1.8

Confucius said, “A leader who is not serious will not be taken seriously. Still, don’t be inflexible. Take loyalty and sincerity as first principles and don’t make friends with someone who isn’t your moral equal. When you make a mistake, don’t hesitate to fix it.”

8.5

Zengi said, “To be competent, but to learn from those who are less able. To know a lot, but to ask for advice from those who know little. To have something, but seeming to have nothing. To be full, but to seem empty. To be harmed, but not to seek retaliation. I used to have a friend who worked at these things.”

9.30

Confucius said, “Just because someone can learn with you, it doesn’t necessarily mean they can walk the Way with you. Just because someone can walk the Way with you, it doesn’t necessarily mean they can walk by your side. Just because someone can walk by your side, that doesn’t necessarily mean they can join you in acting with moral discretion.”

11.11

When Yan Hui died, the other students wanted to give him a lavish funeral. Confucius said, “It’s not proper.” The students gave Yan Hui a lavish funeral anyway.

Confucius said, “Yan Hui looked on me as a father, but in this matter, I couldn’t look after him as a father should. This isn’t my fault, friends, but yours.”

16.4

Confucius said, “There are three kinds of friends who can help you and three kinds of friends who can harm you. Friends who are upright, trustworthy, and learned—these will help you. Friends who are devious, brown nosers, and smooth-talkers—these will harm you.”

16.5

Confucius said, “There are three kinds of pleasure that will help you and three kinds of pleasure that will harm you. The enjoyment of cultivation in music and ritual, speaking well of others’ good points, and being surrounded by friends of good character—these will help you. The enjoyment of self-importance, loafing, and going overboard in feasting—these will harm you.”

17.7

Bi Xi called for Confucius, and Confucius was tempted to go.

Zilu said, “I remember you saying, ‘A noble person won’t associate with someone who is committing evil.’ Now Bi Xi is about to use his stronghold in Zhong Mou to start a rebellion. How can you even consider joining him?”

Confucius replied, “Yes, I did say that. But what resists grinding is truly strong and what resists black dye is truly white. Should I be like a bitter gourd, hanging on a string as decoration but not fit to eat?”

19.3

Students of Zixia asked Zizhang about making friends. Zizhang asked, “What did Zixia teach you?”

“Zixia taught us, ‘Associate with the right kind of people and avoid the wrong kind.’”

Zizhang replied, “I was taught something else. I was taught that the noble person respects the worthy and tolerates the ordinary people. The noble person applauds the good and takes pity on those who have a hard time being good.

“If I’m worthy, who can’t I tolerate? If I’m not worthy, people will surely avoid me, so on what grounds could I avoid them?”