3.6

The head of the Jisun family made a kingly sacrifice at Mt. Jai.

Confucius asked Ran Qiu, “Couldn’t you stop this?”

Ran Qiu replied, “I couldn’t.”

Confucius said, “What, then, does Mt. Tai know less about ritual than Lin Fang?”

6.4

Gongxi Hua was sent on a mission to the state of Qi. Ran Qiu asked their employer to provide grain to Gongxi Hua’s mother. Ran Qiu asked Confucius how much he should request for her.

Confucius said, “Request a full measure of grain.”

Ran Qiu asked for more.

Confucius said, “Then request a double measure of grain.”

In the end, Ran Qiu requested ten measures of grain.

Confucius said, “Gongxi Hua travelled to Qi, he drove the best horses and wore fine furs. I’ve always heard, ‘The noble person helps out the poor, but doesn’t make the rich richer.’”

6.8

Ji Kangzi asked whether Zilu was capable of serving in the government.

Confucius replied, “Zilu is determined. What problem would he have in handling government work?”

Jikang Zi then asked, “What about Zigong?”

Confucius said, “Zigong has a piercing intellect. What problem would he have in handling government work?”

Jikang Zi asked, “And how about Ran Qiu?”

Confucius replied, “Ran Qiu is has many talents. What problem would he have in handling government work?”

7.15

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.”

11.3

The virtuous were Yan Hui, Min Ziqian, Ran Boniu, and Zhonggong. The well-spoken were Zai Wo and Zigong. The skillful administrators were Ran Qiu and Zilu. Ziyou and Zixia excelled in scholarship.

11.17

Even though the head of the Chi family was wealthier than the Duke of Zhou, Ran Qiu collected more taxes to make him even richer.

Confucius said, “He’s no follower of mine. My students, you have my permission to beat the drum and attack him if you want.”

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.”

11.24

Ji Ziran asked, “Could Zilu and Ran Qiu be called great ministers?”

Confucius replied, “Oh, I thought you were going to ask about something else. You want to know about Zilu and Ran Qiu?

“Great minister serves their ruler by means of the Way, and if they can’t, they’ll quit. Zilu and Ran Qiu are what we could call ordinary ‘team players.’”

Ji Zaran asked, “So they’ll always follow orders?”

Confucius replied, “No, not if they were ordered to kill their fathers or their rulers.”

11.26

Zilu, Zeng Xi, Ran Qiu, and Gongxi Hua were sitting with Confucius, when said, “Although I am older than you, forget about it that for now. You are all always saying, ‘The word doesn’t recognize my talents.’ But suppose your talents were fully acknowledged. What would you do then?”

Zilu rushed to respond first, “In a state of a thousand war chariots, wedged between two much larger states, under siege by invading armies, drought, and famine. Put me in charge for three years, and I would bring the people courage and direction.”

Confucius smiled at him.

He then asked Ran Qiu, “How about you?”

Ran Qiu replied, “In a territory of sixty to seventy li, or maybe fifty to sixty li, put me in charge for three years, and the people would have their material needs met. As for ritual and music, that would have to be handled by a nobleman.”

Confucius then asked, “And what about you, Gongxi Hua?”

Gongxi Hua replied, “I can’t say that I can do this for sure, but I’d really like to try. In services at the Great Ancestral Hall or in audience with the ruler, I’d like to play the part of a minor assistant, dressed in ceremonial cap and gown.”

Confucius asked, “Zeng Xi, how about you?”

Zeng Xi, who had been playing the zither, set it down, the last chord still ringing out. He stood up.

“What I’d like to do,” Zeng Xi said, “is very different from these three.”

“No harm in that,” Confucius replied. “We’re all just sharing our personal aspirations.”

Zeng Xi said, “In the late spring, after the clothes have been made, I’d like to go with five or six companions and six or seven youngsters and take a swim in the Yi River. We’d enjoy the breeze at the Rain-Dance Altar, and then return home singing.”

