The Analects of Confucius Book 20 New English Translation
Read this new English translation of the Analects of Confucius Book 20 to learn more about the teachings of China’s most famous philosopher.
Yao said: Oh, Shun! The heavenly succession now rests on your shoulders; hold faithfully to the middle way; if the people within the Four Seas fall into suffering and penury, the honors bestowed on you by heaven’s gift will be taken away from you forever.
Shun passed the same message to Yu.
[Tang] said, “I, the humble Lu, dare to sacrifice a black bull and dare to make this declaration before my great lord. I dare not pardon those who are guilty. Your servants cannot hide anything from you. You have already judged them in your heart. If I am guilty, please do not punish the people of the myriad states because of me; but if the people of the myriad states are guilty, let the responsibility lie with me alone.”
“The House of Zhou is greatly blessed, rich with outstanding people.” “Although I have my own kinsmen, I prefer to rely on people of consummate conduct. If the common people do wrong, let their faults fall on my head alone. If I set the standards for weights and measures, carefully examine the laws and regulations, and restore the offices that have been abolished, the authority of the government will reach everywhere. If I restore the states that have been destroyed, revive the broken dynastic lines, and bring back to office great talents who were sent into exile, I will win the hearts of the people throughout the world. I will give priority to the people; food; mourning; and sacrifice. If I am tolerant, I will win the masses. If I am trustworthy, the people will entrust me with responsibility. If I am enthusiastic, I will achieve success. If I am fair and just, I will bring happiness to the people.”
Zizhang asked Confucius: “What qualities must you have in order to be fit to govern?” Confucius said: “If you cultivate the five virtues and cast out the four vices you are fit to govern.”
Zizhang asked: “What are the five virtues?” Confucius said: “An exemplary person is generous without having to spend anything; they inspire people to work hard without complaining; they are ambitious without being greedy; they are confident without being arrogant; they are imposing without being frightening.”
Zizhang said: “How can you be ‘generous without having to spend anything’?” Confucius said: “If you let the people take advantage of what is beneficial for them, are you not being generous without having to spend anything? If you assign the people to work on tasks that are reasonable, who will complain? If your ambition is to be consummate in your conduct and you accomplish it, how can you be greedy? If an exemplary person treats everyone equally no matter whether they are many or few or humble or great, they are confident without being arrogant. If an exemplary person wears their robe and cap correctly, their gaze is straight, and they carry themself with a dignified air that inspires the people’s awe, they are imposing but not frightening.”
Zizhang said: “What are the four vices?” Confucius said: “If you execute people without attempting to reform them, you are being cruel; if you carry out an inspection of a public works project without giving a prior warning, you are being tyrannical; if you expect the immediate completion of a project after being slow to approve it, you are acting like a thief; if you are tight-fisted in paying people what is rightfully theirs, you are being officious.”
Confucius said: “If you do not understand fate, you have no way of becoming an exemplary person. If you do not understand ritual, you have no way of knowing where to stand. If you do not understand the meaning of words, you have no way of understanding other people.”
Confucius said: “If you do not understand fate you have no way of becoming an exemplary person. If you do not understand ritual, you have no way of knowing where to stand. If you do not understand the meaning of words, you have no way of understanding other people.”