"I summoned him to me and saw that, indeed, he was ugly enough to terrify all under heaven. When he had lived with me for less than a month, I began to take notice of his personality. Before a full year had passed, I began to put my trust in him. As the state was without a prime minister, I offered the control of the country to him. After a while he responded inarticulately, as though he were vaguely declining. How embarrassed I was! Finally, I handed the state over to him. Before very long, however, he left me and went away. I was distressed and felt as though bereft, as though there was no one with whom to enjoy my state. What kind of person was he?"
"Once when I was on a mission to the state of Ch'u," said Confucius, "I happened to see some little pigs suckling at their dead mother. After a short while, they all abandoned her and ran away hastily. It was because they no longer saw themselves in her and because they no longer sensed her to be their kind. What they loved about their mother was not her physical form but that which animated her form. When men die in battle, they are buried without the feathered fans that normally adorn coffins. When a man's feet are amputated, he no longer has a reason to be fond of his shoes. In both cases, it's because there's no basis - coffins or feet - for the fans and the shoes.
"The palace ladies of the son of heaven do not trim their nails nor do they pierce their ears. Men who are newly married must stay outside of the court and may no longer perform their official duties. If the wholeness of physical form is sufficient to make the ruler be so finicky, how much more should he be attentive to people whose integrity is whole! Now, Nag the Hump spoke not but was trusted, accomplished nothing but was loved. He caused someone to hand over a state to him, fearing only that he wouldn't accept it. He must have been a person whose abilities were whole but whose integrity was not evident in his physical form."
"What do you mean by wholeness of abilities? " asked Duke Ai.
Confucius said, "Life and death, preservation and loss, failure and success, poverty and wealth, worthiness and unworthiness, slander and praise, hunger and thirst, cold and heat - these are all the transformations of affairs and the operation of destiny. Day and night they alternate before us, but human knowledge is incapable of perceiving their source. Therefore, we should not let them disturb our equanimity, nor should we let them enter our numinous treasury. To make the mind placid and free-flowing without letting it be dissipated in gratification, causing it to have springtime with all things day and night uninterruptedly, this is to receive and engender the seasons in one's mind. This is what I mean by wholeness of one's abilities."
"What do you mean by integrity not being existent in physical form?"
"Levelness is the equilibrium of water at rest. We may use it as a standard, preserving it within so that without we are not ruffled. Integrity is the cultivation of complete harmony. We can tell that a person has integrity, even though it may not be evident in her physical form, because she is indispensable to all things."
On another day, Duke Ai related this conversation to Master Min, saying, "At first, I sat on my throne facing south and ruled over all under heaven. I held the reins of government and worried over the welfare of the people. I considered myself to be the ultimate enlightened ruler. But now I have heard this account of an ultimate man and am afraid that I lack substance. Heedless of my body, I may lose my state. The relationship between Confucius and me is not one of ruler and subject. We are simply friends in integrity."