Youzi said, “Trustworthiness comes close to righteousness because other people can count on your words. Showing respect is close to ritual correctness because it banishes shame and disgrace. If you can stick to these principles and not lose your family’s affection, you will be revered.”
Confucius said, “When dealing with the world, the noble person isn’t prejudiced for or against anything. They just do what’s right.”
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.”
Confucius said, “Zeng Can, my Way has a single thread running through it.”
Zeng Can replied, “Yes.”
After Confucius left, the other students asked, “What did he mean by that?”
Zeng Can replied, “Our teacher’s way is just to be sincere and fair.”
Confucius said, “The noble person knows what’s fair. The small person knows what pays.”
Zizhang asked Confucius about discernment.
Confucius replied, “If you can maintain your objectivity when soaked with slander and attacked with personal accusations, you will be discerning. In fact, you will be far-sighted.”
Zizhang asked what a scholar should do to be called prominent.
Confucius asked, “Prominent? What on earth do you mean by that?”
Zizhang replied, “To have your name known throughout your family and the state.”
Confucius replied, “You’re talking about fame, not prominence. Someone with an upright character who loves justice has prominence. They listen carefully to others and observe their countenances. They defer to others. This kind of person will have prominence in the family and the state.
To be famous, just put on a good show of humaneness while doing otherwise. Keep this con going without breaking and you’re sure to be famous among your family and the state.”
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?”
The Governor of She told Confucius, “In my land, there is a righteous man. When his father stole a sheep, his son turned him in.”
Confucius replied, “The righteous men in my land are different. The father covers for the son and the son covers for the father. That’s righteous!”
Confucius said, “I can’t stand people who can hang out together all day trading witty remarks but never once discussing what’s right.”
Confucius said, “The noble person takes justice as their essential, carries it out in accordance with ritual, expresses it with modesty, and brings it to completion through trustworthiness. Now that’s a noble person!”
The Jisun family was about to attack Zhuanyu, so Ran Qiu and Zilu went to see Confucius, saying, “The Jisun family is getting ready to move against Zhuanyu.”
Confucius said, “Ran Qiu, isn’t this your fault? Since ancient times the former kings have maintained Zhuanyu as the site of the sacrifice at Dong Meng mountain. Also, it’s located within our own state, and is subject to our national altars to the soil and grain. Why attack it?”
Ran Qiu replied, “It’s our lord who wants to do this, not the two of us as ministers.”
Confucius said, “Ran Qiu, the historian Zhou Ren said, ‘The one who displays his power is the one who gets the position; those who are not capable give up.’
“What sort of an assistant can’t steady his master when he totters or hold him up when he falls?
“Also, what you are saying is wrong. Who’s to blame when a tiger or a rhino escapes from its cage, or when a tortoise shell or jade is smashed in its case?”
Ran Qiu said, “But Zhuanyu is well-fortified and is located right next to the Ji family stronghold. If they don’t take it now, it will be a menace to their descendants.”
Confucius replied, “Ran Qiu! A noble person despises those who make excuses instead of just coming right out and saying what they want!
“I’ve heard it said that the heads of states or hereditary families don’t worry about poverty, but worry about inequality of distribution. They don’t worry about having too few people, but worry about unrest. When there’s fairness in distribution of wealth, there won’t be poverty. When there’s harmony in society, there won’t be a lack of people. When people are content, there’s no threat of unrest.
“So if people at a distance aren’t open to your rule, improve your ways and cultivate virtue to attract them. Once you’ve attracted them, see to it that they enjoy peace.
“But now, with the two of you as ministers, your lord can’t attract people from a distance, his land is falling apart, and he can’t hold onto it—and now he wants to wage war on one of his own provinces!
“For Lord Jisun, the real danger isn’t coming from Zhuanyu, but lies within his own walls.”
Confucius said, “A noble person takes care to give attention to nine things. In seeing, to have clear vision. In hearing, to be keen. In expression, to be warm. In attitude, to be courteous. In speech, to be loyal. In service, to be reverent. In doubt, to ask questions. In anger, to think of the consequences. In gaining an advantage, to think of fairness.”
Zilu asked, “Does a noble person value courage?”
Confucius replied, “A noble person values righteousness above all. If a noble person has courage without righteousness, chaos reigns. If a small person has courage without righteousness, they become a bandit.”
Zizhang said, “A person is sufficient if they’re ready to lay down their lives to follow orders, keep fairness in mind when faced with opportunities for personal gain, conduct sacrifices with respect, and mourn with sorrow.”
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.