Analects of Confucius Book 6: new English translation

Richard Brown
6 min readJun 5, 2019

Read this new English translation of the Analects of Confucius Book 6 to learn more about the teachings of China’s most famous philosopher. It includes interesting insights into the characters and abilities of many of Confucius’s followers plus other contemporary and historical figures.

Chapter 1
Confucius said: “Ran Yong could take a seat facing south.”

Chapter 2
Ran Yong asked about Zisang Bozi. Confucius said: “He’s fine with his easygoing ways.” Ran Yong said: “Taking your duties seriously while being easygoing towards the people might be OK. But being easygoing towards yourself and the people is going too far. Am I right?” Confucius said: “You are right.”

Chapter 3
Duke Ai asked: “Which of your followers love learning?” Confucius replied: “There was Yan Hui who loved learning; he never vented his anger; he never made the same mistake again. Sadly, his allotted time was short and he died. I have not heard of anyone else with such a love of learning.”

Chapter 4
When Gongxi Chi was sent on a mission to the state of Qi, Ran Qiu requested an allowance of grain for Gongxi’s mother. Confucius said: “She should receive a measure.” When Ran Qiu asked for more, Confucius said: “She should receive a double measure.” Ran Qiu gave her five double measures. Confucius said: “Gongxi Chi is traveling to Qi with sleek horses and fine furs. I’ve always heard that a leader helps those in need; they do not make the rich even richer.”

Chapter 5
Yuan Xian became Confucius’s steward and was offered a salary of nine hundred measures of grain but declined it. Confucius said: “Please don’t! Surely you can give it to your neighbors and the people in your village.”

Chapter 6
Confucius said of Ran Yong: “Some might hesitate to choose the offspring of a plow ox for a sacrifice, but if a bullock has fine horns and sports a ruddy coat would the spirits of the hills and rivers reject it?”

Chapter 7
Confucius said: “Ah! Yan Hui could focus his mind solely on goodness for three months, whereas others can manage only a day or a month.”

Chapter 8
Ji Kangzi asked: “Is Zilu fit for government office?” Confucius said: “Zilu is resolute. Why isn’t he fit for government office?” Ji Kangzi asked again: “Is Zigong fit for government office?” Confucius said: “Zigong is intelligent. Why isn’t he fit for government office?” Ji Kangzi asked again: “Is Ran Qiu fit to be appointed to government office?” Confucius said: “Ran Qiu has many talents. Why isn’t he fit for government office?”

Chapter 9
When the head of the Ji Family sent an invitation to Min Ziqian to become governor of the town of Bi, he replied to the messenger: “Please convey my regrets. If anyone comes with a second invitation, I will be obliged to go and live on the other side of the River Wen.”

Chapter 10
When Boniu fell ill, Confucius went to enquire after him. Holding Boniu’s hand through the window, he said: “He is dying. Such is fate, alas! That such a man should have an illness like this! That such a man should have an illness like this!”

Chapter 11
Confucius said: “Yan Hui was so admirable! A handful of rice to eat, a gourd of water to drink, a hovel in a mean street to live in: while others would have been unable to endure such misery, Yan Hui never let it make any difference to his happiness. Yan Hui was so admirable!”

Chapter 12
Ran Qiu said: “It’s not that I don’t enjoy the way of the Master, but I don’t have the strength to follow it.” Confucius said: “If you don’t have enough strength you can always give up halfway. But you’ve already given up before you’ve even started.”

Chapter 13
Confucius said to Zixia: “Be a refined scholar, not a common pedant.”

Chapter 14
When Ziyou became governor of Wucheng, Confucius asked him: “Have you managed to find any good people there?” He replied: “There’s one called Tantai Mieming. He takes no shortcuts and has never visited me at home except on official business.”

Chapter 15
Confucius said: “Meng Zhifan isn’t given to boasting. When he and his soldiers were in retreat, he stayed with the rearguard. It was only when they reached the city gate that he spurred his horse and said: ‘It wasn’t courage that kept me at the rear. My horse wouldn’t run.’”

Chapter 16
Confucius said: “It’s difficult to survive in an age like ours without the smooth tongue of Zhu Tuo and the good looks of Song Chao.”

Chapter 17
Confucius said: “Who would leave a house except through the gateway? Why is it that nobody follows the way?”

Chapter 18
Confucius said: “When native substance wins out over cultural refinement, you get the coarseness of a peasant; when cultural refinement wins out over native substance, you get the pedantry of a clerk. Only when native substance and cultural refinement are in balance do you get a leader.”

Chapter 19
Confucius said: “If you take the right path, you’ll enjoy a happy life. If you deviate from it, the only way that you’ll enjoy a happy life will be out of sheer luck.”

Chapter 20
Confucius said: “Those who know the way are not the equal of those who love it; those who love the way are not the equal of those who take joy in it.”

Chapter 21
Confucius said: “You can discuss advanced topics with people of above-average intelligence; but it’s pointless to discuss them with people of below-average intelligence.”

Chapter 22
Fan Chi asked about wisdom. Confucius said: “Work to ensure social Fan Chi asked about wisdom. Confucius said: “Do what is right for the common people; respect the spirits and gods but keep them at a distance. This is wisdom.” Fan Chi asked about goodness. Confucius said: “A person who possesses goodness is first in line to confront difficulties and last in line to collect rewards. This is goodness.”

Chapter 23
Confucius said: “The wise love water, the good love mountains. The wise are active, the good are tranquil. The wise are joyful, the good enjoy long life.”

Chapter 24
Confucius said: “With a single reform, the state of Qi could reach the level of the state of Lu; with a single reform, the state of Lu could reach the way.”

Chapter 25
Confucius said: “A cornered chalice without any corners. How can that be called a cornered chalice? How can that be called a cornered chalice?”

Chapter 26
Zai Yu asked: “If a good person was told that someone lies at the bottom of a well, should they jump in after them?” Confucius said: “Why should they? A leader be enticed down the wrong path but not into a trap; they can be deceived, but not made a fool of.”

Chapter 27
Confucius said: “A leader who expands their learning through culture and keeps their behavior in check through ritual is unlikely to go wrong.”

Chapter 28
Confucius went to see Nanzi (the concubine of Duke Ling of Wei). Zilu was not happy. Confucius swore: “If I have done wrong, may Heaven punish me! May Heaven punish me!”

Chapter 29
Confucius said: “Achieving the golden mean is the highest level of virtue. It’s been rare among the people for a long time.”

Chapter 30
Zigong said: “What about someone who acts generously towards the people and benefits the masses? Could that be described as goodness?” Confucius said: “Why stop at calling it goodness? It could be defined as perfection. Even Yao and Shun wouldn’t be able to match it! Good people help others get on their feet while establishing their own career; they help others to achieve their goals while achieving their own objectives. By standing in other people’s shoes, it can be said that they’re on the right track to goodness.”



Richard Brown

I live in Taiwan and am interested in exploring what ancient Chinese philosophy can tell us about technology and the rise of modern China.