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  1. I once tried thinking for an entire day, but I found it less valuable than one moment of study.
  2. Since the nature of people is bad, to become corrected they must be taught by teachers and to be orderly they must acquire ritual and moral principles.
  3. A person is born with a liking for profit.
  4. In antiquity the sage kings recognized that men’s nature is bad and that their tendencies were not being corrected and their lawlessness controlled.
  5. A person is born with feelings of envy and hate. If he gives way to them, they will lead him to violence and crime, and any sense of loyalty and good faith will be abandoned.
  6. Thus, that one can find no place to walk through the breadth of the earth is not because the earth is not tranquil but because the danger to every step of the traveler lies generally with words.
  7. If there were no human nature, then there would be nothing for deliberate effort to be applied to. If there were no deliberate effort, then human nature would not be able to beautify itself.
  8. Those whose character is mean and vicious will rouse others to animosity against them.
  9. If the impulse to daring and bravery is too fierce and violent, stay it with guidance and instruction.
  10. Mencius said that human nature is good. I disagree with that.
  11. When you concentrate on agriculture and industry and are frugal in expenditures, Heaven cannot impoverish your state.
  12. When a man sees something desirable, he must reflect on the fact that with time it could come to involve what is detestable. When he sees something that is beneficial, he should reflect that sooner or later it, too, could come to involve harm.
  13. In order to properly understand the big picture, everyone should fear becoming mentally clouded and obsessed with one small section of truth.
  14. When people lack teachers, their tendencies are not corrected; when they do not have ritual and moral principles, then their lawlessness is not controlled.
  15. If what the heart approves conforms to proper patterns, then even if one’s desires are many, what harm would they be to good order?
  16. Thus, anybody who follows this nature and gives way its states will be led into quarrels and conflicts, and go against the conventions and rules of society, and will end up a criminal.
  17. Human nature is what Heaven supplies.
  18. Quarreling over food and drink, having neither scruples nor shame, not knowing right from wrong, not trying to avoid death or injury, not fearful of greater strength or of greater numbers, greedily aware only of food and drink — such is the bravery of the dog and boar.
  19. Pride and excess bring disaster for man.
  20. The person attempting to travel two roads at once will get nowhere.

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