(551 BC-479 BC)

Confucius (551 BC-479 BC)

The Great Learning
Doctrine of the Mean

Edited by Peter Y. Chou

What the Great Learning teaches is to show illustrious virtue,
to educate the people, and to strive for the highest excellence.

Once the point of rest is known, its pursuit may be determined,
once the goal is set, a calm tranquillity may be attained to.
To that calmness there will follow a tranquil repose.
In that repose there may be careful meditation,
and that meditation leads to the desired end.

Things have their root and branches.
Affairs have their beginning and end.
To know what is first & last will lead
one near to the Great Learning.

The ancients who wished to show illustrious virtue
in the kingdom, first ordered well their own states.
Wishing to order well their states,
they first regulated their families.
Wishing to regulate their families,
they first cultivated themselves.
Wishing to cultivate themselves,
they first purified their hearts.
Wishing to purify their hearts,
they became sincere in their thoughts.
Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts,
they first extended to the utmost their knowledge.
Such extension of knowledge, lay in the investigation of things.

Things being investigated, knowledge became complete.
Their knowledge being complete, their thoughts were sincere.
Their thoughts being sincere, their hearts were then purified.
Their hearts being purified, their persons were cultivated.
Their persons being cultivated, their families were regulated.
Their families being regulated, their states were well governed.
Their states being well governed, the whole kingdom became peaceful.

What is truly is within will be manifested without.

The Great Learning, 1-5, VI.2 (Legge translation revised by PYC)


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

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

The Doctrine of the Mean, I.4-5 (Legge translation revised by PYC)


Confucius (551 BC-479 BC)
The Great Learning & Doctrine of the Mean
(Translated by James Legge), Dover, NY, 1971
Analects of Confucius,
(Translated by D. C. Lau), Penguin, NY, 1979

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P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (3-31-2003)