Female Four Books (Confucian)- aka The Four Books for Women - 女四書

Word Meanings Change Always

(PD) Wang Ximeng's A Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains (Cropping, text, and modifications by Larry Neal Gowdy)

Larry Neal Gowdy

Copyright ©2023 March 27, 2023

Female Four Books (Confucian)- aka The Four Books for Women - Nu Si Shu - 女四書

Why Female Four Books 女四書 (The Four Books for Women) Are Important

Within the ancient Chinese texts, there are good books and bad books. The good books are good because they are rational, coherent, and speak of useful topics. The bad books are bad (to some of us anyway) because they are incoherent, absurd, and speak of boring things like politics.

A recent curiosity was to investigate how many females were known to have been of high inner quality in the ancient China region. The search uncovered a title named Female Four Books (popularly named The Four Books for Women). The book is not ancient, but still the book was worthy of at least taking a peek to see if it might list some known high quality females from ancient times.

Female Four Books (The Four Books for Women) combines four book titles: Lessons for Women written around 90-100 A.D, Analects for Women written around 820 A.D., Teachings for the Inner Court written around 1405 A.D., and Short Records of Models for Women written around the 16th century. Having found the alleged original text online, I briefly translated a few paragraphs before choosing to stop (most any Chinese text more modern than about 200 B.C. fails to capture my interest). Too, Lessons for Women, Ban Zhao [Pan Chao, ca. 45-116] translated by Nancy Lee Swann (found at Lessons for Women china.usc.edu) has proven to be a good translation (actually the best translation of Chinese text that I myself have seen), thus freeing me from translating more than the first two paragraphs.

Customs are customs, and though it might have been a custom in some countries for females to be lower than slaves, in my personal world everyone is judged and graded solely upon their own personal inner qualities. The four books speak of an inferior female roll within Chinese Confucian cultures, which to me is wrong cultural behavior, and disinteresting to read of.

Out of curiosity, I searched for papers related to Female Four Books (aka The Four Books for Women), and found several. The darn curiosity forced me to read the entirety of the papers; bad choice. The papers were almost entirely about modern feminists yacking about how unfair it was that there were no female junzis. The following comments are mostly aimed at the papers.

Yes It Is True

There really do exist females who are of inner qualities that exceed the best of men. However, quality men and women are both very rare. The chances of a city dweller meeting a high quality individual, is almost zero.

Over thirty years ago, I met a new customer and his Asian family. His family was very polite, honorable, and the best that I had ever met, but the father, as he stepped southward through a north-east door , his spirit was indescribably clean of quality. I still feel awe when remembering my visit to their home. Let's say that his spirit-tone was as if a very mellow and resonate D note on a violin's G string.

About twenty years ago I was fortunate to be present when a young Native lady walked eastwardly past me in a Portales, New Mexico restaurant. Her spirit was earthy, the most Nature-based heart I had ever witnessed; a real human. Her memory also spawns awe. Let's say that her spirit-tone was as if very mellow and resonate B, D, and E chord on a violin's G string.

Another young lady, her spirit radiated the most beautiful depths, of which I have never witnessed in any other person. Memories of her aura exceed awe. Let's say that her spirit-tone was as if a chorus of oceans of harmonics of radiant gravities.

Inner quality does not exist within any one specific tone. Quality is not limited to any one religion, nor to any one dao-way. A top quality individual is of their own personal self-chosen and self-achieved quality, and never is a quality person the product of following someone else's footprints.

'Zi Zhang ask uniform-virtuous person him way. Zi say: Not walk-on footprint {also}, not enter-join {from-into} room-house.' (rough word-per-word draft translation of 先進 Xian Jin - Before Progress #20)

Following another person's path, can never lead to one's own inner quality. Entering a school or room to 'ear-mouth' words, can never lead to one's own inner quality. Wanting to become a junzi by following billions of people's footprints and words, can never lead to one's own inner quality.

Of the three individuals mentioned above, the Asian man's radiance described tones of previous influences (perhaps, Confucianism, Buddhist, Taoist, or others), but still his tone was predominately self-chosen. The Native lady's tone described influences of the old Native ways, but still her tone was self-chosen and self-created. The radiant tone of the third individual's was fully self-created with no influences from ideologies.

Confucian Junzi Quality

The Confucian idea of a junzi (jun zi - conceptually, a 'noble child' or a 'quality man' depending on how the word is intended) is generally the natural product of an individual who has conscious control over their own thoughts, and consciously chooses creative heart-felt behavior. Here, 'creative' is used as a name given to the product of combining harmonious ingredients together, which naturally and without effort create the new thing.

Combining outward behaviors, creates deceptive outer behaviors with no heart. Creating inward qualities, creates a heart that is naturally expressed with quality outward behavior. As obvious as a cave hole, deceptive behaviors are obvious. A quality man's quality outer behavior is an honest expression of his quality heart.

