Proper Dharma Seal I
Chapter 2: To Govern
(12) The Master said, “An exemplary person is not like an implement.”
The Master said. Confucius spoke again. An exemplary person is not like an implement. An exemplary person is not the same as a vessel or utensil. For example, a teacup can only be used for drinking tea, while a rice bowl is solely used for eating rice. All implements have a specific function and are not multipurpose entities. However, an exemplary person is capable of doing just about anything; he is not like a rigid vessel or utensil that can only be used as a container and nothing else. This is the meaning of the line: “An exemplary person is not like an implement.” As human beings, we should be capable of undertaking a variety of different tasks, because we are not implements that serve only one function. For instance, a tape recorder can only record sounds. For sounds to be emitted, you will have to insert a cassette tape into it; otherwise, it won’t do anything. It is necessary for people to control its functions.
Since human beings are the most intelligent beings around, they can manipulate anything and not be controlled by others. That’s why it is said that an exemplary person is not like an implement. You should not think that people are analogous to a vessel or utensil. That means to say, people are not robots. Nowadays, aren’t there many robots around? An exemplary person is not a robot. Although a robot is able to perform many tasks, it is not capable of thinking because it lacks a brain and a mind.
(13) Zigong inquired about the mark of an exemplary person. The Master replied, “His actions take precedence over his words. He talks about his deeds only subsequently.”
The Master replied, “His actions take precedence over his words. He talks about his deeds only subsequently.” Confucius then explained: As an exemplary person, you should, first of all, put into action what you intend to say and set a personal example. You must keep good faith and not renege on your promises. Furthermore, you should go to the extent of keeping your deeds to yourself, instead of uttering empty words that are not backed by action. It is therefore necessary for ‘action to take precedence over words.’ Whatever it is that I intend to do, I must first carry it out accordingly. He talks about his deeds only subsequently. It is only later on that you tell other people about it. This is the mark of an exemplary person.
(14) The Master said, “An exemplary person is impartial and does not set up factions; a petty person forms cliques and is biased.”
The Master said. “An exemplary person is impartial and does not set up factions.” Once again, Confucius explains to his students about the definition of an exemplary person. Such a person does not take part in sectarian activities. The character ‘比’(bì) means ‘faction’ or ‘clique.’ An exemplary person is one who believes in commonality and universality and does not subscribe to any particular party or sect. A petty person forms cliques and is biased. Conversely, a petty person gangs up with his friends to form a clique, mutually showing off their existence as an exclusive grouping. This is where an exemplary person differs from a petty person.
「子曰」：孔子又說了，「君子不器」： 君子不像一個器皿似的。器皿，譬如茶杯只可以用來喝茶、飯碗只可以用來吃飯； 一切的器皿，只有一樣的用途，不能有多種的用途。可是君子做什麼都可以的，他不像器皿那麼死板板的，只可以裝東西， 旁的就不會了！這是「君子不器」。所以我們人做事情，要什麼都可以做；因為我們不是一個器皿，不是就一個用途。好像錄音機只可以錄音，你叫它說話，得放錄音帶，才能出聲；你若不放，它就不會了，要人來支配它。 人為萬物之靈，可以支配一切，而不是被一切來支配的，所以「君子不器」；你不要以為人就像一個器皿，也就是人不是機器人。現在不是有很多機器人嗎？君子不是一個機器人；那個機器人，雖然它能做很多事情，但是它沒有思想，它不夠腦 筋，沒有心的。
「子貢問君子」：子貢，是孔子一個學生，他問怎麼樣叫一個君子？你看！他大 約聽說「君子不器」，他還不明白，所以又問怎麼才叫個「君子」。 「子曰：先行其言，而後從之」：孔子就說了，說怎麼叫「君子」啊？君子要先把自己所要說的話去做去，要以身作則， 不能言而不行、不能說了不算，必須要言而有信；甚至於你做到了而不說，不是說了然後不做。這就是要「先行其言」，我先要照著我所要說的事情那樣去做；「而後從之」：而後才告訴人。這是君子。
「子曰」，「君子周而不比」：孔子又給弟子解釋了，什麼叫「君子」啊？君子是沒有黨的；比，就是個「黨」。君子是普遍的、是大同的，而沒有黨、沒有派的，這叫「君子」。「小人比而不周」： 小人就弄出一個黨，朋比為奸、互相標 榜，有一個黨、有一個派，這是「比而不周」。這君子和小人，分別就在這兒。