According to what the Masters said, the ways laid down by the superior men may be compared to dykes, the object of which is to conserve that in which the people may be deficient; and though they may be on a great scale, the people will yet pass over them. Therefore the superior men framed rules of ceremony for the conservation of virtue; punishments to serve as a barrier against licentiousness; and declared the allotments (of Heaven), as a barrier against evil desires.
The Master said, 'The small man, when poor, feels the pinch of his straitened circumstances; and when rich, is liable to become proud. Under the pinch of that poverty he may proceed to steal; and when proud, he may proceed to deeds of disorder. The rules of propriety recognise these feelings of men, and lay down definite regulations for them, to serve as dykes for the people. Hence the sages dealt with riches and honours, so that riches should not have power to make men proud; that poverty should not induce that feeling of being pinched; and that men in positions of honour should not be intractable to those above them. In this way the causes of disorder would more and more disappear.'
The Master said, 'Under heaven the cases are few in which the poor yet find enjoyment', the rich yet love the rules of propriety, and a family that is numerous (and strong) yet remains quiet and at peace. As it is said in the Book of Poetry (III, iii, ode 3, 11), "The people desire disorder, And find enjoyment in bitter, poisonous ways." Hence it was made the rule that no state should have more than 1000 chariots, no chief city's wall more than 100 embrasures, no family, however rich, more than 100 chariots. These regulations were intended for the protection of the people, and yet some of the lords of states rebelled against them.'
The Master said, 'It is by the rules of ceremony that what is doubtful is displayed, and what is minute is distinguished, that they may serve as dykes for the people. Thus it is that there are the grades of the noble and the mean, the distinctions of dress, the different places at court; and so the people (are taught to) give place to one another.'
The Master said, 'There are not two suns in the sky, nor two kings in a territory, nor two masters in a family, nor two superiors of equal honour; and the people are shown how the distinction between ruler and subject should be maintained. The Chun Qiu does not mention the funeral rites for the kings of Chu and Yue. According to the rules, the ruler of a state is not spoken of as "Heaven's," and a Great officer is not spoken of as "a ruler" - lest the people should be led astray. It is said in the ode, "Look at (that bird) which in the night calls out for the morning." Even this is still occasion for being dissatisfied with it.'
The Master said, 'A ruler does not ride in the same carriage with those of the same surname with himself; and when riding with those of a different surname, he wears a different dress - to show the people that they should avoid what may give rise to suspicion. This was intended to guard the people (from incurring suspicion), and yet they found that there were those of the same surname who murdered their ruler.'
The Master said, 'The superior man will decline a position of high honour, but not one that is mean; and riches, but not poverty. In this way confusion and disorder will more and more disappear. 'Hence the superior man, rather than have his emoluments superior to his worth, will have his worth superior to his emoluments.'
The Master said, 'In the matter of a cup of liquor and a dish of meat, one may forego his claim and receive that which is less than his due; and yet the people will try to obtain more than is due to their years. When one's mat has been spread for him in a high place, he may move and take his seat on a lower; and yet the people will try to occupy the place due to rank. From the high place due to him at court one may in his humility move to a meaner place; and yet the people shall be intrusive even in the presence of the ruler. As it is said in the Book of Poetry (II, vii, ode 9, 4), "When men in disputations fine, To hear their consciences refuse, Then 'gainst each other they repine, And each maintains his special views. If one a place of rank obtain, And scorn humility to show, The others view him with disdain, And, wrangling, all to ruin go."'
The Master said, 'The superior man exalts others and abases himself; he gives the first place to others and takes the last himself - and thus the people are taught to be humble and yielding. Thus when he is speaking of the ruler of another state, he calls him "The Ruler;" but when mentioning his own ruler, he calls him "Our ruler of little virtue."'
The Master said, 'When advantages and rewards are given to the dead first, and to the living afterwards, the people will not act contrarily to the (character of) the dead. When (the ruler) places those who are exiles (from and for their state) first, and those who remain in it last, the people may be trusted with (the most arduous duties). It is said in the Book of Poetry (1, iii, ode 3, 4), "In thinking of our deceased lord, She stimulated worthless me." When this dyke is set up for the people, will they still act contrarily to the dead and have to bewail their lot, with none to whom to appeal?'
The Master said, 'When the ruler of a state, with its clans, thinks much of the men and little of the emoluments (which he bestows on them), the people give place readily (to those men). When he thinks much of their ability, and little of the chariots (with which he rewards them), the people address themselves to elegant arts. Hence a superior man keeps his speech under control, while the small man is forward to speak.'
