Lun Yu Introduction Table of content – The Analects of Confucius

The Master discusses with his disciples and unveil his preoccupations with society. Tr. Legge (en), Lau (en) and Couvreur (fr).

Lunyu XX. 1. (510)

Priciples and ways of Yâo, Shun, Yü, T'ang, and Wû.
1. Yâo said, "Oh! you, Shun, the Heaven-determined order of succession now rests in your person. Sincerely hold fast the due Mean. If there shall be distress and want within the four seas, the Heavenly revenue will come to a perpetual end."
2. Shun also used the same language in giving charge to Yû.
3. T'ang said, "I, the child Lî, presume to use a dark-colored victim, and presume to announce to Thee, O most great and sovereign God, that the sinner I dare not pardon, and thy ministers, O God, I do not keep in obscurity. The examination of them is by thy mind, O God. If, in my person, I commit offenses, they are not to be attributed to you, the people of the myriad regions. If you in the myriad regions commit offenses, these offenses must rest on my person."
4. Châu conferred great gifts, and the good were enriched.
5. "Although he has his near relatives, they are not equal to my virtuous men. The people are throwing blame upon me, the One man."
6. He carefully attended to the weights and measures, examined the body of the laws, restored the discarded officers, and the good government of the kingdom took its course.
7. He revived states that had been extinguished, restored families whose line of succession had been broken, and called to office those who had retired into obscurity, so that throughout the kingdom the hearts of the people turned towards him.
8. What he attached chief importance to were the food of the people, the duties of mourning, and sacrifices.
9. By his generosity, he won all. By his sincerity, he made the people repose trust in him. By his earnest activity, his achievements were great. By his justice, all were delighted.

Legge XX.1.

Yao said,
Oh, Shun,
The succession, ordained by Heaven, has fallen on thy person.
Hold thou truly to the middle way.
If the Empire should be reduced to dire straits
The honours bestowed on thee by Heaven wrn be terminated for ever. It was with these same words that Shun commanded Yu. [T'ang] said, 'I, Lu, the little one, dare to offer a black bull and to make this declaration before the great Lord. I dare not pardon those who have transgressed. I shall present thy servants as they are so that the choice rests with Thee alone. If I transgress, let not the ten thousand states suffer because of me; but if the ten thousand states transgress, the guilt is mine alone.'
The Chou was greatly blessed and the good men abounded.
I may have close relatives,
But better for me to have benevolent men.
If the people transgress
Let it be on my head alone.
Decide on standard weights and measures after careful considera- tion, and re-establish official posts fallen into disuse, and government measures will be enforced everywhere. Restore states that have been annexed, revive lines that have become extinct, raise men who have withdrawn from society and the hearts of all the common people in the Empire will turn to you.
What was considered of importance: the common people, food, mourning and sacrifice.
If a man is tolerant, he will win the multitude. If he is trustworthy in word, the common people will entrust him with responsibility. If he is quick he will achieve results. if he is impartial the common people will be pleased.

Lau [20:1]

