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(2011-06-27 10:04:27)


分类: 英语学习

荀子Hsun-Tzu Translated by Burton Watson

The gentleman says: Learning should never cease. Blue comes from the indigo plant but is bluer than the plant itself. Ice is made of water but is colder than water ever is…. If the gentleman studies widely and each day examines himself, his wisdom will become clear and his conduct be without fault.

If you do not climb a high mountain, you will not comprehend the highness of the heavens; if you do not look down into a deep valley, you will not know the depth of the earth; and if you do not hear the words handed down from the ancient kings, you will not understand the greatness of learning. Children born among the Han or Yüeh people of the south and among the Mo barbarians of the north cry with the same voice at birth, but as they grow older they follow different customs. Education causes them to differ. The Odes says:

Oh, you gentlemen,
Do not be constantly at ease and rest!
Quietly respectful in your posts,
Love those who are correct and upright
And the gods will hearken to you
And aid you with great blessing.1

There is no greater godliness2 than to transform yourself with the Way, no greater blessing than to escape misfortune.

I once tried spending the whole day in thought, but I found it of less value than a moment of study.3 I once tried standing on tiptoe and gazing into the distance, but I found I could see much farther by climbing to a high place. If you climb to a high place and wave to someone, it is not as though your arm were any longer than usual, and yet people can see. you from much farther away. If you shout down the wind, it is not as though your voice were any stronger than usual, and yet people can hear you much more clearly. Those who make use of carriages or horses may not be any faster walkers than anyone else, and yet they are able to travel a thousand li. Those who make use of boats may not know how to swim, and yet they manage to get across rivers. The gentleman is by birth no different from any other man; it is just that he is good at making use of things.

In the south there is a bird called the meng dove. It makes a nest out of feathers woven together with hair and suspends it from the tips of the reeds. But when the wind comes, the reeds break, the eggs are smashed, and the baby birds killed. It is not that the nest itself is faulty; the fault is in the thing it is attached to. In the west there is a tree called the yeh-kan. Its trunk is no more than four inches tall and it grows on top of the high mountains, from whence it looks down into valleys a hundred fathoms deep. It is not a long trunk which afford the tree such a view, but simply the place where it stands. If pigweed grows up in the midst of hemp, it will stand up straight without propping. If white sand is mixed with mud, it too will turn black.4 The root of a certain orchid is the source of the perfume called chih; but if the root were to be soaked in urine, then no gentleman would go near it and no commoner would consent to wear it. It is not that the root itself is of an unpleasant quality; it is the fault of the thing it has been soaked in. Therefore a gentleman will take care in selecting the community he intends to live in, and will choose men of breeding for his companions. In this way he wards off evil and meanness, and draws close to fairness and right.

Every phenomenon that appears must have a cause. The glory or shame that come to a man are no more than the image of his virtue. Meat when it rots breeds worms; fish that is old and dry brings forth maggots. When a man is careless and lazy and forgets himself, that is when disaster occurs. The strong naturally bear up under weight; the weak naturally end up bound.5 Evil and corruption in oneself invite the anger of others. If you lay sticks of identical shape on a fire, the flames will seek out the driest ones; if you level the ground to an equal smoothness, water will still seek out the dampest spot. Trees of the same species grow together; birds and beasts gather in herds; for all things follow after their own kind. Where a target is hung up, arrows will find their way to it; where the forest trees grow thickest, the axes will enter. When a tree is tall and shady, birds will flock to roost in it; when vinegar turns sour, gnats will collect around it. So there are words that invite disaster and actions that call down shame. A gentleman must be careful where he takes his stand.

Pile up earth to make a mountain and wind and rain will rise up from it. Pile up water to make a deep pool and dragons will appear. Pile up good deeds to create virtue and godlike understanding will come of itself; there the mind of the sage will find completion. But unless you pile up little steps, you can never journey a thousand li; unless you pile up tiny streams, you can never make a river or a sea. The finest thoroughbred cannot travel ten paces in one leap, but the sorriest nag can go a ten days’ journey. Achievement consists of never giving up. If you start carving and then give up, you cannot even cut through a piece of rotten wood; but if you persist without stopping, you can carve and inlay metal or stone. Earthworms have no sharp claws or teeth, no strong muscles or bones, and yet above ground they feast on the mud, and below they drink at the yellow springs. This is because they keep their minds on one thing. Crabs have six legs and two pincers, but unless they can find an empty hole dug by a snake or a water serpent, they have no place to lodge. This is because they allow their minds to go off in all directions. Thus if there is no dark and dogged will, there will be no shining accomplishment; if there is no dull and determined effort, there will be no brilliant achievement. He who tries to travel two roads at once will arrive nowhere; he who serves two masters will please neither. The wingless dragon has no limbs and yet it can soar; the flying squirrel has many talents but finds itself hard pressed. The odes says:

Ringdove in the mulberry,
Its children are seven.
The good man, the gentleman,
His forms are one.
His forms are one,
His heart is as though bound.6

Thus does the gentleman bind himself to oneness.