The Master said, 'If superiors consider and are guided by the words of the people, the people receive their gifts or commands as if they were from Heaven. If superiors pay no regard to the words of the people, the people put themselves in opposition to them. When inferiors do not receive the gifts of their superiors as if they were from Heaven, there ensues violent disorder. Hence, when the superior exhibits his confidence and courtesy in the government of the people, then the usages of the people in response to him are very great. It is said in the Book of Poetry (III, ii, ode 10, 3), "Remember what in days of old they spake, With grass and fuel-gatherers counsel take."'
The Master said, 'If (the ruler) ascribe what is good to others, and what is wrong to himself, the people will not contend (among themselves). If he ascribe what is good to others, and what is wrong to himself, dissatisfactions will more and more disappear. It is said in the Book of Poetry (I, v, ode 4, 2), "You had consulted the tortoise-shell; you had consulted the stalks; In their responses there was nothing unfavourable."'
The Master said, 'If (the ruler) ascribe what is good to others and what is wrong to himself, the people will yield to others (the credit of) what is good in them. It is said in the Book of Poetry (III, i, ode 10, 7), "He examined and divined, did the king, About settling in the capital of Hao. The tortoise-shell decided the site, And king Wu completed the city."'
The Master said, 'If (ministers) ascribe what is good to their ruler and what is wrong to themselves, the people will become loyal. It is said in the Book of History (V, xxi, 6), '"When you have any good plans or counsels, enter and lay them before your ruler in the court; and thereafter, when you are acting abroad in accordance with them, say, 'This plan, or this view, is all due to the virtue of our ruler!' Oh! in this way how good and distinguished will you be!"'
The Master said, 'If (a ruler, being a son,) ascribe what is good to his father, and what is wrong to himself, the people will become filial. It is said in "The Great Declaration," "If I subdue Zhou, it will not be my prowess, but the faultless virtue of my deceased father Wen. If Zhou subdues me, it will not be from any fault of my deceased father Wen, but because I, who am as a little child, am not good"' (Shu, V, i, sect. 3, 6).
The Master said "A superior man will forget and not make much of the errors of his father, and will show his reverence for his excellence. It is said in the Lun Yu (I, xi), "He who for three years does not change from the way of his father, may be pronounced filial;" and in the Gao Zong (Shu, III, viii, i) it is said, "For three years he kept without speaking; when he did speak, they were delighted."'
The Master said, 'To obey (his parents') commands without angry (complaint); to remonstrate with them gently without being weary; and not to murmur against them, though they punish him, may be pronounced filial piety. It is said in the Book of Poetry (III, ii, ode 3, 5), "Your filial son was unceasing in his service."'
The Master said, 'To cultivate harmony with all the kindred of parents may be pronounced filial! It is said in the Book of Poetry (II, vii, ode 9, 3), "Brethren whose virtue stands the test, By bad example still unchanged, Their generous feelings manifest, Nor grow among themselves estranged. But if their virtue weakly fails, The evil influence to withstand, Then selfishness o'er love prevails, And troubles rise on every hand."'
The Master said, '(A son) may ride in the chariot of an intimate friend of his father, but he should not wear his robes. By this (rule) the superior man widens (the sphere of) his filial duty.'
The Master said, 'Small men are all able to support their parents. If the superior man do not also reverence them, how is his supporting to be distinguished (from theirs)?'
The Master said, 'Father and son should not be in the same (official) position - to magnify the reverence (due to the father). It is said in the Book of History (Shu, III, v, sect. 1, 3), "If the sovereign do not show himself the sovereign, he disgraces his ancestors."'
The Master said, 'Before his parents (a son) should not speak of himself as old; he may speak of the duty due to parents, but not of the gentle kindness due from them; inside the female apartments he may sport, but should not sigh. By these (rules) the superior man would protect the people (from evil), and still they are found slight in their acknowledgment of filial duty, and prompt in their appreciation of gentle kindness.'
The Master said, 'When they who are over the people show at their courts their respect for the old, the people become filial.'
The Master said, 'The (use of) the representatives of the deceased at sacrifices, and of one who presides (at the services) in the ancestral temple, was intended to show the people that they had still those whom they should serve. The repairing of the ancestral temple and the reverential performance of the sacrifices were intended to teach the people to follow their dead with their filial duty. These things should guard the people (from evil), and still they are prone to forget their parents.'