L'empereur Iao dit : « Eh bien, Chouenn, voici le temps fixé par le Ciel pour ton avènement. Applique-toi à garder en toutes choses le milieu juste. Si par ta négligence les ressources venaient à manquer, le Ciel te retirerait à jamais le pouvoir et les trésors royaux. » Chouenn transmit à son tour le mandat à Iu, son successeur.
[Tang le Victorieux, fondateur de la dynastie des Chang-In, après avoir chassé Kie, le dernier empereur de la dynastie des Hia,] dit : « Moi Li, qui suis comme un faible enfant, j'ose immoler un taureau noir1. J'ose déclarer solennellement, en face de l'auguste Souverain du Ciel, que je ne me permettrais pas d'épargner le coupable2 et que je ne laisserais pas dans l'ombre ses serviteurs. Si je commets une faute, le peuple n'en sera pas responsable. Si le peuple commet une faute, j'en serai responsable3. » Cette expression, « l'auguste Souverain du Ciel », est un terme respectueux pour désigner le Souverain d'En Haut. Tous les hommes sages sont les ministres du Souverain d'En Haut. Avant de marcher contre Kie, Tang le Victorieux dit : « Toutes les actions bonnes ou mauvaises sont inscrites et se lisent dans le cœuer du Souverain d'En Haut. [En attaquant Kie], je ne ferai qu'obéir aux ordres du Souverain d'En Haut. » (Tchou Hsi)
Le roi Ou fondateur de la dynastie des Tcheou, répandit ses bienfaits dans tout l'empire. Il n'enrichit que les hommes bons. « Bien que [le tyran Tcheou] ait beaucoup de proches parents, dit-il, ils ne valent pas les hommes pleinement humains. Si 1e peuple faute, que j'en sois le seul responsable. » Il régla les poids et les mesures, révisa les lois et les ordonnances, rétablit les charges [qui avaient été établies par Tcheou] ; et, dans tout l'empire, l'administration reprit son cours. Il reconstitua les principautés supprimées, donna une postérité adoptive aux chefs des grandes familles morts sans enfants mâles ; éleva aux charges les hommes capables qui avaient été laissés dans la vie privée ; et tous les cœurs furent à lui. Il attachait une grande importance à la subsistance du peuple, aux funérailles et aux sacrifices. Si un prince est magnanime, il se conciliera tous les cœurs ; s'il est digne de confiance, le peuple s'en remettra à lui ; s'il est diligent, il mènera toutes ses œuvres à bonne fin ; s'il est juste, il fera la joie du peuple.

1. Comme les empereurs de la dynastie des Hia.
2. L'empereur Kie.
3. En qualité de chef du peuple.

Couvreur XX.1.

Lunyu XX. 2. (511)

How government may be conducted with efficiency, by honouring five excellent things, and putting away four bad things:– a conversation with Tsze-chang.
1. Tsze-chang asked Confucius, saying, "In what way should a person in authority act in order that he may conduct government properly?" The Master replied, "Let him honor the five excellent, and banish away the four bad, things;– then may he conduct government properly." Tsze-chang said, "What are meant by the five excellent things?" The Master said, "When the person in authority is beneficent without great expenditure; when he lays tasks on the people without their repining; when he pursues what he desires without being covetous; when he maintains a dignified ease without being proud; when he is majestic without being fierce."
2. Tsze-chang said, "What is meant by being beneficent without great expenditure?" The Master replied, "When the person in authority makes more beneficial to the people the things from which they naturally derive benefit;– is not this being beneficent without great expenditure? When he chooses the labors which are proper, and makes them labor on them, who will repine? When his desires are set on benevolent government, and he secures it, who will accuse him of covetousness? Whether he has to do with many people or few, or with things great or small, he does not dare to indicate any disrespect;– is not this to maintain a dignified ease without any pride? He adjusts his clothes and cap, and throws a dignity into his looks, so that, thus dignified, he is looked at with awe;– is not this to be majestic without being fierce?"
3. Tsze-chang then asked, "What are meant by the four bad things?" The Master said, "To put the people to death without having instructed them;– this is called cruelty. To require from them, suddenly, the full tale of work, without having given them warning;– this is called oppression. To issue orders as if without urgency, at first, and, when the time comes, to insist on them with severity;– this is called injury. And, generally, in the giving pay or rewards to men, to do it in a stingy way;– this is called acting the part of a mere official."

Legge XX.2.

