中庸 Moderated Way

Wu Siu Yan
1 Nov 2004

In ancient China, officials were selected through public examination. The subjects of examination were (a) Confucius, (b) Mencius, (c) Moderated Way, (d) Great Learning.

Here I have extracted from the "Moderated Way" some sayings that I consider worthy of consideration, and translated them into English. It is my hope that through these, you may understand China better, the China before the Cultural Revolution.

  • 天命之謂性,率性之謂道,修道之謂教。

    The commandments of Heaven is what we call "nature". To follow this "nature" is the "way". To cultivate this "way" is to be educated.

  • 道也者,不可須臾離也,可離非道也。

    The "way" is that we mustn't depart for a moment. If it is something that we can depart from, then it is not the "way".

  • 是故君子戒慎乎其所不睹,恐懼乎其所不聞。莫見乎隱,莫顯乎微,故君子慎其獨也。

    A gentleman fears of what he isn't aware of; for all things has small beginning, what is plainly visible today was hardly visible in the beginning. A gentleman should be cautious when he is alone, for fear of sinning, when no one is watching.

    (For example, if one loves porn, one may look at porn occasionally when no one is present. Gradually one will love porn more and more, and may spend many hours a day on porn, and finally he may attempt rape, ...)

  • 喜怒哀樂之未發,謂之中;發而皆中節,謂之和.

    To be "moderate" means that we keep our "Gladness, Anger, Sadness, Happiness" in check. And to be harmonious means that when we express those feelings, we keep them under restraint.

  • 寬柔以教,不報無道.

    Forgiving, gentle and meek, as a way that others may learn -- do not repay evil done to you.

  • 君子和而不流,強哉矯!中立而不倚,強哉矯!國有道,不變塞焉,強哉矯!國無道,至死不變,強哉矯!」

    • A gentleman loves to live harmoniously with others, yet not follows the multitude (to do evil).
    • Show no partiality.
    • When the situation is good, keep one's way.
    • When the situation is evil, still keep one's way, even onto death.

    These are commendable behaviour.

  • 素隱行怪,後世有述焉,吾弗為之矣。君子遵道而行,半塗而廢, 吾弗能已矣。

    Practicing the occult, performing the strange (e.g. magic, witchcraft), these are recorded in history, yet I will not do them. A gentleman should follow the "way". Depart from the "way" after some years and not persist to the end, is not what I would do.

  • 道不遠人,人之為道而遠人,不可以為道。

    The "way" is not away from people. If one walks the "way", yet distant himself away from people, then one cannot be said to walk in the "way".

  • 忠恕違道不遠,施諸己而不願,亦勿施於人。

    If one is faithful in one's words and deeds, and be forgiving, then one is not far from the "way". The things that we do not wish others to do to us, do not do to others.

  • 言顧行,行顧言.

    When we talk, we should consider whether we can walk the talk. When we walk, be careful with what we talk.

  • 君子素其位而行,不願乎其外。素富貴,行乎富貴;素貧賤,行乎貧賤;素夷狄,行乎夷狄;素患難行乎患難,君子無入而不自得焉。

    A gentleman is content with what he is, and would not think "what if I am not in this situation!". If rich, do with what you have; if poor, do with what you have; if live in a foreign land, just live in it; if fallen into calamities, live with it. A gentleman should find peace in all situations.

    (Note : a similar Western saying is "If you cannot change it, do not worry about it.")

  • 在上位不陵下,在下位不援上,正己而不求於人,則無怨。上不怨天,下不尤人。

    When we are high, do not oppress the low; when we are low, do not try to "scrub the back of the high" to climb high. Correct ourself, yet not demand the same standard from others, and others would not resent us. When we are in difficult situation, do not put the blame on Heaven (GOD), nor put the blame on others.

  • 故君子居易以俟命。 小人行險以徼幸。

    A gentleman would wait for LORD, until LORD changes his fate. A base fellow would attempt the dangerous, and hope he may get gains out of it.

    (Note : in the Bible, [Jer 28:13], it is recorded if we attempt to change the "yoke" GOD put onto us, GOD would place a more heavier "yoke". Therefore we should amend our behaviour and wait for LORD.

    [Jer 28:13] LORD's word to Hananiah through Jeremiah : "Go, tell Hananiah, 'Thus says the LORD: You have broken wooden bars, but I will make in their place bars of iron.'"

  • 好學近乎知,力行近乎仁, 知恥近乎勇。

    "Love learning" is near knowledge. "Diligent to do what is right" is near righteousness. "Blush and know shame" is near courage.

