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THE GREAT LEARNING

Confucius

............1 Confucius...................1 i .......THE GREAT LEARNING Table of Contents THE GREAT LEARNING............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

it is said.blackmask. that what should spring from it will be well ordered. The point where to rest being known. at the same time. Wishing to rectify their hearts. THE GREAT LEARNING 1 . is to illustrate illustrious virtue. their hearts were then rectified. they first cultivated their persons. Their states being rightly governed. they first rectified their hearts. the object of pursuit is then determined. Things being investigated. Their hearts being rectified. a calm unperturbedness may be attained to. first ordered well their own states. when the root is neglected. Their thoughts being sincere. It never has been the case that what was of great importance has been slightly cared for. Their families being regulated. and to rest in the highest excellence. COMMENTARY OF THE PHILOSOPHER TSANG In the Announcement to K'ang. Their persons being cultivated. knowledge became complete. "He was able to make his virtue illustrious." These passages all show how those sovereigns made themselves illustrious. their thoughts were sincere. the whole kingdom was made tranquil and happy. "He contemplated and studied the illustrious decrees of Heaven. and that deliberation will be followed by the attainment of the desired end. they first extended to the utmost their knowledge. To that calmness there will succeed a tranquil repose. Wishing to cultivate their persons. all must consider the cultivation of the person the root of everything besides. and. their families were regulated. In that repose there may be careful deliberation. "He was able to make illustrious his lofty virtue." In the Tai Chia. Wishing to order well their states. they first sought to be sincere in their thoughts. To know what is first and what is last will lead near to what is taught in the Great Learning. and. From the Son of Heaven down to the mass of the people. Wishing to regulate their families. Affairs have their end and their beginning. their persons were cultivated. it is said.com WHAT THE GREAT LEARNING teaches." In the Canon of the emperor (Yao).THE GREAT LEARNING Confucius This page copyright © 2001 Blackmask Online. http://www. Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts. to renovate the people. Things have their root and their branches. It cannot be. that being determined. that what was of slight importance has been greatly cared for. Their knowledge being complete. The ancients who wished to illustrate illustrious virtue throughout the kingdom. it is said. Such extension of knowledge lay in the investigation of things. their states were rightly governed. they first regulated their families.

those who are devoid of principle find it impossible to carry out their speeches. the superior man in everything uses his utmost endeavors. it is said. In communication with his subjects." So. he rested in benevolence. As a minister. but when he sees a superior man. "Profound was King Wan. "The royal domain of a thousand li is where the people rest. Is it possible that a man should not be equal to this bird?" In the Book of Poetry. do so from day to day. The common people delight in what delighted them. In the Book of Poetry. The disciple Tsang said. This is called self−enjoyment. is to be regarded with reverence!" THE GREAT LEARNING 2 ." is the allowing no self−deception. it is said. the people cannot forget them. with the green bamboos so luxuriant! Here is our elegant and accomplished prince! As we cut and then file." In the Announcement to K'ang. There is no evil to which the mean man. How grave is he and dignified! How majestic and distinguished! Our elegant and accomplished prince never can be forgotten. the superior man must be watchful over himself when he is alone." That expression−"As we cut and then file." The Master said. "How grave is he and dignified!" indicates the feeling of cautious reverence. "Ah! the former kings are not forgotten. This is called knowing the root. he rested in good faith. "Look at that winding course of the Ch'i." Therefore. and displaying what is good. Yea." indicates that of self−culture." indicates how. he rested in kindness. he instantly tries to disguise himself. it is said. and a great awe would be struck into men's minds. I am like any other body. "As we chisel and then grind.−of what use is his disguise? This is an instance of the saying −"What truly is within will be manifested without. and as when we love what is beautiful.THE GREAT LEARNING On the bathing tub of T'ang. The Master said. As a son. are not forgotten. "To stir up the new people. "The twittering yellow bird rests on a corner of the mound.−this is called knowing the root. This is called the perfecting of knowledge. it is said. In the Book of Poetry. let there be daily renovation. when virtue is complete and excellence extreme." Future princes deem worthy what they deemed worthy. "Although Chau was an ancient state the ordinance which lighted on it was new. as when we hate a bad smell. "In hearing litigations. concealing his evil. With how bright and unceasing a feeling of reverence did he regard his resting places!" As a sovereign." In the Book of Poetry. it is said. It is on this account that the former kings. The other beholds him. "When it rests. the superior man must be watchful over himself when he is alone. and are benefited by their beneficial arrangements. will not proceed. What is meant by "making the thoughts sincere. What is necessary is to cause the people to have no litigations. "How commanding and distinguished! indicates an awe−inspiring deportment. the following words were engraved: "If you can one day renovate yourself. it is said. it knows where to rest. "What ten eyes behold. Therefore. and love what they loved." In the Book of Poetry. it is said. as if he saw his heart and reins." Therefore. In the Book of Poetry. what ten hands point to. after they have quitted the world. "Our elegant and accomplished prince never can be forgotten. he rested in reverence. he rested in filial piety. as we chisel and then grind: so has he cultivated himself." the work of learning. dwelling retired. As a father.

