1.10

Ziqin asked Zigong, “When our teacher arrives in another state, he always manages to learn about its government. Does he ask around about it, or do people just tell him?”

Zigong replied, “Our teacher gets information by being friendly, kind, humble, and not being pushy. He goes about this differently from other people.”

1.15

Zigong asked, “To be a poor person who doesn’t grovel or a rich person who isn’t arrogant. What do you think of that?”

Confucius replied, “Not bad, not bad. But not as good as being poor and enjoying the Way or being rich and loving ritual.”

Zigong said, “The Book of Odes says,

Like cutting and filing,

like grinding and polishing.

Is that what you mean?”

Confucius said, “Ah Zigong, you’re the kind of person I can talk about The Book of Odes with. I give you a little and you come back with the rest!”

5.9

Confucius asked Zigong, “Who is a better man, you or Yan Hui?”

Zigong replied, “How could I compare myself to Yan Hui? He hears one point and understands ten. I hear one point and only understand two.”

Confucius said, “No, you’re not as good as Yan Hui. Neither one of us is as good as Yan Hui.”

6.8

Ji Kangzi asked whether Zilu was capable of serving in the government.

Confucius replied, “Zilu is determined. What problem would he have in handling government work?”

Jikang Zi then asked, “What about Zigong?”

Confucius said, “Zigong has a piercing intellect. What problem would he have in handling government work?”

Jikang Zi asked, “And how about Ran Qiu?”

Confucius replied, “Ran Qiu is has many talents. What problem would he have in handling government work?”

6.30

Zigong asked, “If someone were able to benefit everyone and help those in need, what would you say about that? Would you call that person humane?”

Confucius replied, “Why just humane? They’d be a sage! Even Yao and Shun would find this tough!

A humane person who wants to get established helps establish others. Wanting to be successful, they help others become successful. To make an analogy of what’s close at hand—that’s the way to humaneness.”

7.15

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.”

9.6

A high minister asked Zigong, “Is your master really a sage? Then why does he have so many skills?”

Zigong replied, “It’s Heaven that made him a sage and allowed him to develop many skills besides.”

When he heard about this, Confucius said, “What does the high minister know about me? When I was a boy, my family was poor, so I had to learn many skills. Does a noble person need to have many skills? I don’t think so.”

11.3

The virtuous were Yan Hui, Min Ziqian, Ran Boniu, and Zhonggong. The well-spoken were Zai Wo and Zigong. The skillful administrators were Ran Qiu and Zilu. Ziyou and Zixia excelled in scholarship.

11.16

Zigong asked Confucius, “Who is more worthy, Zhizhang or Zixia?”

Confucius replied, “Zhizhang overshoots the mark and Zixia undershoots it.”

Zigong said, “Then Zhizhang is superior.”

Confucius replied, “Overshooting the mark is just as bad as undershooting it.”

12.7

Zigong asked Confucius about government.

Confucius replied, “Enough food, enough weapons, and the confidence of the people in their ruler.”

Zigong then asked, “But suppose you have to give up one of these three. Which would you give up first?

Confucius replied, “Weapons.”

Zigong said “And what if you had to give up one of the remaining two?”

Confucius replied, “Food. Death has been with us since ancient times, but if the people lose confidence in their ruler, the community cannot stand.”

12.8

Ji Zicheng said, “Being a noble person just means having substance. What need is there for refinement?”

Zigong replied, “I’m shocked to hear you speak about a noble person this way! Even a team of fast horses couldn’t catch up to these misspoken words. A noble person’s substance isn’t different from refinement and refinement isn’t different from substance. If you strip the hair from the hide of a tiger or leopard, it looks the same as the hide of a dog or sheep.”

12.23

Zigong asked about the way of friendship.

Confucius replied, “Be honest with your friends, and show them the right path with skill and tact. But if they’re unwilling to listen, just stop. Don’t humiliate yourself.”

13.20

Zigong asked, “What sort of people are good enough to be considered a good government official?”

Confucius replied, “People who conduct themselves with a sense of shame, and who can be sent abroad on missions without disgracing the mission. Those are the sort of people who can be considered good government officials.”

Zigong then asked, “And who is one step below that?”

Confucius replied, “People whose families consider them filial and whose fellow villagers consider them respectful of elders.”

Zigong asked, “And one step below that?”

Confucius answered, “Someone who keeps their word and always follows through on their actions. They may be stubborn and small-minded, but they qualify as the next step down.”

