Zi Gong 子貢

  • Zi Gong said, ‘In poverty, yet not be abject; in affluence, yet not be arrogant. How’s that?’ The Master said, ‘Possible. But still, it is not as good as being poor yet in delight; being rich yet fond of Li. Zi Gong said, ‘The Odes have it, “Like a gem! Now quarried, now filed, now sculpted and now polished!” Is that what you mean?’ The Master said, ‘Ci, Now we can talk poetry together! I tell you one thing and you understand the next.’
    子貢曰:「貧而無諂,富而無驕,何如?」子曰:「可也。未若貧而樂,富而好禮者也。」子貢曰:「《詩》云:『如切如磋,如琢如磨。』其斯之謂與?」子曰:「賜也,始可與言詩已矣!告諸往而知來者。」 (學而, 1.15)
  • The Master said, “To be in poverty without resenting it is difficult. To be in affluence without being arrogrant is easy.”
    子曰:「貧而無怨難,富而無驕易。」(憲問, 14,10)
  • The Master said, ‘A noble man is not a vessel.’
    子曰:「君子不器。」 (為政, 2.12)
  • The Master spoke of Zi Jian: “He is a noble man indeed! …”
    子謂子賤,「君子哉若人!…?」 (公冶長, 5.3)
  • Zi Gong asked, ‘What about me?’ The Master said, ‘You are a vessel.’ ‘What do you mean, a vessel?’ said Zi Gong. The Master said, ‘You are a wonderful vessel made of jade.’
    子貢問曰:「賜也何如?」子曰:「女器也。」曰:「何器也?」曰:「瑚璉也。」 (公冶長, 5.4)
    zigong-vessel
  • Zi Gong said, “Suppose you have a beautiful jade like this. Will you put it in a safe and keep it? Or will you seek a buyer offering a good price and sell it?” The Master said, “I will sell it! I will sell it! I am just waiting for the buyer.” 子貢曰:“有美玉於斯,韞匵而藏諸?求善賈而沽諸?”子曰:“沽之哉!沽之哉!我待賈者也。” (子罕 9.13) [Also see Li Ji, 聘義 12]
  • Zi Gong said, ‘I do not want people to aggrandize me. I also want to avoid aggrandizing people.’ The Master said, ‘Ci, this is beyond your reach.’
    子貢曰:「我不欲人之加諸我也,吾亦欲無加諸人。」子曰:「賜也,非爾所及也。」 (公冶長, 5.12)
  • The Chief Counsellor asked Zi Gong, “Is your Master a Saint? How come he has so many talents?” Zi Gong said, “The Heaven originally sent him as a Great Saint. He has many talents as well.” The Master heard this and said, “The Chief Counsellor knows me. When I was young, I was lowly. That’s why I am good at many mundane jobs. Is a noble man good at many things? No, he is not.”  (子罕 9.6)
  • Lo said, “The Master told once, ‘I do not have an employment. That’s why I am good at many things.’ ” (子罕 9.7)
  • Ji Zi Cheng said, ‘It suffices for a noble man to have substance. What use do you have for sophisticated erudition?’ Zi Gong said, ‘Alas, what you say about a noble man is revealing of you (You open your mouth and reveal what you are made of). Sophiticated erudition is not different from substance. Substance is not different from sophisticated erudition. Tiger or leopard hide stripped of hair is not different from dog or lamb hide stripped of hair.’
    棘子成曰:「君子質而已矣,何以文為?」子貢曰:「惜乎!夫子之說,君子也。駟不及舌。文猶質也,質猶文也。虎豹之鞟,猶犬羊之鞟。」 (顏淵, 12.8)
  • Zi Gong asked about noble man. The Master said, ‘He who acts first and whose words follow afterwards.’
    子貢問君子。子曰:「先行其言,而後從之。」 (為政, 2.13)
  • The Master said, “Those who followed me to Chen and Cai have all left my school now.”
    子曰:「從我於陳、蔡者,皆不及門也。」(先進 11.2)
  • As for virtuous conduct, Yan Yuan, Min Zi Qian, Ran Bo Niu and Zhong Gong excelled. In speech, Zai Wo and Zi Gong excelled. In politics, Ran You and Ji Lu excelled. In erudition, Zi You and Zi Xia excelled.
    德行:顏淵,閔子騫,冉伯牛,仲弓。言語:宰我,子貢。政事:冉有,季路。文學:子游,子夏。(先進 11.3)
  •  (Zai Wo and Zi Gong were mostly engaged in eloquent speech and thought that they were engaged in good conduct. Ran Niu, Min Zi and Yan Yuan would virtuously carry out good words.) 宰我、子貢 善為說辭,冉牛、閔子、顏淵 善言德行。 《孟子·公孫丑上》
  • The Master spoke to Zi Gong, “Between you and Hui, who is ahead of whom?” Zi Gong replied, “How dare I hope to catch up with Hui? When Hui hears one thing, he understands ten. When I hear one thing, I can only understand two.” The Master said, “Surely, you are not like him! I agree with you, you are not like him.”
    子謂子貢曰:「女與回也孰愈?」對曰:「賜也何敢望回。回也聞一以知十,賜也聞一以知二。」子曰:「弗如也!吾與女弗如也。」 (公冶長, 5.9)
  • Zi Gong asked, “Between Shi (Zi Zhang) and Shang (Zi Xia), who has more talent?” The Master said, “Shi goes too far and Shang falls short.” “Shi is better, then?” said Zi Gong. The Master said, “Going too far is similar to falling short.”
    子貢問:「師與商也孰賢?」子曰:「師也過,商也不及。」曰:「然則師愈與?」子曰:「過猶不及。」 (先進, 11.16)
  • Zi Gong is in the habit of comparing people. The Master said, “Ci must be a talented man, eh? I have no time for this.”
    子貢方人。子曰:「賜也賢乎哉?夫我則不暇。」 (憲問, 14.29)