The Art Of A Minister
The Governing Principles of Ancient China - Qunshu Zhiyao 360
There are three kinds of approach that an official can take to fulfill his duties: Prevent, Rectify, and Reprimand. “Prevent” involves taking precautionary measures to prevent mistakes from happening. “Rectify” involves rectifying mistakes that have been done. “Reprimand” involves giving direct reprimands to the perpetrators. Among the three, “Prevent” is the best approach; followed by “Rectify”; then by “Reprimand”.
Scroll 46: Shen Jian
Confucius said: “For the ones who serve the lords may make the following three errors: To speak when it is not necessary is being rash; not to speak when it is necessary is being evasive; to speak without observing the lord’s facial expression is being blind.”
Scroll 9: Lun Yu
Duke Jing asked Yanzi: “How should a loyal minister serve his lord?” Yanzi replied: “A loyal minister will not die for his lord when his lord is in danger, and he will not send his lord away when his lord is about to flee the state.” Duke Jing was not very pleased with Yanzi’s reply and said: “A lord confers land to his inister and thus enables the minister to become rich. He confers title to a minister and thus enables the minister to become noble. And if a minister is not willing to die for his lord, or send his lord away when his lord is about to flee the state, how can this be justified?” Yanzi replied: “Had the lord listened to the loyal minister’s advice, the lord would never be exposed to any danger in his life. Therefore, no situation would arise where a loyal minister had to sacrifice his life for his lord. Likewise, a lord who had accepted strategies proposed by the loyal minister would never need to flee the state. So no situation could arise where the minister would have to send the lord on his way to exile. If advice was dismissed and consequently the loyal minister had to accompany his lord to face death, would this not be absurd? And if his lord did not accept good strategies proposed by the loyal minister and consequently the minister had to send the lord on his way to exile, is this not hypocritical? Thus, a loyal minister should be able to provide counsel that can be accepted by his lord and thereby can save both himself and the lord from tragedy.”
Scroll 33: Yan Zi