The Master said, 'When (it is wished to) show respect (to guests), the vessels of sacrifice are used. Thus it is that the superior man will not in the poverty of his viands neglect the rules of ceremony, nor in their abundance and excellence make those rules disappear. Hence, according to the rules of feasting, when the host gives in person anything to a guest, the guest offers a portion in sacrifice, but he does not do so with what the host does not himself give him. Therefore, when there is no ceremony in the gift, however admirable it may be, the superior man does not partake of it. It is said in the Yi, "The ox slain in sacrifice by the neighbour on the east is not equal to the spare spring sacrifice of the neighbour on the west, (whose sincerity) receives the blessing." It is said in the Book of Poetry (III, ii, ode 3, 1), "You have made us drink to the full of your spirits, You have satiated us with your virtue." But though in this way the people are admonished, they will still keep striving after profit, and forget righteousness.'
The Master said, 'There are the seven days of fasting, and the three days of vigil and adjustment of the thoughts; there is the appointment of the one man to act as the personator of the dead, in passing whom it is required to adopt a hurried pace - all to teach reverence (for the departed).' The sweet liquor is in the apartment (where the personator is); the reddish in the hall; and the clear in the court below - all to teach the people not to go to excess in being greedy. The personator drinks three cups, and all the guests drink one - teaching the people that there must be the distinction of high and low. The ruler takes the opportunity of the spirits and flesh of his sacrifice to assemble all the members of his kindred - teaching the people to cultivate harmony. Thus it is that on the hall above they look at what is done in the apartment, and in the court below at what is done by those in the hall (for their pattern); as it is said in the Book of Poetry (II. vi, ode 5, 3), 'Every form is according to rule; Every smile and word is as it should be.'
The Master said, 'The giving place to a visitor at every stage of his advancing (from the entrance gate), according to the rules for visitors; and the repetition of the ceremonies, according to the mourning rites, in an ever-increasing distance from the apartment of the corpse; the washing of the corpse over the pit in the centre of the open court; the putting the rice into the mouth under the window; the slighter dressing of the corpse inside the door of the apartment; the greater dressing at the top of the steps on the east; the coffining in the place for guests; the sacrifice on taking the road (with the coffin) in the courtyard; and the interment in the grave - these were intended to teach the people how the element of distance enters into the usages. Under the Yin dynasty they condoled with the mourners at the grave; they do so under Zhou in the house - showing the people that they should not neglect the custom.'
The Master said, '(These services in connexion with) death are the last duties which the people have to pay (to their departed). I follow Zhou in them. They were intended to serve as guards to the people (to keep them from error). Among the princes, however, there still were those who did not attend the burials of other princes, and take part in them.'
The Master said, 'The going up to the hall by the steps for the guests, and receiving the condolences sent to him in the guests' place, are designed to teach the filial to continue their filial duty even to the dead. Until the mourning rites are finished, a son is not styled "Ruler" - showing the people that there ought to be no contention (between father and son). Hence in the Chun Qiu of Lu, recording deaths in Qin, it is said, "(Li Ke) killed Xi-qi, the son of his ruler, and his ruler Zhuo - "a barrier was thus raised to prevent the people (from doing such deeds). And yet there were sons who still murdered their fathers.'
The Master said, 'Filial duty may be transferred to the service of the ruler, and brotherly submission to the service of elders - showing the people that they ought not to be double-minded. Hence a superior man, while his ruler is alive, should not take counsel about taking office (in another state). It is only on the day of his consulting the tortoise-shell (about such a thing) that he will mention two rulers.' The mourning for a father lasts for three years, and that for a ruler the same time - showing the people that they must not doubt (about the duty which they owe to their ruler). While his parents are alive, a son should not dare to consider his wealth as his own, nor to hold any of it as for his own private use - showing the people how they should look on the relation between high and low. Hence the son of Heaven cannot be received with the ceremonies of a guest anywhere within the four seas, and no one can presume to be his host. Hence, also, when a ruler goes to a minister's (mansion) he goes up to the hall by the (host's) steps on the east and proceeds to the place (of honour) in the hall: showing the people that they should not dare to consider their houses their own. While his parents are alive, the gifts presented to a son should not extend to a carriage and its team - showing the people that they should not dare to monopolise (any honours). All these usages were intended to keep the people from transgressing their proper bounds; and yet there are those who forget their parents, and are double-minded to their ruler.'
