Yen Yuan asked about perfect virtue. The Master said, "To subdue one's self and return to propriety, is perfect virtue. If a man can for one day subdue himself and return to propriety, an under heaven will ascribe perfect virtue to him. Is the practice of perfect virtue from a man himself, or is it from others?"
Yen Yuan said, "I beg to ask the steps of that process." The Master replied, "Look not at what is contrary to propriety; listen not to what is contrary to propriety; speak not what is contrary to propriety; make no movement which is contrary to propriety." Yen Yuan then said, "Though I am deficient in intelligence and vigor, I will make it my business to practice this lesson."
Chung-kung asked about perfect virtue. The Master said, "It is, when you go abroad, to behave to every one as if you were receiving a great guest; to employ the people as if you were assisting at a great sacrifice; not to do to others as you would not wish done to yourself; to have no murmuring against you in the country, and none in the family." Chung-kung said, "Though I am deficient in intelligence and vigor, I will make it my business to practice this lesson."
Sze-ma Niu asked about perfect virtue.
The Master said, "The man of perfect virtue is cautious and slow in his speech."
"Cautious and slow in his speech!" said Niu;-"is this what is meant by perfect virtue?" The Master said, "When a man feels the difficulty of doing, can he be other than cautious and slow in speaking?"
Sze-ma Niu asked about the superior man. The Master said, "The superior man has neither anxiety nor fear."
"Being without anxiety or fear!" said Nui;"does this constitute what we call the superior man?"
The Master said, "When internal examination discovers nothing wrong, what is there to be anxious about, what is there to fear?"
Sze-ma Niu, full of anxiety, said, "Other men all have their brothers, I only have not."
Tsze-hsia said to him, "There is the following saying which I have heard-'Death and life have their determined appointment; riches and honors depend upon Heaven.'
"Let the superior man never fail reverentially to order his own conduct, and let him be respectful to others and observant of propriety:-then all within the four seas will be his brothers. What has the superior man to do with being distressed because he has no brothers?"
Tsze-chang asked what constituted intelligence. The Master said, "He with whom neither slander that gradually soaks into the mind, nor statements that startle like a wound in the flesh, are successful may be called intelligent indeed. Yea, he with whom neither soaking slander, nor startling statements, are successful, may be called farseeing."
Tsze-kung asked about government. The Master said, "The requisites of government are that there be sufficiency of food, sufficiency of military equipment, and the confidence of the people in their ruler."
Tsze-kung said, "If it cannot be helped, and one of these
must be dispensed with, which of the three should be foregone first?"
"The military equipment," said the Master.
The Master said, "The superior man seeks to perfect the admirable qualities of
men, and does not seek to perfect their bad qualities. The mean man does the
opposite of this."
Tsze-hsia said, "Truly rich is his saying!
"Shun, being in possession of the kingdom, selected from among all the people, and employed Kai-yao-on which all who were devoid of virtue disappeared. T'ang, being in possession of the kingdom, selected from among all the people, and employed I Yin-and an who were devoid of virtue disappeared."
Tsze-kung asked about friendship. The Master said, "Faithfully admonish your friend, and skillfully lead him on. If you find him impracticable, stop. Do not disgrace yourself."
The philosopher Tsang said, "The superior man on grounds of culture meets with his friends, and by friendship helps his virtue."