and Yen, and nothing more,


3. 'Some one asked Tsang Hs, saying, "Sir, to which do you give the superiority,-- to yourself or to Tsze-l?" Tsang Hs looked uneasy, and said, "He was an object of veneration to my grandfather." "Then," pursued the other, "Do you give the superiority to yourself or to Kwan Chung?" Tsang Hs, flushed with anger and displeased, said, "How dare you compare me with Kwan Chung? Considering how entirely Kwan Chung possessed the confidence of his prince, how long he enjoyed the direction of the government of the State, and how low, after all, was what he accomplished,-- how is it that you liken me to him?"


4. 'Thus,' concluded Mencius, 'Tsang Hs would not play Kwan Chung, and is it what you desire for me that I should do so?'


5. Kung-sun Ch'u said, 'Kwan Chung raised his prince to be the leader of all the other princes, and Yen made his prince illustrious, and do you still think it would not be enough for you to do what they did?'


6. Mencius answered, 'To raise Ch' to the royal dignity would be as easy as it is to turn round the hand.'


7. 'So!' returned the other. 'The perplexity of your disciple is hereby very much increased. There was king Wan, moreover, with all the virtue which belonged to him; and who did not die till he had reached a hundred years:-- and still his influence had not penetrated throughout the kingdom. It required king W and the duke of Chu to continue his course, before that influence greatly prevailed. Now you say that the royal dignity might be so easily obtained:-- is king Wan then not a sufficient object for imitation?'


8. Mencius said, 'How can king Wan be matched? From T'ang to W-ting there had appeared six or seven worthy and sage sovereigns. The kingdom had been attached to Yin for a long time, and this length of time made a change difficult. W-ting had all the princes coming to his court, and possessed the kingdom as if it had been a thing which he moved round in his palm. Then, Chu was removed from W-ting by no great interval of time. There were still remaining some of the ancient families and of the old manners, of the influence also which had emanated from the earlier sovereigns, and of their good government. Moreover, there were the viscount of Wei and his second son, their Royal Highnesses P-kan and the viscount of Ch', and Ko-ko, all men of ability and virtue, who gave their joint assistance to Chu in his government. In consequence of these things, it took a long time for him to lose the throne. There was not a foot of ground which he did not possess. There was not one of all the people who was not his subject. So it was on his side, and king Wan at his beginning had only a territory of one hundred square l. On all these accounts, it was difficult for him immediately to attain to the royal dignity.


9. 'The people of Ch' have a saying-- "A man may have wisdom and discernment, but that is not like embracing the favourable opportunity. A man may have instruments of husbandry, but that is not like waiting for the farming seasons." The present time is one in which the royal dignity may be easily attained.


10. 'In the flourishing periods of the Hsi, Yin, and Chu dynasties, the royal domain did not exceed a thousand l, and Ch' embraces so much territory. Cocks crow and dogs bark to one another, all the way to the four borders of the State:-- so Ch' possesses the people. No change is needed for the enlarging of its territory: no change is needed for the collecting of a population. If its ruler will put in practice a benevolent government, no power will be able to prevent his becoming sovereign.


11. 'Moreover, never was there a time farther removed than the present from the rise of a true sovereign: never was there a time when the sufferings of the people from tyrannical government were more intense than the present. The hungry readily partake of any food, and the thirsty of any drink.'


12. 'Confucius said, "The flowing progress of virtue is more rapid than the transmission of royal orders by stages and couriers."


13. 'At the present time, in a country of ten thousand chariots, let benevolent government be put in practice, and the people will be delighted with it, as if they were relieved from hanging by the heels. With half the merit of the ancients, double their achievements is sure to be realized. It is only at this time that such could be the case.'


1. Kung-sun Ch'u asked Mencius, saying, 'Master, if you were to be appointed a high noble and the prime minister of Ch', so as to be able to carry your principles into practice, though you should thereupon raise the ruler to the headship of all the other princes, or even to the royal dignity, it would not be to be wondered at.-- In such a position would your mind be perturbed or not?' Mencius replied, 'No. At forty, I attained to an unperturbed mind.'


2. Ch'u said, 'Since it is so with you, my Master, you are far beyond Mang Pan.' 'The mere attainment,' said Mencius, 'is not difficult. The scholar Ko had attained to an unperturbed mind at an earlier period of life than I did.'


