Zizhang said, “A person is sufficient if they are ready to lay down their lives to follow orders, keep fairness in mind when faced with opportunities for personal gain, conduct sacrifices with respect, and mourn with sorrow.”
Zizhang said, “If a person embraces virtue half-heartedly or follows the Way without much determination, should we really say that they’ve embraced virtue, or that they follow the Way?”
Students of Zixia asked Zizhang about making friends. Zizhang asked, “What did Zixia teach you?”
“Zixia taught us, ‘Associate with the right kind of people and avoid the wrong kind.’”
Zizhang replied, “I was taught something else. I was taught that the noble person respects the worthy and tolerates the ordinary people. The noble person applauds the good and takes pity on those who have a hard time being good.
“If I’m worthy, who can I not tolerate? If I’m not worthy, people will surely avoid me, so on what grounds could I avoid them?”
Zixia said, “Even if a byway is minor, there’s certainly something to appreciate about it. Still, if you follow it too far, you can get bogged down, so the noble person doesn’t go down the byways.”
Zixia said, “If you assess daily what you still need to learn, and remember month-by-month what you’ve already learned—well, then, we can say that you really love learning.”
Zixia said, “To study broadly and stick to your purpose, to ask questions about matters that are pressing to you—humaneness can be found in this.”
Zixia said, “Craftsmen live in their workshops to perfect their craft. The noble person keeps learning to perfect their Way.”
Zixia said, “A small person will always make excuses to cover up their mistakes.”
Zixia said, “A noble person has three appearances. From a distance, they inspire awe. When you approach, they are warm. When you hear their words, they are insightful and demanding.”
Zixia said, “The noble person earns the trust of the people before putting them to work. Without that trust, they’ll feel ill-used.
“The noble person earns the trust of a ruler before remonstrating with him. Without that trust, the ruler will feel slandered.”
Zixia said, “Major principles should never be transgressed, but there is room for some flexibility in minor matters.”
Ziyou said, “Zixia’s students are well-trained when it comes to sweeping and mopping, answering the door, and saying hello and goodbye. But these are just details. When it comes to the fundamentals, though, they’re completely lost. How is this possible?”
When Zixia heard this, he said, “Ziyou is way off-base! When it comes to the Way of the noble person, how can a teacher know if someone is ready to understand from the start, or if they’ll get frustrated and lose interest?
“It’s like planting grass and trees. They have to be separated into categories and planted in the spots that suit them. How can he slander the Way of the noble person like that? After all, it’s only a sage that masters it from beginning to end.”
Zixia said, “If a person in office has energy to spare, they should devote it to learning. If a person dedicated to learning has energy to spare, they should take office.”
Ziyou said, “When mourning, express grief and then come to a stop.”
Ziyou said, “My friend, Zizhang, does difficult things—but he has not reached full humaneness.”
Zengzi said, “Zizhang is imposing. It’s not easy to develop humaneness side-by-side with him.”
Zengzi said, “Confucius told me, ‘Even if a person never gives their utmost, they might when mourning their parents.’”
Zengzi said, “Confucius told me, ‘It’s possible to match Meng Zhuangzi’s filiality in most respects. But in keeping his father’s officials and not changing his father’s policies? That would be very hard to match.’”
The Meng family appointed Yang Fu as a magistrate, and he asked Zengzi for advice.
Zengzi said, “Those who rule have departed from the Way and left the common people adrift without moral guidance for a long time now. If you solve a case, be compassionate, not triumphant.”
Zigong said, “Zhouxin wasn’t as evil as his reputation makes him out to be. That’s why a noble person hates living downstream from public opinion—all the world’s filth ends up there.”
Zigong said, “A noble person’s errors are like an eclipse. Everyone sees them. But when they correct the error, everyone looks up in admiration.”
Gongsun Chao, a counselor in Wei, asked Zigong , “Who did Confucius learn from?”
Zigong replied, “The way of King Wen and King Wu never completely disappeared. It always remained with the people. The worthy retained its major points and the unworthy retained its minor points. All of them had some aspects of the way of King Wen and King Wu.
“So there was no one from whom Confucius couldn’t have learned something and no single teacher from whom he could have learned everything.”
Shusun Wushu said to his ministers at court, “Zigong is worthier than Confucius.”
When Zifu Jingbo reported this to Zigong, Zigong replied, “Let’s make an analogy of the walls surrounding a house. My walls are only shoulder-high, so anyone passing by can peer over the top and see the elegance of the house.
“Confucius’ walls, on the other hand, are many yards taller, so unless you come in through the gate, you’ll never see the beauty of the ancestral hall or the splendor of all the buildings within. Very few people have made it through that gate, though, so it’s no surprise that Shusun Wushu would say what he said.”
Shusun Wushu disrespected Confucius, but Zigong said, “There’s no point in even trying. Confucius can’t be disparaged.
“The worthiness of other great people is like a hill. You can climb to the top of a hill. But Confucius is like the sun and the moon. You can’t reach them. Even if people want to cut themselves off from the sun and the moon, how could this touch the sun and moon? This just shows they overestimate themselves.”
Chen Ziqin said to Zigong, “Surely you’re just being reverent towards your teacher. How could Confucius be more worthy than you?”
“With just a single word, a person can reveal their wisdom, or expose their ignorance,” Zigong replied, “that’s why you have to choose your words carefully.”
Zigong continued, “Confucius can’t be matched, just like you can’t climb the sky! If he had been put in charge of a state or a ruling family, he would have fulfilled the saying,
‘He raised them up, and they stood on their own.
He set the direction, and they forged ahead.
He put them at ease, and they flocked to him.
He set them in motion, and they worked in harmony.’
“In life he was honored and in death he was mourned. How can he be equaled?”