Animal rites

Zigong wished to do away with the sacrifice of a sheep for the ceremony welcoming the new moon. Confucius said: “You love the sheep; I love the rites.”

What is more important: the life of a sheep or the preservation of a centuries-old Zhou Dynasty ritual? For Confucius it’s obviously the latter, but I side with Zigong and the sheep here.

Throughout the Analects, it’s always Confucius who gets the last word in on any topic of conversation. I wish the compilers had made an exception in this case. I would love to know whether Zigong stood up to him on this and continued to fight for the life of the sheep.

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