The Analects of Confucius Book 16 New English Translation

Read this new English translation of the Analects of Confucius Book 16 to learn more about the teachings of China’s most famous philosopher.

Chapter 1
季氏將伐顓臾。冉有季路見於孔子曰:「季氏將有事於顓臾。」孔子曰:「求,無乃爾是過與?夫顓臾,昔者先王以為東蒙主,且在邦域之中矣,是社稷之臣也,何以伐為?」冉有曰:「夫子欲之;吾二臣者,皆不欲也。」孔子曰:「求,周任有言曰:『陳力就列,不能者止。』危而不持,顛而不扶,則將焉用彼相矣?且爾言過矣。虎兕出於柙,龜玉毀於櫝中,是誰之過與?」冉有曰:「今夫顓臾,固而近於費,今不取,後世必為子孫憂。」孔子曰:「求,君子疾夫舍曰『欲之』,而必為之辭。丘也聞,有國有家者,不患寡而患不均,不患貧而患不安。蓋均無貧,和無寡,安無傾。夫如是,故遠人不服,則修文德以來之。既來之,則安之。今由與求也,相夫子,遠人不服而不能來也,邦分崩離析,而不能守也,而謀動干戈於邦內,吾恐季孫之憂,不在顓臾,而在蕭牆之內也!」
The head of the Ji Family was preparing to attack Zhuanyu. Ran Qiu and Zilu went to see Confucius and said: “Ji Kangzi is going to intervene in Zhuanyu.”

Confucius said: “Ran Qiu! Is this not your fault? A long time ago, our ancient kings gave the lord of Zhuanyu the responsibility of offering sacrifices to Mount Dongmeng. Moreover, Zhuanyu lies in the heart of the borders of Lu and its lord is a minister of our state who looks after the altars of grain. Why on earth would you attack it?”

Ran Qiu said: “This is the wish of our master. The two of us oppose it.”

Confucius said: “Ran Qiu! Zhou Ren had a saying, ‘He who has strength stands firm; he who lacks strength withdraws.’ What sort of retainers are ones who cannot steady their master when he stumbles or stop him when he is about to fall? In any case, what you said is mistaken. If a tiger or rhinoceros escapes from its cage or if a tortoise shell or a jade amulet is broken in its casket, who is at fault?”

Ran Qiu said: “But Zhuanyu has strong defenses and is close to the Ji Family stronghold at Bi. If he does not take it today, in the future it is sure to become a threat to his children and grandchildren.”

Confucius said: “Ran Qiu! An exemplary person despises those who invent excuses for their actions instead of simply saying that they want to do them. I have heard it said that rulers of state or heads of noble families worry about the unfair distribution of wealth rather than poverty and social instability rather than a small population size. If wealth is distributed fairly, there will be no poverty. If there is harmony, there will be no lack of population. If there is stability, there will be no unrest. It is for this reason that if distant peoples are still not won over, you must cultivate your cultural refinement and excellence to attract them; and then, once they have come, you must make them feel secure. As his retainers, Ran Qiu and Zilu, you have failed to help your master to win over distant peoples and to prevent the state from falling apart because of divisions and unrest. Instead, you are plotting to wage war within the borders of the state itself! I am afraid that for the Ji Family, the real threat does not come from Zhuanyu, but lies within the walls of their own palace!”

Chapter 2
孔子曰:「天下有道,則禮樂征伐自天子出;天下無道,則禮樂征伐自諸侯出。自諸侯出,蓋十世希不失矣;自大夫出,五世希不失矣。陪臣執國命,三世希不失矣。天下有道,則政不在大夫。天下有道,則庶人不議。」
Confucius said, “When the way prevails in the world, ritual, music, and punitive military campaigns are initiated by the son of the heaven. When the way does not prevail in the world, ritual, music, and punitive military campaigns are initiated by the feudal lords. When they are initiated by the feudal lords, the lords are seldom able to maintain their power for ten generations. When they are initiated by ministers, the ministers are seldom able to maintain their power for five generations. When the household retainers of the ministers take control of the fate of the state, they are seldom able to maintain their power for three generations. When the way prevails in the world, governance does not lie in the hands of the ministers. When the way prevails in the world, the common people do not concern themselves with affairs of state.”

Chapter 3
孔子曰:「祿之去公室五世矣,政逮於大夫四世矣。故夫三桓之子孫微矣。」
Confucius said: “It is five generations since control of appointments fell out of the hands of the ducal house. It is four generations since government fell into the hands of the ministers. For this reason, the descendants of the Three Families will fall into obscurity.”

Chapter 4
孔子曰:「益者三友,損者三友。友直,友諒,友多聞,益矣。友便辟,友善柔,友便佞,損矣。」
Confucius said: “There are three kinds of friends who lift you up and three kinds of friends who drag you down. Friends who are upright, sincere, and learned lift you up. Friends who are devious, insincere, and superficial drag you down.”

Chapter 5
孔子曰:「益者三樂,損者三樂。樂節禮樂,樂道人之善,樂多賢友,益矣。樂驕樂,樂佚遊,樂宴樂,損矣。」
Confucius said: “There are three kinds of joy that lift you up and three kinds of joy that drag you down. Taking joy in honing your conduct and character through ritual and music, taking joy in delighting in the goodness of other people, and taking joy in having a wide circle of worthy friends — all these lift you up. Taking joy in arrogant boastfulness, taking joy in licentious wantonness, and taking joy in excessive indulgence — all these drag you down.”

