To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right.
Do not be desirous of having things done quickly. Do not look at small advantages. Desire to have things done quickly prevents their being done thoroughly. Looking at small advantages prevents great affairs from being accomplished.
When things are investigated, then true knowledge is achieved; when true knowledge is achieved, then the will becomes sincere; when the will is sincere, then the heart is set right ; when the heart is set right, then the personal life is cultivated; when the personal life is cultivated, then the family life is regulated; when the family life is regulated, then the national life is orderly; and when the national life is orderly, then there is peace in this world.
Tsze-Kung asked, saying, is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one's life? The Master said, Is not Reciprocity such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.
The Master said, "At fifteen I set my heart on learning; at thirty I took my stand; at forty I came to be free from doubts; at fifty I understood the Decree of Heaven; at sixty my ear was attuned; at seventy I followed my heart's desire without overstepping the line."
The Master said: "Observe what a man has in mind to do when his father is living, and then observe what he does when his father is dead. If, for three years, he makes no changes to his father's ways, he can be said to be a good son."
There are three things the gentleman should guard against. In youth when the blood and ch'i are still unsettled he should guard against the attraction of feminine beauty. In the prime of life when the blood and ch'i have become unyielding, he should guard against bellicosity. In old age when the blood and ch'i have declined, he should guard against acquisitiveness.