Several behaviors are common within a junzi-like individual: calm-level voice, centered emotions, constantly thinking, fair of judgments, values inner qualities above outer materialism, and filial piety. In the 1950s it was relatively common for people in the USA to exhibit the six behaviors, and the behavior was commonly referred to as being 'mature'. Maturity is easily observable within 1950s television programming. Times change, people change, cultures change, nations change, and now today, it is rare to hear a calm-level mature voice, emotional stability is nil, self-thinking is rarified, fairness is almost unheard of, and most all values are placed upon one's material profits.

[1] A calm, level voice is (or was) normal for individuals who mentally mature. From Qu Li Calm Voice: 'Song manners say: do-not not respect. Respectful like ponder, calm determine explain-speech, calm citizens {!}'. People who self-think, are able to think before speaking, and, able to beforehand rationalize choices of words relative to the listener's plausible reactions.

Maturity is (was) very normal for most people, but maturity is a created product that relies upon specific ingredients assembled in specific sequences. A mind needs life-events to learn from, and to then use the memories of the events to choose current choices. Life-events occur throughout life, including infancy. Giving a child an electronic toy or a cell phone instead of letting the child learn by playing, maturity cannot occur. Adult screaming, protests, and temper-tantrums are evidence of the lack of mental maturity.

[2] Centered emotions: 'Happy angry, grieve laugh, it have-not expressed, call it center' (word-per-word draft translation of 中庸 Zhong Yong). Being 'centered' is often believed to be a form of religious enlightenment (i.e. Buddhism and Zen). If an individual learns centeredness from a religion, a book, or a teacher, then the individual can never be centered, but rather, the individual merely self-hypnotized themselves into having fewer emotions. Centeredness naturally occurs as being the creation of maturity combined with self-thinking and self-will. If an individual is unable to effortlessly remain calm, then he is not mature, and not centered.

If one's heart is right, then he will be calm, mature, and centered.

[3] Constantly thinking is not possible for many people. Electronic games and cell phones eliminate thinking. Memorizing words in schools eliminates thinking. Following teachings of Confucianism, Christianity, Buddhism, Tao, etc., is not thinking.

'Master say: Way(dao) it not do {also}, I know it {-carry}. Know person-ist exceed it, stupid person not reach {also}. Way it not understand I know it {-carry}. Virtuous person-ist exceed it, not similar person-ist not reach {also}. (partial draft translation of 中庸 Zhong Yong #4)

A junzi exceeds what is written, and exceeds the common way-dao. Becoming a junzi cannot be achieved by following writings, including Confucianism's.

[4] Being fair of judgments requires life experiences of what was fair and unfair. Constant thinking analyzes the memories of life experiences. The right heart is the balance.

[5] Valuing inner qualities: 'Zi [Confucius] say: Junzi bosom virtue, tiny people bosom earthen-products (materialism). Junzi bosom fairness, tiny people bosom favoritism.' (word-per-word draft translation of 里仁 Li Ren - Inner Benevolence #11). With calmness, maturity, and constant thinking, a right heart values what is fair and is of the best available quality.

[6] Filial piety is an ingredient within Confucian ideals of what a junzi is, but filial piety cannot be honest nor true if the individual has not firsthand experienced a heart-felt bonding with his family. The Confucian idea of filial piety does not emphasize emotional bonding, but rather the written Confucian idea is to merely 'do this do that': pretend.

The Confucian comments on filial piety — obeying customs — contradict with the Confucian comments on benevolence and junzi behavior: 'Zi say: I not-yet meet beautiful(hao) benevolence person. Aberrant-heart not benevolence person. Beautiful(hao) benevolence person, nothing use, still his aberrant-heart. Not benevolence person, his act-as benevolence {-carry}, not send. Not benevolence person extend(add-to,augment) (similar) his own-moral-character.' (Li Ren #6).

The Li Ren quote is good because it touches on what is real in the real world; a person can pretend to be benevolent (follow the teacher's teachings), but the pretending does not send (emanate), and the fake benevolence just makes the deceitful person worse. Filial piety is similar; following the Confucian customs does not make a person filial. Unless the person actually does feel heart-felt caring for other people, then the person cannot be filial.

Giving a young child electronic toys instead of permitting the child to play and to learn through firsthand participation with other people, the effect is a lessening of emotional bonding. The result is a coldness towards other people, and a loss of filial piety.

Of the six, all of them rely upon one's own self-choices. No book, no ideology, and no teacher can be a substitute for one's own self-choices.

A junzi is self-created upon the ingredients of one's own self-chosen values.

Men and Women Are Not Equal

Regardless of what governments and women's libbers claim, males and females are not identical, nor the same, nor equal.

If females were 'equal' to males, then chess clubs and chess tournaments would have a similar percentage of males and females. It does not happen. If females were 'equal' to males, then the world's champion chess players would be females about half the time; it has never happened.

Activities that require specific types of reasoning, are predominately performed by males. Yes, some females are far superior to males on some topics, but the percentage of females within the 'thinking' arts is very sparse.

"Though a man might tame his mind, it is the woman who births his heart." Parallel is Alo and De Beauty: "Alo: True... there are boundaries of created things... we can rearrange things outside of ourselves, but we cannot create new things that come into existence from nothing... the only thing that we can create, is attribute... attribute then becomes the nascent of boundless creativity. ...Though a man may tame his own mind, it is the woman who births his heart..."

