2.19

Duke Ai asked, “How can I get the people to follow me?”

Confucius replied, “If you raise up the straight and apply them to the crooked, the people will follow you. If you raise up the crooked and apply them to the straight, though, they won’t.”

3.21

Duke Ai asked Zai Wo about the altar to the soil.

Zai Wo answered, “The Xia used pine and the Shang used cypress. But the Zhou, they say, used chestnut in order to instill the people with fear.”

After hearing about this, Confucius said, “Don’t try to explain what is already over and done with. Don’t try to criticize what’s already past. Don’t try to assign blame after something is past.”

6.3

Duke Ai asked Confucius which of his students loved to learn.

Confucius replied, “There was Yan Hui, he loved learning. He didn’t transfer his anger to the wrong person and he didn’t make the same mistake twice. But, he died young and nowadays there isn’t anyone who loved learning like he did. At least, I haven’t heard of anyone.”

12.9

Duke Ai asked Youzi, “We’ve had a famine this year and there aren’t enough revenues to run the state. What should I do?”

Youzi replied, “How about a 10% tax, as the Zhou used to levy?”

Duke Ai replied, “I can’t even get by on a 20% tax! How could I manage on 10%?”

Youzi said, “If the people have enough, you’ll have enough. But if the people don’t have enough, how can you expect to have enough?”

14.21

When Chen Chengzi assassinated Duke Chien, Confucius cleansed himself according to ritual and went to court. He reported to Duke Ai, saying, “Chen Chengzi has killed his ruler. I encourage you to punish him.”

Duke Ai replied, “Report this to the Three Families.”

Confucius said, “It’s only because I have an official rank that I felt duty-bound to make this report. And yet Duke Ai tells me to report it to the Three Families?”

Confucius then reported the matter to the Three Families, but they refused to do anything about it.

Confucius repeated, “It’s only because I have an official rank that I felt duty-bound to make this report.”