1.15

Zigong asked, “To be a poor person who doesn’t grovel or a rich person who isn’t arrogant. What do you think of that?”

Confucius replied, “Not bad, not bad. But not as good as being poor and enjoying the Way or being rich and loving ritual.”

Zigong said, “The Book of Odes says,

Like cutting and filing,

like grinding and polishing.

Is that what you mean?”

Confucius said, “Ah Zigong, you’re the kind of person I can talk about The Book of Odes with. I give you a little and you come back with the rest!”

8.4

When Zengzi became ill, Meng Jingzi visited him.

Zengzi said, “When a bird is about to die, its song is melancholy. When a man is about to die, his words are excellent.

“There are three things a noble person should value in the Way. In conduct and bearing, avoiding violence and arrogance. In facial expression, welcoming trustworthiness. In words and tone of voice, avoiding coarseness and vulgarity. As to the sacrificial vessels, there are professionals to deal with those matters.”

9.3

Confucius said, “The linen cap is prescribed by the rites, but these days they use a silk cap. That’s thrifty—I’ll go with the consensus on that.

“Bowing at the bottom of the stairs is prescribed by the rites, but these days they bow at the top of the stairs. That’s arrogant—I’ll go against the consensus on that and bow at the bottom of the stairs.”

14.1

Xian asked about shameful conduct.

Confucius replied, “When the Way prevails in your state, take office. To take office when the Way does not prevail—that is shameful conduct.”

Xian then asked, “If a person is free of arrogance, self-importance, resentment and desire, can their conduct be called humane?”

Confucius replied, “It’s certainly difficult, but I don’t know if I’d call it humane.”

17.24

Zigong asked, “Does a noble person have hatreds?”

Confucius answered, “Yes, a noble person hates those who point out the faults of others, those who slander their superiors, those who have courage but lack ritual, and those who are bold but lack understanding.”

He continued, “And what about you? Do you have hatreds?”

“Yes,” replied Zigong, “I hate those who steal other peoples’ ideas and then act like they’re smart. I hate those who think being arrogant is courageous. And I hate those who think insulting people is straightforwardness.”

20.2

Zizhang asked Confucius, “What qualifies a person to govern?”

Confucius replied, “If a person honors the five beautiful traits and eschews the four evils, they’re qualified to govern.”

Zizhang asked, “And what are the five beautiful traits?”

Confucius replied, “A noble person is generous, but not wasteful. A noble person works the people hard, but isn’t resented for it. A noble person has desires, but isn’t greedy. A noble person has authority, but isn’t arrogant. A noble person is dignified, but not fierce.”

Zizhang asked, “What do you mean by generous, but not wasteful?”

Confucius replied, “If you let people pursue what’s beneficial for them, isn’t that being generous, but not wasteful? If you put people to work on tasks they’re capable of, isn’t that working people hard, but not being resented for it? If what you desire is humaneness, what room does that desire leave for greed? A noble person is respectful when dealing with the great and the few, the high and the lowly—isn’t that having authority without arrogance? A noble person dresses correctly and has a serious expression—people look at the noble person with awe. Isn’t this being dignified, but not fierce?”

Zizhang asked, “And what are the four evils?”

Confucius replied, “To execute people without first giving them instruction is cruelty. To demand results without first setting expectations is tyranny. To expect timely results after being slow in giving instructions is thievery. To dole out something you must hand over and being stingy about it is bureaucratic pettiness.”