Mencius (Part 2)

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Mencius (Public Domain)

Every Day I Was Hoping the Lord of Qi Would Change His Mind!

Mencius went to the State of Qi twice to persuade the Lord of Qi to carry out a policy of benevolence, but he was rejected both times. When Mencius left Qi for the second time, a Qi official, Yin Shi, said to Mencius’ disciple Gaozi, “It is unwise not to know that the Lord of Qi will never be a benevolent monarch like Emperor Shang Tang or Emperor Zhou Wuwang. If knowing that the Lord of Qi cannot be convinced, yet Mencius still comes to Qi, then he must be hoping to gain benefits. After traveling a long distance to see the lord, he found that the lord could not be persuaded and thus left. Nevertheless, Mencius still stayed in the city of Zhou Yi for three nights before leaving. Why was he so reluctant to leave? I am very displeased of Mencius’ actions.” Gaozi told Mencius about Yin Shi’s remark.

Mencius said, “How could Yin Shi know my thoughts? I traveled a long way to expound the kingly way to the Lord of Qi and that was my wish. I remonstrated without success and left. Did I wish that? I had no alternative but to leave. I stayed for three nights in Zhou Yi before leaving. I still think that is too soon. I thought the lord might change his mind and ask me to return. If he called me back, I would have to make good use of the opportunity. After I left Zhou Yi, the lord did not send people to chase after me to ask me to return. I was thus determined to leave. Although I did, was I willing to give up on the lord? The Lord of Qi can still govern benevolently. If he carries out benevolent governance, not only the people of Qi will have peace, but also the people of the whole country. Every day I hope that he will change his mind! Do I look like a narrow-minded person? I was unable to remonstrate with a monarch, thus must I get angry and leave with resentment then travel a whole day before stopping for a night?” Upon hearing this, Yin Shi said, “I am really a lowly person.”

People Will Be Completely Won Over With One’s Virtue

Upon hearing that Lord Xuan of the Qi State intended to use force to conquer other countries, Mencius hurried to Qi for the third time. Lord Xuan asked him, “Are there principles when dealing with neighboring states?” Mencius replied, “Yes, there are. Only the benevolent monarch of a big country can serve a small country, just like Emperor Shang Tang served the Nation of Ge and Emperor Zhou Wenwang served the Kunyi. A clever monarch of a small country will serve a big country, just like King Tai of Zhou served Xunyu and Gou Jian served the State of Wu. A monarch with great power serving a small country is obeying the destiny of heaven, while a monarch of a small country serving a big power is fearing destiny. Being willing to obey the will of heaven can bring peace and stability to the world, while fearing destiny will allow one to hold on to his country.” The Book of Songs wrote, ‘only by fearing the dignity of heaven can a country maintain stability.’“ Lord Xuan said, “Masterful words! But I have a problem, as I like courage and combat.”

Mencius said, “My lord, don’t behave with trivial courage. When you hold a sword with a fierce look, ‘Who dares to oppose me!’ This is just personal courage. What is true bravery? The Book of Songs said, ‘Emperor Wen of the Zhou Dynasty suddenly became furious and geared up his army to protect the State of Ju. This added to the might of Zhou and this act to meet the people’s expectations.’ This is the courage of Emperor Wen of Zhou. His anger stabilized people’s hearts. The Book of Shang (the earliest compilation of historical documents) stated, ‘Heaven created all the people, set up monarchs and provided teachers to assist heaven to take good care of the people and follow the code of morality strictly. Who dares to go beyond one’s duty?’ When there was a person rampaging across the country, Emperor Wu of Zhou felt ashamed. This was the valor of Emperor Wu. His anger stabilized the country. Now if my lord can get angry and stabilize the country, people will be worried that my lord doesn’t like to be courageous!”

Mencius went on, “My lord should implement a policy of benevolence and reduce taxation. Have the people learn loyalty, righteousness, etiquette, and trustworthiness in their leisure time. Then people close by will live in peace and contentment, and people from distant places will come to join you. If another monarch does injustice to his people and puts them in misery, when my lord goes on crusade against that monarch, who can then oppose my lord? People will welcome your troops with food and drink. Would they have any other demands? They only want to avoid the abyss of suffering. Otherwise, people will look for someone else to rescue them. When a lord cares for the people and unifies the country, no one can stop him.” Lord Xuan nodded. Mencius elaborated on the kingly way with nature’s law and popular sentiment. Finally, Mencius persuaded Lord Xuan to abandon war and implement the policy of benevolence that achieved a great order in the State of Qi. People were very grateful for Mencius’ grace.

