Confucius: Xue Er

🏷  Chinese interlinear recommended · text   —   by Gerry · Mar 2022 · 4329 words

The book Xue Er by Confucius is once again a text that teaches spookery, i.e. ruling one’s subjects through total deception.

Introduction

The 學而 Xué Ér is an ancient Chinese book allegedly written by Confucius, who is said to have lived around 500 BCE. As with many famous works, already the title doesn’t make much sense: It simply repeats the first 2 words and means “studying, but…” which carries no information. The possible punny spook title makes more sense: 學貳 xué èr means something like “imitating the assistants” or “imitating the secondary [people]”. For more proof, this meaning is repeated in the 2nd phrase, as Chinese poetry often uses repetition: 學貳勢傒 xué èr shì xī means “imitate an assistant, pretend to be a servant”. This sums up the whole concept of spookery: nepotist rulers feigning to be independent little people.

One term that is central to the text is 君子 jūnzǐ, which means both “noble character” and “nobleman”. Another central term is 孝弟 xiàodì “filial and fraternal piety”, which puns with 效低 xiàodī “imitating the lower [classes]”. The text was written by aristocrats for aristocrats, and teaches them how to hide their nepotism by posing as commoners!

This ancient Chinese text is proof that cryptocracy, i.e. the concept of ruling by systematically deceiving one’s subjects, was invented independently in many different regions around the world, typically in the most powerful & hierarchic civilizations. We find this concept in ancient Semitic texts, in Greek & Latin texts, in ancient Egypt, and now in ancient China. The Fertile Crescent and China were nowhere close to each other, neither geographically nor culturally. Still, the concept of systematic deception is present in both regions. This proves that it was developed independently: Once a civilization had advanced sufficiantly to allow the rulers to deceive their subjects without retribution or even detection, they did simply that, and even wrote encrypted texts about it!

How to read this

Imitate the assistants, pose as a servant.

Xue Er 1.1.a

Encrypted: Confucius says: Imitating the assistants / the secondary [people], posing outwardly [as] a servant [doing] it, [is it] not also governing [them]?

Official: Confucius says: Learning but [with] [constant] time [and] habit [doing] it, [is it] not also pleasing?

Confucius
: master, teacher
zi  
: master, teacher
Confucius

says:
yuē: say
yue  
yuē: say
says:

Imitating
xué: imitate
xue  
xué: learn
Learning

the assistants / the secondary [people],
èr: assistant; èr: assistant, secondary
er  
ér: but
but [with]

posing outwardly
shì: pose, outward appearance
shi  
shí: time
[constant] time

[as] a servant
: servant; : servant
xi  
: practice, habit
[and] habit

[doing] it,
zhī: it, them
zhi  
zhī: it, them
[doing] it,

[is it] not also
: not; : also
bu yi   不亦
: not; : also
[is it] not also

governing [them]?
: manage, govern
yue  
yuè: pleasing
pleasing?

 
: (question)
hu   乎?
: (question)
 

Xue Er 1.1.a

Beguile by feigning to be a stranger.

Xue Er 1.1.b

Encrypted: Beguiling [by being] similar to [one] from a faraway place coming, [is it] not also commanding [them]?

Official: Having friends from a faraway place coming, [is it] not also happy?

Beguiling
yòu: beguile, lure, mislead
you  
yǒu: there is
Having

[by being] similar to [one]
péng: similar, equal
peng  
péng: friend
friends

from
: from
zi  
: from
from

a faraway place
遠方 yuǎnfāng: far away
yuan fang   遠方
遠方 yuǎnfāng: far away
a faraway place

coming,
lái: come
lai  
lái: come
coming,

[is it] not also
: not; : also
bu yi   不亦
: not; : also
[is it] not also

commanding [them]?
: compel, force, lead, command
le  
: happy, cheerful
happy?

 
: (question)
hu   乎?
: (question)
 

Xue Er 1.1.b

You can be a nobleman even if people don’t know you are.

Xue Er 1.1.c

Encrypted: [If] people do not know [him], yet [he does] not feel discomfort, [is he] not also [still] a nobleman?

Official: [If] people do not know [him], yet [he does] not feel discomfort, [is he] not also a noble character?

[If] people
rén: man, people
ren  
rén: man, people
[If] people

do not
: not
bu  
: not
do not

know [him],
zhī: know
zhi  
zhī: know
know [him],

yet
ér: but, yet
er  
ér: but, yet
yet

[he does] not
: not
bu  
: not
[he does] not

feel discomfort,
yùn: feel hurt
yun  
yùn: feel hurt
feel discomfort,

[is he] not also
: not; : also
bu yi   不亦
: not; : also
[is he] not also

[still] a nobleman?
君子 jūnzǐ: nobleman
jun zi   君子
君子 jūnzǐ: noble character
a noble character?

