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Chinese Text Project
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-> -> -> Opening and Debarring

《開塞 - Opening and Debarring》

English translation: J. J. L. Duyvendak [?] Library Resources
1 開塞:
Opening and Debarring:...:
During the time when heaven and earth were established, and the people were produced, people knew their mothers but not their fathers. Their way was to love their relatives and to be fond of what was their own. From loving their relatives came discrimination, and from fondness of what was their own, insecurity. As the people increased and were preoccupied with discrimination and insecurity, they fell into disorder. At that time, people were intent on excelling others and subjected each other by means of force; the former led to quarrels, and the latter to disputes. If in disputes there were no justice, no one would be satisfied; therefore men of talent established equity and justice and instituted unselfishness, so that people began to talk of moral virtue. At that time, the idea of loving one's relatives began to disappear, and that of honouring talent arose.

2 開塞:
Opening and Debarring:...:
Now virtuous men are concerned with love and the way of talented men is to outvie one another. As people increased and were not restrained and had for long been in the way of outvying one another, there was again disorder. Therefore a sage, who received the administration, made divisions of land and property, of men and women. Divisions having been established, it was necessary to have restraining measures, so he instituted interdicts. These being instituted, it was necessary to have those who could enforce them. Thereupon he established officials. These having been established, it was necessary to have some one to unify them. So he set up a prince. Once a prince had been set up, the idea of honouring talent disappeared, and that of prizing honour arose. Thus in the highest antiquity, people loved their relatives and were fond of what was their own; in middle antiquity, they honoured talent and talked of moral virtue; and in later days, they prized honour and respected office. Honouring talent means outvying one another with doctrines, but setting up a prince means relegating talented men to unemployment. Loving one's relatives means making selfishness one's guiding principle, but the idea of equity and justice is to prevent selfishness from holding the field. But these three methods did not aim at antagonistic purposes. The guiding principles of the people are base and they are not consistent in what they value. As the conditions in the world change, different principles are practised. Therefore it is said that there is a fixed standard in a king's principles.

3 開塞:
Opening and Debarring:...:
Indeed, a king's principles represent one viewpoint, and those of a minister another. The principles each follows are different, but are one in both representing a fixed standard. Therefore, it is said: 'When the people are stupid, by knowledge one may rise to supremacy; when the world is wise, by force one may rise to supremacy.' That means that when people are stupid, there are plenty of strong men but not enough wise, and when the world is wise, there are plenty of clever men, but not enough strong. It is the nature of people, when they have no knowledge, to study; and when they have no strength, to submit. So when Shen-nong taught ploughing and attained supreme sway, the leadership was by means of his knowledge; when Tang and Wu made themselves strong and attacked the feudal lords, the subjugation was by means of their force. That is, in the case of uneducated people, when they possess no knowledge, they are anxious to learn; in the case of an educated society, not having force, it submits. Therefore, he who wishes to attain supreme sway by means of love, rejects punishments, and he who wishes to subjugate the feudal lords by means of force, relegates virtue to the background.

4 開塞:
Opening and Debarring:...:
A sage does not imitate antiquity, nor does he follow the present time. If he were to imitate antiquity, he would be behind the times; and if he follows the present time, he is obstructed by circumstances. The Zhou dynasty did not imitate the Shang dynasty, nor did the Xia dynasty imitate the period of Yu; the three dynasties encountered different circumstances, but all three succeeded in attaining supremacy. So to rise to supremacy, there is a definite way, but to hold it there are different principles. For example, Wu as a rebel seized the empire, and yet he prized obedience to the law; he disputed the empire, and yet exalted compliancy; by force he seized it, but by righteousness he held it. Nowadays strong countries aim at annexation, while weak countries are concerned for defence by force, which means that compared with early times they are not equal to the times of Yu and Xia, and compared with later times they do not practise the principles of Tang and Wu. Because the principles of Tang and Wu are obstructed, of the countries of ten thousand chariots there is not one that does not wage war, and of the countries of a thousand chariots there is not one that is not on the defence. These principles (of Tang and Wu) have been obstructed a long time, and none of the rulers of the world is able to develop them. Therefore, there is not a fourth added to the three dynasties, and unless there be an intelligent ruler, there is none who succeeds in being obeyed. Now you want to develop the people by imitating the ancient rulers, but the people of old were simple through honesty, while the people of today are clever through artificiality.

