Confucius said, “We can say that Tai Bo possessed the highest virtue. He declined the rule of the kingdom three times. Since no one knew he did this, he didn’t take any credit for it.”
Confucius said, “Without ritual, being respectful becomes tiresome, caution becomes timidness, courage becomes recklessness, and straightforwardness becomes rudeness.
“When a person with a high office is generous to family and kin, the common people will be inspired to be humane. If old friends and acquaintances are not forgotten, the common people will honor their obligations, too.”
When Zengzi became ill, he called his students to him and said, “Uncover my feet and hands. “The Book of Odes says,
‘In fear and trembling,
As if standing on the edge of an abyss,
As is treading on thin ice.’
It’s only now that I know I’ve made it through safely, my young friends.”
When Zengzi became ill, Meng Jingzi visited him.
Zengzi said, “When a bird is about to die, its song is melancholy. When a man is about to die, his words are excellent.
“There are three things a noble person should value in the Way. In conduct and bearing, avoiding violence and arrogance. In facial expression, welcoming trustworthiness. In words and tone of voice, avoiding coarseness and vulgarity. As to the sacrificial vessels, there are professionals to deal with those matters.”
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.”
Zengzi said, “A person who can be trusted to take care of an orphaned crown prince, take responsibility for a large territory, and who can handle a major crisis without being shaken up. Is this not a noble person? Certainly, this is a noble person.”
Zengzi said, “An aspiring scholar-official must be determined and strong. The burden is heavy and the road is long. Humaneness is the burden—isn’t that heavy? Only at death may it be laid down—isn’t that a long road?”
Confucius said, “Arise with the Odes, take your stand with ritual, and come to perfection with music.”
Confucius said, “The common people can be made to follow, but they cannot be made to understand the reasons why.”
Confucius said, “If a person who loves only valor is faced with poverty, chaos ensues. If a person who lacks humaneness faces stress, chaos ensues.”
Confucius said, “Even if you had the talents of the Duke of Zhou, if you’re arrogant and stingy, the rest of your qualities aren’t worth a glance.”
Confucius said, “It’s hard to find a person who studies for three years who doesn’t start thinking about getting a salary.”
Confucius said, “Be devoted and love learning. Stick to the Way until death. Don’t enter a state in peril and don’t stay in a state in chaos.
“When the Way prevails in the world, show yourself. When it does not, withdraw into seclusion.
“When the Way prevails in a state, it’s shameful to be poor and of low rank. When the Way doesn’t prevail in a state, it’s shameful to be rich and honored.”
Confucius said, “If you don’t hold a particular office, don’t meddle in its business.”
Confucius said, “From the time Music Master Zhi begins all the way to the finale of the The Cry of the Osprey—overflowing! It fills the ears!”
Confucius said, “People who are wild without at least being upright, simple-minded without at least being honest, tactless without at least being trustworthy—I just don’t get them.”
Confucius said, “Learn as if you’ll never catch up, as if you’re afraid of losing what you’ve already learned.”
Confucius said, “How impressive Shun and Yu were! They possessed the whole empire, but it was as if it was nothing to them!”
Confucius said, “How great Yao was as a ruler! Nothing is greater than Heaven, but Yao could emulate it. His virtue was so vast that the common people couldn’t even describe it! His achievements were sublime and his teaching was brilliant!”
Shun successfully governed the empire with five ministers.
King Wu said, “I have ten competent ministers.”
Confucius said, “Talent is hard to find, isn’t it? It really flourished in the time of Yao and Shun. As for King Wu, he really only has nine good men, as one of his ministers is a woman.
“When the Zhou already controlled two-thirds of the empire, they were able to continue serving the previous dynasty of Yin. We can call the virtue of Zhou the highest virtue.”
Confucius said, “I can’t find fault with Yu. He lived on the simplest food and drink, but he showed his filial devotion with lavish offerings to the spirits. He wore shabby clothes in his daily life, but his ceremonial robes and caps were elegant. He lived in a humble home, but he exhausted his strength building irrigation canals to water the fields. I can’t find fault with Yu.”