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Ch'an Tsze-ch'in, addressing T...

Ch'an Tsze-ch'in, addressing Tsze-kung, said, 'You are too modest. How can Chung-ni be said to be superior to you?'

Tsze-kung said to him, 'For one word a man is often deemed to be wise, and for one word he is often deemed to be foolish. We ought to be careful indeed in what we say.

'Our Master cannot be attained to, just in the same way as the heavens cannot be gone up to by the steps of a stair.

'Were our Master in the position of the ruler of a State or the chief of a Family, we should find verified the description which has been given of a sage's rule:— he would plant the people, and forthwith they would be established; he would lead them on, and forthwith they would follow him; he would make them happy, and forthwith multitudes would resort to his dominions; he would stimulate them, and forthwith they would be harmonious. While he lived, he would be glorious. When he died, he would be bitterly lamented. How is it possible for him to be attained to?'

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