 
: (question)
hu   乎?
: (question)
 

Xue Er 1.1.c

If you imitate the lowly folk, they stop being violent towards you.

Xue Er 1.2.a

Encrypted: Youzi says: Such acting persons, if [they do] imitate the lower [folk] but [those folk still are] prone to offending [their] superiors, [this would be] rare.

Official: Youzi says: Such acting persons, if [they are] of filial piety and fraternal piety, but [they still are] prone to offending [their] superiors, [this would be] rare.

Youzi
有子 yǒuzǐ: Youzi
you zi   有子
有子 yǒuzǐ: Youzi
Youzi

says:
yuē: say
yue  
yuē: say
says:

Such
: he, his, one, such, if
qi  
: he, his, one, such, if
Such

acting
wéi: act as, become
wei  
wéi: act as, become
acting

persons,
rén: man, person
ren  
rén: man, person
persons,

if [they do]
: indeed, if
ye  
: indeed, if
if [they are]

imitate
xiào: imitate
xiao  
xiào: filial piety
of filial piety

the lower [folk]
: low, beneath
di  
: younger brother
and fraternal piety,

but [those folk still are]
ér: but, yet
er  
ér: but, yet
but [they still are]

prone
hào: prone to
hao  
hào: prone to
prone

to offending
fàn: violate, offend
fan  
fàn: violate, offend
to offending

[their] superiors,
shàng: upper, superior
shang  
shàng: upper, superior
[their] superiors,

 
zhě: one who (is)
zhe  
zhě: one who (is)
 

[this would be] rare.
xiǎn: rare
xian  
xiǎn: rare
[this would be] rare.

 
: (final particle)
yi   矣;
: (final particle)
 

Xue Er 1.2.a

If people are not violent, there will be no rebellion.

Xue Er 1.2.b

Encrypted: [And if they are] not [even] prone to violating [their own] superior, but [that they would still be] prone to create disorder & rebellion, not [something like] this there is indeed.

Official: [And if they are] not [even] prone to violating [their own] superior, but [that they would still be] prone to create disorder & rebellion, not [something like] this there is indeed.

[And if they are] not [even]
: not
bu  
: not
[And if they are] not [even]

prone to
hào: prone to
hao  
hào: prone to
prone to

violating
fàn: violate, offend
fan  
fàn: violate, offend
violating

[their own] superior,
shàng: upper, superior
shang  
shàng: upper, superior
[their own] superior,

but
ér: but, yet
er  
ér: but, yet
but

[that they would still be] prone
hào: prone to
hao  
hào: prone to
[that they would still be] prone

to create
zuò: do, make
zuo  
zuò: do, make
to create

disorder & rebellion,
luàn: disorder, unrest, rebellion
luan  
luàn: disorder, unrest, rebellion
disorder & rebellion,

 
zhě: one who (is)
zhe  
zhě: one who (is)
 

not
wèi: not yet
wei  
wèi: not yet
not

[something like] this
zhī: this
zhi  
zhī: this
[something like] this

there is
yǒu: there is
you  
yǒu: there is
there is

indeed.
: indeed
ye  
: indeed
indeed.

Xue Er 1.2.b

You can fake your origin, and still lead the lower classes.

Xue Er 1.2.c

Encrypted: [Because even if] a nobleman has no [known] origin, [his] capital / current established position [will] yet lead the multitudes. Imitating the lower [classes], if [one is] [like] this, that [is] [just] faking a person of him the origin, [is it not]?

Official: A noble character pursues this foundation, [having] established this, [there will] yet [all other] principles grow. Filial and fraternal duty, if [one is] [like] this, that [is] becoming a person of virtue of it the origin, [is it not]?

[Because even if] a nobleman
君子 jūnzǐ: nobleman
jun zi   君子
君子 jūnzǐ: noble character
A noble character

has no
: not have
wu  
: engage, seek, pursue
pursues

[known] origin,
běn: source, origin
ben  
běn: source, origin
this foundation,

[his] capital / current established position
本利 běnlì: capital and profit
ben li   本立
běn: this, present, current; : stand, standing, establish
[having] established this,

[will] yet
ér: but, yet
er  
ér: but, yet
[there will] yet

lead
dǎo: guide, lead
dao  
dào: path, principle
[all other] principles

the multitudes.
shēn: multitude
sheng  
shēng: born, grow
grow.

