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Home Qunshu Zhiyao 360 Be Respectful of the Dao

Esteeming Virtues

The Governing Principles of Ancient China - Qunshu Zhiyao 360

Be Respectful of the Dao

The original good self-nature of humans is called Xing. The right way of behavior following one’s nature is called Dao. The teaching and nurturing of human behavior in accordance with these norms is called Jiao. Therefore, Dao is indispensable to all human beings. That which is dispensable is not Dao.

Scroll 7: Li Ji

Heaven in its motions preserves great harmony in union, enabling all creations to be peaceful and beneficial, and perpetually correct and firm. Heaven creates all things on the earth, and made every place under it serene and tranquil. Respected leaders in the myriad states follow the virtuous attributes of heaven so they shall run their respective states in stable peace.

Scroll 1: Zhou Yi

Man takes his law from the earth, which is serene and gentle, hardworking and uncomplicated, meritorious without showing off. The earth takes its law from the heaven, giving without expecting rewards, allowing all things to grow without expecting returns. Heaven takes its law from the Dao, tranquil and quiet, allowing all things to form naturally, as they should be. The law of Dao follows its nature; the Dao is being what it is.

Scroll 34: Lao Zi

Sages have no selfish desires. They cultivate virtue instead of amassing wealth for themselves. With virtuous disposition, they teach the ignorant, and with the money they have, they give to the needy. They reserve nothing for themselves. It appears that the more they give to others, the more they receive in return. The law of nature is naturally beneficial and never does any harm to anything; the conduct of sages will benefit people naturally and does not struggle to control along the way.

Scroll 34: Lao Zi

Confucius said: “The eagerness to learn from the sages is an indication of ‘wisdom.’ Putting lessons into practice is an indication of ‘benevolence.’ Discovering one’s mistakes and generating the determination to correct them is an indication of ‘courage.’ A man who understands what constitutes wisdom, benevolence and courage will correct his erroneous views, speech and actions. Consequently, he will know how to lead the people, and when he does, he will be able to govern the country properly.”

Scroll 10: Kong Zi Jia Yu

When a ruler declares and carries out laws in order to pursue welfare for the people, this is called “righteousness.” When a ruler and his people respect and love each other, this is called “harmony.” When a ruler can meet the people’s needs before the people have to plead for their attention, this is called “trustworthiness.” When a ruler can eliminate troubles for his people, this is called “benevolence.” Benevolence and trustworthiness, harmony and righteousness are the valuable implements of a ruler.

Scroll 31: Yu Zi

King Wen asked Tai Gong: “What should one do so that he can govern all under heaven (tian-xia)?” Tai Gong said: “When your magnanimity encompasses tian-xia, you will be able to accommodate it. When your trustworthiness encompasses tian-xia, you will be able to make covenants with it. When your benevolence encompasses tianxia, you will be able to embrace it. When you generosity and kindness encompasses tian-xia, you will be able to command it. When your authority encompasses tian-xia, you will not lose it to others. Take decisive actions and your subjects will be able to depend upon your decisiveness. If a ruler has all the six elements, he can then govern all under heaven.”

Scroll 31: Liu Tao

The notion of “tian-xia” is a wide-reaching term that embraces ideas of populace, nations, communities, countries or the world. Hence the original Chinese term has not been translated to preserve the implications of these ideas in this context.

Therefore, a superior person will not worry about becoming old and frail. Instead, he worries about his mind becoming weary and dull. He will neither let virtuous causes lie dormant nor let righteous causes lie still. For a man of words and not of actions will let virtuous causes lie dormant; a man of actions who cannot persevere to the end will let righteous causes lie still. Thus, a superior person must persevere in putting his words into action.

Scroll 46: Zhong Lun

The book of Xiang Zhuan said: “The oracle Qian symbolizes the strength and eternity of heaven in its motion. A superior person should learn from the attributes of heaven, to be self-reliant and vow to work hard, never giving up.”

Scroll 1: Zhou Yi

The book of Xiang Zhuan said: “The oracle Kun symbolizes the gentle terrain of the earth. The superior person should learn from the earth, carry and support all things in the world with his great virtue.”

Scroll 1: Zhou Yi

One who does not cultivate good deeds is a malicious man. One who does not assist his elders is a petty person.* King Zhou was known as a despot because he was cruel and oppressive. But Confucius, a man who served only as a counsel to many feudal lords, was reckoned as a “commoner king”—a man with kingly virtues but not with kingly rank. This demonstrates clearly that noble status and wealth is not the measure of a superior person.

Scroll 50: Bao Pu Zi

*Xiaoren 小人, “small or petty person” does not grasp the value of virtues and seeks only immediate gains.