Confucius said, “Bo Yi and Shu Qi didn’t dwell on people’s past failings, so there wasn’t much resentment against them.”
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.”
Duke Jing of Qi had thousands of horse-drawn chariots, but when he died, the people couldn’t think of anything good to say about him. Bo Yi and Shu Qi both died of starvation at the foot of Mount Shouyang and the people continue praising them right up the present day. This is what it means.”
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 they were expedient in giving up the world.
“But I am different from all these. I have no preconceived rules on what should and shouldn’t be done.”