Confucius said, “Slick words and a plastic smile are rarely signs of humaneness.”
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.”
Confucius said, “If a person lacks humanity, what can their ritual be like? If a person lacks humanity, what can their music be like?”
Confucius said, “It’s the humaneness that makes the neighborhood. If you decide to live in a neighborhood that lacks humaneness, how can you be wise?”
Confucius said, “If you don’t have humaneness, you can’t deal with long stretches of hardship or long stretches of comfort. A humane person feels at home with humaneness. The merely clever seek humaneness because they think it will help them get ahead.”
Confucius said, “Only a humane person can truly like or dislike other people.”
Confucius said, “If you really set your mind on humaneness, you will not resent anyone.”
Confucius said, “Everyone wants money and fame, but if you can’t get them by following the Way, don’t go after them. Everyone hates being broke and disgraced, but if that’s what you get for following the Way, then don’t reject it.
“If a noble person abandons humaneness, how can they be worthy of being called a noble person? A noble person doesn’t abandon humaneness, even for the space of a meal. A noble person clings to humaneness, even in times of rushing or crisis.”
Confucius said, “I’ve never met a man who loved humaneness and hated what is not humane. If you love humaneness, you’ll put nothing above it. If you hate what is not humane, you won’t let it near you.
“Are there people who can devote all their strength to humaneness, even for one day? Well, I’ve never met anyone who lacked the strength to do it, anyway. Maybe there are people like that, but I haven’t met them.
Someone said, “Zhonggong is humane, but he’s not eloquent.”
Confucius replied, “Why should he be ‘eloquent?’ People usually end up hating a smooth-talker. I don’t know if Zhonggong is humane, but why does he need to be eloquent?”
Meng Wubo asked Confucius whether Zilu was humane.
Confucius replied, “I don’t know.”
Meng Wubo asked again.
Confucius replied, “Zilu could oversee the collection of military taxes in a large state. But I don’t know if he is humane.”
Meng asked, “What about Ran Qiu?”
Confucius answered, “Ran Qiu could be the steward of a city of a thousand families or a clan with a hundred chariots, but I don’t know if he is humane.”
Meng asked, “What about Gongxi Hua?”
Confucius said, “If he was dressed properly with his sash and placed in the middle of the court, he could make conversation with the guests. But I don’t know if he is humane.”
Zizhang asked, “The Chief Minister Ziwen was appointed three times, but never showed any signs of being pleased. He was fired three times, but never showed any signs of resentment. He would always brief his replacement fully on the prior government. What do you think of him?”
Confucius replied, “He was certainly dutiful.”
Zizhang asked, “But was he humane?”
Confucius replied, “I don’t know about that. What makes you think he was humane?”
Zizhang followed up, “When Cuizi assassinated the prince of Qi, Chen Wenzi, who had ten chariots, abandoned them and left the state.
“When he arrived at another state, he said, ‘The government here is just as bad as Cuizi’s.’ and so he left it.
Coming to another state he said, ‘Here, too, they’re just like Cuizi.’ and so he left. What do you think of him?”
Confucius replied, “He was certainly pure.”
Zizhang asked, “But was he humane?”
Confucius replied, “I don’t know about that. What makes you think he was humane?”
Confucius said, “Yan Hui could set his heart on humanity for three months at a time without a break. Everyone else only does it now and then.”
Fan Chi asked about wisdom.
Confucius said, “Work for justice and harmony in society. Respect the spirits, but keep them at a distance. That’s wisdom.”
Fan Chi then asked about humaneness.
Confucius replied, “Ah, humaneness. The humane person takes on the difficulty of self-cultivation first and only looks for the outcomes afterwards. That’s humaneness.”
Confucius said, “The wise enjoy the waters and the humane enjoy the mountains. The wise are busy and the humane are still. The wise are happy and the humane are long-lived.”
Zai Wo asked, “If you lie and tell a humane person that someone is stuck at the bottom of a well, would they jump into the well?”
Confucius replied, “Why would they? The noble person can be tricked into taking a look, but not into jumping in. They can be deceived, but not trapped.”
Zigong asked, “If someone were able to benefit everyone and help those in need, what would you say about that? Would you call that person humane?”
Confucius replied, “Why just humane? They’d be a sage! Even Yao and Shun would find this tough!
A humane person who wants to get established helps establish others. Wanting to be successful, they help others become successful. To make an analogy of what’s close at hand—that’s the way to humaneness.”
Confucius said, “Set your heart on the Way. Hold tight to virtue and rely on your humanity. Take your leisure in culture.”
Ran Qiu wondered, “Does Confucius support the ruler of Wei?”
Zigong said, “Okay, I’ll go and ask.”
He went to Confucius’ room and asked, “What kind of men were Bo Yi and Shu Qi?”
Confucius replied, “They were worthies of ancient times.”
Zigong followed up, “Didn’t anyone resent them?”
