Someone asked about Zichan.

Confucius replied, “He was generous.”

“And what about Zixi?”

Confucius replied, “That guy? Don’t even mention him.”

“And how about Guan Zhong?”

Confucius answered, “He was a man! He seized a territory of three hundred households in Pian from the Bo family. Although the head of the family was reduced to eating coarse rice for the rest of his life, he didn’t utter a single word of complaint against him.”


Zizhang asked Confucius about humaneness.

Confucius replied, “To be humane is to spread five practices in the world.”

Zizhang asked, “And those are?”

Confucius said, “Respect, tolerance, trustworthiness, diligence, and generosity. If you’re respectful, you won’t be insulted. If you’re tolerant, you’ll win the hearts of the people. If you’re trustworthy, people will have confidence in you. If you’re diligent, you’ll get things done. If you’re generous, people will do things for you.”


Zizhang asked Confucius, “What qualifies a person to govern?”

Confucius replied, “If a person honors the five beautiful traits and eschews the four evils, they’re qualified to govern.”

Zizhang asked, “And what are the five beautiful traits?”

Confucius replied, “A noble person is generous, but not wasteful. A noble person works the people hard, but isn’t resented for it. A noble person has desires, but isn’t greedy. A noble person has authority, but isn’t arrogant. A noble person is dignified, but not fierce.”

Zizhang asked, “What do you mean by generous, but not wasteful?”

Confucius replied, “If you let people pursue what’s beneficial for them, isn’t that being generous, but not wasteful? If you put people to work on tasks they’re capable of, isn’t that working people hard, but not being resented for it? If what you desire is humaneness, what room does that desire leave for greed? A noble person is respectful when dealing with the great and the few, the high and the lowly—isn’t that having authority without arrogance? A noble person dresses correctly and has a serious expression—people look at the noble person with awe. Isn’t this being dignified, but not fierce?”

Zizhang asked, “And what are the four evils?”

Confucius replied, “To execute people without first giving them instruction is cruelty. To demand results without first setting expectations is tyranny. To expect timely results after being slow in giving instructions is thievery. To dole out something you must hand over and being stingy about it is bureaucratic pettiness.”