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On The Subject Of Administration

The Governing Principles of Ancient China - Qunshu Zhiyao 360

Caring about People

For those who bring benefits to the world, the world will also bring benefits to them. For those who bring harm to the world, the world will also bring harm to them. …A benevolent ruler will attract the populace to follow him because he is good at bringing benefits to the world.

Scroll 49: Fu Zi

When a ruler loves his people as if they are his children, and all the people love him as if he is their father, the ruler can then be deemed as the Son of Heaven in its truest sense.

Scroll 31: Liu Tao

The heaven and the earth nourish all things and enable them to prosper and flourish. The sages take good care of the virtuous so that the latter can serve the society and bring happiness to all people.

Scroll 1: Zhou Yi

Good leaders will love the people as if they were their children, and care for them as if they were their own kindred. They grieve for people who are starving and mourn for people who are toiling in hardship.

Scroll 31: Liu Tao

I have heard that a country is prosperous and strong because it treats its people tenderly as if they were injured. This is indeed the country’s good fortune. On the other hand, a country is in ruin because it tramples on its people as if they were mud or grass under its feet. This is indeed disastrous for the country.

Scroll 6: Chun Qiu Zuo Shi Zhuan, Vol. 2

Emperor Yao cared about all the people in the world, especially for the poor. He felt pain for the crimes and punishments suffered by his subjects, and he worried that people could not lead a good life. If there was one person starving, Yao would say: “It was me who had caused him to suffer from hunger.” If there was one person freezing in the cold, Yao would say: “It was me who had caused him to suffer from the freezing weather.” If there was one criminal, Yao would say: “It was me who had provoked him to commit the crime.” As Yao’s kindness and benevolence became apparent he also set the trend in upholding righteousness. His virtues were so far-reaching and extensive that people encouraged each other to do good things without expecting any reward, and the government was able to govern without using penalties to punish the people. As Emperor Yao demonstrated, a good leader will first forgive people’s mistakes and then seek to guide them to correct their mistakes through education. That was the statesmanship of Emperor Yao.

Scroll 43: Shuo Yuan

Zizhang asked Confucius about the principle of benevolence. Confucius said: “If you can practice five types of moral conduct in the world, then you can be considered a benevolent person.” Zizhang then asked: “Please tell me which five?” Confucius replied: “Be respectful, tolerant, trustworthy, perceptive, and kind. Respect others and you will not be insulted. Treat people with tolerance and you will gain their support. Be trustworthy and people will have faith in you. Do things perceptively and you will achieve success. Offer kindness to others and they will serve you with gratitude.”

Scroll 9: Lun Yu

Confucius said: “I have heard that the feudal lords who preside over states, or the high officials who own family estates do not worry about poverty but they worry that the distribution of wealth may be uneven. They do not worry that they will have too few people but they worry that they may not be able to live in peace. For when distribution of wealth is even, there will be no poverty. And when harmony prevails, there will be no scarcity of people. When there is such a contented repose, there will be no rebellion. In this spirit, if people from afar do not submit, civil culture and virtues are to be cultivated to attract them. Once they have been so attracted, they will be made contented and be able to settle down at ease.”

Scroll 9: Lun Yu

The so-called good officials nowadays set strict laws to harass the people. They abuse their power and mistreat their subordinates. These officials have no intention of following the laws except to follow their cruel impulses to carry out their actions.

Scroll 42: Yan Tie Lun

Seven Losses that can make people destitute:
1. Flood and drought caused by an imbalance between the Yin and Yang energies.
2. Heavy taxes imposed on farmers.
3. Briberies and the misuse of public funds.
4. The rich gentry exploiting the farmers endlessly.
5. Oppressive officials prolonging the duration of compulsory free labor supplied by farmers, and so hindering normal working hours for the farmers.
6. The countryside is drowned in the sound of drums alarming the inhabitants about robberies, and men and women have to rush out in all directions to make arrests.
7. Robbers and thugs stealing money, food and tools.

Worse than the Seven Losses are the Seven Deaths—the seven situations that can take away people’s lives:
1. The beating and killing of people by cruel officials.
2. Harsh prosecution of criminal cases.
3. False accusations of innocent people.
4. Widespread robberies and thefts.
5. Vengeance among the enemies.
6. A year of poor harvest causing famine.
7. Rampant epidemics and diseases.
With the Seven Losses making people destitute, it will be difficult for a country to attain stability. With the Seven Deaths taking away people’s lives, it will be extremely difficult to get rid of corporal punishment.

Scroll 19: Han Shu, Vol. 7