Confucius said of the Jisun family, “They have eight rows of dancers in their courtyard! If they’re capable of this, what are not they not capable of?”
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?”
The Jisun Family asked Min Ziqian to serve as steward of their family fortress.
Min Ziqian replied to the messenger, “Do your best to decline the offer politely. If they ask again, I’ll exile myself to the north of the River Wen.”
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.”
Zhonggong, serving as prime minister to the head of the Chi family, asked Confucius about government.
Confucius replied, “Set a good example for your officers, pardon small offenses, and raise up worthy talents.”
Zhonggong asked, “How am I going to find these worthy talents to raise them up?”
Confucius replied, “Raise up those you know. As for those you don’t recognize, others will recognize them.”
When Chen Chengzi assassinated Duke Chien, Confucius cleansed himself according to ritual and went to court. He reported to Duke Ai, saying, “Chen Chengzi has killed his ruler. I encourage you to punish him.”
Duke Ai replied, “Report this to the Three Families.”
Confucius said, “It’s only because I have an official rank that I felt duty-bound to make this report. And yet Duke Ai tells me to report it to the Three Families?”
Confucius then reported the matter to the Three Families, but they refused to do anything about it.
Confucius repeated, “It’s only because I have an official rank that I felt duty-bound to make this report.”
Gongbo Liao slandered Zilu to the Jisun family.
Zifu Jingbo told Confucius about it, saying, “The Jisuns have been led astray by Gongbo Liao, but I have the power to drag his corpse out into the marketplace.”
Confucius replied, “It’s up to fate if the Way prevails or is cast aside. What can Gongbo Liao do about fate?”
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.”
Confucius said, “It’s been five generations since the Lu government lost its authority to make appointments and set salaries. The ministers have been in charge for four generations now. That’s why the descendants of the Three Families are in decline.”
Duke Jing of Qi invited Confucius to serve him and considered how to treat him.
“I can’t treat him the way the head of the Jisun family is treated in Lu. I’ll treat him as if his position is somewhere between the head of the Jisun family and the head of the Mengsun family.” Later, he added, “I’m too old. I can’t employ him.”
Hearing this, Confucius left.