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The Master seldom spake of gain, or love, or the Bidding

Source: The Sayings Of Confucius

1. The Master seldom spake of gain, or love, or the Bidding.

2. A man of the village of Ta-hsiang said, The great Confucius, with
his vast learning, has made no name in anything.

When the Master heard this, he said to his disciples, What shall I
take up? Shall I take up driving, or shall I take up shooting? I shall
take up driving.

3. The Master said, A linen cap is good form; now silk is worn. It is
cheap, so I follow the many. To bow below is good form; now it is done
above. This is arrogance, so, breaking with the many, I still bow

4. From four things the Master was quite free: by-ends and 'must' and
'shall' and 'I.'

5. When he was afraid in K'uang, the Master said, Since the death
of King Wen, is not the seat of culture here? If Heaven had meant to
destroy our culture, a later mortal would have had no part in it.
Until Heaven condemns our culture, what can the men of K'uang do to

6. A high minister said to Tzu-kung, The Master must be a holy man, he
can do so many things!

Tzu-kung said, Heaven has, indeed, given him so much that he is almost
holy, and he can do many things, too.

When the Master heard this, he said, Does the minister know me?
Because I was poor when young, I can do many paltry things. But does
doing many things make a gentleman? No, not doing many does.

Lao said, The Master would say, As I had no post I learned the crafts.

7. The Master said, Have I in truth wisdom? I have no wisdom. But when
a common fellow emptily asks me anything, I tap it on this side and
that, and sift it to the bottom.

8. The Master said, The phoenix comes not, the River gives forth no
sign: all is over with me!

9. When the Master saw folk clad in mourning, or in cap and gown, or a
blind man, he always rose--even for the young,--or, if he was passing
them, he quickened his step.

10. Yen Yuean heaved a sigh, and said, As I look up it grows higher,
deeper as I dig! I catch sight of it ahead, and on a sudden it is
behind me! The Master leads men on, deftly bit by bit. He widens me
with culture, he binds me with courtesy. If I wished to stop I could
not until my strength were spent. What seems the mark stands near; but
though I long to reach it, I find no way.

11. When the Master was very ill, Tzu-lu made the disciples act as

During a better spell the Master said, Yu has long been feigning.
This show of ministers, when I have no ministers, whom will it take
in? Will Heaven be taken in? And is it not better to die in the arms
of my two-three boys than to die in the arms of ministers? And, if I
miss a big burial, shall I die by the roadside?

12. Tzu-kung said, If I had here a fair piece of jade, should I hide
it away in a case, or seek a good price and sell it?

Sell it, sell it! said the Master. I tarry for my price.

13. The Master wished to dwell among the nine tribes.

One said, They are low; how could ye?

The Master said, Wherever a gentleman lives, will there be anything

14. The Master said. After I came back from Wei to Lu the music was
set straight and each song found its place.

15. The Master said, To serve dukes and ministers abroad and father
and brothers at home; in matters of mourning not to dare to be slack;
and to be no thrall to wine: to which of these have I won?

16. As he stood by a stream, the Master said, Hasting away like this,
day and night, without stop!

17. The Master said, I have seen no one that loves mind as he loves

18. The Master said, In making a mound, if I stop when one more basket
would finish it, I stop. When flattening ground, if, after
overturning one basket, I go on, I go ahead.

19. The Master said, Never listless when spoken to, such was Hui.

20. Speaking of Yen Yuean, the Master said, The pity of it! I saw him
go on, but I never saw him stop!

21. The Master said, Some sprouts do not blossom, some blossoms bear
no fruit!

22. The Master said, Awe is due to youth. May not to-morrow be bright
as to-day? To men of forty or fifty, who are still unknown, no awe is

23. The Master said, Who would not give ear to a downright word? But
to mend is better. Who would not be pleased by a guiding word? But to
think it out is better. With such as are pleased but do not think out,
or who listen but do not mend, I can do nothing.

24. The Master said, Put faithfulness and truth first; have no friends
unlike thyself; be not ashamed to mend thy faults.

25. The Master said, Three armies may be robbed of their leader, no
wretch can be robbed of his will.

26. The Master said, Yu is the man to stand, clad in a worn-out
quilted gown, unashamed, amid robes of fox and badger!

Without hatred or greed,
What but good does he do?

But when Tzu-lu was everlastingly humming these words, the Master
said, This is the way towards it, but how much short of goodness

27. The Master said, Erst the cold days show how fir and cypress are
last to fade.

28. The Master said, Wisdom has no doubts; love does not fret; the
bold have no fears.

29. The Master said, With some we can learn together, but we cannot go
their way; we can go the same way with others, though our standpoint
is not the same; and with some, though our standpoint is the same our
weights and scales are not.


The blossoms of the plum tree
Are dancing in play;
My thoughts are with thee,
In thy home far away.

The Master said, Her thoughts were not with him, or how could he be
far away?

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