The Hsiao King or Classic of Filial Piety (With Active Table of Contents)

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In the 'Plates and Notices of the Worthies, sacrificed to in the Sage's Temples [2],' it is supposed that the sixty-two in the Historical Records should be eighty-two [3]. It is maintained by others that Tsze-sze's life was protracted beyond years [4]. This variety of opinions simply shows that the point cannot be positively determined. To me it seems that the conjecture in the Sacrificial Canon must be pretty near the truth [5].

During the years of his boyhood, then, Tsze-sze must have been with his grandfather, and received his instructions.

Aging and filial piety

It is related, that one day, when he was alone with the sage, and heard him sighing, he went up to him, and, bowing twice, inquired the reason of his grief. Or is it that, in your admiration of the ways of Yao and Shun, you are vexed that you fall short of them? The remark comes frequently into my thoughts, and fills me with great apprehensions. Eighty-two and sixty-two may more easily be confounded, as written in Chinese, than with the Roman figures.

But the tradition is, that Tsze-sze was a pupil of Tsang Shan who was born B. We must place his birth therefore considerably later, and suppose him to have been quite young when his father died. I was talking once about the question with a Chinese friend, who observed 'Li was fifty when he died, and his wife married again into a family of Wei.

We can hardly think, therefore, that she was anything like that age. Li could not have married so soon as his father did. Perhaps he was about forty when Chi was born.

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My undertakings will not come to naught. They will be carried on and flourish [1]. But he received his instructions with discrimination, and in one instance which is recorded in the Li Chi, the pupil suddenly took the place of the master. We there read: 'Tsang said to Tsze-sze, "Chi, when I was engaged in mourning for my parents, neither congee nor water entered my mouth for seven days.

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Thus it is that the superior man, in mourning for his parents, when he has been three days without water or congee, takes a staff to enable himself to rise [2]. As he was living in great poverty, a friend supplied him with grain, which he readily received. Another friend was emboldened by this to send him a bottle of spirits, but he declined to receive it. You can assign no ground in reason for it, and if you wish to show your independence, you should do so completely.

But the spirits and the dried flesh which you offer to me are the appliances of a feast. For a poor man to be feasting is certainly unreasonable. This is the ground of my refusing your gift. I have no thought of asserting my independence [3].

That scholar relates 'When Chi was living in Wei, he wore a tattered coat, without any lining, and in thirty days had only nine meals. For the incident we are indebted to K'ung Fu; see note 3, p.


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Poor as I am, I cannot think of my body as a ditch, and do not presume to accept your gift [1]. But this circumstance, which is not at all creditable in Chinese estimation, did not alienate his affections from her. He was in Lu when he heard of her death, and proceeded to weep in the temple of his family.

A disciple came to him and said, 'Your mother married again into the family of the Shu, and do you weep for her in the temple of the K'ung?

Neo-Confucian Philosophy

In his own married relation he does not seem to have been happy, and for some cause, which has not been transmitted to us, he divorced his wife, following in this, it has been wrongly said, the example of Confucius. On her death, her son, Tsze-shang [3], did not undertake any mourning for her.


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Tsze-sze's disciples were surprised and questioned him. His observances increased or decreased as the case required. But I cannot attain to this. While she was my wife, she was Pai's mother; when she ceased to be my wife, she ceased to be Pai's mother. These few notices of K'ung Chi in his more private relations bring him before us as a man of strong feeling and strong will, independent, and with a tendency to asceticism in his habits.

As a public character, we find him at the ducal courts of Wei, Sung; Lu, and Pi, and at each of them held in high esteem by the rulers. To Wei he was carried probably by the fact of his mother having married into that State. We are told that the prince of Wei received him with great distinction and lodged him honourably. On one occasion he said to him, 'An officer of the State of Lu, you have not despised this small and narrow Wei, but have bent your steps hither to comfort and preserve it; vouchsafe to confer your benefits upon me.

If I should wish to requite it with good words, I am afraid that what I should say would not suit your ideas, so that I should speak in vain and not be listened to. The only way in which I can requite it, is by recommending to your notice men of worth. His guest then said, 'In the eastern borders of your State, there is one Li Yin, who is a man of real worth.

The son of a husbandman cannot be fit for me to employ. I do not put into office all the cadets of those families even in which office is hereditary. And moreover, the duke of Chau was a great sage, and K'ang-shu was a great worthy. Yet if you examine their beginnings, you will find that from the business of husbandry they came forth to found their States. I did certainly have my doubts that in the selection of your officers you did not have regard to their real character and capacity.