Confucius sighed and said, “I am with Zeng Xi.”

The three others left, but Zeng Xi hung back and asked Confucius, “What did you think about what the other three said?”

Confucius replied, “They each just shared their own wishes.”

Zeng Xi asked, “Why did you smile at Zilu?”

Confucius said, “To govern a state requires ritual, and Zilu’s words showed no deference. That’s why I smiled.”

Zeng Xi then asked, “And Ran Qui, he was asking for a state, wasn’t he?”

Confucius said, “Of course. Have you ever seen a territory of sixty to seventy li, or fifty to sixty li, that wasn’t a state?”

Zeng Xi asked, “And Gongxi Hua, was he also talking about a state?”

Confucius replied, “Ceremonies in the Great Ancestral Hall and audiences with the ruler—what are these but affairs of state? And if Gongxi Hua was there playing a minor role, who would be playing the major role?”

13.9

Ran Qiu drove the chariot for Confucius on a trip to Wei. When they arrived, Confucius said, “There are so many people here!”

Ran Qiu asked, “Once there are this many people, what should be done for them?”

Confucius replied, “Enrich them.”

“And after they’re rich,” asked Ran Qiu, “what next?”

Confucius replied, “Educate them.”

13.14

Ran Qiu returned from court and Confucius asked, “What kept you?”

Ran Qiu replied, “I was on official government business.”

Confucius said, “Private business, you mean. If you were on official government business, I would know about it, even though I’m not in office.”

14.12

Zilu asked about becoming a complete person.

Confucius said, “The wisdom of Zang Wuzhong, the desirelessness of Meng Gongchuo, the courage of Zhuangzi of Bian, and the abilities of Ran Qiu, all refined through ritual and music.

But if you want to be a complete person today, why do you need all of that? If you see a chance for profit and think of right conduct, if you’re ready to give your life when facing danger, and if you can endure long hardships without forgetting your principles—then you, also, may be considered a complete person.”

16.1

The Jisun family was about to attack Zhuanyu, so Ran Qiu and Zilu went to see Confucius, saying, “The Jisun family is getting ready to move against Zhuanyu.”

Confucius said, “Ran Qiu, isn’t this your fault? Since ancient times the former kings have maintained Zhuanyu as the site of the sacrifice at Dong Meng mountain. Also, it’s located within our own state, and is subject to our national altars to the soil and grain. Why attack it?”

Ran Qiu replied, “It’s our lord who wants to do this, not the two of us as ministers.”

Confucius said, “Ran Qiu, the historian Zhou Ren said, ‘The one who displays his power is the one who gets the position; those who are not capable give up.’

“What sort of an assistant can’t steady his master when he totters or hold him up when he falls?

“Also, what you are saying is wrong. Who’s to blame when a tiger or a rhino escapes from its cage, or when a tortoise shell or jade is smashed in its case?”

Ran Qiu said, “But Zhuanyu is well-fortified and is located right next to the Ji family stronghold. If they don’t take it now, it will be a menace to their descendants.”

Confucius replied, “Ran Qiu! A noble person despises those who make excuses instead of just coming right out and saying what they want!

“I’ve heard it said that the heads of states or hereditary families don’t worry about poverty, but worry about inequality of distribution. They don’t worry about having too few people, but worry about unrest. When there’s fairness in distribution of wealth, there won’t be poverty. When there’s harmony in society, there won’t be a lack of people. When people are content, there’s no threat of unrest.

“So if people at a distance aren’t open to your rule, improve your ways and cultivate virtue to attract them. Once you’ve attracted them, see to it that they enjoy peace.

“But now, with the two of you as ministers, your lord can’t attract people from a distance, his land is falling apart, and he can’t hold onto it—and now he wants to wage war on one of his own provinces!

“For Lord Jisun, the real danger isn’t coming from Zhuanyu, but lies within his own walls.”