  • 修身則道立,尊賢則不惑.

    If we continue to improve our righteousness, then our "way" will be established. If we honor the righteous and the godly, then we are less likely to be confused.

  • 去讒遠色,賤貨而貴德.

    Throw away "gluttonous and love gourmet food" spirit.
    Stay far away from the "love of sex".
    Despise gold/silver/jewels ..., but hold as precious "righteousness".

  • 誠者,天之道也;誠之者,人之道也。

    Honesty is the way of GOD. To practice honesty, is the way of being a human.

  • 誠之者,擇善而固執之者也。

    One who chooses righteousness and holds it fast resolutely, is one who walks in truth and honesty.

  • 博學之,審問之,慎思之,明辨之,篤行之。

    Study widely, question what we have studied, solemnly think over them (meditate carefully on them), to make out whether they are right or wrong, and practice the good "way" resolutely.

  • 自誠明,謂之性。自明誠,謂之教。誠則明矣,明則誠矣。

    Starting from being honest to having a heart full of light is natural. Starting from having a heart full of light to being honest is what we call "educated". If we are honest, then we can have a heart full of light. If we have a heart full of light, then we can be honest.

  • 唯天下至誠,為能盡其性.

    Truth fills heaven and earth. If a person is perfectly honest, then he can perceive nature.

  • 至誠之道,可以前知。國家將興,必有禎祥;國家將亡,必有妖孽。

    Perfect honesty enables one to perceive the future. When a nation is about to prosper, there must be harmony. When a nation is about to perish, there must be widespread devilish, demonic practices.

  • 誠者自成也,而道自道也。誠者物之終始,不誠無物。是故君子誠之為貴。 誠者非自成己而已也,所以成物也。

    Truth (or perfect honesty) is self eternal, and the "way" exists of itself. Truth is the origin of all things; without truth, there is no creation. Therefore a gentleman values being of truth. Truth is not a thing that is created. Truth created all things.

  • 愚而好自用,賤而好自專,生乎今之世,反古之道:如此者,災及其身者也。

    If a fool, or a base fellow, does what is right in his own eyes (not in the eyes of GOD, or in the eyes of his fellow people), and listens not to others; he lives in a modern world (with full access to all historical records), yet walks contrary to the "ancient way" -- the way of our forefathers, then he invites calamities onto himself.

The main theme of "The Moderated Way" is to be perfectly honest, keep the commandments of Heaven (GOD), and keep our "anger, gladness, sadness" in check, under restraint. A couple that quarrel harshly and in great hostility; young boys and girls that play like mad, .... are all not of the "moderated way".

However ancient Chinese were not without faults. For example, the author of the "moderated way" practiced divination (見乎著龜 = divine using shell of turtle), which is condemned by GOD [Lev 20:27] [Deut 18:10-12].

They had other faults too. For example, they did not have the spirit of "serve humbly". Jesus washed the feet of his 12 disciples during the Last Supper; and Jesus was condescension of GOD!   Ancient Chinese regarded public office as fame and honor and wealth for generations! And because of this, they built expensive ancestral temples and worship ancestors!

Also, their vision and understanding were limited (however, the author perceived that "perfect honesty, or truth" is self eternal, and created all things), and their knowledge of GOD was limited too. Modern man have all books before him (the Bible, the Books of Enoch (1) (2), ...), whereas they didn't. Hence some of their sayings and beliefs are wrong. I selected only those that I consider worthy of consideration, but I may be wrong, therefore read with care.

Lastly, many ancient Chinese that were learned were proud, and did not ascribe their righteousness to their Creator (all our "hardware" and "software" are designed and given to us by GOD). This also is one of their serious defects.


The full Chinese text of 中庸 the "Moderated Way". I do not fully agree with what the author wrote, I include here for your reference only. Read with caution, and use the teachings of GOD, of Jesus, as plummet.