A worthy man's quality self may glow as a pleasing D note, but without a birthed heart, his spirit-tone will remain solitary. Similar applies for females. As with everything else in Nature, combining tones enables the creation of new tones that otherwise could never occur.

Most all known cultures throughout history interpreted the female as being inferior to the male, but the cultures were wrong; male and female are equally important for the creation of higher quality tones.

If a culture holds the female (or male) as inferior, then the culture itself will always remain inferior.

Regardless of whether a person admits it or not, all things are composed of ingredients. It makes no difference what ingredients are placed into baking bread, the finished product will always exhibit the ingredients. It makes no difference what prejudices are placed into baking a culture, the finished product will always exhibit the ingredients.

Nervous Laughter

Some females have voiced and bemoaned (bleated?) their opinion that Confucianism was against the idea of having female junzis. The vocal females thought that Confucianism ought to have given equal attention ('equal opportunity hand-out' as it is named here in the USA) to training females. The vocal females felt as though they had been snubbed by Confucianism, and the women now want to be "given" the opportunity to learn how to become a female junzi.

The vocal females exhibit all of the negative traits that permanently prevent the females from ever attaining a junzi-like quality (nor of any other quality). The females are unable to attain a calm-level voice, the females are unable to center and quiet their emotions, the females avoid thinking, the females are wanting favoritism instead of fairness, and the females desire outer materialism (junzi status) rather than striving for quality inner values.

Instead of the females simply choosing and becoming quality individuals themselves, the females are unthinking enough to assume that social status is the desired goal. No male junzi would waste his breath attempting to make reason with the females.

A related quote from Philosophical Natures: 'Zi said: Not offended, not start, not want-speak, not express-interest, to-hold-up one corner, not with three corners up, then not repeat {also}.' (draft translation from Shu Er 7.8))"

The females are not anxious to learn, they do not initiate a conversation, they do not want to speak of the topic, they show no interest, and they are only able to think of one angle (if any). If the females are disinterested in the topic, then there is no rational reason for a junzi-like individual to attempt to explain anything to the females.

An excellent example is of Nancy Lee Swann's translation of Lessons for Women, Ban Zhao [Pan Chao, ca. 45-116]. The translation is quite good, and is superior to most all other known Chinese translations of any topic and from any source, male or female. The key here is that Swann was interested in the topic, interested enough to invest years of her life into the study and promotion of Chinese history, sometimes reportedly without pay. And there was one of the keys necessary to achieve quality: having an interest in the topic. Without an interest in a topic, nobody will do well.

The papers published by the feminists, however, are, well, let's just say that the papers do not exhibit stellar thinking. Several features of the females' papers include [1] the females themselves refused to read the Confucian texts (no self-effort and no self-thinking), instead relying upon some very peculiar translations written by other people, [2] the females formed conclusions and arguments based upon the fully incorrect translations by James Legge et al, [3] the females were unable to mentally grasp even the absolute most simple of intentions within Confucian quotes, [4] the females believed that the sense of justice and virtue are able to be taught, [5] the females whined and repeatedly invented ad hoc excuses that 'poor unfortunate females' had to work at home and never had the opportunity to go to Confucian schools, [6] there exists a general (huge) lack of rational thinking throughout the papers, and [7] an utter absence of maturity.

Feminism today is de facto the 'tiny people bosom favoritism'. Females have always been superior to males in a lot of ways, but feminists are not intelligent enough to rationalize what is obvious to most everyone else. Feminists are not smart enough to win a chess tournament, nor smart enough to describe what benevolence means, nor smart enough to score above a zero on the SQ test of mental cognition, nor smart enough to rationalize that if they want to become a female junzi, then all they need to do is to become a quality individual themselves. Ah, but that idea causes a wind noise as a palm quickly passes over their heads.

Humorously, after reading the females' papers, as I sat at the breakfast table the next morning noisily drumming my fingers (an act I had never done before) while blankly looking up towards the right while in tormented thought, my wife laughed, her seeing how deeply disturbed I was from having been exposed to the aberrations of normal female logic. And there, that has an answer that feminists and other chauvinists are unable to mentally comprehend: all genders are inferior, until a male and female value the other above themselves.

The papers' feminists still have their hairy paws stuck out, waiting to be handed a title that they do not deserve, nor are worthy of, nor are they able to comprehend what the thing is that they desire to be handed. Surely Confucius chuckled at least once at a similar scenario.

If an individual is interested in the Female Four Books aka The Four Books for Women, a good source for the original 女四書 Chinese texts can be found at zh.wikisource.org.


There are no known historical recordings of high quality females, because, apparently, females as a whole have no interest in self-quality, nor an interest in any of the other six inner qualities.

Nevertheless, the discovery of Swann made the investigation profitable. Swann might not have been a female junzi, but her life's work proved her qualities to be very worthy of high honor and respect.

In response to the unhonorable feminists, I would like to see a world-wide fervor of females saying "NO!" to their current cultural customs, and to begin self-creating their own dao-way of self-quality. Might it ever happen? Well of course not, but we can still continue to prod and to wish that it might could happen.