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Chinese Text Project
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《慎法 - Attention to Law》

English translation: J. J. L. Duyvendak [?] Library Resources
1 慎法:
凡世莫不以其所以亂者治。故小治而小亂,大治而大亂。人主莫能世治其民,世無不亂之國。奚謂以其所以亂者治?夫舉賢能,世之所以治也;而治之所以亂。世之所謂賢者,言正也;所以為言正者,黨也。聽其言也,則以為能;問其黨,以為然。故貴之,不待其有功;誅之,不待其有罪也。此其勢,正使污吏有資而成其姦險,小人有資而施其巧軸。初假吏民姦軸之本,而求端愨其末,禹不能以使十人之眾,庸主安能以御一國之民?
Attention to Law:
Generally, there is no one in the world, who does not base order on the causes of disorder. Therefore, to a limited degree of order corresponds a limited degree of disorder, and to a great degree of order corresponds a great degree of disorder: There is no ruler of men who can give order to his people for all time, nor is there a country in the world that has not known disorder. What do I mean by saying that one bases order on the causes of disorder? Raising virtuous and capable men is the cause of bringing order into the world, but it is also the cause of order becoming disorder. Those whom the world calls virtuous are men whose words are upright. the reason why they are regarded as upright in words is due to their partizans. Hearing their words, one takes them to be capable, and on asking their partizans, one thinks that they are indeed so. Therefore, one prizes them without waiting for them to acquire actual merit, or one punishes them without waiting for them to commit crimes. In these circumstances, vile officials are given precisely the opportunity to accomplish their wicked and dangerous acts, and small-minded men have an opportunity to apply their dexterous and crafty tricks. If in the beginning a basis for wickedness and craftiness is provided for officials and people, then if finally one tries to make them correct and guileless, even (a great sage like) Yu could not succeed in causing as many as ten men to be like that. How then could an ordinary ruler manage the people of the whole country in this way?

2 慎法:
彼而黨與人者,不待我而有成事者也。上舉一與民,民倍主位而嚮私交。民倍主位而嚮私交,則君弱而臣強。君人者不察也,非侵於諸侯,必劫於百姓。彼言說之勢,愚智同學之。士學於言說之人,則民釋實事而誦虛詞。民釋實事而誦虛詞,則力少而非多。君人者不察也,以戰必損其將,以守必賣其城。
Attention to Law:
Those people who form parties with others do not need Us for obtaining success, and if superiors pull one way with the people, then the latter will turn their backs on the ruler's position and will turn towards private connections. When this is the case, the prince will be weak and his ministers strong, and if the ruler does not understand this, then if the country is not annexed by the feudal lords, it will be robbed by the people. Both stupid and wise will, alike, try to acquire that power of eloquence, and if scholars study with those eloquent speakers, then people will lose touch with reality and will recite empty phrases. Should this be the case, then their strength will decrease and wrong-doing will increase; and if the prince does not understand it, in battle he will lose his generals, and in defence his cities will certainly be sold.

3 慎法:
故有明主忠臣產於今世,而能領其國者,不可以須臾忘於法。破勝黨任,節去言談,任法而治矣。使吏非法無以守,則雖巧不得為姦;使民非戰無以效其能,則雖險不得為軸。夫以法相治,以數相舉,譽者不能相益,訾言者不能相損。民見相譽無益,相管附惡;見訾言無損,習相憎不相害也。夫愛人者不阿,憎人者不害,各以其正,治之至也。臣故曰:「法任而國治矣。」
Attention to Law:
Therefore, if there is an intelligent ruler or a loyal minister born in this age who wishes to lead his country, then he should not for one moment be forgetful of the law, but he should conquer and destroy cabals, control and abolish eloquence, and relying on the law, the country will enjoy order. If a condition is brought about where, for government servants, there is no other standard maintained than the law, then, however tricky they may be, they will be unable to commit wickedness, and if, for the people, a condition is brought about where there is no other way of exerting their capacities than in war, then, however great the danger may be, no deceit will be possible. Indeed, if people control each other by law and recommend each other by following systematic rules, then they cannot benefit each other with praise nor harm each other with slander. If the people see that there is no benefit in praising each other, they will become used to loving each other without flattery, and if they see that there is no harm in slandering each other, they will become used to hating each other without injuring each other. If the love of men does not mean flattery, and the hatred of men does not mean causing injury, then both love and hatred will be pure, which is the highest degree of order. Therefore do I say: "If one relies on law, the country will enjoy order".

