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Words of Wisdom

From the Sacred Confucian Analects, Chapter 12

2017-12-05
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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, 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 progress.” 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.” Chung-kung asked about perfect virtue. The Master said, “It is, when you go abroad, to behave to everyone as if you were receiving a great guest; 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.” Sze-ma Niu asked about perfect virtue. The Master said, “The man of perfect virtue is cautious and slow in his speech. When a man feels the difficulty of doing, can he be other than cautious and slow in speaking?”
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