posted 21 Mar 2013, 04:10 by Jim Sheng
[Died a.d. 256. A very distinguished scholar who wrote and published many volumes of classical commentaries. He is said to have found, in the house of a descendant of the Sage, the text of "The Family Sayings of Confucius," and to have published it in a.d. 240; but the generally received opinion is that he wrote the work himself, based no doubt upon tradition. Specimens are given below.] 


A disciple asked Confucius, saying, "Why, sir, does the superior man value jade much more highly than serpentine? Is it because jade is scarce and serpentine is abundant?" "It is not," replied Confucius; "but it is because the superior men of olden days regarded it as a symbol of the virtues. Its gentle, smooth, glossy appearance suggests charity of heart; its fine close texture and hardness suggest wisdom; it is firm and yet does not wound, suggesting duty to one's neighbour; it hangs down as though sinking, suggesting ceremony; struck, it gives a clear note, long drawn out, dying gradually away and suggesting music; its flaws do not hide its excellences, nor do its excellences hide its flaws, suggesting loyalty; it gains our confidence, suggesting truth; its spirituality is like the bright rainbow, suggesting the heavens above; its energy is manifested in hill and stream, suggesting the earth below; as articles of regalia it suggests the exemplification of that than which there is nothing in the world of equal value, and thereby is  TAO itself. We read in the Odes  

When I think of my husband,

As gentle as jade.

In his hutment of planking. 

My heart is afraid . 


Confucius noticed in the ancestral temple of Duke Huan of the Lu State certain vessels which stood awry, and enquired of the verger what these vessels were; to which the verger replied that they were goblets for use at banquets. "I have been told," said Confucius, "that when these goblets are empty they stand awry, that when they are half full they stand up straight, and that when filled up they topple right over. A wise ruler would use them as a warning, and see that such were always placed alongside of his guests." Then turning to his disciples, the Sage said, "Let us try them with water;" and accordingly water was poured in until the goblets were half full, when they stood up straight. They were then filled up, and at once toppled over. "Alas!" cried Confucius, heaving a deep sigh, "there are men who are full of wickedness, but they do not topple over." 


A man of the Lu State lived alone in a cottage, and a neighbour, who was a widow, lived alone in another. One night, there was a terrific storm of wind and rain; the widow's cottage was destroyed, and she herself ran across to the man and asked to be taken in. The man, however, bolted his door and refused to admit her; whereupon the widow called to him, saying, "Where, sir, is your charity of heart, that you do not let me in?" "I have heard," replied he, "that until a man is sixty, he may not share a house with a woman. Now, you are young, and I too am young; so that I dare not receive you." "Sir," said the widow, "why not play the part of Liu-hsia Hui? Besides, I am an old dame, and not a damsel of doubtful reputation; there would be no scandal talked about us." "Liu-hsia Hui," answered the man, "might act as you say, but I am unable to do so. I will follow my own inability in striving to imitate the ability of Liu-hsia Hui." When Confucius heard this, he said, "Good indeed ! There has never been any one who has better imitated Liu-hsia Hui. Can a desire to be good, without the attempt to succeed, be accounted wisdom?" 


The Prince of the Ch'u State having invited Confucius to visit him, the Master proceeded thither to pay his respects. His way lay through Ch'en and Ts'ai; and the high officials of those States consulted together, saying, "Confucius is an inspired and good man; his counsels will consist of attacks upon the vices of us nobles; and if that should be the case, our States would be in danger." 

Accordingly, they arranged for a number of armed men to obstruct the Sage's way and to prevent him from continuing his journey. 

His party were cut off from supplies for seven days, nothing being allowed to reach them. Broth made from leaves was not sufficient, and all fell ill except Confucius himself, whose spirits rose higher than usual, as he lectured, recited, played, and sang without giving way. He called Tzu-lu to him and said, " We read in the Odes,

We are neither wild cattle nor tigers, 

That we should be kept in these desolate wilds 

Has my doctrine of Eternal Right been a failure? How have I come to this pass?" To this, Tzu-lu angrily replied, "The superior man can suffer no restrictions. To think that you, Sir, have ever failed in charity of heart is what I cannot believe; to think that you have ever acted unwisely towards others has not come within my experience. Besides, Sir, in other times I have heard you say that God will reward with happiness those who do good, and will punish with misfortunes those who do evil; and now for a long time you have been accumulating a splendid record of virtues and of duty towards your neighbour. How then should you be reduced to this extremity?" "My son," said the Master, "you have not understood me. I will tell you. If all depended on charity of heart, loyalty, and giving good counsel, many great heroes would have escaped suffering and death. But success and failure are matters of opportunity; the worthy and the worthless are distinguished by their talents. Superior men of wide learning and wise schemes, who have failed from want of opportunity, are many indeed; why should I be the only one? The epidendrum grows in the depth of the forest, but it is not wanting in fragrance because there is no one there to smell it; the superior man cultivates the doctrine of Eternal Right and exemplifies it in practice; but he does not give up his principles because he is reduced to extremities. The man acts; the result, whether life or death, belongs to the will of God."