    天命之謂性,率性之謂道,修道之謂教。道也者,不可須臾離也,可離非道 也。是故君子戒慎乎其所不睹,恐懼乎其所不聞。莫見乎隱,莫顯乎微,故君子 慎其獨也。喜怒哀樂之未發,謂之中;發而皆中節,謂之和;中也者,天下之大 本也;和也者,天下之達道也。致中和,天地位焉,萬物育焉。

    仲尼曰:「君子中庸,小人反中庸,君子之中庸也,君子而時中;小人之中 庸也,小人而無忌憚也。」


    子曰:「道之不行也,我知之矣:知者過之,愚者不及也。道之不明也,我 知之矣:賢者過之,不肖者不及也。人莫不飲食也,鮮能知味也。」


    子曰:「舜其大知也與!舜好問而好察邇言,隱惡而揚善,執其兩端,用其 中於民,其斯以為舜乎!」

    子曰:「人皆曰予知,驅而納諸罟護陷阱之中,而莫之知辟也。人皆曰予知, 擇乎中庸,而不能期月守也。」



    子路問強。子曰:「南方之強與?北方之強與?抑而強與?寬柔以教,不報無 道,南方之強也,君子居之。衽金革,死而不厭,北方之強也,而強者居之。故 君子和而不流,強哉矯!中立而不倚,強哉矯!國有道,不變塞焉,強哉矯!國無 道,至死不變,強哉矯!」

    子曰:「素隱行怪,後世有述焉,吾弗為之矣。君子遵道而行,半塗而廢, 吾弗能已矣。君子依乎中庸,遁世不見知而不悔,唯聖者能之。」

    君子之道費而隱。夫婦之愚,可以與知焉,及其至也,雖聖人亦有所不知焉。 夫婦之不肖,可以能行焉;及其至也,雖聖人亦有所不能焉。天地之大也,人猶 有所憾。故君子語大,天下莫能載焉;語小,天下莫能破焉。《詩》云:「鳶飛 戾天,魚躍於淵。」言其上下察也。君子之道,造端乎夫婦,及其至也,察乎天 地。

    子曰:「道不遠人,人之為道而遠人,不可以為道。《詩》云:『伐柯,伐 柯,其則不遠。』執柯以伐柯,睨而視之,猶以為遠。故君子以人治人,改而止。 忠恕違道不遠,施諸己而不願,亦勿施於人。君子之道四,丘未能一焉,所求乎 子,以事父,未能也;所求乎臣,以事君,未能也;所求乎弟,以事兄,未能也; 所求乎朋友,先施之,未能也。庸德之行,庸言之謹;有所不足,不敢不勉,有 余不敢盡;言顧行,行顧言,君子胡不心造心造爾!」

    君子素其位而行,不願乎其外。素富貴,行乎富貴;素貧賤,行乎貧賤;素 夷狄,行乎夷狄;素患難行乎患難,君子無入而不自得焉。在上位不陵下,在下 位不援上,正己而不求於人,則無怨。上不怨天,下不尤人。故君子居易以俟命。 小人行險以徼幸。子曰:「射有似乎君子,失諸正鵠,反求諸其身。」

    君子之道,辟如行遠必自邇,辟如登高必自卑。《詩》曰:「妻子好合,如 鼓瑟琴。兄弟既翕,和樂且耽。宜爾室家,樂爾妻帑。」子曰:「父母其順矣 乎!」

    子曰:「鬼神之為德,其盛矣乎?!視之而弗見,聽之而弗聞,體物而不可 遺,使天下之人齊明盛服,以承祭祀。洋洋乎如在其上,如在其左右。《詩》曰: 『神之格思,不可度思!矧可射思!』夫微之顯,誠之不可掩如此夫。」

    子曰:「舜其大孝也與!德為聖人,尊為天子,富有四海之內。宗廟饗之, 子孫保之。故大德必得其位,必得其祿。必得其名,必得其壽,故天之生物,必 因其材而篤焉。故栽者培之,傾者覆之。《詩》曰:『嘉樂君子,憲憲令德。宜 民宜人,受祿於天,保佑命之,天申之。』故大德者必受命。」

    子曰:「無憂者,其惟文王乎!以王季為父,以武王為子,父作之,子述之。 武王纘大王、王季、文王之緒,一戎衣而有天下。身不失天下之顯名,尊為天 子,富有四海之內。宗廟饗之,子孫保之。武王末受命,周公成文、武之德,追 王大王、王季,上祀先公以天子之禮。斯禮也,達乎諸侯大夫,及士庶人。父為 大夫,子為士,葬以大夫,祭以士。父為士,子為大夫,葬以士,祭以大夫。期 之喪,達乎大夫。三年之喪,達乎天子。父母之喪,無貴賤,一也。」

