Confucius said of Gongye Chang: “He would make a good husband. Even though he spent time in prison, he was innocent.” He gave him his daughter’s hand in marriage.
Confucius said of Nan Rong: “In a well-governed state, he will not be overlooked for an official position. In a badly-governed state, he will avoid punishment and disgrace.” Confucius arranged for him to marry his niece.
Confucius said of Zijian: “He is a true leader! If there were indeed no leaders in the state of Lu, how would he have reached this level?”
Zigong asked: “What do you think of me?” Confucius said: “You are a vessel.” “What sort of vessel?” “A precious sacrificial vessel.”
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.”
When Confucius recommended Qidiao Kai for an official position, the latter replied: “I cannot be trusted for such a responsibility yet.” Confucius was delighted.
Confucius said: “The Way does not prevail! I will take a raft and put out to sea. I’m sure Zilu will come with me.” When he heard this, Zilu was delighted. Confucius said: “Zilu is much braver than I am, but we can’t get any materials for our raft.”
Meng Wubo asked “Is Zilu good?” Confucius said: “I do not know.” When he asked once again, Confucius said: “In a middle-sized country, he could be entrusted with military recruitment. But whether he is good, I do not know.” “And what about Ran Qiu?” Confucius said: “Ran Qiu? He could be the mayor of a small city or the manager of a large estate. But whether he is good, I do not know.” “And what about Gongxi Chi?” Confucius said: “Gongxi Chi? Standing resplendent with his sash, he could entertain distinguished guests. But whether he is good, I do not know.”
Confucius asked Zigong: “Who is better, you or Yan Hui?” Zigong replied: “How can I compare myself with Yan Hui? He has only to hear ten percent in order to understand everything about a subject while if I hear ten per cent I only understand twenty percent.” Confucius said: “You are certainly not his equal, and neither am I.”
Zai Yu was asleep during the day. Confucius said: “Rotten wood cannot be carved; dung walls cannot be trowelled. What’s the point of scolding him anymore?” Confucius said: “There was a time when I used to listen to what people had to say and trusted that they would act on their word, but now I have to listen to what they say and watch what they do. It’s my dealings with Zai Yu that have forced me to change.”
Confucius said: “I’ve never seen a man who is truly resolute.” Someone replied: “How about Shen Cheng?” Confucius said: “Shen Cheng is a slave to his desires. How can he be called resolute?”
Zigong said: “I wouldn’t want to do to others what I wouldn’t want them to do to me.” Confucius said: “Ah, Zigong! That’s beyond your reach.”
Zigong said: “We get to hear our master’s cultural brilliance, but not his views on the nature of things and the Way of Heaven.”
When Zilu had learned something, his only fear was that he might learn something else before he had the chance to put it into practice.
Zigong asked: “Why was ‘Kong-the-Cultured’ called ‘cultured’?” Confucius said: “He had an active mind, was fond of learning, and was not ashamed to listen and learn from his inferiors: that is why he was given the name.”
Confucius said of Zichan: “He had four essential qualities of a true leader: in his private conduct he was courteous; in serving his superiors he was respectful; in caring for the people he was generous; in employing the people for public service he was just.”
Confucius said: “Yan Pingzhong was a master of the art of social interaction: no matter how long he knew someone, he always maintained the same level of scrupulous respectfulness.”
Confucius said: “Zang Wenzhong kept a tortoise in a house featuring pillars patterned with mountains and posts above the rafters decorated with duckweed motifs. What does this say of his wisdom?”
Zizhang asked: “Ziwen was appointed prime minister three times, but he never showed the least sign of elation. He was dismissed three times, but he never showed the least sign of disappointment. On each occasion, he briefed his successor on the status of the affairs of his office. What do you think of him?” Confucius said: “He was loyal.” Zizhang asked: “Was he good?” Confucius said: “I’m not sure; how can he be said to be good?”
“When Cuizi assassinated the ruler of the state of Qi, Chen Wenzi abandoned his large estate and left Qi. Having settled in another state, he said: ‘They are no better than Cuizi,’ and left. Having settled in yet another state, he said once again: ‘They are no better than Cuizi,’ and left once again. What do you think of him?” Confucius said: “He was pure.” Zizhang said: “Was he good?” “I’m not sure; how can he be said to be good?”
Ji Wenzi always thought three times before taking action. When he heard this, Confucius said: “Twice is quite sufficient.”
Confucius said: “When the Way prevailed in his state, Ning Wuzi acted wise. When his state lost the Way, Ning Wuzi acted dumb. Others may match his wisdom but not his dumbness.”
When Confucius was in the state of Chen, he said: “Let’s go home, let’s go home! Our young people are full of fire and have incredible talent, but they have no idea how to use it.”
Confucius said: “Boyi and Shuqi never kept old grievances in mind and hence rarely aroused any resentment.”
Confucius said: “Who said that Weisheng Gao was upright? When someone asked him for vinegar, he went and begged for some from his neighbor and then gave it to them as though it was his own gift.”
Confucius said: “Smooth talk, pretentiousness, and obsequiousness: Zuo Qiuming detested such behavior, and I detest it too. Acting friendly with a man you secretly resent: Zuo Qiuming detested such behavior, and I detest it too.”
When Yan Hui and Zilu were sitting together with him, Confucius said: “How about telling me your aspirations?” Zilu said: “My wish is to share my carriages, horses, clothes, and furs with my friends without getting upset if they damage them.” Yan Hui said: “My wish is never to boast about my abilities or call attention to the trouble I take on behalf of others.” Zilu said: “I would love to hear our master’s personal wishes.” Confucius said: “My wish is to be able to provide comfort to the elderly, to be faithful to my friends, and to cherish the young.”
Confucius said: “I give up! I have yet to meet a man capable of seeing his own faults and taking himself to task in the court of his own heart.”
Confucius said: “In a hamlet of ten houses, you are certain to find men as loyal and trustworthy as I am, but you will not find a single man who loves learning as much as I do.”