3. Ch'u asked, 'Is there any way to an unperturbed mind?' The answer was, 'Yes.


4. 'P-kung Y had this way of nourishing his valour:-- He did not flinch from any strokes at his body. He did not turn his eyes aside from any thrusts at them. He considered that the slightest push from any one was the same as if he were beaten before the crowds in the market-place, and that what he would not receive from a common man in his loose large garments of hair, neither should he receive from a prince of ten thousand chariots. He viewed stabbing a prince of ten thousand chariots just as stabbing a fellow dressed in cloth of hair. He feared not any of all the princes. A bad word addressed to him be always returned.


5. 'Mang Shih-sh had this way of nourishing his valour:-- He said, "I look upon not conquering and conquering in the same way. To measure the enemy and then advance; to calculate the chances of victory and then engage:-- this is to stand in awe of the opposing force. How can I make certain of conquering? I can only rise superior to all fear."


6. 'Mang Shih-sh resembled the philosopher Tsang. P-kung Y resembled Tsze-hsi. I do not know to the valour of which of the two the superiority should be ascribed, but yet Mang Shih-sh attended to what was of the greater importance.


7. 'Formerly, the philosopher Tsang said to Tsze-hsiang, "Do you love valour? I heard an account of great valour from the Master. It speaks thus:-- 'If, on self-examination, I find that I am not upright, shall I not be in fear even of a poor man in his loose garments of hair-cloth? If, on self-examination, I find that I am upright, I will go forward against thousands and tens of thousands.'"


8. Yet, what Mang Shih-sh maintained, being merely his physical energy, was after all inferior to what the philosopher Tsang maintained, which was indeed of the most importance.'


9. Kung-sun Ch'u said, 'May I venture to ask an explanation from you, Master, of how you maintain an unperturbed mind, and how the philosopher Ko does the same?' Mencius answered,'Ko says,-- "What is not attained in words is not to be sought for in the mind; what produces dissatisfaction in the mind, is not to be helped by passion-effort." This last,-- when there is unrest in the mind, not to seek for relief from passion-effort, may be conceded. But not to seek in the mind for what is not attained in words cannot be conceded. The will is the leader of the passion-nature. The passion-nature pervades and animates the body. The will is first and chief, and the passion-nature is subordinate to it. Therefore I say,-- Maintain firm the will, and do no violence to the passion-nature.'


10. Ch'u observed, 'Since you say-- "The will is chief, and the passion-nature is subordinate," how do you also say, "Maintain firm the will, and do no violence to the passion-nature?"' Mencius replied, 'When it is the will alone which is active, it moves the passion-nature. When it is the passion-nature alone which is active, it moves the will. For instance now, in the case of a man falling or running, that is from the passion-nature, and yet it moves the mind.'


11. 'I venture to ask,' said Ch'u again, 'wherein you, Master, surpass Ko.' Mencius told him, 'I understand words. I am skilful in nourishing my vast, flowing passion-nature.'


12. Ch'u pursued, 'I venture to ask what you mean by your vast, flowing passion-nature!' The reply was, 'It is difficult to describe it.


13. 'This is the passion-nature:-- It is exceedingly great, and exceedingly strong. Being nourished by rectitude, and sustaining no injury, it fills up all between heaven and earth.


14. 'This is the passion-nature:-- It is the mate and assistant of righteousness and reason. Without it, man is in a state of starvation.


15. 'It is produced by the accumulation of righteous deeds; it is not to be obtained by incidental acts of righteousness. If the mind does not feel complacency in the conduct, the nature becomes starved. I therefore said, "Ko has never understood righteousness, because he makes it something external."


16. 'There must be the constant practice of this righteousness, but without the object of thereby nourishing the passion-nature. Let not the mind forget its work, but let there be no assisting the growth of that nature. Let us not be like the man of Sung. There was a man of Sung, who was grieved that his growing corn was not longer, and so he pulled it up. Having done this, he returned home, looking very stupid, and said to his people, "I am tired to-day. I have been helping the corn to grow long." His son ran to look at it, and found the corn all withered. There are few in the world, who do not deal with their passion-nature, as if they were assisting the corn to grow long. Some indeed consider it of no benefit to them, and let it alone:-- they do not weed their corn. They who assist it to grow long, pull out their corn. What they do is not only of no benefit to the nature, but it also injures it.'


