5.19

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?”

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.”

12.2

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.”

14.1

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.”

15.2

In the state of Chen, they ran out of food, and the students became so exhausted they could no longer stand.

Resentfully, Zilu asked, “Must a noble person suffer through such a mess?”

Confucius replied, “Yes, a noble person may find themselves in circumstances like this, but it’s only the small person that can’t withstand it.”