Confucius replied, “They pursued humaneness and they got it. What resentment would that stir up?”
Zigong left the room and said, “No, Confucius doesn’t support the ruler of Wei.”
Confucius said, “Is humaneness so far away? As soon as I aspire to humaneness, look! There it is!”
Zengzi said, “An aspiring scholar-official must be determined and strong. The burden is heavy and the road is long. Humaneness is the burden—isn’t that heavy? Only at death may it be laid down—isn’t that a long road?”
Confucius said, “If a person who loves only valor is faced with poverty, chaos ensues. If a person who lacks humaneness faces stress, chaos ensues.”
Confucius rarely spoke of profit, fate, or humaneness.
Confucius said, “The wise are not confused, the humane are not anxious, and the brave are not afraid.”
Yan Hui asked Confucius about humaneness.
Confucius replied, “Restrain the self and return to ritual. That’s humaneness. If for a full day you can restrain yourself and return to ritual, everyone under Heaven will move toward humaneness. Humaneness comes from oneself. How could it come from others?”
Yan Hui asked, “Can I ask for specific steps?”
Confucius said, “If it’s not according to ritual, don’t look at it. If it’s not according to ritual, don’t listen to it. If it’s not according to ritual, don’t say it. If it’s not according to ritual, don’t do it.”
Yan Hui said, “Even though I’m not that clever, I’ll apply myself to this.”
Zhonggong asked Confucius about humaneness.
Confucius replied, “When you go out into the world, conduct yourself as if you’re receiving an honored guest. Employ the people as if you’re conducting a great ceremony. Don’t impose on others what you wouldn’t want for yourself. In this way, you won’t stir up resentment in public or in your own household.”
Zhonggong said, “Even though I’m not that clever, I’ll apply myself to this.”
Sima Niu asked Confucius about humaneness.
Confucius replied, “The humane person is reluctant to speak.
Sima Niu replied, “That’s all humaneness is? Reluctance to speak?”
Confucius replied, “Carrying it out is so difficult, how can you not be reluctant to speak about it?”
Ji Kangzi asked Confucius about government, “How about I kill those who have abandoned the Way to help out the good. How about that?”
Confucius replied, “As head of government, why would you need to kill? If you set your heart on virtue and humaneness, the people will follow suit. The noble person is like the wind and the people are like the grass. When the wind blows, the grass bends.”
Zizhang asked what a scholar should do to be called prominent.
Confucius asked, “Prominent? What on earth do you mean by that?”
Zizhang replied, “To have your name known throughout your family and the state.”
Confucius replied, “You’re talking about fame, not prominence. Someone with an upright character who loves justice has prominence. They listen carefully to others and observe their countenances. They defer to others. This kind of person will have prominence in the family and the state.
To be famous, just put on a good show of humaneness while doing otherwise. Keep this con going without breaking and you’re sure to be famous among your family and the state.”
Fan Chi asked Confucius about humaneness.
Confucius replied, “Love others.”
Fan Chi then asked about knowledge.
Confucius replied, “Know others.”
Fan Chi didn’t get it.
Confucius continued, “Place the upright over the crooked and the crooked will be straightened out.”
After Fan Chi left, he saw Zixia and said to him, “I was just asking Confucius about knowledge and he said, ‘Place the upright over the crooked and the crooked will be straightened out.’ What did he mean by this?”
Zixia replied, “How rich his words are! When Shun was emperor, he selected Gao Yao from among the people and put him in charge. Evil people kept their distance. When T’ang was emperor, he selected Yi Yin and put him in charge. Here again, the evil people kept their distance.”
Zengzi said, “The noble person makes friends through an interest in culture and refinement. Together, they cultivate humaneness.”
Confucius said, “Even if we had a true king, it would still take a generation for humaneness to prevail.”
Fan Chi asked about humaneness.
Confucius replied, “Be reverent at home, respectfully attentive in public matters, and loyal in your dealings with others.
“Even if you go and live with barbarians, don’t throw these things away.”
Confucius said, “Firmness, resolution, simplicity and caution in speaking—that’s close to humaneness.”
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.”
Confucius said, “A person with moral power always has something to say, but a person with something to say doesn’t necessarily have moral power. A humane person is certainly brave, but not all brave people have humaneness.”
Confucius said, “There are times when a noble person fails to act with humaneness, but a small person never acts with humaneness.”
Zilu said, “When Huan Gong assassinated Gongzi Jiu, his tutor Zhao Hu chose to die with him, but Guan Zhong didn’t. He fell short of humaneness, didn’t he?”
Confucius replied, “When Huan Gong brought the nine rulers together in council, it wasn’t through military might, but through the influence of Guan Zhong. Such humaneness! Such humaneness!”
Zigong said, “Surely, Guan Zhong was not humane? After Duke Huan killed his Prince Jiu, not only did Guan Zhong not die along with him—he actually became Duke Huan’s prime minister!”
