Confucius said, “To lead with the power of moral influence is like being the North Star. It stays in its place and all the other stars arrange themselves around it.”
Confucius said, “If you lead with regulations and keep people in line with punishments, they’ll stay out of trouble, but they’ll have no sense of shame. If you lead by setting a good example, however, and keep people in line with ritual, they will develop their own sense of shame and lead themselves.”
Duke Ai asked, “How can I get the people to follow me?”
Confucius replied, “If you raise up the straight and apply them to the crooked, the people will follow you. If you raise up the crooked and apply them to the straight, though, they won’t.”
Ji Kangzi asked, “How can I get the people to be respectful, loyal, and hard-working?”
Confucius replied, “If you lead the people with dignity, they’ll be respectful. If you’re filial and compassionate, they’ll be loyal. If you promote the skilled and train the unskilled, they’ll be hard-working.”
Confucius said, “The noble person worries about setting a good example. The small person cares about property. The noble person does what is right. The small person looks for special treatment.”
Ji Kangzi asked Confucius about government.
Confucius replied, “To govern is to correct. If you lead the people with correctness, who would not be corrected?”
Ji Kangzi was troubled by the thieves in his state. He asked Confucius what he should do about it.
Confucius replied, “If you weren’t so greedy, your people wouldn’t steal, even if you offered them a reward for doing it.”
Ji Kangzi asked Confucius about government, “How about I kill those who have abandoned the Way to help out the good. How about that?”
Confucius replied, “As head of government, why would you need to kill? If you set your heart on virtue and humaneness, the people will follow suit. The noble person is like the wind and the people are like the grass. When the wind blows, the grass bends.”
Fan Chi asked Confucius about humaneness.
Confucius replied, “Love others.”
Fan Chi then asked about knowledge.
Confucius replied, “Know others.”
Fan Chi didn’t get it.
Confucius continued, “Place the upright over the crooked and the crooked will be straightened out.”
After Fan Chi left, he saw Zixia and said to him, “I was just asking Confucius about knowledge and he said, ‘Place the upright over the crooked and the crooked will be straightened out.’ What did he mean by this?”
Zixia replied, “How rich his words are! When Shun was emperor, he selected Gao Yao from among the people and put him in charge. Evil people kept their distance. When T’ang was emperor, he selected Yi Yin and put him in charge. Here again, the evil people kept their distance.”
Zilu asked Confucius how to govern.
Confucius said, “Set a good example for the people and then encourage them.”
When Zilu asked for more explanation, Confucius replied, “Don’t let up.”
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.”
Fan Chi asked Confucius about farming.
Confucius replied, “Why don’t you go ask an old farmer?”
Fan Chi asked Confucius about growing vegetables.
Confucius replied, “Why don’t you go ask an old gardener?”
Fan Chi left, and Confucius said, “What a simple-minded person Fan Chi is! If the people in charge love ritual, the people wouldn’t dare to be irreverent. If the people in charge love righteousness, then the people wouldn’t dare to be disobedient. If the people in charge loved being true to their word, then the people wouldn’t dare to be two-faced.
“If you govern this way, the people would come flocking to you, carrying their babies on their backs. Why worry about agriculture?”
Confucius said, “If you have yourself straightened out, others will follow suit even if you don’t give orders. If you don’t have yourself straightened out, though, you can give all the orders you like–no one will obey them anyway.”
Confucius said, “A person with moral power always has something to say, but a person with something to say doesn’t necessarily have moral power. A humane person is certainly brave, but not all brave people have humaneness.”
Confucius said, “If those in power love ritual, the people are easy to lead.”