Zigong asked, “And how about those serving in government today?”

Confucius replied, “Ugh. They’re little tools. They don’t even count.”

13.24

Zigong asked, “What would you think of a person if everyone in their village loved them?”

Confucius replied, “That’s not enough to go on.”

Zigong then asked, “What would you think of a person if everyone in their village hated them?”

Confucius replied, “That’s not enough to go on. It’s better if all the good people in the village loved them and all the bad people in the village hated them.”

14.17

Zigong said, “Surely, Guan Zhong was not humane? After Duke Huan killed his Prince Jiu, not only did Guan Zhong not die along with him—he actually became Duke Huan’s prime minister!”

“With Guan Zhong as his Prime Minister, Duke Huan became leader of the nobles and brought order to the realm,” Confucius replied. “Down to this day, we still benefit from this. Without Guan Zhong, we’d be wearing our hair down and buttoning our clothes on the left side like barbarians.

“What should we expect? That he act out the petty virtues of a country rube and hang himself in some ditch, anonymously?”

14.28

Confucius said, “The Way of a noble person has three points that I haven’t achieved: humaneness without anxiety, wisdom without doubts, and courage without fear.”

Zigong said, “You’ve just described yourself.”

14.35

Confucius sighed, “No one understands me.”

Zigong said, “What do you mean, no one understands you?”

“I don’t complain against Heaven or blame men,” Confucius replied, “I study what’s near at hand to understand what is higher. Only Heaven understands me.”

15.3

Confucius asked, “Zigong, do you think I’m the kind of person who learns lots of different things and remembers them all?”

Zigong replied, “Yes, of course. Don’t you?”

Confucius said, “No. I thread them all together on a single string.”

15.10

Zigong asked Confucius about humaneness.

Confucius replied, “The craftsman who wants to do his work well sharpens his tools first. When you live in a state, serve its most worthy officials and make friends with its humane scholar-officials.”

17.24

Zigong asked, “Does a noble person have hatreds?”

Confucius answered, “Yes, a noble person hates those who point out the faults of others, those who slander their superiors, those who have courage but lack ritual, and those who are bold but lack understanding.”

He continued, “And what about you? Do you have hatreds?”

“Yes,” replied Zigong, “I hate those who steal other peoples’ ideas and then act like they’re smart. I hate those who think being arrogant is courageous. And I hate those who think insulting people is straightforwardness.”

19.22

Gongsun Chao, a counselor in Wei, asked Zigong , “Who did Confucius learn from?”

Zigong  replied, “The way of King Wen and King Wu never completely disappeared. It always remained with the people. The worthy retained its major points and the unworthy retained its minor points. All of them had some aspects of the way of King Wen and King Wu.

“So there was no one from whom Confucius couldn’t have learned something and no single teacher from whom he could have learned everything.”

19.23

Shusun Wushu said to his ministers at court, “Zigong is worthier than Confucius.”

When Zifu Jingbo reported this to Zigong, Zigong replied, “Let’s make an analogy of the walls surrounding a house. My walls are only shoulder-high, so anyone passing by can peer over the top and see the elegance of the house.

“Confucius’ walls, on the other hand, are many yards taller, so unless you come in through the gate, you’ll never see the beauty of the ancestral hall or the splendor of all the buildings within. Very few people have made it through that gate, though, so it’s no surprise that Shusun Wushu would say what he said.”

19.24

Shusun Wushu disrespected Confucius, but Zigong said, “There’s no point in even trying. Confucius can’t be disparaged.

“The worthiness of other great people is like a hill. You can climb to the top of a hill. But Confucius is like the sun and the moon. You can’t reach them. Even if people want to cut themselves off from the sun and the moon, how could this touch the sun and moon? This just shows they overestimate themselves.”

19.25

Chen Ziqin said to Zigong, “Surely you’re just being reverent towards your teacher. How could Confucius be more worthy than you?”

“With just a single word, a person can reveal their wisdom, or expose their ignorance,” Zigong replied, “that’s why you have to choose your words carefully.”

Zigong continued, “Confucius can’t be matched, just like you can’t climb the sky! If he’d been put in charge of a state or a ruling family, he would have fulfilled the saying,

He raised them up, and they stood on their own.

He set the direction, and they forged ahead.

He put them at ease, and they flocked to him.

He set them in motion, and they worked in harmony.’

“In life he was honored and in death he was mourned. How can he be equaled?”