Zengzi takes his final bow

The Meng Family appointed Yang Fu as a judge. Yang Fu asked for advice from Zengzi. Zengzi said: “The authorities have lost the Way; the common people have been left to their own devices for too long. When you succeed in getting the true facts of a case, respond with compassion but never take any pleasure from it.”

Zengzi takes his final bow in the Analects with his call for his disciple Yang Fu to show compassion when dispensing justice. Rather than seeing the successful conclusion of a case as triumph, Zengzi cautions, Yang should regard it as a reflection of the failure of the government to set the right example to the common people and inculcate the proper values in them.

Zengzi studied with Confucius for ten years from the age of sixteen until the sage’s death in 479 BC. He authored or edited over ten books, including the no doubt riveting Classic of Filial Piety (孝經/xiàojīng), and was one of the most influential early proponents of the teachings of Confucius.

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