The Analects of Confucius Book 15 New English Translation

Read this new English translation of the Analects of Confucius Book 15 to learn more about the teachings of China’s most famous philosopher.

Chapter 1
衛靈公問陳於孔子,孔子對曰:「俎豆之事,則嘗聞之矣;軍旅之事,未之學也。」明日遂行。
Duke Ling of Wei asked Confucius about military formations. Confucius replied: “Although I have experience in handling ritual vessels, I have never studied military matters.” He left the next day.

Chapter 2
在陳絕糧。從者病,莫能興。子路慍見曰:「君子亦有窮乎?」子曰:「君子窮,小人窮斯濫矣。
In Chen, the food supplies were exhausted. His followers became so weak that they could not rise to their feet. Zilu came to him and said indignantly: “How is it possible for a leader to be brought to such dire straits?” Confucius said: “A leader stays resolute in even the direst of straits. Only a petty person loses their cool about it.”

Chapter 3
子曰:「賜也,女以予為多學而識之者與?」對曰:「然,非與?」曰:「非也!予一以貫之。」
Confucius said: “Zigong, do you take me for someone who learns a lot and then stores it all up in my head?” Zigong replied: “Yes, is that not the case?” Confucius said: “No. I weave it all together into a single thread.”

Chapter 4
子曰:「由,知德者鮮矣!」
Confucius said: “Zilu, there only a very few people who understand virtue.”

Chapter 5
子曰:「無為而治者,其舜也與!夫何為哉?恭己正南面而已矣。」
Confucius said: “If there was a ruler who achieved order through effortless action it was Shun, wasn’t it? How did he do it? He composed himself with reverence and sat facing south. That was all.”

Chapter 6
子張問「行」。子曰:「言忠信,行篤敬,雖蠻貊之邦行矣;言不忠信,行不篤敬,雖州里行乎哉?立則見其參於前也,在輿則見其倚於衡也,夫然後行!」子張書諸紳。
Zizhang asked about getting on in the world. Confucius said: “If your words are sincere and trustworthy and your actions are honorable and respectful, you will get on in the world even among the Man and Mo tribes. If your words are insincere and untrustworthy, if you act without honor and respect, how can you possibly get on in the world even in your own village? When you stand, you should always have this principle in front of you. When you drive you should have it carved upon the yoke of your carriage; only then will you truly be able to move ahead.” Zizhang wrote this down on his sash.

Chapter 7
子曰:「直哉史魚!邦有道如矢,邦無道如矢。君子哉蘧伯玉!邦有道則仕,邦無道則可卷而懷之。」
Confucius said: “Shi Yu is truly a man of principle! When the way prevails in the state, he is as straight as an arrow; when the way doesn’t prevail in the state, he is as straight as an arrow. Qu Boyu is a true leader! When the way prevails in the state, he serves as an official; when the way doesn’t prevail in the state, he folds up his principles and hides them in his breast.”

Chapter 8
子曰:「可與言而不與之言,失人;不可與言而與之言,失言。知者不失人,亦不失言。」
Confucius said: “To fail to speak with someone who is open to what you have to say is to let the person go to waste; to speak with someone who is not open to what you have to say is to let your words go to waste. A wise person never lets people or words go to waste.”

Chapter 9
子曰:「志士仁人,無求生以害仁,有殺身以成仁。」
Confucius said: “No true scholar-official or good person would compromise their goodness to save their life; indeed, they might even sacrifice their life to achieve goodness.”

Chapter 10
子貢問為仁。子曰:「工欲善其事,必先利其器。居是邦也,事其大夫之賢者,友其士之仁者。」
Zigong asked how to practice goodness. Confucius said: “Craftsmen who wish to do outstanding work must first sharpen their tools. No matter which state you happen to settle in, serve the worthiest ministers and make friends with scholar-officials who cultivate goodness.”

Chapter 11
顏淵問為邦。子曰:「行夏之時,乘殷之輅,服周之冕。樂則韶舞,放鄭聲,遠佞人。鄭聲淫,佞人殆。」
When Yan Hui asked how to govern a state, Confucius said: “Observe the calendar of the Xia dynasty; ride in the chariot of the Yin dynasty; wear the ceremonial cap of the Zhou dynasty. As for music, play only Shao and Wu; ban the melodies of Zheng; and stay away from smooth talkers. The melodies of Zheng are lewd. Smooth talkers are dangerous.”

Chapter 12
子曰:「人無遠慮,必有近憂。」
Confucius said: “A person who doesn’t think about what is still far off is sure to have worries close at hand.”

Chapter 13
子曰:「已矣乎!吾未見好德如好色者也!」
Confucius said: “I give up! I’ve never seen anyone who loves virtue as much as sensual beauty.”

Chapter 14
子曰:「臧文仲,其竊位者與?知柳下惠之賢而不與立也。」
Confucius said: “As for Zang Wenzhong, didn’t he steal his position? Although he knew of Liuxia Hui’s worthiness, he refused to have him as a colleague.”

Chapter 15
子曰:「躬自厚,而薄責於人,則遠怨矣!」
Confucius said: “If you demand a lot from yourself but little from others, you will keep clear from resentment.”

Chapter 16
子曰:「不曰:『如之何,如之何』者,吾末如之何也已矣?」
Confucius said: “I can do nothing for people who don’t ask themselves ‘What should I do? What should I do?’”

Chapter 17
子曰:「群居終日,言不及義,好行小慧,難矣哉!」
Confucius said: “I can’t stand people who can spend a whole day together indulging in idle chatter without ever reaching a deeper truth.”

