18.2

The magistrate Liuxia Hui was fired three times.

People asked him, “Why don’t you go to another state?”

Liuxia Hui replied, “If I serve in a straight way, where can I go where the same thing won’t happen to me? If I wanted to go crooked, why would I bother to leave the land of my parents?”

18.3

Duke Jing of Qi invited Confucius to serve him and considered how to treat him.

“I can’t treat him the way the head of the Jisun family is treated in Lu. I’ll treat him as if his position is somewhere between the head of the Jisun family and the head of the Mengsun family.” Later, he added, “I’m too old. I can’t employ him.”

Hearing this, Confucius left.

18.5

As Jie Yu, the Madman of Chu, passed Confucius’ carriage, he sang,

Pheonix, Pheonix, virtue has declined!

The past is beyond repair, but the future still has a chance!

Enough, enough!

Danger for those in office!”

Confucius stepped down from his chariot, hoping to speak with Jie Yu, but he ran off and Confucius never got a chance to talk to him.

18.6

Chang Ju and Jie Ni were yoked together, plowing the fields. Confucius, who was passing by, sent Zilu to ask where the river crossing was.

Chang Ju asked, “Who’s that holding the carriage reigns?”

“Confucius,” replied Zilu.

“Confucius from Lu?”

“Yes.”

“Then he already knows where the river crossing is.”

Zilu then asked Jie Ni the same question.

“And who are you?” asked Jie Ni.

“Zilu.”

“Zilu the student of Confucius from Lu?”

“I am.”

“The water keeps moving forward, all over the world. Who can change it? Why do you bother following someone who keeps running from one ruler to another? Wouldn’t it be better to follow someone who has given up this world altogether?”

The two of them went back to their work.

Zilu reported this conversation to Confucius, who furrowed his brow and said, “I can’t flock with birds and beasts! Who am I supposed to keep company with, if not other human beings? If the Way prevailed in the world, I wouldn’t have to reform it!”

18.7

While traveling with Confucius, Zilu fell behind and met an old man carrying a basket on his staff.

Zilu asked him, “Sir, have you seen my teacher?”

The old man replied, “You look like someone who hasn’t worked with his four limbs and can’t tell between the different kinds of grain. Who can your teacher be?”

The old man then planted his staff in the ground and started weeding.

Zilu watched him respectfully.

The old man took Zilu in for the night. He killed a chicken, and cooked the chicken and millet for his guest. He then introduced Zilu to his two sons.

Zilu caught up with Confucius the next day and reported what had happened. Confucius said, “He is a recluse,” and has Zilu take him back to see the old man. When they got there, however, the old man had gone.

Zilu said, “It’s not right to withdraw from public life. If a person knows not to abandon the obligations of the young to the old, how can he abandon the obligations of the subject to the ruler? He tries to keep himself pure, but brings chaos to a basic human relationship. A noble person serves the state, even if it’s obvious that the Way can’t prevail.”

18.8

Those who withdrew from the world were Bo Yi and Shu Qi; Yu Zhong, Yi Yi, and Zhu Zhang; Liuxia Hui and Shao Lian.

Confucius said, “Never compromising, never accepting insult—that’s Bo Yi and Shu Qi. Liuxia Hui and Shao Lian compromised and suffered insults, but their words were morally sound and their actions always followed their plans—they managed that much.

“Yu Zhong and Yi Yi hid themselves away and gave up speech. They remained pure, and they were expedient in giving up the world.

“But I am different from all these. I have no preconceived rules on what should and shouldn’t be done.”

18.9

Music Master Zhi left for Qi. Gan, the master of the second course, went to Chu. Liao, master of the third course, left for Cai. Master of the fourth course, Que, went to Qin.

The drummer Fangshu crossed the Yellow River valley and the hand drum player, Wu, crossed the Han River Valley. The Master’s assistant, Yang, and Xiang, who played the stone chimes, took to the sea.

18.10

The Duke of Zhou told his son, the Duke of Lu, “The noble person does not forget family. Nor does the noble person give ministers cause to complain that they’re not trusted. Nor does the noble person abandon old friends without great cause. Nor does the noble person expect any one person to be good at everything.”