Imitating the lower [classes],
xiào: imitate; : low, beneath
xiao di   孝弟
xiào: filial piety; : younger brother
Filial and fraternal duty,

if [one is]
: also, if
ye  
: also, if
if [one is]

[like] this,
zhě: one who (is), this
zhe  
zhě: one who (is), this
[like] this,

that [is]
: one, it, that
qi  
: one, it, that
that [is]

[just] faking
wěi: false, fake, forged
wei  
wéi: act as, become
becoming

a person
rén: man, person
ren  
rén: humane, person of virtue
a person of virtue

of him
zhī: him, it
zhi  
zhī: him, it
of it

the origin,
běn: source, origin
ben  
běn: source, origin
the origin,

[is it not]?
: and; : (final particle)
yu   與!
: and; : (final particle)
[is it not]?

Xue Er 1.2.c

Skillful words & fake appearances change a person.

Xue Er 1.3.a

Encrypted: Confucius says: Skillful words [and] another appearance, [can] visibly change a person!

Official: Confucius says: Skillful words [and overly] good appearance, [this is] rare [for a true] person of virtue!

Confucius
: master, teacher
zi  
: master, teacher
Confucius

says:
yuē: say
yue  
yuē: say
says:

Skillful words
qiǎo: skillful; yán: words, speech
qiao yan   巧言
qiǎo: skillful; yán: words, speech
Skillful words

[and] another
lìng: other, another
ling  
lìng: good, excellent
[and overly] good

appearance,
: color, look, appearance
se  
: color, look, appearance
appearance,

[can] visibly
xiǎn: visible, apparent
xian  
xiǎn: rare
[this is] rare

change
: different, other
yi  
: (final particle)
 

a person!
rén: man, person
ren   仁!
rén: person of virtue
[for a true] person of virtue!

Xue Er 1.3.a

Check your role-playing for believability.

Xue Er 1.4.a

Encrypted: Zengzi says: I myself [every] day [in] three [ways] [do I] shape my [own] self: [When] as [another] person [I do] imitate, [do I appear] yet not correct [enough]? [When] fooling [my] retainers [in] pretense, [do I appear] yet not believable / accurate [enough]? [When I] play a role, [am I] not thorough [enough]?

Official: Zengzi says: I myself [every] day [in] three [ways] [do I] inspect my [own] self: [When] for [another] person [I do] work, [am I] yet not honest [enough]? [When] with [my] friends [I do] associate, [am I] yet not truthful [enough]? [When I am] taught, [do I] not learn [enough]?

Zengzi
曾子 zēngzǐ: Zengzi
zeng zi   曾子
曾子 zēngzǐ: Zengzi
Zengzi

says:
yuē: say
yue  
yuē: say
says:

I myself
: I, my
wu  
: I, my
I myself

[every] day
: day
ri  
: day
[every] day

[in] three [ways]
sān: three
san  
sān: three
[in] three [ways]

[do I] shape
xíng: appear, look, shape
xing  
xǐng: inspect, examine
[do I] inspect

my [own]
: I, my
wu  
: I, my
my [own]

self:
shēn: body, oneself
shen  
shēn: body, oneself
self:

[When] as
wèi: as, for
wei  
wèi: as, for
[When] for

[another] person
rén: man, person
ren  
rén: man, person
[another] person

[I do] imitate,
: imitate
mou  
móu: seek, work for
[I do] work,

[do I appear] yet
ér: but, yet
er  
ér: but, yet
[am I] yet

not
: not
bu  
: not
not

correct [enough]?
zhòng: hit the mark, correct, successful
zhong  
zhōng: loyal, honest
honest [enough]?

 
: (question)
hu   乎?
: (question)
 

[When] fooling
: cheat, deceive, fool
yu  
: together with
[When] with

[my] retainers
朋友 péngyǒu: retainers
peng you   朋友
朋友 péngyou: friend
[my] friends

[in] pretense,
jiǎo: pretend, feign
jiao  
jiāo: make friends
[I do] associate,

[do I appear] yet
ér: but, yet
er  
ér: but, yet
[am I] yet

not
: not
bu  
: not
not

believable / accurate [enough]?
xìn: believe, accurate
xin  
xìn: truthful, true
truthful [enough]?

 
: (question)
hu   乎?
: (question)
 

[When I] play a role,
zhuāng: play a role, pretend
chuan  
chuán: teach
[When I am] taught,

[am I] not
: not
bu  
: not
[do I] not

thorough [enough]?
: detailed, meticulous, thoroughly
xi  
: practice, study
learn [enough]?

