Three principles

Confucius said: “A leader adheres to three principles that I have been unable to live up to: the good are never anxious; the wise are never perplexed; the brave are never afraid.” Zigong said: “Master, you have just described yourself.”

Here’s yet another variation of a previous theme, this time from Book 9, Chapter XXIX: “The wise are never perplexed; the virtuous are never anxious; the brave are never afraid.” (知者不惑,仁者不憂,勇者不懼。)

In this instance, Confucius lists the three principles in a different order and modestly admits that he has not been able to live up to any of them. His disciple Zigong, of course, begs to differ. Presumably he is being totally sincere with his compliment, but it does sound a tad ritualistic. Perhaps he (or the editor who probably added the quote) should have remained silent.

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