The Analects of Confucius Book 14 New English Translation

Read this new English translation of the Analects of Confucius Book 14 to learn more about the teachings of China’s most famous philosopher.

Chapter 1
Yuan Xian asked about shamefulness. Confucius said: “Caring only about your official salary no matter whether good or bad government prevails in the state. That is shamefulness.” “If you can overcome aggressiveness, arrogance, bitterness, and greed can you be said to have achieved true goodness?” Confucius said: “You can be said to have achieved something difficult; but I don’t know whether it is true goodness.”

Chapter 2
Confucius said: “A scholar-official who cherishes their material comforts isn’t worthy of the name.”

Chapter 3
Confucius said: “When the way prevails in a state, speak boldly and act boldly. When the way doesn’t prevail in a state, act boldly but speak cautiously.”

Chapter 4
Confucius said: “The virtuous have a lot to teach others; but people who have a lot to teach others aren’t necessarily virtuous. The good are always brave; but the brave aren’t necessarily good.”

Chapter 5
Nangong Kuo asked Confucius, saying: “Yi was a great archer and Ao was a great sailor, but neither died a natural death. Yu and Ji toiled on the land, but they came to own the world.” Confucius made no reply. Nangong Kuo left. Confucius said: “He’s a true leader! This man truly prizes virtue!”

Chapter 6
Confucius said: “Although a leader may not always achieve goodness, a petty person never achieves it.”

Chapter 7
Confucius said: “Can you truly care for someone if you’re not demanding towards them? Can you be truly loyal to someone if you refrain from admonishing them?”

Chapter 8
Confucius said: “Whenever a government edict needed to be written, Bi Chen prepared the first draft, Shi Shu reviewed and revised it, Ziyu, the head of protocol, edited it, and Zichan of Dongli gave it a final polish.”

Chapter 9
Someone asked about Zichan. Confucius said: “He was a generous man.” “And what about Zixi?” “Don’t even mention his name!” “And what about Guan Zhong?” “What a man! He seized over three hundred households in Pian from the head of the Bo family. But even though he was reduced to eating coarse food until the end of his days, the poor man could never bring himself to utter a single word of complaint against him.”

Chapter 10
Confucius said: “To be poor without being resentful is difficult; to be wealthy without being arrogant is easy.”

Chapter 11
Confucius said: “Meng Gongchuo is more than qualified to serve as the steward for the Zhao and Wei families, but he is not qualified to serve as a minister in the states of Teng and Xue.”

Chapter 12
Zilu asked how to define a “complete person”. Confucius said: “Take someone as wise as Zang Wuzhong, as free from desire as Gongchuo, as brave as Zhuangzi of Bian, and as cultured as Ran Qiu, as well as being accomplished in ritual and music, and they may be considered a complete person.” Then he added: “But must a complete person be exactly like this today? Someone who thinks of what is right at the sight of profit, who is ready to risk their life when faced with danger, and who can endure hardship without forgetting the teachings that have guided their daily life may also be considered a complete person.”

Chapter 13
Confucius asked Gongming Jia about Gongshu Wenzi: “Is it true that your master never spoke, laughed, nor took anything?” Gongming Jia replied: “Whoever told you this exaggerated. My master spoke, but only at the right time, and so no one ever thought he spoke too much; he laughed, but only when he was happy, and so no one ever thought that he laughed too much; he took things, but only when it was right, and so no one ever thought that he took too much.” Confucius said: “How commendable! Assuming of course it is true.”

Chapter 14
Confucius said: “Zang Wuzhong demanded that the city of Fang be acknowledged by the Duke of Lu as his hereditary fief. Although it’s said he didn’t coerce his ruler, I don’t believe it.”

Chapter 15
Confucius said: “Duke Wen of Jin was crafty and improper; Duke Huan of Qi was proper and not crafty.”

Chapter 16
Zilu said: “When Duke Huan had Prince Jiu put to death, Shao Hu took his own life but Guan Zhong chose to keep his. Should we say that Guan Zhong was a man without goodness?” Confucius said: “Duke Huan was able to bring the rulers of all the states together nine times without having to resort to military force because of the power of Guan Zhong. Such was his goodness! Such was his goodness!”

Chapter 17
Zigong said: “Guan Zhong wasn’t a good person, was he? After Duke Huan had Prince Jiu put to death, he not only chose to live but also served as the duke’s chief minister.” Confucius said: “By serving as Duke Huan’s chief minister, Guan Zhong imposed his authority over all the states and brought order to the world; the people still reap the benefits of his actions until this day. Without Guan Zhong, we would still be wearing our hair loose and folding our robes on the wrong side. Or would you prefer it if he had drowned himself in a ditch like some wretched husband or wife in their petty fidelity and died with nobody knowing about it?”

Chapter 18
The steward of Gongshu Wenzi, Zhuan, was promoted together with him to the duke’s court. Confucius heard this and said: “Gongshu truly deserves to be called ‘the Refined.’”

Chapter 19
Confucius said that Duke Ling of Wei didn’t follow the way. Ji Kangzi said: “If this is the case, how come he hasn’t lost his state?” Confucius said: “He has Kong Wenzi looking after guests and foreign delegations, Zhu Tuo taking care of the ancestral temple, and Wangsun Jia in charge of defense. With such officials as these, how could he possibly lose his state?”

Chapter 20
Confucius said: “People who make rash promises will find them hard to keep.”