 
: (question)
hu   乎?
: (question)
 

Xue Er 1.4.a

Xue Er 1.5.a

Encrypted: Confucius says: Leading of thousands of people a nation, [one must] bury / plaster [one’s] affairs and yet be believable, guard against the crowds and obstruct the people, make the people forget the truth.

Official: Confucius says: Leading of a thousand chariots a nation, [one must] respectfully [treat] [one’s] affairs and yet be truthful, be economic [with] using [resources] and love the people, employing the people at [the right] seasons.

Confucius
: master, teacher
zi  
: master, teacher
Confucius

says:
yuē: say
yue  
yuē: say
says:

Leading
dǎo: lead, guide, direct
dao  
dǎo: lead, guide, direct
Leading

of thousands
qiān: thousand
qian  
qiān: thousand
of a thousand

of people
shēn: multitude, crowd
sheng  
shèng: chariot
chariots

 
zhī: (possession)
zhi  
zhī: (possession)
 

a nation,
guó: nation
guo  
guó: nation
a nation,

[one must] bury / plaster
jǐn: bury, plaster
jing  
jìng: respect
[one must] respectfully [treat]

[one’s] affairs
shì: matter, affair
shi  
shì: matter, affair
[one’s] affairs

and yet
ér: but, yet
er  
ér: but, yet
and yet

be believable,
xìn: believe, accurate
xin  
xìn: trust, true, truthful
be truthful,

guard against
jiè: guard against
jie  
jié: economize, save
be economic

the crowds
yōng: crowd, crowd of people
yong  
yòng: use
[with] using [resources]

and
ér: but, yet, and
er  
ér: but, yet, and
and

obstruct
ài: hinder, obstruct, block
ai  
ài: like, love
love

the people,
rén: man, people
ren  
rén: man, people
the people,

make
使 shǐ: make, cause, employ
shi   使
使 shǐ: make, cause, employ
employing

the people
mín: people
min  
mín: people
the people

forget
: lose, forget, fail to remember
yi  
: at
at

the truth.
shí: truth, fact, reality
shi  
shí: time, season
[the right] seasons.

Xue Er 1.5.a

A ruler must imitate the lowly people.

Xue Er 1.6.a

Encrypted: Confucius says: A ruler person [when he] enters [office?] [he should] imitate the little [people], [and when he] goes out [he should still] imitate the lowly [people].

Official: Confucius says: A young person [when he] enters [the house] then [he should be] filial, [and when he] goes out then [he should still behave like] a junior.

Confucius
: master, teacher
zi  
: master, teacher
Confucius

says:
yuē: say
yue  
yuē: say
says:

A ruler
: emperor, sovereign
di zi  
: junior
A young

person
: person
zi  
: son, child
person

[when he] enters [office?]
: enter
ru  
: enter
[when he] enters [the house]

[he should] imitate
: follow, imitate
ze  
: but, then
then

the little [people],
xiǎo: small
xiao  
xiào: filial piety
[he should be] filial,

[and when he] goes out
chū: go out
chu  
chū: go out
[and when he] goes out

[he should still] imitate
: follow, imitate
ze  
: but, then
then

the lowly [people].
: low, beneath
di  
: junior
[he should still behave like] a junior.

Xue Er 1.6.a

A ruler must hinder & obstruct the multitudes.

Xue Er 1.6.b

Encrypted: [He should be] careful, yet believable. [He should] hinder and obstruct the multitudes and capture [???] the people.

Official: [He should be] sincere, and truthful. [He should] overflow [with] love [to] all and be close to persons of virtue.

[He should be] careful,
jǐn: sincere, careful
jin  
jǐn: sincere, careful
[He should be] sincere,

yet
ér: but, yet
er  
ér: but, yet
and

believable.
xìn: believe, accurate
xin  
xìn: trust, true, truthful
truthful.

[He should] hinder
fáng: hinder
fan  
fàn: flood, extensive
[He should] overflow

and obstruct
ài: hinder, obstruct
ai  
ài: like, love
[with] love

the multitudes
zhòng: crowd, multitude
zhong  
zhòng: many, numerous
[to] all

and
ér: but, yet
er  
ér: but, yet
and

capture [???]
qín: catch, seize, hold, capture
qin  
qīn: close, intimate
be close

the people.
rén: man, person, people
ren  
rén: humane, person of virtue
to persons of virtue.

Xue Er 1.6.b

If possible, he should still feign to be friendly.

Xue Er 1.6.c

Encrypted: [But if he is] able to have extra ability, then [he should] use it to [still] imitate gentleness [??].

Official: [And if he is] able to have extra strength, then [he should] use it to study literature.

