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SELECTIONS FROM THE BOOK OF RITES

by Confucius (553 BCE - 479 BCE, Spring and Autumn Period)
English translation: James Legge

DOCTRINE OF THE MEAN (EXCERPT)
When going to a distance, we must first traverse the space that is near.

In ascending a height, we must begin from the lower ground.

THE CONVEYANCE OF RITES (EXCERPT)

When the Grand course was pursued, a public and common spirit ruled all under the sky; they chose men of talents, virtue, and ability; their words were sincere, and what they cultivated was harmony. Thus men did not love their parents only, nor treat as children only their own sons.

A competent provision was secured for the aged till their death, employment for the able-bodied, and the means of growing up to the young. They showed kindness and compassion to widows, orphans, childless men, and those who were disabled by disease, so that they were all sufficiently maintained.

Men had their proper work, and women had their homes. They accumulated articles of value, disliking that they should be thrown away upon the ground, but not wishing to keep them for their own gratification. They labored with their strength, disliking that it should not be exerted, but not exerting it only with a view to their own advantage. In this way, selfish schemings were repressed and found no development.

Robbers, filchers, and rebellious traitors did not show themselves, and hence the outer doors remained open, and were not shut. This was the period of what we call the Grand Union.

── from Liji (Book of Rites)