The Master said, 'The ceremony takes place before the silks (offered in connexion with it) are presented - this is intended to teach the people to make the doing of their duties the first thing, and their salaries an after consideration. If money be sought first and the usages of propriety last, then the people will be set on gain: if the mere feeling be acted on, without any expressions (of courtesy and deference), there will be contentions among the people. Hence the superior man, when presents are brought to him, if he cannot see him who offers them, does not look at the presents. It is said in the Yi, "He reaps without having ploughed that he may reap; he gathers the produce of the third year's field without having cultivated them the first year; there will be evil." In this way it is sought to guard the people, and yet there are of them who value their emoluments and set little store by their practice.'
The Master said, 'The superior man does not take all the profit that he might do, but leaves some for the people. It is said in the Book of Poetry (II, vi, ode 8, 3), "There shall be handfuls left on the ground, And ears here and there left untouched; For the benefit of the widow." Hence, when a superior man is in office (and enjoys its emoluments), he does not go in for farming; if he hunts, he does not (also) fish; he eats the (fruits of the) season, and is not eager for delicacies; if a Great officer, he does not sit on sheepskins; if a lower officer, he does not sit on dogskins. It is said in the Book of Poetry (I, iii, ode 10, 1), "When we gather the mustard-plant and earth-melons, We do not reject them because of their roots. While I do nothing contrary to my good name, I should live with you till our death." In this way it was intended to guard the people against loving wrong; and still some forget righteousness and struggle for gain, even to their own ruin.'
The Master said, 'The ceremonial usages serve as dykes to the people against bad excesses (to which they are prone). They display the separation which should be maintained (between the sexes), that there may be no occasion for suspicion, and the relations of the people be well defined. It is said in the Book of Poetry (I, viii, ode vi, 3, 4), How do we proceed in hewing an axe-handle? Without another axe it cannot be done. How do we proceed in taking a wife? Without a go-between it cannot be done. How do we proceed in planting hemp? The acres must be dressed length-wise and crosswise. How do we proceed in taking a wife? Announcement must first be made to our parents." In this way it was intended to guard the people (against doing wrong), and still there are some (women) among them, who offer themselves (to the male).'
The Master said, 'A man in taking a wife does not take one of the same surname with himself - to show broadly the distinction (to be maintained between man and wife). Hence, when a man is buying a concubine, if he do not know her surname, he consults the tortoise-shell about it. In this way it was intended to preserve the people (from going wrong in the matter); and yet the Chun Qiu of Lu still suppresses the surname of duke Zhao's wife, simply saying "Wu," and the record of her death is "Meng (the elder) Zi died."'
The Master said, 'According to the rules, male and female do not give the cup to one another, excepting at sacrifice. This was intended to guard the people against (undue freedom of intercourse); and yet the marquis of Yang killed the marquis of Mu, and stole away his wife. Therefore the presence of the wife at the grand entertainments was disallowed.'
The Master said, 'With the son of a widow one does not have interviews - this would seem to be an obstacle to friendship, but a superior man will keep apart from intercourse in such a case, in order to avoid (suspicion). Hence, in the intercourse of friends, if the master of the house be not in, a visitor, unless there is some great cause, does not enter the door. This was intended to preserve the people (from all appearance of evil); and yet there are of them who pay more regard to beauty than to virtue.'
The Master said, 'The love of virtue should be like the love of beauty (from an inward constraint). Princes of states should not be like fishers for beauty (in the families) below them. Hence the superior man keeps aloof from beauty, in order to constitute a rule for the people. Thus male and female, in giving and receiving, do not allow their hands to touch; in driving his wife in a carriage, a husband advances his left hand; when a young aunt, a sister, or a daughter has been married, and returns (to her father's house), no male can sit on the same mat with her; a widow should not wail at night; when a wife is ill, in asking for her, the nature of her illness should not be mentioned:-in this way it was sought to keep the people (from irregular connexions); and yet there are those who become licentious, and introduce disorder and confusion among their kindred.'
The Master said, 'According to the rules of marriage, the son-in-law should go in person to meet the bride. When he is introduced to her father and mother, they bring her forward, and give her to him' - being afraid things should go contrary to what is right. In this way a dyke is raised in the interest of the people; and yet there are cases in which the wife will not go (to her husband's).'
Source: Chinese Text Project http://ctext.org/liji. English translation "Sacred Books of the East, volume 28, part 4: The Li Ki", James Legge, 1885