About The Great Learning
Said to have been written by Confucius, The Great Learning is one of the
cannonical Confucian works.
The Confucian scholar Chu Hsi (Zhu Xi) promoted The Four Books for the
essential study of Confucianism: The Analects, The Mencius, The Great
Learning, and The Doctrine of the Mean.
Below is a copy of The Great Learning, translated by James Legge. A printable
copy is available at this link. Also, Daniel Gardner has a fine translation of
The Great Learning in his work, The Four Books,The Basic Teachings of the
Later Confucian Tradition.
The Great Learning
Translated by James Legge
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. To that calmness there will succeed a tranquil repose. In that
repose there may be careful deliberation, and that deliberation will be
followed by the attainment of the desired end.
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.
The ancients who wished to illustrate illustrious virtue throughout the
kingdom, first ordered well their own states. Wishing to order well
their states, they first regulated their families. Wishing to regulate
their families, they first cultivated their persons. Wishing to cultivate
their persons, they first rectified their hearts. Wishing to rectify their
hearts, they first sought to be sincere in their thoughts. Wishing to be
sincere in their thoughts, they first extended to the utmost their
knowledge. Such extension of knowledge lay in the investigation of
Things being investigated, knowledge became complete. Their
knowledge being complete, their thoughts were sincere. Their thoughts
being sincere, their hearts were then rectified. Their hearts being
rectified, their persons were cultivated. Their persons being cultivated,
their families were regulated. Their families being regulated, their
states were rightly governed. Their states being rightly governed, the
whole kingdom was made tranquil and happy.
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.
It cannot be, when the root is neglected, that what should spring from
it will be well ordered. It never has been the case that what was of
great importance has been slightly cared for, and, at the same time,
that what was of slight importance has been greatly cared for.
(From “Confucian Analects, The Great Learning, & The Doctrine of the
Mean,” Dover Publications, ISBN 0-486-22746-4)
The Great Learnilng
Achieve Lasting Happiness
Copyright © 2009-2013 Robert E. Canright, Jr.