17. Kung-sun Ch'u further asked, 'What do you mean by saying that you understand whatever words you hear?' Mencius replied, 'When words are one-sided, I know how the mind of the speaker is clouded over. When words are extravagant, I know how the mind is fallen and sunk. When words are all-depraved, I know how the mind has departed from principle. When words are evasive, I know how the mind is at its wit's end. These evils growing in the mind, do injury to government, and, displayed in th government, are hurtful to the conduct of affairs. When a Sage shall again arise, he will certainly follow my words.'


18. On this Ch'u observed, 'Tsi Wo and Tsze-kung were skilful in speaking. Zan Ni, the disciple Min, and Yen Yan, while their words were good, were distinguished for their virtuous conduct. Confucius united the qualities of the disciples in himself, but still he said, "In the matter of speeches, I am not competent."-- Then, Master, have you attained to be a Sage?'


19. Mencius said, 'Oh! what words are these? Formerly Tsze-kung asked Confucius, saying, "Master, are you a Sage?" Confucius answered him, "A Sage is what I cannot rise to. I learn without satiety, and teach without being tired." Tsze-kung said, "You learn without satiety:-- that shows your wisdom. You teach without being tired:-- that shows your benevolence. Benevolent and wise:-- Master, you ARE a Sage." Now, since Confucius would not allow himself to be regarded as a Sage, what words were those?'


20. Ch'u said, 'Formerly, I once heard this:-- Tsze-hsi, Tsze-y, and Tsze-chang had each one member of the Sage. Zan Ni, the disciple Min, and Yen Yan had all the members, but in small proportions. I venture to ask,-- With which of these are you pleased to rank yourself?'


21. Mencius replied, 'Let us drop speaking about these, if you please.'


22. Ch'u then asked, 'What do you say of Po- and Yin?' 'Their ways were different from mine,' said Mencius. 'Not to serve a prince whom he did not esteem, nor command a people whom he did not approve; in a time of good government to take office, and on the occurrence of confusion to retire:-- this was the way of Po-. To say-- "Whom may I not serve? My serving him makes him my ruler. What people may I not command? My commanding them makes them my people." In a time of good government to take office, and when disorder prevailed, also to take office:-- that was the way of Yin. When it was proper to go into office, then to go into it; when it was proper to keep retired from office, then to keep retired from it; when it was proper to continue in it long, then to continue in it long - when it was proper to withdraw from it quickly, then to withdraw quickly:-- that was the way of Confucius. These were all sages of antiquity, and I have not attained to do what they did. But what I wish to do is to learn to be like Confucius.'


23. Ch'u said, 'Comparing Po- and Yin with Confucius, are they to be placed in the same rank?' Mencius replied, 'No. Since there were living men until now, there never was another Confucius.'


24. Ch'u said, 'Then, did they have any points of agreement with him?' The reply was,-- 'Yes. If they had been sovereigns over a hundred l of territory, they would, all of them, have brought all the princes to attend in their court, and have obtained the throne. And none of them, in order to obtain the throne, would have committed one act of unrighteousness, or put to death one innocent person. In those things they agreed with him.'


25. Ch'u said, 'I venture to ask wherein he differed from them.' Mencius replied, 'Tsi Wo, Tsze-kung, and Y Zo had wisdom sufficient to know the sage. Even had they been ranking themselves low, they would not have demeaned themselves to flatter their favourite.


26. 'Now, Tsi Wo said, "According to my view of our Master, he was far superior to Yo and Shun."


27. 'Tsze-kung said, "By viewing the ceremonial ordinances of a prince, we know the character of his government. By hearing his music, we know the character of his virtue. After the lapse of a hundred ages I can arrange, according to their merits, the kings of a hundred ages;-- not one of them can escape me. From the birth of mankind till now, there has never been another like our Master."


28. 'Y Zo said, "Is it only among men that it is so? There is the Ch'-lin among quadrupeds, the Fang-hwang among birds, the T'i mountain among mounds and ant-hills, and rivers and seas among rain-pools. Though different in degree, they are the same in kind. So the sages among mankind are also the same in kind. But they stand out from their fellows, and rise above the level, and from the birth of mankind till now, there never has been one so complete as Confucius."'

Mencius : Chapter 5

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