Disciples of Confucius: Ran Yong

Ran Yong (冉雍), also known as Zhonggong (冉仲弓), was born in 522 BC and came from the same clan as his fellow disciples Ran Geng (冉耕) and Ran Qiu (冉求).

Although he was said to have come from a bad family background, Confucius didn’t let that count against him, employing him as his personal representative to rulers of various states. Confucius didn’t mind about his poor oratorical skills, either, asking “What use is eloquence? A smooth tongue creates many enemies.”

Ji Kangzi (季康子), the regent of the state of Lu, recognized the abilities of Ran Yong, too, appointing him to the post of counselor (宰/zai) – though unlike his clansman Ran Qiu, he doesn’t seem to have aroused the ire of Confucius for taking up this position.

Appearances in the Analects of Confucius
Book 5, Chapter V
Book 6, Chapter I
Book 6, Chapter II
Book 6, Chapter VI
Book 11, Chapter III
Book 12, Chapter II
Book 13, Chapter II

Book 5
Chapter V
或曰:「雍也仁而不佞。」子曰:「焉用佞?御人以口給,屢憎於人。不知其仁,焉用佞?」
Someone said: “Ran Yong is good but not eloquent.” Confucius said: “What use is eloquence? A smooth tongue creates many enemies. I do not know whether Ran Yong is good; but he definitely has no need for eloquence.”

Book 6
Chapter I
子曰:「雍也可使南面。」
Confucius said: “Ran Yong could be given a seat facing south.”

Chapter II
仲弓問子桑伯子。子曰:「可也簡。」仲弓曰:「居敬而行簡,以臨其民,不亦可乎?居簡而行簡,無乃大簡乎?」子曰:「雍之言然。」
Ran Yong asked about Zisang Bozi. Confucius said: “He has a simple approach. That makes him acceptable.” Ran Yong said: “Taking a sophisticated approach to your duties while implementing simple measures: is this not the right spirit in which to govern the people? But taking a simple approach to your duties while implementing simple measures: isn’t this going too far?” Confucius said: “That is correct.”

Chapter VI
子謂仲弓,曰:「犁牛之子騂且角,雖欲勿用,山川其舍諸?」
Confucius said of Ran Yong: “If the calf of a plough ox sports a sorrel coat and fine horns would the spirits of the hills and rivers reject it, even if men felt it was not good enough to be used for sacrifice?”

Book 11
Chapter III
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。
Virtuous conduct: Yan Hui, Min Ziqian, Ran Boniu, Ran Yong. Eloquent speech: Zai Yu, Zigong. Government and administration: Ran Qiu, Zilu. Cultural accomplishments: Ziyou, Zixia.

Book 12
Chapter II
仲弓問仁。子曰:「出門如見大賓,使民如承大祭。己所不欲,勿施於人。在邦無怨,在家無怨。」仲弓曰:「雍雖不敏,請事斯語。」
Ran Yong asked about goodness. Confucius said: “When you are away from home, act towards everyone as if you are meeting an important guest. Manage people as if you are conducting a great sacrifice. Do not do to others what you would not want done to yourself. Allow no resentment to enter your public affairs; allow no resentment to enter your family affairs.” Ran Yong said: “Although I may not be quick to understand it, with your blessing I will strive to follow your guidance.”

Book 13
Chapter II
仲弓為季氏宰,問「政」。子曰:「先有司,赦小過,舉賢才。」曰:「焉知賢才而舉之?」曰:「舉爾所知,爾所不知,人其舍諸!」
When Ran Yong was serving as a steward of the Ji Family, he asked about governance. Confucius said: “First appoint your senior officials. Forgive small mistakes. Promote people of talent.” Ran Yong asked: “How do I recognize that someone has talent and deserves to be promoted?” Confucius said: “Promote those you know. Those you don’t know will not be passed over.”

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