What is meant by.−such is the nature of the influence. On this account. "That peach tree. if he is under the influence of terror. There never has been a girl who learned to bring up a child. or under the influence of fond regard. he does not know the richness of his growing corn. in the common adage. that she might afterwards marry. "Act as if you were watching over an infant." If a mother is really anxious about it. and from its courtesies the whole state becomes courteous while." Let the household be rightly ordered. In the Book of Poetry. Therefore.THE GREAT LEARNING Riches adorn a house. without going beyond his family. There is kindness:−therewith the multitude should be treated." This is what is meant by saying that if the person be not cultivated. it is necessary first to regulate the family. the whole state may be led to rebellious disorder. who. Never has there been a man. He will be the same. What is meant by "In order rightly to govern the state. it is said. partial where they stand in awe and reverence. though she may not hit exactly the wants of her infant. What is meant by "The regulation of one's family depends on the cultivation of his person is this:−men are partial where they feel affection and love. the ruler must himself be possessed of the good qualities. "Affairs may be ruined by a single sentence. or who hate and yet know the excellences of the object of their hatred. it is said. Therefore. and people followed them. she will not be far from doing so." Yao and Shun led on the kingdom with benevolence and the people followed them. we look and do not see. She will rightly order her household. Thus it is that there are few men in the world who love and at the same time know the bad qualities of the object of their love. a kingdom may be settled by its One man. was able effectually to instruct them. a man cannot regulate his family. The mind is expanded. When the mind is not present. partial where they despise and dislike. or under that of sorrow and distress. There is filial piety:−therewith the. and then the people of the state may be taught. THE GREAT LEARNING 3 . the ruler. so delicate and elegant! How luxuriant is its foliage! This girl is going to her husband's house. In the Announcement to K'ang. from the ambition and perverseness of the One man. There is fraternal submission:−therewith elders and superiors should be served. and then he may require them in the people. The orders which these issued were contrary to the practices which they loved. partial where they are arrogant and rude. and the body is at ease. Hence it is said. completes the lessons for the state. sovereign should be served. the superior man must make his thoughts sincere. This is what is meant by saying that the cultivation of the person depends on the rectifying of the mind. and then he may require that they shall not be in the people. Thus we see how the government of the state depends on the regulation of the family. He must not have the bad qualities in himself." is this:−It is not possible for one to teach others. Chieh and Chau led on the kingdom with violence. This verifies the saying. and so the people did not follow them. From the loving example of one family a whole state becomes loving. "The cultivation of the person depends on rectifying the mind may be thus illustrated:−If a man be under the influence of passion he will be incorrect in his conduct. while he cannot teach his own family. we eat and do not know the taste of what we eat. and virtue adorns the person."A man does not know the wickedness of his son. partial where they feel sorrow and compassion. we hear and do not understand. not having reference to his own character and wishes in dealing with others.

