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12. Yan Yuan (顏淵) asked

1. Yan Yuan asked about ethical resolve. The Master said, "To overcome oneself and bring oneself back to Li (禮), that is ethical resolve. Even for a day, if you overcome yourself and bring yourself back to Li, the whole world will be restored with ethical resolve. It depends on you to practice ethical resolve. Do you need to depend on others?" Yan Yuan said, "What are the concrete steps to practice ethical resolve?" The Master said, "If it is not in accordance with Li, do not even look at it, do not lend your ears to it, do not talk about it, do not act on it." Yan Yuan said, "Although I am not smart, I shall mark these words."

2. Zhong Gong asked about ethical resolve. The Master said, "When you are outside, behave courteously as if you are having an audience with a great guest. When you employ people, treat them with respect as if you are conducting a solemn ceremony. What you yourself do not want, do not do it to others. Make sure that there is no grievance in the country and in your household." Zhong Gong said, "Although I am not smart, I shall mark these words."

3. Si Ma Niu asked about ethical resolve. The Master said, "He who has ethical resolve does not say much." Si Ma Niu said, " 'Not saying much'? Is this ethical resolve?" The Master said, "To do what you say is difficult enough. Should you not be cautious in what you say?"
司馬牛問仁。子曰:「仁者其言也訒(인 ren, homophone of 仁 with different tone)。」曰:「其言也訒,斯謂之仁已乎?」子曰:「為之難,言之得無訒乎?」

4. Si Ma Niu asked about noble man. The Master said, "A noble man does not worry, is not ashamed." Si Ma Niu said, " 'No worry, no shame'? Is this what noble man is about?" The Master said, "When you look at yourself and find no blemish, why would you worry, why should you be ashamed?"

5. Si Ma Niu was unhappy and said, "Everybody has brothers. But I am all alone." Zi Xia said, "I heard thus: Life and death take their course as ordained. Wealth and poverty are made in Heaven. A noble man will tread cautiously and will not make mistakes. A noble man will respect people and abide by Li. Within the four seas, everyone is your brother. How can a noble man worry about not having a brother?"
[Actually, Si Ma Niu seems to have a brother, 桓魋 Huan Tui, who attempted to assassinate Confucius. Analect 7.23. Zuo Zhuan, Duke Ai, 14]

6. Zi Zhang asked about brilliance. The Master said, "When insidious calumnies and piercing accusations have no effect, that is brilliance. When insidious calumnies and piercing accusations have no effect, you may call it far-reaching as well.

7. Zi Gong asked about governing. The Master said, "It is to have enough to eat, to have enough soldiers and to have people's confidence." Zi Gong said, "If you have to discard one, which one should go first?" The Master said, "Get rid of soldiers." Zi Gong said, "If you have to discard one more, which of the remaining two should go first?" The Master said, "Forget about food. People die all the time. But when people have no confidence, the government cannot stand."

8. Ji Zi Cheng said, "A noble man should focus on substance. What's the point of sophistication?" Zi Gong said, "Alas, what you say about a noble man is revealing of you. Too late to undo the damage done by your speech. Sophistication is not different from substance. Substance is not different from sophistication. Tiger or leopard hide stripped of hair is not different from dog or lamb hide stripped of hair."

9. Duke Ai asked You Ruo, "It is a year of famine and the government does not have enough to spend. What to do?" You Ruo answered, "Why not reduce the tax rate to 1/10?" Duke Ai said, "Even with the current rate of 2/10, I do not have enough. How can I offer further tax cut?" You Ruo replied, "When people have enough, how can the ruler not have enough? When people have not enough, how can the ruler have enough?"

