A single saying about a state, Confucius

Duke Ding asked: “Is there such a thing as a single saying that can make a state prosper?”

Confucius answered: “A saying cannot quite do that. There is a saying amongst men: ‘It is difficult to be a ruler, and it is not easy to be a subject either.’ If the ruler understands the difficulty of being a ruler, then is this not almost a case of a saying making a state prosper?”

“Is there such a thing as a saying that can ruin a state?”

Confucius answered: “A saying cannot quite do that. There is a saying amongst men: ‘I do not at all enjoy being a ruler, except for the fact that there is no one to go against what I say.’ If what he says is not good and no one goes against him, then is this not almost a case of a saying ruining a state?”

[from The Analects]

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6 thoughts on “A single saying about a state, Confucius

  1. That beautifully explains the rise and fall. It is mostly due to our arrogance and our belief that we are always right – without wanting to learn from certain experiences, that would destroy us. Even if we are a king. Kings of Akbar’s and Napoleon’s persona, had been eager to understand the answers to a lot of philosophical questions. So much that they even encouraged representation of thoughts and ideas from other religious heads. Even though they were exceptionally successful rulers, they were not of the opinion that they knew everything! How small are we, when compared to them.

    Destination Infinity

  2. These people must come back in a way or in another because they have stored all their knowledge and humility in the living ones (us!). So we only have one choice: follow them.

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