Analects of Confucius: on loyalty

Loyalty (忠/zhōng) involves taking others’ interests as central to your conduct. In come contexts, it can also be rendered as “faithfulness”. A number of references to loyalty can be found in the Analects.

Book 1, Chapter IV
Book 1, Chapter VIII
Book 2, Chapter XX
Book 3, Chapter XIX
Book 4, Chapter XV
Book 5, Chapter XIX
Book 5, Chapter XXVIII
Book 7, Chapter XXIV
Book 9, Chapter XXV
Book 12, Chapter X
Book 12, Chapter XIV
Book 12, Chapter XXIII
Book 13, Chapter XIX
Book 14, Chapter VII
Book 15, Chapter VI
Book 16, Chapter X

Book 1
Chapter IV
Zengzi said: “I examine myself three times every day. Have I been true to other people’s interests when acting on their behalf? Have I been sincere in my interactions with friends? Have I practiced what I have been taught?”

Chapter VIII
Confucius said: “If a leader isn’t serious he will inspire no awe and lack a solid foundation for learning. Hold loyalty and trustworthiness as your highest principles; don’t make friends with people who are not your equal; and when you make a mistake, don’t be afraid to correct yourself.”

Book 2
Chapter XX
Ji Kangzi asked: “What should I do to make the people respectful, loyal, and eager to follow me? Confucius said: “Treat them with dignity, and they will be respectful. Show you are a good son and a loving father, and they will be loyal. Promote the good and teach those who lack ability, and they will be eager to follow you.”

Book 3
Chapter XIX
Duke Ding asked: “How should a leader treat their ministers? How should ministers serve their leader?” Confucius replied: “A leader should treat their ministers in accordance with the rites; ministers should serve their leader with loyalty.”

Book 4
Chapter XV
Confucius said: “Shen, my doctrine is all woven into a single thread.” Zengzi replied: “Indeed.” After Confucius had left, the other disciples asked: “What did he mean?” Zengzi said: “The doctrine of the Master is based on loyalty and reciprocity; that and nothing more.”

Book 5
Chapter XIX
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?”

Chapter XXVIII
Confucius said: “In a hamlet of ten houses, you are certain to find people as loyal and trustworthy as I am, but you will not find a single person who loves learning as much as I do.”

Book 7
Chapter XXIV
Confucius covered four subjects in his teaching: culture; conduct; loyalty; and trustworthiness.

Book 9
Chapter XXV
Confucius said: “Hold loyalty and trustworthiness as your highest principles; don’t make friends with people who are not your equal; and when you make a mistake, don’t be afraid to correct yourself.”

Chapter X
Zizhang asked about the phrase “accumulate virtue, resolve confusion”. Confucius said: “Place loyalty and trust above everything and follow the path of righteousness to accumulate virtue. When you love someone, you want them to live; when you hate someone, you want them to die. But if you want someone to live and to die at the same time, that is confusion.”
It may not be just because she is wealthy,
It may also be out of a need for variety.

Chapter XIV
Zizhang asked about governance. Confucius said: “Execute the responsibilities of your office without tiring. Carry out your duties with loyalty.”

Chapter XXIII
Zigong asked about friends. Confucius said: “Advise them loyally and guide them tactfully. If that fails, stop: do not open yourself up to being snubbed.”

Book 13
Chapter XIX
Fan Chi asked about goodness. Confucius said: “Be considerate in your private life, diligent in your public affairs, and loyal to others. Even when you are among the Yi and Di tribes, do not deviate from these principles.”

Book 14
Chapter VII
Confucius said: “Can you truly love someone if you are not strict with them? How can you be truly loyal to someone if you refrain from admonishing them?”

Book 15
Chapter VI
Zizhang asked about getting on in the world. Confucius said: “If your words are sincere and trustworthy and your actions are honorable and respectful, you will get on in the world even among the barbarian tribes. If your words are insincere and untrustworthy, if you act without honor and respect, how can you possibly get on in the world even in your own village? When you stand, you should always have this principle in front of you. When you drive you should have it carved upon the yoke of your carriage; only then will you truly be able to move ahead.” Zizhang wrote this down on his sash.

Book 16
Chapter X
Confucius said: “A leader focuses his thoughts in nine ways: when looking he focuses on seeing clearly; when listening he focuses on hearing properly; in his facial expression, he focuses on looking friendly; in his demeanor, he focuses on being respectful; in his speech, he focuses on sincerity; when at his duties, he focuses on being respectful; when he has doubts, he focuses on asking questions; when angry, he focuses on the negative consequences; when faced with an opportunity for profit, he focuses on rightness.”

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