Confucius said, “How impressive Shun and Yu were! They possessed the whole empire, but it was as if it was nothing to them!”
Confucius said, “I can’t find fault with Yu. He lived on the simplest food and drink, but he showed his filial devotion with lavish offerings to the spirits. He wore shabby clothes in his daily life, but his ceremonial robes and caps were elegant. He lived in a humble home, but he exhausted his strength building irrigation canals to water the fields. I can’t find fault with Yu.”
Nangong Kuo asked Confucius, “How is it that Yi was a master of archery and Ao could drive his enemy’s ships onto dry land, but neither died a natural death? Yet Yu and Hou Ji were farmers and ended up ruling the world?”
Confucius didn’t answer at the time, but after Nangong Kuo left, he said, “Now there’s a noble person! There’s someone who values virtue!”
Yao said, “Oh, Shun! The regulation of Heaven’s calendar now falls to you. Hold to the middle way. If the people fall into distress, this gift of Heaven’s will be withdrawn forever.”
In turn, Shun charged Yu with these same words.
T’ang said, “I, Lü, am only a youth, but I dare to sacrifice this black ox and make this declaration to the Lord of Heaven. I don’t dare pardon the guilty. We can’t hide anything from the Lord of Heaven, since we are his subjects, and guilt is known in the Lord’s heart.
“If I commit a crime, don’t make the people of the ten thousand regions suffer for it. But if the people of the ten thousand regions commit a crime, let the punishment fall to me alone.”
The Zhou was greatly rewarded because it had good people to serve it.
King Wu said, “Although I have all my kin, it’s better to employ people who have humaneness. If the people commit crimes, let it fall to me alone.”
Set standard weights and measures, align the laws and regulations, and restore offices that have been abolished. Revive the states that are about to fall and the lineages about to end. Find worthy people who have gone into hiding and raise them up into high offices. By doing this, the people will flock to you.
This is what’s important to the people: their food, their funerals, and their sacrifices.
Be generous, and you will win the hearts of the people. Be trustworthy, and you will gain the confidence of the people. If you are industrious, you will get things done. If you’re just, the people will be pleased.