a son. as the elders should be behaved to. let him not bestow on the right:−this is what is called "The principle with which. let him not therewith precede those who are behind him. the accumulation of wealth is the way to scatter the people. it is said. and the letting it be scattered among them is the way to collect the people. and. the people do the same." Let the ruler discharge his duties to his elder and younger brothers. it is said. when the ruler. And hence. will take its departure by the same. the people learn brotherly submission. when the sovereign treats compassionately the young and helpless. then the people imitate him. "The government of his kingdom depends on his regulation of the family. If they deviate to a mean selfishness. gotten by improper ways. to regulate one's conduct. If he make the root his secondary object. it is said. and the want of goodness loses it. In the Announcement to K'ang. as with a measuring square." Yes. as a father." What is meant by "The making the whole kingdom peaceful and happy depends on the government of his state. "They can discharge their duties to their elder brothers. it is said." this:−When the sovereign behaves to his aged. "How much to be rejoiced in are these princes. Hence. by losing the people. Possessing the people will give the territory. On this account. What a man dislikes in his superiors. he will have resources for expenditure. Thus the ruler has a principle with which. Virtue is the root. let him not display in the treatment of his inferiors. goodness obtains the decree. he will only wrangle with his people. he may regulate his conduct. THE GREAT LEARNING 4 . what he hates to receive on the left." In the Book of Poetry. O grand−teacher Yin. and teach them rapine. is a model. the ruler's words going forth contrary to right. the people all look up to you. and then he may teach the people of the state. then is he what is called the parent of the people. and hates what the people hate. "Before the sovereigns of the Yin dynasty had lost the hearts of the people. Possessing the wealth. "The decree indeed may not always rest on us". with its rugged masses of rocks! Greatly distinguished are you. they will be a disgrace in the kingdom. the kingdom is lost. what he dislikes in inferiors. as the aged should be behaved to. The great decree is not easily preserved. "Rulers of states may not neglect to be careful. the people become final. In the Book of Poetry. when the sovereign behaves to his elders. he rectifies all the people of the state. what he hates in those who are behind him. the kingdom is gained. will come back to him in the same way. by gaining the people. wealth is the result. They can discharge their duties to their younger brothers. This is what is meant by saying. "In his deportment there is nothing wrong. that is. as with a measuring square. it is said. In the Book of Poetry. the ruler will first take pains about his own virtue.THE GREAT LEARNING In the Book of Poetry." This shows that. what he hates in those who are before him. and a brother. let him not bestow on the left. and the result his primary. Take warning from the house of Yin. "Lofty is that southern hill. let him not display in the service of his superiors. they could appear before God. and wealth. the parents of the people!" When a prince loves what the people love. In the Book of Poetry. Possessing virtue will give him the people. Possessing the territory will give him its wealth. it is said.

but with a simple. This is in accordance with the saying. and by pride and extravagance he will fail of it. upright. To see bad men and not be able to remove them. to oppose them and not allow their advancement." This is in accordance with the saying:−"In a state.−this is to outrage the natural feeling of men. and the affairs of the sovereign have not been carried to completion. Thus we see that the sovereign has a great course to pursue. and to hate those whom men love. He must show entire self−devotion and sincerity to attain it. and the people not loving righteousness. determined not to dwell along with him in the Auddle Kingdom." Duke Wan's uncle. did not continue in the sovereign's possession. and may he not also be pronounced dangerous to the state?" It is only the truly virtuous man who can send away such a man and banish him. by means of his wealth. Let the producers be many and the consumers few. And never has there been a case where the wealth in such a state. Than to have such a minister.THE GREAT LEARNING In the Book of Ch'u. at the expense of his life. loving them in his heart more than his mouth expresses. driving him out among the barbarous tribes around. it is said. instead. pecuniary gain is not to be considered to be prosperity. What he considers precious is the affection due to his parent. "Let me have but one minister. The vicious ruler accumulates wealth. but not to do so to a distance:−this is weakness. There is a great course also for the production of wealth." THE GREAT LEARNING 5 . and. Fan. mind. it were better for that house to have one who should rob it of its revenues. To love those whom men hate. showing himself really not able to bear them: such a minister will not be able to protect my sons and grandsons and people. and benefits likewise to the kingdom may well be looked for from him. It values. not pretending to other abilities. where he finds accomplished and perspicacious men. and economy in the expenditure. So. to raise them to office. Let there be activity in the production. said. The family which keeps its stores of ice does not rear cattle or sheep. Then the wealth will always be sufficient." In the Declaration of the Duke of Ch'in. plain and sincere. Never has there been a case of the sovereign loving benevolence. to be jealous and hate them. "The kingdom of Ch'u does not consider that to be valuable. but not to do so quickly:−this is disrespectful. but its prosperity will be found in righteousness. regarding the talents of others as though he himself possessed them. "It is only the truly virtuous man who can love or who can hate others. But if it be his character. and possessed of generosity." To see men of worth and not be able to raise them to office. and. its good men. "He who keeps horses and a carriage does not look after fowls and pigs. Never has there been a case where the people have loved righteousness. Calamities cannot fail to come down on him who does so. when he finds men of ability. and really showing himself able to bear them and employ them:−such a minister will be able to preserve my sons and grandsons and black−haired people. The virtuous ruler. the house which possesses a hundred chariots should not keep a minister to look out for imposts that he may lay them on the people. to remove them. The officer Mang Hsien said. collected in the treasuries and arsenals. "Our fugitive does not account that to be precious. it is said. makes himself more distinguished. when he finds accomplished and perspicacious men.

will befall it together. This illustrates again the saying. he must be under the influence of some small. "In a state." THE END THE GREAT LEARNING 6 . He may consider this man to be good. mean man. he will not be able to remedy the evil. calamities from Heaven. and. and injuries from men. but when such a person is employed in the administration of a state or family. though a good man may take his place.THE GREAT LEARNING When he who presides over a state or a family makes his revenues his chief business. but its prosperity will be found in righteousness. gain is not to be considered prosperity.