From the Son of Heaven down to the mass of the people, all must consider the cultivation of the person the root of everything besides.
Things have their root and their branches. Affairs have their end and their beginning. To know what is first and what is last will lead near to what is taught in the Great Learning.
What the great learning teaches, is to illustrate illustrious virtue; to renovate the people; and to rest in the highest excellence.
The point where to rest being known, the object of pursuit is then determined; and, that being determined, a calm unperturbedness may be attained to.
Among the appliances to transform the people, sound and appearances are but trivial influences.
The superior man examines his heart, that there may be nothing wrong there, and that he may have no cause for dissatisfaction with himself.
It is the way of the superior man to prefer the concealment of his virtue, while it daily becomes more illustrious, and it is the way of the mean man to seek notoriety, while he daily goes more and more to ruin.
All things are nourished together without their injuring one another. The courses of the seasons, and of the sun and moon, are pursued without any collision among them. The smaller energies are like river currents; the greater energies are seen in mighty transformations.
The way of Heaven and Earth may be completely declared in one sentence: They are without any doubleness, and so they produce things in a manner that is unfathomable.
Sincerity is that whereby self-completion is effected, and its way is that by which man must direct himself.
In all things success depends on previous preparation, and without such previous preparation there is sure to be failure.
To be fond of learning is to be near to knowledge. To practice with vigor is to be near to magnanimity. To possess the feeling of shame is to be near to energy.
Heaven, in the production of things, is sure to be bountiful to them, according to their qualities. Hence the tree that is flourishing, it nourishes, while that which is ready to fall, it overthrows.
In archery we have something like the way of the superior man. When the archer misses the center of the target, he turns round and seeks for the cause of his failure in himself.
The superior man does what is proper to the station in which he is; he does not desire to go beyond this. In a position of wealth and honor, he does what is proper to a position of wealth and honor. In a poor and low position, he does what is proper to a poor and low position.