When speaking at court with his juniors, he was relaxed and friendly. When speaking with his superiors, he was straightforward, but respectful. When in the presence of the ruler, he showed reverence, but was collected.
When passing through the door of his ruler, he would draw himself in, as if the gate wasn’t large enough to accommodate him. He wouldn’t stand in the middle of the gate or step on the threshold. When he passed by the throne, his expression became serious, his steps, short and deliberate. His voice dropped to a whisper, as if he could barely get the words out.
When he lifted the hem of his robe to climb the steps, he again drew himself in, holding his breath as if he’d stopped breathing altogether. On leaving the ruler’s place, after he had gone back down the first step, his expression became relaxed. After reaching the bottom of the stairs, he’d glide back to his position like a bird and resume a reverent attitude.
When Confucius carried the jade tablet of his ruler, he drew himself in as if he couldn’t bear the weight. When it held it high, it was as if he was bowing to someone. When he held it low, it was as if he was offering it to someone. His expression was serious and concerned. His steps were short and controlled, as if his feet never left the ground.
During the presentation ritual, his expression was relaxed. In a private meeting, he was even more at ease.
Confucius didn’t sleep stiffly, like a corpse. At home, he was casual and at ease.