11.3

The virtuous were Yan Hui, Min Ziqian, Ran Boniu, and Zhonggong. The well-spoken were Zai Wo and Zigong. The skillful administrators were Ran Qiu and Zilu. Ziyou and Zixia excelled in scholarship.

11.8

When Yan Hui died, his father asked Confucius for his carriage, so that he could sell it and buy an outer coffin.

Confucius replied, “Whether they’re gifted or not, all sons are loved by their parents. When my own son died, we had an inner coffin, but not an outer coffin. Since my rank is right below the grand officers’, it wouldn’t be proper for me to walk on foot.”

11.11

When Yan Hui died, the other students wanted to give him a lavish funeral. Confucius said, “It’s not proper.” The students gave Yan Hui a lavish funeral anyway.

Confucius said, “Yan Hui looked on me as a father, but in this matter I couldn’t look after him as a father should. This isn’t my fault, friends, but yours.”

11.12

Zilu asked Confucius about serving the spirits. Confucius replied, “If you can’t yet serve the living, how can you be able to serve the spirits?”

Zilu then said, “May I ask about death?”

Confucius replied, “You don’t yet understand life. What could you understand about death?”

11.14

When the men of Lu were rebuilding the treasury building, Min Ziqian said, “Why don’t we just rebuild it in the old style? Why do we have to change it completely?”

Confucius said, “This man doesn’t say much, but when he does, he hits the mark.”

11.16

Zigong asked Confucius, “Who is more worthy, Zhizhang or Zixia?”

Confucius replied, “Zhizhang overshoots the mark and Zixia undershoots it.”

Zigong said, “Then Zhizhang is superior.”

Confucius replied, “Overshooting the mark is just as bad as undershooting it.”

11.17

Even though the head of the Chi family was wealthier than the Duke of Zhou, Ran Qiu collected more taxes to make him even richer.

Confucius said, “He’s no follower of mine. My students, you have my permission to beat the drum and attack him if you want.”

11.22

Zilu asked if it was a good idea to put a teaching into practice immediately after he first heard it.

Confucius replied, “While your father and older brother are still alive, how can you put teaching into practice immediately?”

When Ran You asked the same question, however, Confucius replied, “Oh yes, put it into practice right away.”

Gongxi Hua asked, “When Zilu asked you, you told him he shouldn’t be in such a hurry because his father and older brother are still alive. But when Ran You asked you the same thing, you told him to practice immediately. Can I ask why?”

Confucius said, “Ran You tends to hold back, so I push him forward. Zilu has the energy of two people, so I hold him back.”

11.24

Ji Ziran asked, “Could Zilu and Ran Qiu be called great ministers?”

Confucius replied, “Oh, I thought you were going to ask about something else. You want to know about Zilu and Ran Qiu?

“Great minister serves their ruler by means of the Way, and if they can’t, they’ll quit. Zilu and Ran Qiu are what we could call ordinary ‘team players.’”

Ji Zaran asked, “So they’ll always follow orders?”

Confucius replied, “No, not if they were ordered to kill their fathers or their rulers.”

11.25

Zilu got Zigao appointed as Prefect of Bi.

Confucius said, “You’re harming someone’s son!

Zilu said, “There are people to govern there and altars to look after. Why should it be necessary to read books to be regarded as learned?

Confucius replied, “This is why I don’t like glib people.”

11.26

Zilu, Zeng Xi, Ran Qiu, and Gongxi Hua were sitting with Confucius, when said, “Although I am older than you, forget about it that for now. You are all always saying, ‘The word doesn’t recognize my talents.’ But suppose your talents were fully acknowledged. What would you do then?”

Zilu rushed to respond first, “In a state of a thousand war chariots, wedged between two much larger states, under siege by invading armies, drought, and famine. Put me in charge for three years, and I would bring the people courage and direction.”

Confucius smiled at him.

He then asked Ran Qiu, “How about you?”

Ran Qiu replied, “In a territory of sixty to seventy li, or maybe fifty to sixty li, put me in charge for three years, and the people would have their material needs met. As for ritual and music, that would have to be handled by a nobleman.”

Confucius then asked, “And what about you, Gongxi Hua?”

Gongxi Hua replied, “I can’t say that I can do this for sure, but I’d really like to try. In services at the Great Ancestral Hall or in audience with the ruler, I’d like to play the part of a minor assistant, dressed in ceremonial cap and gown.”

Confucius asked, “Zeng Xi, how about you?”

Zeng Xi, who had been playing the zither, set it down, the last chord still ringing out. He stood up.

“What I’d like to do,” Zeng Xi said, “is very different from these three.”

“No harm in that,” Confucius replied. “We’re all just sharing our personal aspirations.”

Zeng Xi said, “In the late spring, after the clothes have been made, I’d like to go with five or six companions and six or seven youngsters and take a swim in the Yi River. We’d enjoy the breeze at the Rain-Dance Altar, and then return home singing.”

Confucius sighed and said, “I am with Zeng Xi.”

The three others left, but Zeng Xi hung back and asked Confucius, “What did you think about what the other three said?”

Confucius replied, “They each just shared their own wishes.”

Zeng Xi asked, “Why did you smile at Zilu?”

Confucius said, “To govern a state requires ritual, and Zilu’s words showed no deference. That’s why I smiled.”

Zeng Xi then asked, “And Ran Qui, he was asking for a state, wasn’t he?”

Confucius said, “Of course. Have you ever seen a territory of sixty to seventy li, or fifty to sixty li, that wasn’t a state?”

Zeng Xi asked, “And Gongxi Hua, was he also talking about a state?”

Confucius replied, “Ceremonies in the Great Ancestral Hall and audiences with the ruler—what are these but affairs of state? And if Gongxi Hua was there playing a minor role, who would be playing the major role?”