Ji Ziran asked, “Could Zilu and Ran Qiu be considered great ministers?”
The Master replied, “I thought you were going to ask about some exceptional individuals, but instead you always ask about Zilu and Ran Qiu! What we call ‘great ministers’ are those who seek to serve their lord by means of the Way, and who resign if unable to do so. Now, Zilu and Ran Qiu are what we might call ‘useful ministers’ .”
“Then are they the type who do what they are told?”
“If it came to murdering their father or their lord, surely even they would not obey.”Confucius, & Slingerland, E. (2003). Analects: With selections from traditional commentaries. Hackett Publishing.
Ji Ziran asked whether Zhongyou (Zilu) and Ran Qiu were fit to be called great ministers.
The Master said, I thought that you were going to ask a quite different question, but now you ask about Zhongyou and Ran Qiu. The term “great minister” applies to someone who serves the ruler according to the Way. If he cannot do that, he retires. As for You and Qiu, they can best be called stop-gap ministers.
So you mean they would do whatever they were told to do? asked Ji Ziran.
The Master said, If it involved killing a father or a ruler, they would never go along.Confucius, & Watson, B. (2007). The Analects of Confucius. Columbia University Press.