gāng yì 刚毅
Firm and Resolute
The first of these two Chinese characters means firm and unyielding, the second one means resolute and decisive. As people often come under undue influences that affect their observance of moral standards, this term emphasizes the need to resist such influences by adhering to ethical rules in their conduct. People should neither succumb to self-driven motives, nor yield to violence and coercion. Confucian scholars regard firmness and resolution as an important virtue which is close to benevolence.
Confucius said, “Being firm, resolute, simple and sparing with words. This is a virtue that comes close to benevolence.” (The Analects)
Confucian scholars can be befriended but not be made to act under duress, can be on close terms with others but not coerced, and can be killed but not disgraced. They live simple lives and eat simple food. Their faults may be pointed out in a subtle manner, but not accusingly to their face. Such are their firmness and resolution. (The Book of Rites)