Follow Us:

Education as the First Priority

Esteeming Virtues

The Governing Principles of Ancient China - Qunshu Zhiyao 360


According to the book of Tuan Zhuan, the oracle of Humility (Qian) —“gets through”—indicates “progress and success.” In the way of heaven, to send down its beneficial influences below, where they are brilliantly displayed. In the way of earth, lying low, to send its influences upwards and (there) to act. It is the way of heaven to diminish the full and augment the humble. It is the way of earth to overthrow the full and replenish the humble. Spiritual Beings inflict calamity on the full and bless the humble. It is the way of men to dislike the full and love the humble. Humility in a position of honor makes that still more brilliant; and in a low position its virtuous accomplishment is unsurpassable. This is the result attained by a superior person through the cultivation of moral character.

Scroll 1: Zhou Yi

Only virtuous conducts can touch the heart of heaven and earth. And people, irrespective of where they live, will come and pledge their allegiance to the virtuous. Complacency brings harm; humility brings benefits. This is the law of nature.

Scroll 2: Shang Shu

The book of Xiang Zhuan states that: “A diligent and humble superior person draws admiration and respect from tens of thousands of people to come and pledge their allegiance.”

Scroll 1: Zhou Yi

When the virtues of a leader are renewed daily, the myriad states harbor affection for him. When he is self-satisfied and conceited, even his relatives will abandon him.

Scroll 2: Shang Shu

The book of Yi Jing says: “There is a Way which, if adhered to, at best can keep the world at peace; to a lesser degree can safeguard the country; at the least can keep oneself from harm. The Way is—Humility.”

Scroll 43: Shuo Yuan

To climb up a mountain, one must start from the bottom. To journey afar, one must start from the closest step.

Scroll 2: Shang Shu

The reason why the rivers and seas are able to receive the homage and tribute of all the valley streams is that they are lower than all the others. It is thus that they are the kings of them all.

Scroll 34: Lao Zi

A superior person is always humble and respectful, and his behavior is in accordance with propriety. Moreover, he never puts himself above others despite his outstanding abilities. He regards others as able and virtuous and sees himself as a less than capable person. Hence, other people are never tired of giving him advice or teaching him.

Scroll 46: Zhong Lun

If you were not conceited, no one in the world would strive to surpass your position. If you were not boastful, no one in the world would strive to surpass your contributions.

Scroll 2: Shang Shu

Not many people can stop themselves from bragging about the good deeds that they have performed, and very few talented people can stop themselves from becoming egotistical. A boastful person will neglect the strengths of others, and an egotistical person will certainly dominate others. However, he who neglects others will also be neglected by others, and he who dominates others will also be dominated by others.

Scroll 26: Wei Zhi, Vol. 2

Confucius said: “If a person had the talent and administrative ability as splendid as the Duke of Zhou, but then grew to become conceited and miserly, the rest of his good qualities would not be worth a glance.”

Scroll 9: Lun Yu

The Book of Yi Jing divinized: “In the oracle Qian, the dragon seated at the highest position will have cause to repent.” Confucius interpreted this as being said: “When a man seeks to climb so high that he loses his place in the world, he becomes isolated. Nobody from below can reach him, so in every move he makes, he is bound to make mistakes, as no one can help him.” …This foretells a person whose only ambition is to move ahead, and for that he discharges any possibility that calls for a retreat. He knows about existence but he ignores death; he wants success but cannot accept failure. Only a wise man will understand the
law of advance, retreat, existence and death; yet remain on the right path. Only a wise man can do this.

Scroll 1: Zhou Yi