5 開塞:
Opening and Debarring:...:
Wherefore, if you wish to imitate the ancients, you will have orderly government by promoting virtue, and if you wish to imitate modern times, you will have laws by emphasizing punishments, and this is commonly distrusted. What the world now calls righteousness is the establishment of what people like and the abolishment of what they dislike, and what the world calls unrighteousness is the establishment of what people dislike and the abolishment of that in which they take delight. The names and practice of these two methods may be interchanged. It is necessary to examine this: if you establish what people delight in, then they will suffer from what they dislike; but if you establish what the people dislike, they will be happy in what they enjoy. How do I know that this is so? Because, if people are in sorrow, they think, and in thinking they invent various devices. Whereas, if they enjoy themselves, they are dissolute, and dissoluteness breeds idleness. Therefore, if you govern by punishment the people will fear. Being fearful, they will not commit villainies; there being no villainies, people will be happy in what they enjoy. If, however, you teach the people by righteousness, then they will be lax, and if they are lax, there will be disorder; if there is disorder, the people will suffer from what they dislike. What I call profit is the basis of righteousness, but what the world calls righteousness is the way to violence. Indeed, in making the people correct, one always attains what they like by means of what they dislike, and one brings about what they dislike by means of what they like.

6 開塞:
Opening and Debarring:...:
In an orderly country, punishments are numerous and rewards rare. Therefore, in countries that attain supremacy, there is one reward to nine punishments, and in dismembered countries, nine rewards to every one punishment. Now, in proportion to the gravity or otherwise of the offence, there are light and heavy punishments, and in proportion to the greatness of the virtue, there are large or small rewards. These two differences are constantly applied in the world. If punishments are applied to accomplished crimes, then villainy will not be banished, and if rewards are bestowed for virtuous actions that have been achieved by the people, then offences will not cease. Now, if punishments cannot banish villainy, nor rewards put an end to offences, there will doubtless be disorder. Therefore, in the case of one who attains supremacy, punishments are applied at the intent to sin, so that great depravity cannot be bred; and rewards are bestowed on the denouncement of villainy, so that minor sins do not escape unnoticed. If, in governing a people, a condition can be brought about, wherein great depravity cannot be bred and minor offences do not escape unnoticed, the state will be orderly, and, being orderly, it is certain to be strong. If one country alone applies this method, there will be order only within its own borders; if two countries apply this method, the armies will have some rest; if the whole world applies this method, the highest state of virtue will be re-established. This is my way of reverting to virtue by death-penalties, and of making righteousness a corollary to violence.

7 開塞:
Opening and Debarring:...:
Of old, people lived densely together and all dwelt in disorder, so they desired that there should be a ruler. However, why the empire was glad to have a ruler was because he would create order. Now, having rulers but no law, the evil is the same as if there were no rulers, and having laws that are not equal to the disorders is the same as if there were no law. The empire does not feel tranquil without a prince, but it takes pleasure in being stronger than the law, and thus the whole world is perturbed. Indeed, there is no greater benefit for the people in the empire than order, and there is no firmer order to be obtained than by establishing a prince; for establishing a prince, there is no more embracing method than making law supreme; for making law supreme, there is no more urgent task than banishing villainy, and for banishing villainy, there is no deeper basis than severe punishments. Therefore those, who attain supremacy, restrain by rewards and encourage by punishments, seek offences and not virtue, and rely on punishments in order to abolish punishments.

URN: ctp:shang-jun-shu/opening-and-debarring