Confucius said, “You are there to rule, not to kill. If you desire what is good, the people will be good. The essence of the gentleman is that of wind; the essence of small people is that of grass. And when a wind blows over the grass, then it bends.”15 The proper relationship between a ruler and his minister is the ruler should love his people, while the minister should be loyal to the ruler. Confucius explains the proper behaviour of each.
“How can he be said truly to love, who exacts no effort from the objects of his love? How can he be said to be truly loyal, who refrains from admonishing the objects of his loyalty?”16 Confucius summarizes the art of the ruler as follows: A country of a thousand war-chariots cannot be administered unless the ruler attends strictly to business, punctually observes his promises, is economical in expenditure, loves the people, and uses the labour of the peasantry only at the proper times of year.17 The main subject matter in Confucius’ teachings was how to become a good and virtuous person by improving his own character. When Tzu-lu asked if courage was to be esteemed by the gentleman, Confucius said, ” The gentleman holds justice to be of highest importance. If a gentleman has courage but neglects justice, he becomes insurgent. If an inferior man has courage but neglects justice, he becomes a thief.” 18 Confucius’ main methods for achieving these virtues was learning.
However, learning is not enough to fulfil the need. People must be able to think. “He who learns but does not think is lost; he who thinks but does not learn is in danger.”19 Confucius also mentions the friendship and the virtues of faithfulness and sincerity. “First and foremost, be faithful to your superiors, keep all promises, refuse the friendship of all who are not like you; and if you have made a mistake, do not be afraid of admitting the fact and amending your ways.”20 Confucius explain to his students which kinds of friends are beneficial and which are harmful to their characters. “There are three sorts of friendships which are advantageous, and three which are injurious.
Friendships with the upright, friendships with the sincere, and friendships with those well informed are advantageous. Friendships with those who flatter, friendships with those of weak principle, and friendships with those talk cleverly are injurious.”21 The master also reveal there are three sorts of pleasures which are advantageous, and three which are injurious. Finding pleasure in the discriminating study of ceremonies and music, finding pleasure in discussing the good points in the conduct of others, and finding pleasure in having many wise friends, these are advantageous. But finding pleasure in profligate enjoyments, finding pleasure in idle gadding about, and finding pleasure in feasting, these are injurious.22 Ritual, was an important subject of study. It has been illustrate by the poetry and music from the study of Confucius.
It is also the Way of teaching people to the Gentleman level. “If a man is not humane, what has he to do with ritual? If a man is not humane, what has he to do with music?”23 Confucius had explain the relationship between ritual and Jen in greater details. Yen Hui asked about humaneness. The master said, To subdue oneself and return to ritual is humane. If for one day a ruler could subdue himself and return to ritual, then all under Heaven would respond to the humaneness in him.
For does humaneness proceed from the man himself, or does it proceed from others..do not speak what is contrary to ritual, and make no movement, which is contrary to ritual.24 Poetry had broader humanistic values for understanding oneself and other people, and even increased one’s awareness of the natural world. My children, why do you not study the Book of Poetry? The Odes serve to stimulate the mind. They may be used for purposes of self-contemplation. They teach the art of sociability. They show how to regulate feelings of resentment. From them you learn the more immediate duty of serving one’s father, and the remoter one of serving one’s prince.
From them we become largely acquainted with the names of birds, beasts, and plants.”25 Confucius was also a great lover of music and played some himself. However, the teaching of this art was apparently handed over to the Grand music master to whom Confucius gave his ideas on how music should follow the ideal of the ancient pattern and then allow for some improvisation while still maintaining harmony. “Their music in so far as one can find out about it began with a strict unison. Soon the musicians were given more liberty; but the tone remained harmonious, brilliant, consistent, right on till the close.”26 Ssu-ma Ch’ien quotes this exact passage, but then goes on to give more information in regard to Confucius’ use of poetry and music. He once also said, “After my return to Lu from Wei, I have been able to restore the musical tradition and classify the music of sung and ya and restore the songs to their respective original music.” In the ancient times, there were over three thousand songs, but Confucius took out the duplicates and selected those that were suited to good form.
The collection began with the songs of Ch’i and Houchi, covered the great period of the Shang and Chou kings and carried it down to the times of the tyrants Yu and Li. It begins with a song of marital love, and therefore it is said “the song Kuan-ch’ih heads the collection of Feng; Luming heads the collection of the ‘Little ya’; and Ch’ingmiao heads the collection of the Sung.” Confucius personally sang all the three hundred and five songs and played the music on a string instrument to make sure that it fitted in with the score of hsiao, wu, ya, and sung. Through his efforts, the tradition of ancient rites and music was therefore rescued from oblivion and handed down to posterity, that they might help in the carrying out of this ideal of a king’s government and in the teaching of “the Six Arts.”.