Confucius said, “Don’t worry about others not knowing you. Worry about not knowing others.”
Confucius said, “Watch what a person does. Observe their motives and where they feel at ease. Where can they hide? Where can they hide?”
Zizhang asked about getting an official position.
Confucius said, “Listen as much as you can, put aside what’s doubtful, and speak cautiously about the rest. This will lead to few errors. Observe as much as you can, put aside what’s dangerous, and be careful in acting on the rest. This will lead to few regrets.
Few errors in speech and few regrets in action—that’s the key to earning an official position.”
Confucius said, “People make mistakes according to the kind of person they are. Look at a person’s mistakes. That will tell you what kind of person they are.”
Confucius said, “If the Way isn’t put into practice, I’ll just head out to sea on a small raft. I bet Zilu would go with me.”
Zilu was happy to hear this.
Confucius said, “Zilu loves daring more than I do, but he lacks judgment.”
Zai Wo napped during the day.
Confucius said, “Rotten wood can’t be carved and mud walls can’t be plastered. As for Zai Wo, what’s the point of scolding him?
“I used to listen to what people said and trusted that their actions would follow. Nowadays, I listen to what people say and I watch what they do. I learned this from Zai Wo.”
Ji Wenzi always reflected three times before acting.
When Confucius heard about this, he quipped, “Twice would’ve been enough.”
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.”
Confucius said, “There may be some people who innovate without prior knowledge, but I’m not like that. I listen closely and follow what’s good. I observe closely and remember what’s good. This is the second best kind of knowledge.”
It was hard to have a worthwhile conversation with people from Huxiang, so when a young man from that village came to Confucius, his students weren’t sure about it.
Confucius said, “Just because I accepted him when he came to me doesn’t mean I approve of everything he does after he leaves. Don’t be so strict. When someone purifies himself to approach, accept that purity. That doesn’t mean you have to approve of everything they did before or after.”
Confucius said, “If there’s anyone who can decide a case only by listening to one side, it’s Zilu.”
Zilu also never went to sleep with a promise unfulfilled.
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.”
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.”
Zigong asked, “What sort of people are good enough to be considered a good government official?”
Confucius replied, “People who conduct themselves with a sense of shame, and who can be sent abroad on missions without disgracing the mission. Those are the sort of people who can be considered good government officials.”
Zigong then asked, “And who is one step below that?”
Confucius replied, “People whose families consider them filial and whose fellow villagers consider them respectful of elders.”
Zigong asked, “And one step below that?”
Confucius answered, “Someone who keeps their word and always follows through on their actions. They may be stubborn and small-minded, but they qualify as the next step down.”
Zigong asked, “And how about those serving in government today?”
Confucius replied, “Ugh. They’re little tools. They don’t even count.”
Zigong asked, “What would you think of a person if everyone in their village loved them?”
Confucius replied, “That’s not enough to go on.”
Zigong then asked, “What would you think of a person if everyone in their village hated them?”
Confucius replied, “That’s not enough to go on. It’s better if all the good people in the village loved them and all the bad people in the village hated them.”
Zigong was always judging people’s faults.
Confucius said, “Well, Zigong must have achieved perfection if he has time for that sort of thing. I’m not so lucky myself.”
Confucius said, “In my dealings, who do I praise and who do I blame? If I do praise someone, you can be sure that I’ve tested them. The common people of today are made of the same stuff as those who kept the Three Dynasties on the right path.”
Confucius said, “When the masses hate someone, you should look into the matter yourself. Likewise, when the masses love someone, you should look into the matter yourself.”
Zigong asked, “Does a noble person have hatreds?”
Confucius answered, “Yes, a noble person hates those who point out the faults of others, those who slander their superiors, those who have courage but lack ritual, and those who are bold but lack understanding.”
He continued, “And what about you? Do you have hatreds?”
“Yes,” replied Zigong, “I hate those who steal other peoples’ ideas and then act like they’re smart. I hate those who think being arrogant is courageous. And I hate those who think insulting people is straightforwardness.”
The Duke of Zhou told his son, the Duke of Lu, “The noble person doesn’t forget family. Nor does the noble person give ministers cause to complain that they’re not trusted. Nor does the noble person abandon old friends without great cause. Nor does the noble person expect any one person to be good at everything.”
Confucius said, “If you don’t understand fate, you can’t be a noble person. If you don’t understand ritual, you can’t take your stand. If you don’t understand language, you won’t be able to assess the others’ characters.”