The Doctrine of the Mean, Confucius
The Doctrine of the Mean
Confucius
0:52 h Confucian
The Doctrine of the Mean or Zhongyong is both a doctrine of Confucianism and also the title of one of the Four Books of Confucian philosophy. The text is attributed to Zisi or Kong Ji, the only grandson of Confucius.
The Doctrine of the Mean

[Editor's Note: Forgive the brevity, but this book is short.]

Chapter 1.

The sum of the whole work.

What Heaven has conferred is called THE NATURE; an accordance with this nature is called THE PATH of duty; the regulation of this path is called INSTRUCTION.

The path may not be left for an instant. If it could be left, it would not be the path. On this account, the superior man does not wait till he sees things, to be cautious, nor till he hears things, to be apprehensive.

There is nothing more visible than what is secret, and nothing more manifest than what is minute. Therefore the superior man is watchful over himself, when he is alone.

While there are no stirrings of pleasure, anger, sorrow, or joy, the mind may be said to be in the state of EQUILIBRIUM. When those feelings have been stirred, and they act in their due degree, there ensues what may be called the state of HARMONY. This EQUILIBRIUM is the great root from which grow all the human actings in the world, and this HARMONY is the universal path which they all should pursue.

Let the states of equilibrium and harmony exist in perfection, and a happy order will prevail throughout heaven and earth, and all things will be nourished and flourish.

Chapter 2.

Only the superior man can follow the Mean; the mean man is always violating it.

Chung-nî said, “The superior man embodies the course of the Mean; the mean man acts contrary to the course of the Mean.”

“The superior man’s embodying the course of the Mean is because he is a superior man, and so always maintains the Mean. The mean man’s acting contrary to the course of the Mean is because he is a mean man, and has no caution.”

Chapter 3.

The rarity, long existing in Confucius’s time, of the practice of the Mean.

The Master said, “Perfect is the virtue which is according to the Mean! Rare have they long been among the people, who could practice it!”

Chapter 4.

How it was that few were able to practice the Mean.

The Master said, “I know how it is that the path of the Mean is not walked in: The knowing go beyond it, and the stupid do not come up to it. I know how it is that the path of the Mean is not understood: The men of talents and virtue go beyond it, and the worthless do not come up to it.”

“There is no body but eats and drinks. But they are few who can distinguish flavours.”

Ocean 2.0 Reader. Empty coverOcean 2.0 Reader. Book is closedOcean 2.0 Reader. FilterOcean 2.0 Reader. Compilation cover