In ancient times, when Hu Pa played the zither, the fish in the streams came forth to listen; when Po Ya played the lute, the six horses of the emperor’s carriage looked up from their feed trough. No sound is too faint to be heard, no action too well concealed to be known. When there are precious stones under the mountain, the grass and trees have a special sheen; where pearls grow in a pool, the banks are never parched. Do good and see if it does not pile up. If it does, how can it fail to be heard of?


1 "Lesser Odes," Hsiao-ming, Mao text no. 207. Here and elsewhere in quotations from the Odes and Documents I have for the most pan followed the interpretations of Karlgren.

2 Hsun Tzu repeats the word shen (gods) from the ode, but gives it a humanistic interpretation, making it a moral quality of the good man; I have therefore translated it as “godliness.”

3 A paraphrase of Confucius’ remark in Analects XV, 30.

4 This sentence has been restored from quotations of Hsun Tzu presented in other texts.

5 Following the interpretation of Liu Shih-p’ei.

6 “Airs of Ts’ao” Shih-chiu, Mao text no. 152. The last line I have interpreted differently from Karlgren in order to make it fit Hsun Tzu’s comment.

Where does learning begin and where does it end? I say that as to program, learning begins with the recitation of the Classics and ends with the reading of the ritual texts; and as to objective, it begins learning to be a man of breeding, and ends with learning to be a sage.7 If you truly pile up effort over a long period of time, you will enter into the highest realm. Learning continues until death and only then does it cease. Therefore we may speak of an end to the program of learning, but the objective of learning must never for an instant be given up. To pursue it is to be a man, to give it up is to become a beast. The Book of Documents is the record of government affairs, the Odes the repository of correct sounds, and the rituals are the great basis of law and the foundation of precedents. Therefore learning reaches its completion with the rituals, for they may be said to represent the highest point of the Way and its power. The reverence and order of the rituals, the fitness and harmony of music, the breadth of the Odes and Documents, the subtlety of the Spring and Autumn Annals—these encompass all that is between heaven and earth.

The learning of the gentleman enters his ear, clings to his mind, spreads through his four limbs, and manifests itself in his actions. His smallest word, his slightest movement can serve as a model. The learning of the petty man enters his ear and comes out his mouth. With only four inches between ear and mouth, how can he have possession of it long enough to ennoble a seven-foot body? In old times men studied for their own sake; nowadays men study with an eye to others.8 The gentleman uses learning to ennoble himself; the petty man uses learning as a bride to win attention from others. To volunteer information when you have not been asked is called officiousness; to answer two questions when you have been asked only one is garrulity. Both officiousness and garrulity are to be condemned. The gentleman should be like an echo.

In learning, nothing is more profitable than to associate with those who are learned. Ritual and music present us with models but no explanations; the Odes and Document deal with ancient matters and are not always pertinent; the Spring and Autumn Annals is terse and cannot be quickly understood. But if you make use of the erudition of others and the explanations of gentlemen, then you will become honored and may make your way anywhere in the world. Therefore I say that in learning nothing is more profitable than to associate with those who are learned, and of the roads to learning, none is quicker than to love such men. Second only to this is to honor ritual. If you are first of all unable to love such men and secondly are incapable of honoring ritual, then you will only be learning a mass of jumbled facts, blindly following the Odes and Documents and nothing more. In such a case you may study to the end of your days and you will never be anything but a vulgar pedant.





7 Hsun Tzu customarily distinguishes three grades in the moral hierarchy of men: shih, chun-tzu, and sheng-jen, which I have translated as “man of breeding,” “gentleman,” and “sage” respectively, though at times he uses the first two terms more or less interchangeably.

8 This sentence is quoted from Analects XIV, 25, where it is attributed to Confucius.


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