Confucian Analects Quotes and Commentary 為政 Wei Zheng #12








Confucian Analects Quotes and Commentary 為政 Wei Zheng #12


Confucian Analects Quotes and Commentary 為政 Wei Zheng #2

(PD) Patriarchs of Zen cropped, sized, color enhanced, and text added by Larry Neal Gowdy.


Larry Neal Gowdy

Copyright ©2019 June 04, 2019



A man who only reads books about violins, while never himself experiencing the act of playing a violin firsthand, may be given the title of being an 'expert', but the man is merely a vessel of word-knowledge... the man is hollow inside.

A man who only reads books about ideologies, while never himself experiencing the ideologies firsthand, may be given the title of being an 'expert', but the man is merely a vessel of word-knowledge... the man is hollow inside.

A man who only reads books about dao, while never himself experiencing dao firsthand, may be given the title of being an 'expert', but the man is merely a vessel of word-knowledge... the man is hollow inside.

Vessels are utensils... tools... mere devices for the purpose, and value, of containing things that the vessels themselves are not.

Again, a vessel is a vessel... vessels do not themselves possess the purposes and values of the things that are placed within the vessels.

Vessels are created for the purpose of holding things that are usually of greater value than the vessels themselves.

Word-knowledge, is deemed by most people, to be of more value than the vessel's life that carries the word-knowledge.

Some vessels, are of air-dried clay... some vessels, of fine enameled ceramics... some vessels, of bronze or other metals... most commonly, the vessels' composing materials reflect the importance and value of the things that are to be placed within the vessels. Gold and silver, to hold treasures... fine ceramics, or bronze, to hold the ashes of ancestors'... wood and straw, to carry fruits and vegetables... brown clay, to hold common liquids... paper, to carry disposables... cheap plastics, to hold cheap foods...

Vessels, themselves, have no value beyond that of performing the purpose of why the creators created the vessels.



Vessels have no say in their own existence... vessels cannot choose to change their shapes... vessels cannot choose to self-improve... vessels have no choice.

Vessels, as related to human life, have no inner warmth... no glow of heart... no dao of self-awareness... no chidao of self-creativity... no analyses of right and wrong... no depth of feeling... empty inside...


子曰君子不器

'Zi say: Junzi not vessel.'


Public domain translations of 為政 Wei Zheng #12:

"The Master said, "The accomplished scholar is not a utensil."" (James Legge, 1890

"The great man is not a mere receptacle." (Anonymous, 1900)

"The Master said, A gentleman is not a vessel." (Leonard A. Lyall, 1909)

"The higher type of man is not like a vessel which is designed for some Special use." (Lionel Giles, 1910)

Legge's choice of words, "accomplished scholar", inferred, incorrectly, that it is possible for a scholar of words to somehow not be a vessel of words.

Giles' translation, although embellished into a miniature commentary, did point to a valid interpretation. Giles' footnote added:

"That is to say, he is not limited in his functions like a vessel or implement, not "borné" or a man of one idea." (Lionel Giles, 1910)

Further into Giles' translations of the Analects, Giles also wrote:

"Tzŭ Kung asked, saying: What, Sir, is your opinion of me?—I would liken you, Tz‘ŭ, replied the Master, to a vessel limited in its function. —What sort of vessel? asked Tzŭ Kung. —A richly ornamented sacrificial vessel, was the reply.[1]"

"...[1] It is said elsewhere in the Analects (see p. 94) that "the higher type of man is unlike a vessel designed for some special use," which means that his moral capacity is not narrow and limited. Tzŭ Kung, then, it seems, had not fully grasped the higher principles of morality, was wanting in breadth of mind and the larger outlook on life. His aptitudes, however, were excellent so far as they went, and the Master compliments him hero on his proficiency in things relating to religious ceremonial." (Lionel Giles, 1910)

Ingredients, everything in this Reality is composed of ingredients... by what ingredients exist within an individual's heart, dictate what the individual is.

Selfishness is an ingredient... many people, only selfish... their lives, are vessels of dirty selfishness...

Belief, is an ingredient... many people, only believe... their lives, are vessels of imagined beliefs...

Virtue, is composed of numerous creative ingredients... some people, virtuous... their lives, are vessels inwardly glowing of warmth of virtue...

Choice... it is each individual's choice, to be a mere vessel of dirty things, or, to create, and to carry, the glow of beautiful virtue...