Sima Niu asked Confucius about humaneness.

Confucius replied, “The humane person is reluctant to speak.

Sima Niu replied, “That’s all humaneness is? Reluctance to speak?”

Confucius replied, “Carrying it out is so difficult, how can you not be reluctant to speak about it?”


Sima Niu asked Confucius about being a noble person.

Confucius replied, “The noble person has no anxiety or fear.”

Sima Niu replied, “No anxiety or fear? That’s all it takes to be a noble person?”

Confucius replied, “If you look within yourself and find nothing to be ashamed of, how could you have any anxiety or fear?”


Sima Niu was in distress. He said, “Everyone has brothers! I alone have none!”

Zixia said, “I have heard a proverb:

Life and death are up to fate,

Wealth and honors are up to Heaven.’

“Because the noble person behaves with reverence and tries to be free of error, is courteous to others and behaves with ritual correctness, all within the Four Seas are his brothers. How can a noble person worry about not having brothers?”