浩然之氣 至大至剛 (二)

王庶幾改之!予日望之!

孟子兩次來到齊國勸齊王行仁政而不被採納。當孟子第二次離開齊國時,齊國的尹士對孟子的學生高子說:「不知道齊王不能成為商湯、周武王那樣的君主,那就是不明智;知道齊王不可能,然而還是到齊國來,那就是為著期求好處。不遠千里地來見齊王,不相投合而離開,在晝邑住了三夜才走,為甚麼這樣滯留遲緩呢?我對孟子這一點很不高興。」高子把這番話告訴了孟子。

孟子說:「尹士哪裏會知道我的想法呢?千里迢迢地來向齊王闡述王道,這是我自己願意的;勸諫沒有成功而離開,難道也是我願意的嗎?我是不得已罷了。我住了三夜才離開晝邑,在我心裏還是覺得太快了,心想齊王或許會改變態度的,如果他召我回去,我一定要利用好這個機會。等到離開了晝邑,齊王沒有派人追我回去,我這才毅然下定決心走。我雖然這麼做了,難道肯捨棄齊王嗎?齊王還是完全可以行善政的。齊王如果行善政,那豈只是齊國的百姓得到安寧,天下的百姓都能得到安寧。齊王或許會改變態度的!我天天期望著他能改變!我難道像那種氣度狹小的人嗎?向君主進諫不被接受,就怒氣沖沖,臉上顯露出不滿的表情,離開時就非得拼盡一天的氣力趕路,然後才歇宿嗎?」尹士聽了這話,說:「我真是個小人啊。」

以德服人,心悅誠服

孟子聽說齊宣王想用武力征服天下,第三次趕到了齊國,齊宣王問他說:「同鄰國交往有甚麼原則嗎?」孟子答道:「有。只有仁人能以大國的地位侍奉小國,所以商湯曾侍奉葛國,文王曾侍奉昆夷。只有聰明的人能以小國的地位侍奉大國,所以周太王曾侍奉獯鬻,勾踐曾侍奉吳國。能以大國地位侍奉小國的,是樂於聽從天命的人;能以小國地位侍奉大國的,是畏懼天命的人。樂於聽從天命的能安定天下,畏懼天命的能保住他的國家。《詩經》上說:‘畏懼上天的威嚴,才能得到安定。’」齊宣王說:「講的太好了!不過我有個毛病,我喜歡勇武。」

孟子說:「大王,請不要喜歡小勇。按著劍、瞪著眼說:『他哪敢抵擋我!』這只是個人的小勇罷了。甚麼是真正的勇武?《詩經》上說:『文王勃然發怒,整軍備武保護莒國,增我周朝的威福,以此報答天下的期望。』這就是文王的勇武。文王一怒而安定了天下的百姓。《尚書》上說:『上天降生萬民,為他們設君主、立師長,要他們協助上天愛護百姓,嚴守道德規範,天下誰敢超越它的本份?』有一個人橫行天下,武王就感覺到恥辱。這就是武王的勇武。而武王也是一怒就安定了天下的百姓。如果現在大王也一怒就安定天下的百姓,那麼百姓還唯恐大王不喜歡勇武呢!」

孟子接著說:「大王如果對內施行仁政,減輕賦稅,讓百姓在耕種之餘學習忠孝、仁義、禮儀、守信的道理,必會使近處的人們安居樂業,而遠方的人也會前來歸附。如果哪個諸侯失道,使自己的百姓陷入了痛苦之中,大王前去討伐他們,誰能跟大王對抗呢?百姓簞食壺漿來迎接您,難道有別的要求嗎?只是想避開水深火熱的環境啊。如果水更深,火更熱,百姓也就只有轉望別人去解救他們了。愛撫百姓而統一天下,就沒有誰能阻擋的住他。」齊宣王點頭稱是。孟子因勢利導,從天理、民心的角度向齊宣王闡述王道,最終使其放棄了戰爭,實施仁政,齊國得到了大治,百姓們都非常感謝孟子的恩德。

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