Tzu-chang asked Confucius, 'What must a man be like before he can take part in government?' The Master said, 'If he exalts the five excellent practices and eschews the four wicked practices he can take part in government.' Tzu~hang said, 'What is meant by the five excellent practices?' The Master said, 'The gentleman is generous without its costing him anything, works others hard without their complaining, has desires without being greedy, is casual without being arrogant, and is awe-inspiring without appearing fierce.' Tzu-chang said, 'What is meant by "being generous without its costing him anything"?' The Master said, 'If a man benefits the common people by taking advantage of the things around them that they find beneficial, is this not being generous without its costing him anything? If a man, in working others hard, chooses burdens they can support, who will complain? If, desiring benevolence, a man Obtains it, where is the greed? The gentleman never dare neglect his manners whether he be dealing with the many or the few, the young or the old. Is this not being casual without being arrogant? The gentleman, with his robe and cap adjusted properly and dignified in his gaze, has a presence which inspires people who see him with awe. Is this not being awe- inspiring without appearing fierce?'
Tzu~hang said, 'What is meant by the four wicked practices?'
The Master said, 'To impose the death penalty without first reforming the people is to be cruel; to expect results without first giving warning is to be tyrannical; to insist on a time limit when tardy in issuing orders is to cause injury. When something has to be given to others anyway, to be miserly in the actual giving is to be officious.'

Lau [20:2]

Tzeu tchang demanda à Confucius ce qu'il fallait faire pour bien gouverner. Le Maître répondit : « Il faut avoir en estime cinq qualités, et éviter quatre défauts ; cela suffit. – Quelles sont ces cinq qualités ? » dit Tzeu tchang. Le Maître répondit : « L'homme honorable exerce la bienfaisance, sans rien dépenser ; il fait travailler le peuple, sans le mécontenter ; il a des désirs, sans être cupide ; il est majestueux sans orgueil, imposant sans brusquerie. » Tzeu tchang dit : « Comment exerce-t-il la bienfaisance sans rien dépenser ? » Le Maître répondit : « Il favorise tout ce qui profite au peuple ; par ce moyen, n'exerce-t-il pas la bienfaisance sans rien dépenser ? Il ne lui impose que des travaux dont il est capable ; dès lors, qui serait mécontent ? Il désire la bonté, et il l'obtient ; comment serait-il cupide ? Pour l'homme honorable, il n'y a pas de majorité ou de minorité, ni même de petit ou de grand. Il est sans arrogance ni mépris. N'est-il pas digne sans orgueil ? L'homme honorable prend garde que ses vêtements et son bonnet soient bien ajustés, que ses regards aient de la dignité. Sa gravité inspire le respect. N'est-il pas majestueux sans être dur ? »
Tzeu tchang demanda ensuite quels étaient les quatre défauts à éviter. Le Maître répondit : « Ne pas instruire ses sujets, et les punir de mort, c'est de la cruauté. Sans avoir averti d'avance, exiger que le travail [imposé] soit terminé tout de suite, c'est de la tyrannie. Donner des ordres peu pressants1 et hâter ensuite l'exécution, c'est de la fourberie. Quand il s'agit de payer, régler avec parcimonie, c'est agir comme un intendant2. »

1. Avec préméditation.
2. Qui n'ose rien accorder de son propre chef.

Couvreur XX.2.

Lunyu XX. 3. (512)

The ordinances of Heaven, the rules of Propriety, and the force of Words, all necessary to be known.
1. The Master said, "Without recognizing the ordinances of Heaven, it is impossible to be a superior man.
2. "Without an acquaintance with the rules of Propriety, it is impossible for the character to be established.
3. "Without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know men."

Legge XX.3.

Confucius said, 'A man has no way of becoming a gentleman unless he understands Destiny; he has no way of taking his stand unless he understands the rites; he has no way of judging men unless he understands words.'

Lau [20:3]

Le Maître dit : « Celui qui ne connaît pas le Décret céleste1 ne saurait être un homme honorable. Celui qui ne connaît pas les règles et les usages ne saurait s'affermir. Celui qui ne connaît pas le sens des propos, ne peut connaître les hommes. »

1. La loi naturelle.

Couvreur XX.3.

Chinese landscape on plate (56)

The Analects of Confucius – Lun Yu XX – Chinese off/onFrançais/English
Alias the Lunyu, the Lun Yü, the Analects, les Entretiens du maître avec ses disciples.

The Book of Odes, The Analects, Great Learning, Doctrine of the Mean, Three-characters book, The Book of Changes, The Way and its Power, 300 Tang Poems, The Art of War, Thirty-Six Strategies
Welcome, help, notes, introduction, table.

Wengu, Chinese Classics multilingual text base