THE ANALECTS - Confucious

Confucious is one of the most humane, rational, and lucid of moral teachers, concerned with practical issues of life and conduct.
What is virtue?

The Master said, To learn and at due times to repeat what one has learnt, is that not after all a pleasure? That friends should come to one from afar, is this not after all delightful? To remain unsoured even though one's merits are unrecognized by others, is that not after all what is expected of a gentleman?

--Book I - 1

Master Yu said, Those who in private life behave well towards their parents and elder brothers, in public life seldom show a disposition to resist the authority of their superiors. And as for suck men starting a revolution, no instance of it has ever occurred. It is upon the trunk that a gentleman works. When that is firmly set up, the Way grows. And surely proper behaviour towards parents and elder brothers is the trunk of Goodness?

--Book I - 2

The Master said, 'Clever talk and a pretentous manner' are seldom found in the Good.

--Book 1 - 3

Master Tseng said, Every day I examine myself on these three points: In acting on behalf of others, have I always been loyal to their interests? In intercourse with my friends, have I always been true to my work? Have I failed to repeat the precepts that have been handed down to me?

--Book 1 - 4

The Master said, A country of a thousand warchariots cannot be administered unless the ruler attends strictly to business, punctually observes his promises, is economical in expenditure, shows affection towards his subjects in general, and uses the labour of the peasantry only at the proper times of year.

--Book 1 - 5

The Master said, A young man's duty is to behave well to his parents at home and to his elders abroad, to be cautious in giving promises and punctual in keeping them, to have kindly feelings toward everyone, but seek the intimacy of the Good. If, when all that is done, he has any energy to spare, then let him study the polite arts.

--Book 1 - 6

Tzu-hsia said, A man who

Treats his betters as betters
Wears an air of respect,
Who into serving father and mother
Knows how to put his whole strength,
Who is the service of the prince will lay down his life,
Who in intercourse with friends is true to his word -

others may say of him that he still lacks education, but I for my part should certainly call him an educated man.

--Book 1 - 7

The Master said, If a gentleman is frivolous, he will lose the respect of his inferiors and lack firm ground upon which to build up his education. First and foremost he must learn to be faithful to his superiors, to keep promises, to refuse the friendship of all who are not like him. And if he finds he has made a mistake, then he must not be afraid of admitting the fact and amending his ways.

--Book 1 - 8

Master Tseng said, When proper respect towards the dead is shown at the End and continued after they are far away the moral force (te) of a people has reached its highest point.

--Book 1 - 9

Tzu-Ch'in said to Tzu-kung, When our Master arrives in a fresh country he always manages to find out about its policy. Does he do this by asking questions, or do people tell him of their own accord? Tzo-kung said, Our Master gets things by being cordial, frank, courteous, temperate, deferential. This is our Master's way of enquiring - a very different matter, certainly, from the way in which enquiries are generally made.

--Book 1 - 10

The Master said, While a man's father is alive, you can only see his intentions; it is when his father dies that you discover whether or not he is capable of carrying them out. If for the whole three years of mourning he manages to carry on the household exactly as in his father's day, then he is a good son indeed.

--Book 1 - 11

Master Yu said, In the usages of ritual it is harmony that is prized; the Way of the Former Kings from this got its beauty. Both small matters and great depend upon it. If things go amiss, he who knows the harmony will be able to attune them. But if harmony itself is not modulated by ritual, things will still go amiss.

--Book 1 - 12

Master Yu said,

In your promise cleave to what is right,
And you will be able to fulfil your word.
In your obeisances cleave to ritual,
And you will keep dishonour at bay.
Marry one who has not betrayed her own kin,
And you may safely present her to your Ancestors.

--Book 1 - 13

The Master said, A gentleman who never goes on eating till he is sated, who does not demand comfort in his home, who is diligent in business and cautious in speech, who associates with those that possess the Way and thereby corrects his own faults - such a one may indeed be said to have a taist for learning.

--Book 1 - 14

Tzu-kung said, 'Poor without cadging, rich without swagger.' What of that? The Master said, Not bad. But better still, 'Poor, yet delighting in the Way; rich, yet a student of ritual.' Tzu-kung said, The saying of the Songs,

As thing cut, as thing filed,
As thing chiselled, as thing polished

refers, I suppose, to what you have just said? The Master said, Ssu, now I can really begin to talk to you about the Songs, for when I allude to sayings of the past, you see what bearing they have on what was to come after.

--Book 1 - 15

The Master said, (the good man) does not grieve the other people do not recognize his merits. His only anxiety is lest he should fail to recognize theirs.

--Book 1 - 16