4 慎法:
千乘能以守者,自存也;萬乘能以戰者,自完也;雖桀為主,不肯詘半辭以下其敵。外不能戰,內不能守,雖堯為主,不能以不臣諧所謂不若之國。自此觀之,國之所以重,主之所以尊者,力也。耕戰二者,力本。而世主莫能致力者,何也?使民之所苦者無耕,危者無戰。二者,孝子難以為其親,忠臣難以為其君。今欲敺其眾民,與之孝子忠臣之所難,臣以為非劫以刑,而敺以賞莫可。
Attention to Law:
A country of a thousand chariots is able to preserve itself by defence, and a country of ten thousand chariots is able to round itself off by fighting - even (a bad ruler like) Jie would not be able to twist one word of this statement in order to subdue his enemies; and if, abroad, one is incapable of waging war, and at home one is incapable of defence, then even (a good ruler like) Yao could not pacify, for any misbehaviour, a country that (normally) would be no match. Looking at it from this point of view, that through which the country is important and that through which the ruler is honoured is force. Force being the basis of both, how is it then that no ruler on earth succeeds in developing force? Bring about a condition where people find it bitter not to till, and where they find it dangerous not to fight. These are two things which filial sons, though they dislike them, do for their fathers' sake, and loyal ministers, though they dislike them, do for their sovereign's sake. Nowadays, if you wish to stimulate the multitude of people to make them do what even filial sons and loyal ministers dislike doing, I think it is useless unless you compel them by means of punishments, and stimulate them by means of rewards.

5 慎法:
而今夫世俗治者,莫不釋法度而任辯慧,後功力而進仁義,民故不務耕戰。彼民不歸其力於農,即食屈於內;不歸其節於戰,則兵弱於外。入而食屈於內,出而兵弱於外,雖有地萬里,帶甲百萬,與獨立平原一也。且先王能令其民蹈白刃,被矢石,其民之欲為之,非好學之,所以避害。故吾教令民之欲利者,非耕不得;避害者,非戰不免。境內之民,莫不先務耕戰而得其所樂。故地少粟多,民少兵強。能行二者於境內,則霸王之道畢矣。
Attention to Law:
But nowadays, the ordinary types of ruler all neglect laws and measures, and rely on sophistry and cleverness; they push back men of merit and force, and advance those of benevolence and righteousness, with the result that people do not devote themselves to agriculture and warfare. If such people do not turn their energies to agriculture, at home their food-supply will be exhausted, and if they do not turn to their duty in warfare, abroad the army will be weak; then, though one may have a territory of ten thousand li, and a million armed men, it will be the same as a plain that has to depend on its own resources. Furthermore, the early kings were able to command their people to walk on bare swords and to suffer arrows and stones, and the people were willing to do so, not because they liked learning such things, but because they escaped harm thereby. Therefore my teaching is to issue such orders that people, if they are desirous of profit, can attain their aim only by agriculture, and if they want to avoid harm, can only escape it by war. There will be no one within the borders who will not devote himself at first to ploughing and fighting, in order thereby later to obtain that which gives him pleasure. Therefore, though the territory may be small, the produce will be plentiful, and though the population may be sparse, the army will be strong. If one can achieve these two things within the territory, then the road to becoming a lord-protector or king of the whole empire is fully prepared.

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