Chapter 21
Chen Chengzi assassinated Duke Jian of Qi. Confucius took a bath and went to court, where he told Duke Ai of Lu: “Chen Heng murdered his ruler. Please punish him.” The Duke said: “Report this to the three lords.” Confucius said: “As a former official myself, I had no choice but to make this report. Yet my lord has only said, “Report this to the three lords.’” He went and made his report to the three lords. They refused to intervene. Confucius said: “As a former official myself, I had no choice but to make this report.”

Chapter 22
Zilu asked how to serve a ruler. Confucius said: “Don’t deceive them; be willing to oppose them.”

Chapter 23
Confucius said: “A leader goes high. A petty person goes low.”

Chapter 24
Confucius said: “In ancient times people learned to improve themselves. Nowadays they learn to impress others.”

Chapter 25
Qu Boyu sent a messenger to Confucius. Confucius sat together with him and asked: “How is your master?” The messenger replied: “My master wishes to reduce his faults, but he hasn’t succeeded yet.” The messenger left. Confucius said: “The perfect messenger! The perfect messenger!”

Chapter 26
Confucius said: “Don’t concern yourself with the affairs of an office that you don’t hold.” Zengzi said: “A leader would never consider overstepping the bounds of their position.”

Chapter 27
Confucius said: “A leader is ashamed if their actions don’t match their words.”

Chapter 28
Confucius said: “A leader adheres to three principles that I haven’t been able to live up to: the good are never anxious; the wise are never perplexed; the brave are never afraid.” Zigong said: “Master, you’ve just described yourself.”

Chapter 29
Zigong was in the habit of criticizing other people. Confucius said: “Zigong must already be perfect. I have no free time for that.”

Chapter 30
Confucius said: “Don’t be concerned if people fail to recognize what you’ve accomplished; be concerned about what you haven’t been able to accomplish yet.”

Chapter 31
Confucius said: “Without anticipating deception or suspecting bad faith, but still to be able to sense them beforehand, is that not what wisdom is?”

Chapter 32
Weisheng Mu said to Confucius: “Qiu, why do you flit around preaching all over the place? Is it to show off how clever you are?” Confucius said: “I wouldn’t dare presume that I am clever; I simply can’t stand willful ignorance.”

Chapter 33
Confucius said: “A fine horse is admired not for its strength but its heart.”

Chapter 34
Someone said: “What do you think of the old saying ‘repay evil with kindness?’” Confucius said: “In that case how will you repay kindness? Better repay evil with justice, and kindness with kindness.”

Chapter 35
Confucius said: “No one understands me!” Zigong said: “How is it that no one understands you?” Confucius said: “I neither complain about heaven nor do I blame other people. I study what’s below in order to understand what’s above. If there’s anyone who understands me, it can only be heaven.”

Chapter 36
Gongbo Liao made accusations against Zilu to the head of the Ji Family. Zifu Jingbo reported this to Confucius, saying: “My master’s mind is being led astray by Gongbo Liao; but I still have enough power to have Liao’s corpse splayed open in the market and court.” Confucius said: “Will the way prevail? That’s for fate to decide. Will the way be cast aside? That’s for fate to decide. What does Gongbo Liao matter compared with fate?”

Chapter 37
Confucius said: “The worthy withdraw from the world because it’s fallen into chaos; next come those who withdraw from their state because it’s fallen into disorder; next come those who withdraw because of their ruler’s evil looks; and next come those who withdraw because of their ruler’s threatening words.” Confucius said: “The number of people who did this was seven.”

Chapter 38
Zilu stayed for the night at the Stone Gate. In the morning, the gatekeeper said: “Where are you coming from?” Zilu said: “From Confucius.” “Isn’t he the one who knows he’s trying to achieve the impossible but still keeps on doing it?”

Chapter 39
Confucius was striking some stone chimes in Wei. A man carrying a basket passed in front of the gate of the house where he was staying and said: “Whoever is playing music like that seems to have something else on his mind!” A little while later, he added: “What a tiresome racket! If no one understands what you are trying to say, keep it to yourself!
When the water is deep, wade through it with your clothes on;
When the water is shallow, hold up the hem of your gown.”
Confucius said: “He certainly doesn’t mince his words! I don’t have any response to that!”

Chapter 40
Zizhang said: “In the Book of Documents it is written: ‘When Gaozong was mourning his father, he did not speak for three years.’ What does this mean?” Confucius said: “This did not apply only to Gaozong; all the ancients did the same. When a king died, all the officials gathered together and took their orders from the chief minister for three years.”

Chapter 41
Confucius said: “When their rulers love ritual, the common people are easy to manage.”

Chapter 42
Zilu asked how to become a leader. Confucius said: “Cultivate yourself to be respectful.” Zilu asked: “Is that all there is to it?” Confucius said: “Cultivate yourself to bring peace to the people. Cultivate yourself to bring peace to the people: even Yao and Shun wouldn’t have been able to match it.”

Chapter 43
Yuan Rang sat with his legs stretched out waiting for Confucius. Confucius said: “A person who is disrespectful to their elders when they’re young, achieves nothing of note when they grow up, and lacks the grace to die when they’re old is nothing but a thief.” He then gave him a rap on the shin with his staff.

Chapter 44
A boy from the village of Que came bearing a message. Someone asked about him, saying: “Is he likely to improve himself?” Confucius said: “I have noticed that he seats himself among others and walks alongside people older than himself. He is not looking to improve himself; he wants to grow up too fast.”


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

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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.