2.23

Zizhang asked, “Can we know what things will be like ten generations from now?”

Confucius said, “The Yin Dynasty followed the ritual of the Xia Dynasty, and what they added and subtracted from that can be known. The Zhou Dynasty followed the ritual of the Yin Dynasty, and what they added and subtracted from that can be known.

“In just this Way, what follows after the Zhou Dynasty—even to a hundred generations from now—can also be known.”

3.21

Duke Ai asked Zai Wo about the altar to the soil.

Zai Wo answered, “The Xia used pine and the Shang used cypress. But the Zhou, they say, used chestnut in order to instill the people with fear.”

After hearing about this, Confucius said, “Don’t try to explain what is already over and done with. Don’t try to criticize what’s already past. Don’t try to assign blame after something is past.”

8.20

Shun successfully governed the empire with five ministers.

King Wu said, “I have ten competent ministers.”

Confucius said, “Talent is hard to find, isn’t it? It really flourished in the time of Yao and Shun. As for King Wu, he really only has nine good men, as one of his ministers is a woman.

“When the Zhou already controlled two-thirds of the empire, they were able to continue serving the previous dynasty of Yin. We can call the virtue of Zhou the highest virtue.”

12.9

Duke Ai asked Youzi, “We’ve had a famine this year and there aren’t enough revenues to run the state. What should I do?”

Youzi replied, “How about a 10% tax, as the Zhou used to levy?”

Duke Ai replied, “I can’t even get by on a 20% tax! How could I manage on 10%?”

Youzi said, “If the people have enough, you’ll have enough. But if the people don’t have enough, how can you expect to have enough?”

15.11

Yan Hui asked about how to govern a state.

Confucius replied, “Follow the calendar of the Xia. Ride in the state carriage of the Yin. Wear the ceremonial cap of the Zhou. As for music, play the Shao and Wu. Abolish the tunes of the Zheng and keep slick talkers at a distance. The Zheng music is lewd and slick talkers are dangerous.”

17.5

Gongshan Furao was holding Bi as his base, and was about to start a rebellion. He asked Confucius to join him. Confucius was tempted.

Ziyou said, “We may be at the end of the line, but is that a good reason to join Gongshan?”

Confucius replied, “The man must’ve had some purpose in inviting me. If someone would employ me, I could establish a new Zhou dynasty in the East.”

20.1

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’re 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’ll win the hearts of the people. Be trustworthy, and you’ll gain the confidence of the people. If you’re industrious, you’ll get things done. If you’re just, the people will be pleased.