Zhonggong asked about Zisang Bozi.

Confucius replied, “He’ll do. He takes a simple approach.”

Zhonggong said, “Maybe it’s okay to be simple in your approach if you have reverence in how you carry yourself. But if you’re simple in your approach and simple in how you carry yourself, isn’t that taking simplicity too far?”

Confucius said, “You’re right.”


Duke Ai asked Confucius which of his students loved to learn.

Confucius replied, “There was Yan Hui, he loved learning. He didn’t transfer his anger to the wrong person and he didn’t make the same mistake twice. But, he died young and nowadays there isn’t anyone who loved learning like he did. At least, I haven’t heard of anyone.”


Gongxi Hua was sent on a mission to the state of Qi. Ran Qiu asked their employer to provide grain to Gongxi Hua’s mother. Ran Qiu asked Confucius how much he should request for her.

Confucius said, “Request a full measure of grain.”

Ran Qiu asked for more.

Confucius said, “Then request a double measure of grain.”

In the end, Ran Qiu requested ten measures of grain.

Confucius said, “Gongxi Hua travelled to Qi, he drove the best horses and wore fine furs. I’ve always heard, ‘The noble person helps out the poor, but doesn’t make the rich richer.’”


When Yuan Si was serving as a steward, he was offered a salary of nine hundred measures of grain, but he turned it down.

Confucius said, “Don’t turn it down! If you don’t need it, couldn’t you share it with the people in your village and the surrounding communities?”


Confucius said of Zhonggong, “The calf of a brindled plow ox could be all red and have good horns. Even if people think it’s unsuitable for sacrifice, would the spirits reject it?”


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?”


Boniu was sick and Confucius went to visit him.

Confucius held Boniu’s hand through the window and said, “We’re going to lose him. It must be fate that a man like this is dying and there’s nothing we can do about it.”


Confucius said, “What a worthy person Yan Hui was! He got by on a small bowl of rice and a ladleful of water in a dingy back alley. Most people couldn’t have endured that kind of misery, but Yan Hui never let it spoil his joy. What a worthy person Yan Hui was!”


Ran Qiu said, “It’s not that I don’t delight in your Way, but I don’t have the strength.”

Confucius replied, “People who don’t have the strength collapse along the Way. You’re holding yourself back.”


Ziyou became the governor of Wucheng.

Confucius asked, “Have you managed to find any good people there?”

Ziyou replied, “I have Tantai Mieming. He never takes shortcuts and he doesn’t show up in my office unless he has real business to discuss.”


Confucius said, “Meng Zifan isn’t the boastful kind. Once, when his army was forced to retreat, he stayed behind to guard the rear. As they were about to enter the city gates, though, he spurred his horses ahead, saying, ‘It wasn’t my bravery that kept me behind to guard the rear. It’s just that my horses wouldn’t move.’”


Confucius said, “When raw material overwhelms refinement, you get a coarse rustic. When refinement overwhelms raw material, you get an officious scribe. Only when refinement and raw material are appropriately balanced and blended do you get a noble person.”


Confucius said, “You can talk about higher subjects with people whose intelligence is above average, but not with those whose intelligence is below average.”


Fan Chi asked about wisdom.

Confucius said, “Work for justice and harmony in society. Respect the spirits, but keep them at a distance. That’s wisdom.”

Fan Chi then asked about humaneness.

Confucius replied, “Ah, humaneness. The humane person takes on the difficulty of self-cultivation first and only looks for the outcomes afterwards. That’s humaneness.”


Confucius said, “The wise enjoy the waters and the humane enjoy the mountains. The wise are busy and the humane are still. The wise are happy and the humane are long-lived.”


Confucius said, “With just one change, the state of Qi could come up to the level of the state of Lu. With just one change, the state of Lu could attain the Way.”


Zai Wo asked, “If you lie and tell a humane person that someone is stuck at the bottom of a well, would they jump into the well?”

Confucius replied, “Why would they? The noble person can be tricked into taking a look, but not into jumping in. They can be deceived, but not trapped.”


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.”