Chapter 6
孔子曰:「侍於君子有三愆。言未及之而言謂之躁,言及之而不言謂之隱,未見顏色而言謂之瞽。」
Confucius said, “When you are in the presence of an exemplary person, you risk making three mistakes. To speak before the appropriate time is called being rash; to fail to speak at the appropriate time is called being evasive; to speak without observing the expression on the person’s face is called being blind.”

Chapter 7
孔子曰:「君子有三戒。少之時,血氣未定,戒之在色;及其壯也,血氣方剛,戒之在鬥;及其老也,血氣既衰,戒之在得。」
Confucius said: “There are three tendencies that exemplary people guard against. When they are young and their vital force is still unstable, they guard against lust. When they are in the prime of life and their vital force has reached its full strength, they guard against contentiousness. When they are old and their vital force has weakened, they guard against greed.”

Chapter 8
孔子曰:「君子有三畏:畏天命,畏大人,畏聖人之言。小人不知天命而不畏也,狎大人,侮聖人之言。」
Confucius said: “There are three things that exemplary people stand in awe of. They are in awe of the will of heaven. They are in awe of great men. They are in awe of the words of the sages. Since petty people are ignorant of the will of heaven, they do not stand in awe of it. They have no respect for great men and treat the words of the sages with disdain.”

Chapter 9
孔子曰:「生而知之者,上也;學而知之者,次也;困而學之,又其次也。困而不學,民斯為下矣!」
Confucius said: “Those who are born with innate knowledge are the highest. Next are those who acquire knowledge through learning. After them are those who learn from the trials and tribulations of life. The lowest are the common people who go through the trials and tribulations of life without ever learning anything.”

Chapter 10
孔子曰:「君子有九思:視思明,聽思聰,色思溫,貌思恭,言思忠,事思敬,疑思問,忿思難,見得思義。」
Confucius said: “Exemplary people focus their thoughts in nine ways: when looking they focus on seeing clearly; when listening they focus on hearing properly; in their facial expression, they focus on being friendly; in their demeanor, they focus on being deferential; in their speech, they focus on being sincere; in conducting their affairs, they focus on being respectful; when in doubt, they focus on asking questions; when consumed by anger, they focus on the negative consequences it may lead to; when faced with an opportunity for gain, they focus on doing the right thing.”

Chapter 11
孔子曰:「見善如不及,見不善而探湯,吾見其人矣,吾聞其語矣!隱居以求其志,行義以達其道,吾聞其語矣,未見其人也!」
Confucius said: “‘Seeing goodness and pursuing it as if you will never be able to achieve it; seeing badness and recoiling from it as if you have been scalded by boiling water’ — I have seen such people and I have heard such words. ‘Living in seclusion to pursue your aspirations; doing what is right to attain the way’ — I have heard such words, but I have never seen such people.”

Chapter 12
「齊景公有馬千駟,死之日,民無德而稱焉。伯夷、叔齊餓於首陽之下,民到于今稱之,其斯之謂與?」
Duke Jing of Qi had a thousand war chariots. On the day of his death, the common people could find no virtue to praise him for. Boyi and Shuqi starved to death in the wilderness around Mount Shouyang. To this very day, the common people still praise them. Does this not prove my point?”

Chapter 13
陳亢問於伯魚曰:「子亦有異聞乎?」對曰:「未也。嘗獨立,鯉趨而過庭。曰:『學詩乎?』對曰:『未也。』『不學詩,無以言。』鯉退而學詩。他日,又獨立,鯉趨而過庭。曰:『學禮乎?』對曰:『未也。』『不學禮,無以立。』鯉退而學禮。聞斯二者。」陳亢退而喜曰:「問一得三,聞詩、聞禮,又聞君子之遠其子也。」
Chen Gang asked Confucius’s son Boyu: “Has your father given you any special teaching?” Boyu replied: “No, he has not. Once, when he was standing on his own and I was hurrying across the courtyard, he asked me: ‘Have you studied the Book of Songs?’ I replied: ‘Not yet.’ He said: ‘If you do not study the Book of Songs, you won’t be able to speak.’ I retired and studied the Book of Songs. On another day, when he was again standing on his own and I was hurrying across the courtyard, he asked me: ‘Have you studied ritual?’ I replied: ‘Not yet.’ He said: ‘If you do not study ritual, you will not be able to take your place in society.’ I retired and studied ritual. These are the two lessons I received from him.” Chen Gang left delighted and said: “I asked one thing and learned three. I learned about the Book of Songs, I learned about ritual, and I learned how an exemplary person keeps their distance from their son.”

Chapter 14
邦君子之妻,君稱之曰夫人,夫人自稱曰小童,邦人稱之曰君夫人,稱諸異邦曰寡小君,異邦人稱之亦曰君夫人。
The ruler of a state calls his wife ‘My Lady’. She calls herself ‘Your Little Maiden’. The people call her ‘The Lord’s Lady’, but when talking to people from other states, they call her ‘Our Little Lord’. People from other states also call her ‘The Lord’s Lady’.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
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.