8.13

Confucius said, “Be devoted and love learning. Stick to the Way until death. Don’t enter a state in peril and don’t stay in a state in chaos.

“When the Way prevails in the world, show yourself. When it does not, withdraw into seclusion.

“When the Way prevails in a state, it’s shameful to be poor and of low rank. When the Way doesn’t prevail in a state, it’s shameful to be rich and honored.”

16.11

Confucius said, “I’ve heard the saying,

“‘In seeing the good, rushing to catch up,

In seeing what is not good, recoiling as if touching boiling water.’”

“I’ve heard the saying, and known people like this. But I’ve also heard,

“‘Living in reclusion to pursue the heart’s purpose

Practicing what is right to pursue the Way.’”

“I’ve heard this saying, but I haven’t known any people like this.”

18.6

Chang Ju and Jie Ni were yoked together, plowing the fields. Confucius, who was passing by, sent Zilu to ask where the river crossing was.

Chang Ju asked, “Who’s that holding the carriage reigns?”

“Confucius,” replied Zilu.

“Confucius from Lu?”

“Yes.”

“Then he already knows where the river crossing is.”

Zilu then asked Jie Ni the same question.

“And who are you?” asked Jie Ni.

“Zilu.”

“Zilu, the student of Confucius from Lu?”

“I am.”

“The water keeps moving forward, all over the world. Who can change it? Why do you bother following someone who keeps running from one ruler to another? Wouldn’t it be better to follow someone who’s given up this world altogether?”

The two of them went back to their work.

Zilu reported this conversation to Confucius, who furrowed his brow and said, “I can’t flock with birds and beasts! Who am I supposed to keep company with, if not other human beings? If the Way prevailed in the world, I wouldn’t have to reform it!”

18.7

While traveling with Confucius, Zilu fell behind and met an old man carrying a basket on his staff.

Zilu asked him, “Sir, have you seen my teacher?”

The old man replied, “You look like someone who hasn’t worked with his four limbs and can’t tell between the different kinds of grain. Who can your teacher be?”

The old man then planted his staff in the ground and started weeding.

Zilu watched him respectfully.

The old man took Zilu in for the night. He killed a chicken, and cooked the chicken and millet for his guest. He then introduced Zilu to his two sons.

Zilu caught up with Confucius the next day and reported what had happened. Confucius said, “He’s a recluse,” and asked Zilu take him back to see the old man. When they got there, however, the old man had gone.

Zilu said, “It’s not right to withdraw from public life. If a person knows not to abandon the obligations of the young to the old, how can he abandon the obligations of the subject to the ruler? He tries to keep himself pure, but brings chaos to a basic human relationship. A noble person serves the state, even if it’s obvious that the Way can’t prevail.”

18.8

Those who withdrew from the world were Bo Yi and Shu Qi; Yu Zhong, Yi Yi, and Zhu Zhang; Liuxia Hui and Shao Lian.

Confucius said, “Never compromising, never accepting insult—that’s Bo Yi and Shu Qi. Liuxia Hui and Shao Lian compromised and suffered insults, but their words were morally sound and their actions always followed their plans—they managed that much.

“Yu Zhong and Yi Yi hid themselves away and gave up speech. They remained pure and were expedient in giving up the world.

“But I’m different from all these. I have no preconceived rules on what should and shouldn’t be done.”