Call him man in his ideal, how earnest is he! Call him an abyss, how deep is he! Call him Heaven, how vast is he!
Who can know him, but he who is indeed quick in apprehension, clear in discernment, of far-reaching intelligence, and all-embracing knowledge, possessing all Heavenly virtue?
It is said in the Book of Poetry, “Over her embroidered robe she puts a plain single garment,” intimating a dislike to the display of the elegance of the former. Just so, it is the way of the superior man to prefer the concealment of his virtue, while it daily becomes more illustrious, and it is the way of the mean man to seek notoriety, while he daily goes more and more to ruin. It is characteristic of the superior man, appearing insipid, yet never to produce satiety; while showing a simple negligence, yet to have his accomplishments recognized; while seemingly plain, yet to be discriminating. He knows how what is distant lies in what is near. He knows where the wind proceeds from. He knows how what is minute becomes manifested. Such a one, we may be sure, will enter into virtue.
It is said in the Book of Poetry, “Although the fish sink and lie at the bottom, it is still quite clearly seen.” Therefore the superior man examines his heart, that there may be nothing wrong there, and that he may have no cause for dissatisfaction with himself. That wherein the superior man cannot be equaled is simply this,-his work which other men cannot see.
It is said in the Book of Poetry, “Looked at in your apartment, be there free from shame as being exposed to the light of Heaven.” Therefore, the superior man, even when he is not moving, has a feeling of reverence, and while he speaks not, he has the feeling of truthfulness.
It is said in the Book of Poetry, “In silence is the offering presented, and the spirit approached to; there is not the slightest contention.” Therefore the superior man does not use rewards, and the people are stimulated to virtue. He does not show anger, and the people are awed more than by hatchets and battle-axes.
It is said in the Book of Poetry, “What needs no display is virtue. All the princes imitate it.” Therefore, the superior man being sincere and reverential, the whole world is conducted to a state of happy tranquility.
It is said in the Book of Poetry, “I regard with pleasure your brilliant virtue, making no great display of itself in sounds and appearances.” The Master said, “Among the appliances to transform the people, sound and appearances are but trivial influences. It is said in another ode, ‘His Virtue is light as a hair.’ Still, a hair will admit of comparison as to its size. ‘The doings of the supreme Heaven have neither sound nor smell. ‘That is perfect virtue.”Share It