Music, which seems to have played a significant role in Confucius' life, is given as an exception as it transcends such boundaries, 'unifying the hearts'.
Although the Analects promotes ritual heavily, Confucius himself often behaved otherwise; for example, when he cried at his preferred disciple's death, or when he met a fiendish princess (VI, 28).
Later more rigid ritualists who forgot that ritual is "more than presents of jade and silk" (XVII, 12) strayed from their master's position.
Another key Confucian concept is that in order to govern others one must first govern oneself. When developed sufficiently, the king's personal virtue spreads beneficent influence throughout the kingdom. This idea is developed further in the Great Learning and is tightly linked with the Taoist concept of wu wei: the less the king does, the more that is done.