Mencius. Book VI: Kâo Tsze. Part II. Chapter III.

Legge's summary: Explanation of the odes Hsiâo P'ân and K'âi Fang. Dissatisfaction with a parent is not necessarily unfilial.

1. Kung-sun Ch'âu asked about an opinion of the scholar Kâo, saying, 'Kâo observed, "The Hsiâo P'ân is the ode of a little man."' Mencius asked, 'Why did he say so?' 'Because of the murmuring which it expresses,' was the reply.

2. Mencius answered, 'How stupid was that old Kâo in dealing with the ode! There is a man here, and a native of Yüeh bends his bow to shoot him. I will advise him not to do so, but speaking calmly and smilingly;-- for no other reason but that he is not related to me. But if my own brother be bending his bow to shoot the man, then I will advise him not to do so, weeping and crying the while;-- for no other reason than that he is related to me. The dissatisfaction expressed in the Hsiâo P'ân is the working of relative affection, and that affection shows benevolence. Stupid indeed was old Kâo's criticism on the ode.'

3. Ch'âu then said, 'How is it that there is no dissatisfaction expressed in the K'âi Fang?'

4. Mencius replied, 'The parent's fault referred to in the K'âi Fang is small; that referred to in the Hsiâo P'ân is great. Where the parent's fault was great, not to have murmured on account of it would have increased the want of natural affection. Where the parent's fault was small, to have murmured on account of it would have been to act like water which frets and foams about a stone that interrupts its course. To increase the want of natural affection would have been unfilial, and to fret and foam in such a manner would also have been unfilial.

5 'Confucius said, "Shun was indeed perfectly filial! And yet, when he was fifty, he was full of longing desire about his parents."'

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Translated by James Legge, published in 1861 and revised for publication in 1895. Prepared as etext by Stephen R. McIntyre. Noded by schist. Please msg schist if you have suggestions for useful hard-links.

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