Sacred Texts  Confucianism  Index  Previous  Next 


'The Master said, 'Anciently, the intelligent kings served their fathers with filial piety, and therefore they served Heaven with intelligence; they served their mothers with filial piety, and therefore they served Earth with discrimination 3. They pursued

p. 485

the right course with reference to their (own) seniors and juniors, and therefore they secured the regulation of the relations between superiors and inferiors (throughout the kingdom).

'When Heaven and Earth were served with intelligence and discrimination, the spiritual intelligences displayed (their retributive power 1).

'Therefore even the Son of Heaven must have some whom he honours; that is, he has his uncles of his surname. He must have some to whom he concedes the precedence; that is, he has his cousins, who bear the same surname, and are older than himself. In the ancestral temple he manifests the utmost reverence, showing that he does not forget his parents; he cultivates his person and is careful of his conduct, fearing lest he should disgrace his predecessors.

'When in the ancestral temple he exhibits the

p. 486

utmost reverence, the spirits of the departed manifest themselves 1. Perfect filial piety and fraternal duty reach to (and move) the spiritual intelligences, and diffuse their light on all within the four seas; they penetrate everywhere.

'It is said in the Book of Poetry 2,

"From the west to the east,
From the south to the north,
There was not a thought but did him homage."'



484:3 This chapter is as difficult to grasp as the seventh, which treated of Filial Piety in Relation to 'the Three Powers.' It is indeed a sequel to that. Heaven and Earth appear as two Powers, or as p. 485 a dual Power, taking the place of Heaven or God. We can in a degree follow the treatise in transferring the reverence plaid by a son to his father to loyalty shown by him to his ruler; but it is more difficult to understand the development of filial piety into religion that is here assumed and described. Was it not the pressing of this virtue too far, the making more of it than can be made, that tended to deprave religion during the Kâu dynasty, and to mingle with the earlier monotheism a form of nature-worship?

Hsing Ping, in his 'Correct Meaning,' makes the 'discrimination' here to be 'an ability to distinguish the advantages of the earth;'--showing how he had the sixth and seventh chapters in his mind.]

485:1 'The Spiritual Intelligences' here are Heaven and Earth conceived of as Spiritual Beings. They responded to the sincere service of the intelligent kings, as Hsing Ping says, with 'the harmony of the active and passive principles of nature, seasonable winds and rain, the absence of epidemic sickness and plague, and the repose of all under heaven.' Compare with this what is said in 'the Great Plan' of the Shû, pp. 147, 148.

486:1 The reader will have noticed many instances of this, or what were intended to be instances of it, in the translations from the Shih, pp. 365-368, &c.

486:2 See the Shih, III, i, ode 10, stanza 6.

Next: Chapter XVII. The Service of the Ruler