    子曰:「武王、周公,其達孝矣乎!夫孝者,善繼人之志,善述人之事者也。 春秋修其祖廟,陳其宗器,設其裳衣,薦其時食。宗廟之禮,所以序昭穆也。序 爵,所以辨貴賤也。序事,所以辨賢也。旅酬下為上,所以逮賤也。燕毛,所以 序齒也。踐其位,行其禮,奏其樂,敬其所尊,愛其所親,事死如事生,事亡如 事存,孝之至也。郊社之禮,所以事上帝也。宗廟之禮,所以祀乎其先也。明乎 郊社之禮、□嘗之義,治國其如示諸掌乎!」

    哀公問政。子曰:「文武之政,布在方策。其人存,則其政舉;其人亡,則 其政息。人道敏政,地道敏樹。夫政也者,蒲盧也。故為政在人,取人以身,修 身以道,修道以仁。仁者人也。親親為大;義者宜也。尊賢為大。親親之殺,尊 賢之等,禮所生也。在下位不獲乎上,民不可得而治矣!故君子不可以不修身; 思修身,不可以不事親;思事親,不可以不知人,思知人,不可以不知天。」

    「天下之達道五,所以行之者三。曰:君臣也,父子也,夫婦也,昆弟也, 朋友之交也,五者天下之達道也。知,仁,勇,三者天下之達德也,所以行之者 一也。或生而知之,或學而知之,或困而知之,及其知之,一也。或安而行之, 或利而行之,或勉強而行之,及其成功,一也。子曰:好學近乎知,力行近乎仁, 知恥近乎勇。知斯三者,則知所以修身;知所以修身,則知所以治人;知所以治 人,則知所以治天下國家矣。」

    「凡為天下國家有九經,曰:修身也。尊賢也,親親也,敬大臣也,體群臣 也。子庶民也,來百工也,柔遠人也,懷諸侯也。修身則道立,尊賢則不惑,親 親則諸父昆弟不怨,敬大臣則不眩,體群臣則士之報禮重,子庶民則百姓勸,來 百工則財用足,柔遠人則四方歸之,懷諸侯則天下畏之。齊明盛服,非禮不動。 所以修身也;去讒遠色,賤貨而貴德,所以勸賢也;尊其位,重其祿,同其好惡, 所以勸親親也;官盛任使,所以勸大臣也;忠信重祿,所以勸士也;時使薄斂, 所以勸百姓也;日省月試,既廩稱事,所以勸百工也;送往迎來,嘉善而矜不能, 所以柔遠人也;繼絕世,舉廢國,治亂持危。朝聘以時,厚往而薄來,所以懷諸 侯也。凡為天下國家有九經,所以行之者一也。」

    「凡事豫則立,不豫則廢。言前定則不□合,事前定則不困,行前定則不疚, 道前定則不窮。在下位不獲乎上,民不可得而治矣。獲乎上有道,不信乎朋友, 不獲乎上矣;信乎朋友有道,不順乎親,不信乎朋友矣;順乎親有道,反諸身不 誠,不順乎親矣;誠身有道,不明乎善,不誠乎身矣。誠者,天之道也;誠之者, 人之道也。誠者不勉而中,不思而得,從容中道,聖人也。誠之者,擇善而固執 之者也。」

    「博學之,審問之,慎思之,明辨之,篤行之。有弗學,學之弗能,弗措也; 有弗問,問之弗知,弗措也;有弗思,思之弗得,弗措也;有弗辨,辨之弗明, 弗措也;有弗行,行之弗篤,弗措也。人一能之己百之,人十能之己千之。果能 此道矣。雖愚必明,雖柔必強。」


    唯天下至誠,為能盡其性;能盡其性,則能盡人之性;能盡人之性,則能盡 物之性;能盡物之性,則可以贊天地之化育;可以贊天地之化育,則可以與天地 參矣。

    其次致曲。曲能有誠,誠則形,形則著,著則明,明則動,動則變,變則化。 唯天下至誠為能化。

    至誠之道,可以前知。國家將興,必有禎祥;國家將亡,必有妖孽。見乎著 龜,動乎四體。禍福將至,善,必先知之;不善,必先知之。故至誠如神。

    誠者自成也,而道自道也。誠者物之終始,不誠無物。是故君子誠之為貴。 誠者非自成己而已也,所以成物也。成己,仁也;成物,知也。性之德也,合外 內之道也,故時措之宜也。

