1.2

Youzi said, “A young person who is filial and respectful of his parents and elders rarely becomes the kind of person who enjoys defying their superiors. And a person who does not enjoy defying their superiors does not create chaos.

“A noble person tends to the roots first. With the roots taken care of, the Way naturally grows. Isn’t filiality and respect for parents and elders the root of humaneness?”

1.6

Confucius said, “A young person should be filial to parents inside the home and respectful of elders outside the home. Conscientious and trustworthy, cherishing everyone, but with a special affection for the humane. If you have any energy left over, use it to study the cultural arts.”

1.7

Zixia said, “If you can appreciate character more than beauty, serve your parents tirelessly, give all of yourself in service to your ruler, and keep your word to your friends—though other people may say you lack learning, I would say you are very well-educated.”

2.5

Meng Yizi asked about filiality.

Confucius said, “Don’t diverge from them.”

Later, as Fan Chi was driving Confucius’ chariot, Confucius told him, “Meng Yizi asked me about filiality and I told him, ‘Don’t diverge from them.’”

Fan Chi asked, “What did you mean by that?”

Confucius said, “While your parents are alive, serve them according to ritual. When they die, bury them according to ritual. After they are gone, venerate them according to ritual.”

2.8

Zixia asked about filiality.

Confucius said, “The tough part is having the right demeanor. The young should take on the harder physical tasks and defer to their elders when food and wine is passed around, of course, but filiality is more than that.”

2.20

Ji Kangzi asked, “How can I get the people to be respectful, loyal, and hard-working?”

Confucius replied, “If you lead the people with dignity, they’ll be respectful. If you’re filial and compassionate, they’ll be loyal. If you promote the skilled and train the unskilled, they’ll be hard-working.”

2.21

Someone asked Confucius, “Why aren’t you involved in government?”

Confucius replied, “The Book of History says,

‘Filial! Just be filial!

And a friend to brothers, young and old.

This has influence on government.’

“Since this is taking part in government, why do I need to be ‘involved in government?’”

8.21

Confucius said, “I can’t find fault with Yu. He lived on the simplest food and drink, but he showed his filial devotion with lavish offerings to the spirits. He wore shabby clothes in his daily life, but his ceremonial robes and caps were elegant. He lived in a humble home, but he exhausted his strength building irrigation canals to water the fields. I can’t find fault with Yu.”

11.11

When Yan Hui died, the other students wanted to give him a lavish funeral. Confucius said, “It’s not proper.” The students gave Yan Hui a lavish funeral anyway.

Confucius said, “Yan Hui looked on me as a father, but in this matter I couldn’t look after him as a father should. This isn’t my fault, friends, but yours.”

11.22

Zilu asked if it was a good idea to put a teaching into practice immediately after he first heard it.

Confucius replied, “While your father and older brother are still alive, how can you put teaching into practice immediately?”

When Ran You asked the same question, however, Confucius replied, “Oh yes, put it into practice right away.”

Gongxi Hua asked, “When Zilu asked you, you told him he shouldn’t be in such a hurry because his father and older brother are still alive. But when Ran You asked you the same thing, you told him to practice immediately. Can I ask why?”

Confucius said, “Ran You tends to hold back, so I push him forward. Zilu has the energy of two people, so I hold him back.”

12.11

Duke Jing of Qi asked Confucius about government.

Confucius replied, “Let the ruler be a ruler, minister be a minister, father be a father, son be a son.”

The Duke said, “Excellent! If indeed, if the ruler is not a ruler, the ministers not ministers, fathers not fathers and sons not sons, even if I had grain, how could I eat it?”

13.18

The Governor of She told Confucius, “In my land, there is a righteous man. When his father stole a sheep, his son turned him in.”

Confucius replied, “The righteous men in my land are different. The father covers for the son and the son covers for the father. That’s righteous!”

13.20

Zigong asked, “What sort of people are good enough to be considered a good government official?”

Confucius replied, “People who conduct themselves with a sense of shame, and who can be sent abroad on missions without disgracing the mission. Those are the sort of people who can be considered good government officials.”

Zigong then asked, “And who is one step below that?”

Confucius replied, “People whose families consider them filial and whose fellow villagers consider them respectful of elders.”

Zigong asked, “And one step below that?”

Confucius answered, “Someone who keeps their word and always follows through on their actions. They may be stubborn and small-minded, but they qualify as the next step down.”

Zigong asked, “And how about those serving in government today?”

Confucius replied, “Ugh. They’re little tools. They don’t even count.”

17.9

Confucius said, “Little ones, why don’t you study the Odes? The Odes can give your spirit a kick in the pants and can give your mind keener eyes. They can help you adjust better in groups and make you more articulate when making a complaint. They teach you to serve your parents at home and your ruler abroad. They also make you familiar with the names of birds, animals, plants, and trees.”

17.21

Zai Wo questioned Confucius about the traditional three-year mourning period.

“One year is already too long. If a noble person gives up ritual for three years, the ritual will decay. If a noble person gives up music for three years, then music will fall apart. In the course of a year, as the old crop is eaten up, new crops grow for harvest. Four types of firewood—one for each season—have been used for kindling. A full year of mourning is quite enough.”

Confucius asked, “Would you be comfortable eating white rice and wearing silk after a year?”

“I would,” replied Zai Wo.

Confucius said, “If you’d feel comfortable, go right ahead then. When a noble person mourns, fine foods are not sweet, music brings no joy, and luxurious clothes bring no comfort, even around the house. These things don’t bring pleasure, so the noble person doesn’t indulge in them. But if you’d feel comfortable doing these things, go right ahead.”

After Zai Wo left, Confucius said, “He lacks humaneness. Children do not leave their parents arms for three years after they’re born, so three years’ mourning is the custom throughout the world. Didn’t Zai Wo even have three years of love from his parents?”

19.18

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.’