Tag Archives: Ziyou

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a greatly under-appreciated virtue

under-appreciated virtue

子游曰:「事君數,斯辱矣;朋友數,斯疏矣。」
Ziyou said: “In the service of a lord, overzealousness brings disgrace; in the company of friends, it brings estrangement.” (1)

You don’t have all the answers. Even if you did, your boss or your friends would soon get tired of hearing you spout your wit and wisdom at every opportunity. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a greatly under-appreciated virtue

Zizhang gets a kicking

子游曰:「吾友張也,為難能也,然而未仁。」
Ziyou said: “My friend Zizhang is a man of great ability, but he has not yet achieved goodness.”

曾子曰:「堂堂乎張也,難與并為仁矣。」
Zengzi said: “Zizhang is so full of himself that it is difficult to cultivate goodness by his side.”

I presume that it wasn’t an editorial accident that these two put-downs of Zizhang are paired together. Continue reading Zizhang gets a kicking

The pursuit of major virtues

子夏曰:「大德不踰閑,小德出入可也。」
Zixia said: “As long as you don’t overstep the bounds when it comes to major virtues, it doesn’t matter if you take the occasional liberty with minor ones.”

Just as Zixia urged his students to focus on reaching their most important goals rather than wasting their time on minor diversions in Chapter IV of Book 19, he was willing to overlook minor missteps from them if they showed they were fully committed to the pursuit of the major virtues. Continue reading The pursuit of major virtues

Just a joke

子之武城,聞弦歌之聲,夫子莞爾而笑曰:「割雞焉用牛刀?」子游對曰:「昔者,偃也聞諸夫子曰:『君子學道則愛人,小人學道則易使也。』」子曰:「二三子!偃之言是也,前言戲之耳!」
Confucius went to Wucheng. When he heard the sound of stringed instruments and singing, he was amused and broke out into a smile: “Why use an ox cleaver to kill a chicken?” Ziyou replied: “Master, in the past I have heard you say: ‘A leader who has been instructed in the Way loves all people; common people who have been instructed in the Way are easy to govern.’” Confucius said: “My friends, Ziyou is right. The remarks I made a moment ago were just a joke.”

Humor doesn’t exactly abound in the Analects. Judging by this incident, in which Confucius’s attempt at what he claims to be a joke spectacularly backfires and he is forced to backtrack in the face of his disciple Ziyou’s indignant protests, that’s probably a good thing. Continue reading Just a joke