Chapter 18
子曰:「君子義以為質,禮以行之,孫以出之,信以成之,君子哉!」
Confucius said: “A leader takes rightness as their essence, puts it into practice through ritual, manifests it through humility, and brings it to fruition through trustworthiness. This is how a leader behaves.”

Chapter 19
子曰:「君子病無能焉,不病人之不己知也。」
Confucius said: “A leader is distressed by their own lack of ability; they are never distressed by the lack of recognition from others.”

Chapter 20
子曰:「君子疾沒世而名不稱焉。」
Confucius said: “A leader hates the thought of leaving this world without having made their name.”

Chapter 21
子曰:「君子求諸己,小人求諸人。」
Confucius said: “A leader makes demands on themself; a petty person makes demands on others.”

Chapter 22
子曰:「君子矜而不爭,群而不黨。」
Confucius said: “A leader is proud without being contentious and sociable without taking sides.”

Chapter 23
子曰:「君子不以言舉人,不以人廢言。」
Confucius said: “A leader doesn’t promote someone simply because of what they say, nor does a leader dismiss what is said because of the person who said it.”

Chapter 24
子貢問曰:「有一言而可以終身行之者乎?」子曰:「其怒乎!己所不欲,勿施於人。」
Zigong asked: “Is there one single word that can guide you through your entire life?” Confucius said: “Should it not be reciprocity? Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.”

Chapter 25
子曰:「吾之於人也,誰毀誰譽?如有所譽者,其有所試矣。斯民也,三代之所以直道而行也。」
Confucius said: “When it comes to other people, I don’t usually praise or condemn them. If I praise anyone, it is only after they have been put to the test. It is because all the people acted in this way that the Three Dynasties kept to the straight path.”

Chapter 26
子曰:「吾猶及史之闕文也。有馬者,借人乘之,今亡已夫!」
Confucius said: “Even when I was young scribes would leave a blank space if they were unsure of what to write and people who owned horses would lend them to others to ride. Nowadays such practices have disappeared.”

Chapter 27
子曰:「巧言亂德,小不忍則亂大謀。」
Confucius said: “Smooth talk confounds virtue. Impatience in small matters confounds great plans.”

Chapter 28
子曰:「眾惡之,必察焉;眾好之,必察焉。」
Confucius said: “If everyone hates someone, you should investigate that person further. If everyone loves someone, you should investigate that person further.”

Chapter 29
子曰:「人能弘道,非道弘人。」
Confucius said: “People can enrich the Way; the Way cannot enrich people.”

Chapter 30
子曰:「過而不改,是謂過矣!」
Confucius said: “To make a mistake and not correct it is to make a mistake indeed.”

Chapter 31
子曰:「吾嘗終日不食,終夜不寢,以思。無益,不如學也。」
Confucius said: “I once spent a whole day without eating and a whole night without sleeping in order to think. I gained nothing from this; it was nowhere near as useful as learning.”

Chapter 32
子曰:「君子謀道不謀食。耕也,餒在其中矣;學也,祿在其中矣。君子憂道不憂貧。」
Confucius said: “A leader is devoted to seeking the way — not just a living. If you plow the fields, there’s a chance you may still go hungry. If you apply yourself to learning, there’s a chance you may earn a salary. A leader is concerned about pursuing the way; they aren’t concerned about poverty.”

Chapter 33
子曰:「知及之,仁不能守之,雖得之,必失之。知及之,仁能守之,不莊以 之,則民不敬。知及之,仁能守之,莊以 之,動之不以禮,未善也。」
Confucius said: “Power acquired through wisdom that cannot be maintained through goodness will inevitably be lost. Power acquired through wisdom and maintained through goodness will not be respected by the people if it is not exerted with dignity. Power acquired through wisdom, maintained through goodness, and exerted with dignity is still not perfect if it is not implemented in accordance with ritual.”

Chapter 34
子曰:「君子不可小知,而可大受也。小人不可大受,而可小知也。」
Confucius said: “A leader should undertake tasks of great importance rather than dealing with minor matters. A petty person should deal with minor matters rather than undertaking tasks of great importance.”

Chapter 35
子曰:「民之於仁也,甚於水火。水火,吾見蹈而死者矣,未見蹈仁而死者也。」
Confucius said: “Goodness is even more vital to the common people than water and fire. I have seen people step through water and fire and die; I have yet to see anyone step through goodness and die.”

Chapter 36
子曰:「當仁不讓於師。」
Confucius said: “In the pursuit of goodness do not defer even to your teacher.”

Chapter 37
子曰:「君子貞而不諒。」
Confucius said: “A leader is principled but not pedantic.”

Chapter 38
子曰:「事君敬其事而後其食。」
Confucius said: “In serving your ruler, your devotion to duty should come before any consideration of your salary.”

Chapter 39
子曰:「有教無類。」
Confucius said: “Education is for everybody.”

Chapter 40
子曰:「道不同,不相為謀。」
Confucius said: “There’s no point in taking counsel from people following a different way.”

Chapter 41
子曰:「辭,達而已矣!」
Confucius said: “As long as the words you use are enough to communicate your meaning, that’s enough.”

Chapter 42
師冕見。及階,子曰:「階也!」及席,子曰:「席也!」皆坐,子告之曰:「某在斯!某在斯!」師冕出,子張問曰:「與師言之道與?」子曰:「然,固相師之道也。」
Mian, the (blind) music master, came to visit. When he reached the steps, Confucius said: “Mind the steps.” When he reached the mat, Confucius said: “Here is the mat.” When everyone was seated, Confucius told him: “This person is here; that person is there.” After the music master had left, Zizhang asked: “Is this the way to talk to a music master?” Confucius said: “Yes, this is indeed the way to assist a music master.”

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