3.19

Duke Ding asked how a leader should employ ministers, and how ministers should serve their leader.

Confucius said, “The leader should employ ministers according to ritual. The ministers should serve their leader with dutifulness and loyalty.”

13.15

Duke Ding asked if there’s a single phrase which could bring a state to prosperity.

Confucius replied, “No words can have that kind of effect. There is a saying that comes close, though: ‘Being a ruler is hard, and being a minister isn’t easy.’

“If this saying made a ruler realize the difficulty of the job, wouldn’t it come close to being a single phrase that could bring a state to prosperity?”

Duke Ding then asked, “Is there a single phrase which could ruin a state?”

Confucius replied, “No words can have that kind of effect. There is a saying that comes close, though: ‘There is only one joy in being a ruler: no one contradicts me.’

“If you’re right and no one contradicts you, that’s fine. But if you’re wrong and no one contradicts you—well, wouldn’t it come close to being a single phrase that could ruin a state?”