    故至誠無息。不息則久,久則征;征則悠遠,悠遠則博厚,博厚則高明。博 厚,所以載物也;高明,所以覆物也;悠久,所以成物也。博厚配地,高明配天, 悠久無疆。如此者,不見而章,不動而變,無為而成。天地之道,可一言而盡也。 其為物不貳,則其生物不測。天地之道:博也,厚也,高也,明也,悠也,久也。 今夫天,斯昭昭之多,及其無窮也,日月星辰系焉,萬物覆焉。今夫地,一撮土 之多。及其廣厚,載華岳而不重,振河海而不洩,萬物載焉。今夫山,一卷石之 多,及其廣大,草木生之,禽獸居之,寶藏興焉,今夫水,一勺之多,及其不測, 黿、鼉、蛟龍、魚鱉生焉,貨財殖焉。《詩》曰:「惟天之命,於穆不已!」蓋 曰天之所以為天也。「於乎不顯,文王之德之純!」蓋曰文王之所以為文也,純 亦不已。

    大哉!聖人之道洋洋乎!發育萬物,峻極於天。優優大哉!禮儀三百,威儀 三千。待其人然後行。故曰:苟不至德,至道不凝焉。故君子尊德性而道問學。 致廣大而盡精微。極高明而道中庸。溫故而知新,敦厚以崇禮。是故居上不驕, 為下不倍;國有道,其言足以興;國無道,其默足以容。《詩》曰:「既明且哲, 以保其身。」其此之謂與!

    子曰:「愚而好自用,賤而好自專,生乎今之世,反古之道:如此者,災及 其身者也。」非天子,不議禮,不制度,不考文。今天下車同軌,書同文,行同 倫。雖有其位,苟無其德,不敢作禮樂焉;雖有其德。苟無其位,亦不敢作禮樂 焉。子曰:「吾說夏禮,杞不足徵也。吾學殷禮,有宋存焉。吾學周禮, 今用之,吾從周。」

    王天下有三重焉,其寡過矣乎!上焉者雖善無徵,無徵不信,不信民弗從; 下焉者雖善不尊,不尊不信,不信民弗從。故君子之道:本諸身,徵諸庶民,考 諸三王而不繆,建諸天地而不悖,質諸鬼神而無疑,百世以俟聖人而不惑。質諸 鬼神而無疑,知天也;百世以俟聖人而不惑,知人也。是故君子動而世為天下道, 行而世為天下法,言而世為天下則。遠之則有望,近之則不厭。《詩》曰:「在 彼無惡,在此無射。庶幾夙夜,以永終譽!」君子未有不如此而蚤有譽於天下者 也。

    仲尼祖述堯舜,憲章文武:上律天時,下襲水土。辟如天地之無不持載,無 不覆幬,辟如四時之錯行,如日月之代明。萬物並育而不相害,道並行而不相悖, 小德川流,大德敦化,此天地之這所以為大也。

    唯天下至聖為能聰明睿知,足以有臨也;寬裕溫柔,足以有容也;發強剛毅, 足以有執也;齊莊中正,足以有敬也;文理密察,足以有別也。溥博淵泉,而時 出之。溥博如天,淵泉如淵。見而民莫不敬,言而民莫不信,行而民莫不說。是 以聲名洋溢乎中國,施及蠻貊。舟車所至,人力所通,天之所覆,地之所載,日 月所照,霜露所隊,凡有血氣者,莫不尊親,故曰配天。

    唯天下至誠,為能經綸天下之大經,立天下之大本,知天地之化育。夫焉有 所倚?肫肫其仁!淵淵其淵!浩浩其天!苟不固聰明聖知達天德者,其孰能知之?

    《詩》曰:「衣錦尚絲□」,惡其文之著也。故君子之道,暗然而日章;小 人之道,的然而日亡。君子之道:淡而面不厭,簡而文,溫而理,知遠之近,知 風之自,知微之顯,可與入德矣。《詩》云:「潛雖伏矣,亦孔之昭!」故君子 內省不疚,無惡於志。君子之所不可及者,其唯人之所不見乎!《詩》云:「相 在爾室,尚不愧於屋漏。」故君子不動而敬,不言而信。《詩》曰:「奏假無言, 時靡有爭。」是故君子不賞而民勸,不怒而民威於金夫鉞。《詩》曰:「不顯惟 德!百辟其刑之。」是故君子篤恭而天下平。《詩》云:「予懷明德,不大聲以 色。」子曰:「聲色之於以化民。末也。」《詩》曰:「德□如毛。」毛 猶有倫,上天之載,無聲無臭,至矣!

(*) Some sayings of Confucius
(*) Extracts from "大學 Great Learning"

(*) Law of GOD and His Commandments
(*) Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
(*) Other Teachings of Jesus
(*) Hymn loved by Chinese
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