Milking the system


When Gongxi Chi was sent on a mission to the state of Qi, Ran Qiu requested an allowance of grain for Gongxi’s mother. Confucius said: “She should receive a potful.” When he asked for more, Confucius said: “She should receive a measure.” Ran Qiu gave her five bundles. Confucius said: “Gongxi Chi is traveling to Qi with sleek horses and fine furs. I have always heard that a leader helps those in need; he does not make the rich even richer.”

We encountered Gongxi Chi (or Zihua as he is called here) and Ran Qiu in Chapter VIII of Book 5 of the Analects, in which Confucius said the former would be excellent at entertaining distinguished guests at court and the latter a good mayor or estate manager.

They also seem to have been quite adept at milking the system for their own benefit judging by this incident. No wonder Gongxi Chi was said to have been extremely wealthy.

Although Confucius loudly condemns the behavior of his disciples, he is either unwilling or unable to put a stop to it  and doesn’t  make any attempt to show his disapproval by cutting off his relationship with them.  For all his moral principles, Confucius is a pragmatist at heart.

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