“With Guan Zhong as his Prime Minister, Duke Huan became leader of the nobles and brought order to the realm,” Confucius replied. “Down to this day, we still benefit from this. Without Guan Zhong, we’d be wearing our hair down and buttoning our clothes on the left side like barbarians.
“What should we expect? That he act out the petty virtues of a country rube and hang himself in some ditch, anonymously?”
Confucius said, “The Way of a noble person has three points that I haven’t achieved: humaneness without anxiety, wisdom without doubts, and courage without fear.”
Zigong said, “You’ve just described yourself.”
Confucius said, “The dedicated scholar-official, the humane person, will not sacrifice humaneness for the sake of their lives—but they may sacrifice their lives to fulfill humaneness.
Zigong asked Confucius about humaneness.
Confucius replied, “The craftsman who wants to do his work well sharpens his tools first. When you live in a state, serve its most worthy officials and make friends with its humane scholar-officials.”
Confucius said, “Your knowledge might be sufficient, but if you don’t have the humaneness to guard it, you will lose what you gained.
“If your knowledge is sufficient and you have the humaneness to guard it, it won’t be respected by the people if you don’t exercise it with dignity.
“If your knowledge is sufficient, and you have the humaneness to guard it, and you exercise it with dignity, but you take action that’s not in line with ritual—that’s still not good enough.”
Confucius said, “Humaneness is more essential to the people than water and fire. I’ve seen people die from walking through water or fire, but I’ve never seen anyone die from walking the path of humaneness.”
Confucius said, “When it comes to humaneness, yield to no one, not even your teacher.”
Yang Huo wanted to see Confucius, but Confucius didn’t want to see him. Yang Huo sent him the present of a suckling pig. Confucius chose to offer his thanks at a time when he knew Yang Huo wouldn’t be home. On his way back home, however, he met him in the street.
Yang Huo said, “Come here, I have something to tell you! Would you call someone humane if he clutches a great jewel to himself while his state is going to hell? I don’t think so! Would you call someone wise if he wants to take part in government but then lets every opportunity to do so slip through his fingers? I don’t think so! Days and months go by—time is not on our side!”
Confucius replied, “Alright, I’ll accept an office.”
Zizhang asked Confucius about humaneness.
Confucius replied, “To be humane is to spread five practices in the world.”
Zizhang asked, “And those are?”
Confucius said, “Respect, tolerance, trustworthiness, diligence, and generosity. If you’re respectful, you won’t be insulted. If you’re tolerant, you’ll win the hearts of the people. If you’re trustworthy, people will have confidence in you. If you’re diligent, you’ll get things done. If you’re generous, people will do things for you.”
Confucius said, “Zilu, have you heard about the six noble tendencies and their perversions?”
Zilu replied that he hadn’t.
“Sit down, then, and I’ll tell you,” Confucius said. “To love humaneness without loving learning leads to foolishness. To love intelligence without loving learning leads to being scattered. To love forthrightness without the love of learning leads to harm. To love bravery without loving learning leads to brutality. To love force without the love of learning leads to wildness.”
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?”
Wei Zi fled from the tyrant. Ji Zi became his slave. Bi Gan was executed for trying to correct him.
Confucius said, “The Yin Dynasty had these three models of humaneness.”
Zixia said, “To study broadly and stick to your purpose, to ask questions about matters that are pressing to you—humaneness can be found in this.”
Ziyou said, “My friend, Zizhang, does difficult things—but he has not reached full humaneness.”
Zengzi said, “Zizhang is imposing. It’s not easy to develop humaneness side-by-side with him.”
Yao said, “Oh, Shun! The regulation of Heaven’s calendar now falls to you. Hold to the middle way. If the people fall into distress, this gift of Heaven’s will be withdrawn forever.”
In turn, Shun charged Yu with these same words.
T’ang said, “I, Lü, am only a youth, but I dare to sacrifice this black ox and make this declaration to the Lord of Heaven. I don’t dare pardon the guilty. We can’t hide anything from the Lord of Heaven, since we are his subjects, and guilt is known in the Lord’s heart.
“If I commit a crime, don’t make the people of the ten thousand regions suffer for it. But if the people of the ten thousand regions commit a crime, let the punishment fall to me alone.”
The Zhou was greatly rewarded because it had good people to serve it.
King Wu said, “Although I have all my kin, it’s better to employ people who have humaneness. If the people commit crimes, let it fall to me alone.”
Set standard weights and measures, align the laws and regulations, and restore offices that have been abolished. Revive the states that are about to fall and the lineages about to end. Find worthy people who have gone into hiding and raise them up into high offices. By doing this, the people will flock to you.
This is what’s important to the people: their food, their funerals, and their sacrifices.
Be generous, and you will win the hearts of the people. Be trustworthy, and you will gain the confidence of the people. If you are industrious, you will get things done. If you’re just, the people will be pleased.