The duke was silent [1]. Tsze-sze was naturally led to Sung, as the K'ung family originally sprang from that principality. Four Books, Text and Commentary, with Proofs and Illustrations [1],' says that he went thither in his sixteenth year, and having foiled an officer of the State, named Yo So, in a conversation on the Shu Ching, his opponent was so irritated at the disgrace put on him by a youth, that he listened to the advice of evil counsellors, and made an attack on him to put him to death. The duke of Sung, hearing the tumult, hurried to the rescue, and when Chi found himself in safety, he said, 'When king Wan was imprisoned in Yu-li, he made the Yi of Chau.

My grandfather made the Ch'un Ch'iu after he had been in danger in Ch'an and Ts'ai.

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Shall I not make something when rescued from such a risk in Sung? According to this account, the Chung Yung was the work of Tsze-sze's early manhood, and the tradition has obtained a wonderful prevalence. The notice in 'The Sacrificial Canon' says, on the contrary, that it was the work of his old age, when he had finally settled in Lu, which is much more likely [2]. Of Tsze-sze in Pi, which could hardly be said to be out of Lu, we have only one short notice,-- in Mencius, V.

The duke indeed wanted to raise him to the highest office, but he declined this, and would only occupy the position of a 'guide, philosopher, and friend. In his intercourse with the duke he spoke the truth to him fearlessly. In the 'Cyclopaedia of Surnames [4],' I find the following conversations, but I cannot tell from what source they are extracted into that Work. The passage here translated from it will be found in the place several times referred to in this section.


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Some have advocated this from ch. When I cultivate what is good, I wish men to know it, for when they know it and praise me, I feel encouraged to be more zealous in the cultivation. This is what I desire, and am not able to obtain. If I cultivate what is good, and men do not know it, it is likely that in their ignorance they will speak evil of me. So by my good-doing I only come to be evil spoken of. This is what I do not desire, but am not able to avoid. In the case of a man, who gets up at cock-crowing to practise what is good and continues sedulous in the endeavour till midnight, and says at the same time that he does not wish men to know it, lest they should praise him, I must say of such a man, that, if he be not deceitful, he is stupid.

Tsze-sze replied to him, 'Of old, princes advanced their ministers to office according to propriety, and dismissed them in the same way, and hence there was that rule. But now-a-days, princes bring their ministers forward as if they were going to take them on their knees, and send them away as if they would cast them into an abyss. If they do not treat them as their greatest enemies, it is well. We see the same independence which he affected in private life, and a dignity not unbecoming the grandson of Confucius. But we miss the reach of thought and capacity for administration which belonged to the Sage.

His place in the temples of the Sage has been that of one of his four assessors, since the year In the testimony of K'ung Fu, which has been adduced to prove the authorship of the Chung Yung, it is said that the Work consisted originally of forty-nine p'ien.

From this statement it is argued by some, that the arrangement of it in thirty-three chapters, which originated with Chu Hsi, is wrong [2]; but this does not affect the question of integrity, and the character p'ien is so vague and indefinite, that we cannot affirm that K'ung Fu meant to tell us by it that Tsze-sze himself divided his Treatise into so many paragraphs or chapters. It is on the entry in Liu Hsin's Catalogue, quoted section i,-- 'Two p'ien of Observations on the Chung Yung,' that the integrity of the present Work is called in question.

But that is not the original Treatise here mentioned, but only a branch from it [3]' Wang Wei, a writer of the Ming dynasty, says 'Anciently, the Chung Yung consisted of two p'ien , as appears from the History of Literature of the Han dynasty, but in the Li Chi we have only one p'ien , which Chu Hsi, when he made his "Chapters and Sentences," divided into thirty-three chapters. The old Work in two p'ien is not to be met with now [4]. It does not speak of two p'ien of the Chung Yung, but of two p'ien of Observations thereon.

The Great Learning carries on its front the evidence of being incomplete, but the student will not easily believe that the Doctrine of the Mean is so. I see no reason for calling its integrity in question, and no necessity therefore to recur to the ingenious device employed in the edition of the five ching published by the imperial authority of K'ang Hsi, to get over the difficulty which Wang Wei supposes.

It there appears in two p'ien , of which we have the following account from the author of 'Supplemental Remarks upon the Four Books:'-- 'The proper course now is to consider the first twenty chapters in Chu Hsi's arrangement as making up the first p'ien , and the remaining thirteen as forming the second. In this way we retain the old form of the Treatise, and do not come into collision with the views of Chu. For this suggestion we are indebted to Lu Wang-chai' an author of the Sung dynasty [1].