Someone said, “Zhonggong is humane, but he’s not eloquent.”

Confucius replied, “Why should he be ‘eloquent?’ People usually end up hating a smooth-talker. I don’t know if Zhonggong is humane, but why does he need to be eloquent?”


Zhonggong asked about Zisang Bozi.

Confucius replied, “He’ll do. He takes a simple approach.”

Zhonggong said, “Maybe it’s okay to be simple in your approach if you have reverence in how you carry yourself. But if you’re simple in your approach and simple in how you carry yourself, isn’t that taking simplicity too far?”

Confucius said, “You’re right.”


Confucius said of Zhonggong, “The calf of a brindled plow ox could be all red and have good horns. Even if people think it’s unsuitable for sacrifice, would the spirits reject it?”


Zhonggong asked Confucius about humaneness.

Confucius replied, “When you go out into the world, conduct yourself as if you’re receiving an honored guest. Employ the people as if you’re conducting a great ceremony. Don’t impose on others what you wouldn’t want for yourself. In this way, you won’t stir up resentment in public or in your own household.”

Zhonggong said, “Even though I’m not that clever, I’ll apply myself to this.”


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.”