[But if he is] able to
xíng: go, do, able, capable
xing  
xíng: go, do, able, capable
[And if he is] able to

have
yǒu: have, there is
you  
yǒu: have, there is
have

extra
: extra, surplus
yu  
: extra, surplus
extra

ability,
: strength, power, ability
li  
: strength, power, ability
strength,

then
: but, then
ze  
: but, then
then

[he should] use it
: by means of, use
yi  
: by means of, use
[he should] use it

to [still] imitate
xué: imitate
xue  
xué: learn, study
to study

gentleness [??].
wēn: mild, soft, tender, gentle
wen  
wén: writing, literary
literature.

Xue Er 1.6.c

If your appearance needs to be changed, you can borrow a role.

Xue Er 1.7.a

Encrypted: Zixia says: [If one’s] appearance is changed [for another] role, [if for] the affairs [of] a governor [he] can borrow [for] himself a veil [mask], [if for] the affairs of a ruler [he] can conceal his self,

Official: Zixia says: [If] a virtuous man has changed [from worshiping?] beauty, [if for] the affairs [of his] parents [he] can exhaust his energy, [if for] the affairs of [his] ruler [he] can devote his self,

Zixia
子夏 zǐxià: Zixia
zi xia   子夏
子夏 zǐxià: Zixia
Zixia

says:
yuē: say
yue  
yuē: say
says:

[If one’s] appearance
顯現 xiǎnxiàn: appearance, appear
xian xian   賢賢
xián: virtuous, worthy
[If] a virtuous man

is changed
: change, exchange
yi  
: change, exchange
has changed

[for another] role,
: appearance, theatrical role
yi se   易色
: beauty, lust
[from worshiping?] beauty,

[if for] the affairs
shì: matter, thing, affair
shi  
shì: matter, thing, affair
[if for] the affairs

[of] a governor
府幕 fǔmù: government advisor
fu mu   父母
父母 fùmǔ: parents
[of his] parents

[he] can
néng: can, able
neng  
néng: can, able
[he] can

borrow
jiè: lend, borrow
jie  
jié: exhaust
exhaust

[for] himself
: he, his
qi  
: he, his
his

a veil [mask],
: veil
li  
: power, strength, ability
energy,

[if for] the affairs
shì: matter, thing, affair
shi  
shì: matter, thing, affair
[if for] the affairs

of a ruler
jūn: lord, ruler
jun  
jūn: lord, ruler
of [his] ruler

[he] can
néng: can, able
neng  
néng: can, able
[he] can

conceal
zhē: cover, hide, conceal
zhi  
zhì: devote, cause
devote

his
: he, his
qi  
: he, his
his

self,
shēn: body, oneself
shen  
shēn: body, oneself
self,

Xue Er 1.7.a

Pretense in speech must have the servants’ trust.

Xue Er 1.7.b

Encrypted: [if when being] with [his] retainers, [his] pretense in speech is but having [their] trust.

Official: [if when being] with [his] friends, [his] exchange of speech is but having truth.

[if when being] with
: and, with
yu  
: and, with
[if when being] with

[his] retainers,
朋友 péngyǒu: retainers
peng you   朋友
朋友 péngyou: friend
[his] friends,

[his] pretense
jiǎo: pretend, feign
jiao  
jiāo: turn over, make friends
[his] exchange

in speech
yán: speech, talk, words
xing  
yán: speech, talk, words
of speech

is but
ér: but, yet
er  
ér: but, yet
is but

having
yǒu: have, there is
you  
yǒu: have, there is
having

[their] trust.
xìn: trust, believe
xing  
xìn: truthful
truth.

Xue Er 1.7.b

Some say we don’t need imitation, but we do.

Xue Er 1.7.c

Encrypted: Although [some will] say [one does] not [need] imitation [here], [but] we [in] our position [need] imitation.

Official: Although [some will] say [he has] not learned [anything here], [but] I certainly [would] say [that] he [has] learned [something].

Although
suī: although
sui  
suī: although
Although

[some will] say
yuē: say
yue  
yuē: say
[some will] say

[one does] not
wèi: not, have not
wei  
wèi: not, have not
[he has] not

[need] imitation [here],
xué: imitate
xue  
xué: learn
learned [anything here],

[but] we [in] our
吾輩 wúbèi: we, us
wu bi   吾必
: I; : must, certainly
[but] I certainly

position
位置 wèizhi: place, position
wei zhi   謂之
wèi: speak, say; zhī: him
[would] say [that] he [has]

[need] imitation.
xué: imitate
xue  
xué: learn
learned [something].

 
: (final particle)
yi  
: (final particle)
 

Xue Er 1.7.c

🏷  Chinese interlinear recommended · text