Zengzi said, “Tend to the recently deceased with great care, and continue venerating the long-departed. Doing this, the people will return to virtue.”


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.”


Zizhang asked Confucius how to accumulate virtue and recognize confusion.

Confucius replied, “Take loyalty and trustworthiness as your first principles, and always move in the direction of what is right. That’s how to accumulate virtue.

“If you love something, you want it to live. If you hate something, you want it to die. If you want something to live and die at the same time, this is confusion.

“‘Not for her wealth,

But just for the novelty.’”


Ji Kangzi asked Confucius about government, “How about I kill those who have abandoned the Way to help out the good. How about that?”

Confucius replied, “As head of government, why would you need to kill? If you set your heart on virtue and humaneness, the people will follow suit. The noble person is like the wind and the people are like the grass. When the wind blows, the grass bends.”


Fan Chi, while walking with Confucius among the Rain Dance altars, asked, “If I may, can I ask how to raise up virtue, overcome wickedness, and recognize delusion?”

Confucius replied, “Great questions! If you put the effort before reward, won’t that raise up virtue? If you attack evil itself rather than the evil person, won’t that overcome wickedness? In a moment of anger, to forget the danger to yourself and to your parents, isn’t that delusion?”


Nangong Kuo asked Confucius, “How is it that Yi was a master of archery and Ao could drive his enemy’s ships onto dry land, but neither died a natural death? Yet Yu and Hou Ji were farmers and ended up ruling the world?”

Confucius didn’t answer at the time, but after Nangong Kuo left, he said, “Now there’s a noble person! There’s someone who values virtue!”


Zigong said, “Surely, Guan Zhong was not humane? After Duke Huan killed his Prince Jiu, not only did Guan Zhong not die along with him—he actually became Duke Huan’s prime minister!”

“With Guan Zhong as his Prime Minister, Duke Huan became leader of the nobles and brought order to the realm,” Confucius replied. “Down to this day, we still benefit from this. Without Guan Zhong, we’d be wearing our hair down and buttoning our clothes on the left side like barbarians.

“What should we expect? That he act out the petty virtues of a country rube and hang himself in some ditch, anonymously?”


Someone asked, “What do you think of the saying, ‘Repay harm with virtue?’”

Confucius answered, “Then how would you repay virtue? Repay harm with justice. Repay virtue with virtue.”