10 . Zi Zhang asked about supreme virtue and about how to avoid confusion. The Master said, "With loyalty and trustworthiness as your main focus, adjust yourself to be in the right. That is supreme virtue. When you love something you desire it to live. When you hate something, you desire it to die. When you want it to live and at the same time want it to die, that's confusion. As the poem (詩·小雅·我行其野篇) has it, 'though you don't have wealth, you do have a variety of girls.' "

11. Duke Jing of Qi asked about governing. Confucius said, "A ruler should be a ruler, a minister should be a minister, a father should be a father and a son should be a son." The Duke said, "Lovely answer! If a rule is not a rule, a minister is not a minister, a father is not a father and a son is not a son, how can I enjoy what I have?"

12. The Master said, "If there is a person who can decide a case having heard only one side, You (由) is such a person, isn't he?" Zi Lu says yes without hesitation.
子曰:「片言可以折獄者,其由也與?」子路無宿諾。 [rash, brash, rough, tough]

13. The Master said, "In handling litigations, I am like others. Make sure that there is no litigation!"

14. Zi Zhang asked about governing. The Master said, "Be diligent. Act loyally."

15. The Master said, "When a noble man learns broadly and refines himself, and when he constrains himself with Li, how can he be overstepping?"
子曰:「君子博學於文,約之以禮,亦可以弗畔矣夫!」 (雍也, 6.27)

16. The Master said, "A noble man brings out the best in people. He does not bring out the worst in people. The petty and the lowly do the opposite."

17. Mr Ji Kang asked about governing. Confucius answered, "It is to be upright. If you lead by being an upright example, who would dare to be corrupt?"

18. Mr Ji Kang was concerned about the problem of theft. He asked Confucius. Confucius answered, "If you yourself do not have desires, people won't steal even if they are given a reward for stealing."

19.Mr Ji Kang asked about governing by saying the following to Confucius: "Suppose those who are lawless are killed so that the proper way is restored. How about that?" Confucius answered, "You say you are governing. Why would you use killing? If you yourself desire to do good, then people will be good. A ruler is like wind. The petty and the lowly are like grass. When wind blows above the grass, the grass will bend."

20. Zi Zhang asked, "What should an officer do so that he can be called an accomplished person?" The Master said, "What do you mean by 'accomplished'?" Zi Zhang answered, "Renowned in the country, renowned in the family." The Master said, "That is renown. It is different from being 'accomplished'. An accomplished person has the straightforward basic quality and finds delight in righteousness. He cautiously observes people's speeches and appearances. He is considerate to people who are below him. Such a person is accomplished wherever he may be. A renowned person puts on an appearance of having the ethical resolve but his actions are against it. He remains and indulges in his position without self reflection. Such a person is bound to be renowned in the country and in the family."

21. Fan Chi came along to the picnic at the rain altar. He said, "May I ask about supreme virtue, about how to correct insidious flaws, and about how not to be misled?" The Master said, "Good question! To serve first without thinking about what you will get. Isn't it the supreme virtue? Tackle your own faults rather than other people's faults. Isn't it a way to correct insidious flaws. Propelled by a morning's indignation, if you forget your own safety and the safety of your parents, are you not misled?

22. Fan Chi asked about ethical resolve. The Master said, "It means to love people". Fan Chi asked about knowledge. The Master said, "It means to know people". Fan Chi didn’t get it. The Master said, "Employ the upright to grind off the crooked. Then you can straighten up the crooked." Fan Chi went back to his abode. When he saw Zi Xia, he said, "Well, I saw the Master and asked about knowledge. The Master said, 'Employ the upright to grind off the crooked. Then you can straighten up the crooked.' What does that mean?" Zi Xia said, "A rich remark indeed! When Shun had the whole world, he chose and employed Gao Yao. People who lack ethical resolve were kept at distance. When Tang had the whole world, he chose and employed Yi Yin. Those who lack ethical resolve were kept at distance.

23. Zi Gong asked about friendship. The Master said, "Give sincere advice and lead them to the good. If it is not possible, then stop being friends. Do not humiliate yourself.

24. Zeng Zi said, "A noble man would meet friends thanks to his erudition. A noble man's ethical resolve is reinforced thanks to his friends."

Published on Categories ACLP