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Chinese Text Project
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《畫策 - Policies》

English translation: J. J. L. Duyvendak [?] Library Resources
1 畫策:
Of old, in the times of the Great and Illustrious Ruler, people found their livelihood by cutting trees and slaying animals; the population was sparse, and trees and animals numerous. In the times of Huang-di, neither young animals nor eggs were taken; the officials had no provisions, and when the people died, they were not allowed to use outer coffins. These measures were not the same, but that they both attained supremacy was due to the fact that the times in which they lived were different. In the times of Shen-nong, men ploughed to obtain food, and women wove to obtain clothing. Without the application of punishments or governmental measures, order prevailed; without the raising of mailed soldiers, he reigned supreme. After Shen-nong had died, the weak were conquered by force and the few oppressed by the many. Therefore Huang-di created the ideas of prince and minister, of superior and inferior, the rites between father and son, between elder and younger brothers, the union between husband and wife, and between consort and mate. At home, he applied sword and saw, and abroad he used mailed soldiers; this was because the times had changed. Looking at it from this point of view, Shen-nong is not higher than Huang-di, but the reason that his name was honoured was because he suited his time. Therefore, if by war one wishes to abolish war, even war is permissible; if by killing one wants to abolish killing, even killing is permissible; if by punishments one wishes to abolish punishments, even heavy punishments are permissible.

2 畫策:
Of old, the one who could regulate the empire was he, who regarded as his first task the regulating of his own people; the one who could conquer a strong enemy was he, who regarded as his first task the conquering of his own people. For the way in which the conquering of the people is based upon the regulating of the people is like the effect of smelting in regard to metal or the work of the potter in regard to clay; if the basis is not solid, then people are like flying birds or like animals. Who can regulate these? The basis of the people is the law. Therefore, a good ruler obstructed the people by means of the law, and so his reputation and his territory flourished. What is the cause of one's reputation becoming respected and one's territory wide, so that one attains sovereignty? (It is because one conquers in war.) What is the cause of one's reputation becoming debased and one's territory diminished, so that one comes to ruin? It is because one is worn out by war. From antiquity to the present time, it has never happened that one attained supremacy without conquest, or that one came to ruin without defeat. If the people are brave, one conquers in war, but if they are not brave, one is defeated in war. If one can unify the people for war, they are brave, but if one cannot unify the people for war, they are not brave. A sage-king obtains the kingship through the efforts of his soldiers. Therefore, he rouses the country and charges it with the obligation of military service. If one enters a state and sees its administration, it is strong if its people are of use. How does one know that the people are of use? If they, on perceiving war, behave like hungry wolves on seeing meat, then they are of use. Generally, war is a thing that people hate; he who succeeds in making people delight in war, attains supremacy. With the people of a strong state, the father, in making a parting bequest to his son, the elder brother to his younger brother, the wife to her husband, all say: 'Do not return unless you win.' And further they say: 'If you incur death by failing in obedience to the law or by transgressing orders, we too shall die.' If in the villages they are governed in an orderly manner, then deserters from the ranks will have no resort and stragglers will have nowhere to go. By the order in the ranks they should be organized into bands of five; they should be distinguished by badges and controlled by mandates, so that there would be no place for bungling and no danger that exhaustion would arise. Thus the multitudes of the three armies obeyed the mandates like running water, and in danger of death they did not turn on their heels.

3 畫策:
If a state is in disorder, it is not because the law is disorderly, but because its law is not applied. All states have laws, but there are no laws that guarantee that the laws are practised. All states have laws that prohibit crime and wickedness, and that punish thieves and robbers, but there are no laws that guarantee that criminals and wicked people, thieves and robbers, are caught. If those who commit crimes and wickedness, theft and robbery, are punished with death, and if, in spite of this, crime and wickedness, theft and robbery do not cease, then it is because they are not always caught. If they are always caught, and if, in spite of this, there still remain criminals, wicked people, thieves and robbers, then it is because punishments are too light. If punishments are light, one cannot exterminate them; but if they are always caught, then those who are punished will be numerous. Therefore, a good ruler punishes the bad people, but does not reward the virtuous ones, so, without being punished, the people will be virtuous, and the reason of this is that punishments are heavy. When punishments are heavy, people dare not transgress, and therefore there will be no punishments; because none of the people will dare to do wrong, everyone in the whole country will be virtuous, so that without rewarding the virtuous, the people will be virtuous. That the rewarding of the virtuous is not permissible is because it is like giving rewards for not stealing. Therefore, a good ruler succeeds in making a man like Zhi trustworthy; how much more, then, a man like Bo Yi; An incapable ruler makes a man like Bo Yi mistrustful, how much more a man like Zhi! If conditions are such that one cannot commit crimes, then even a man like Zhi will be trustworthy; but if conditions are such that it is possible to commit crimes, then even a man like Bo Yi will be mistrustful.

4 畫策:
A state either encourages orderly government, or it encourages disorder. If an intelligent ruler is on top, then those whom he appoints will be men of talent, and thus the law will be adhered to by the people of talent. If the law is adhered to by people of talent, then there will be law amongst those below, and the worthless will not dare to commit crimes. This is what I call "encouraging orderly government". But if an unintelligent ruler is on top, then those whom he appoints will certainly be worthless men, so that there will be no clear law in the state and worthless people will dare to commit crimes. This is what I call "encouraging disorder". An army either encourages strength or it encourages weakness. If the people desire naturally to fight and are not left without fighting, it is called "encouraging strength", but if the people naturally do not desire to fight and are left without fighting, it is called "encouraging weakness".

5 畫策:
An intelligent ruler does not enrich and honour his ministers in an arbitrary manner. What I mean by riches are not grain, rice, pearls or jade, and what I mean by honour are not rank, position, office or appointments; but I mean the riches and honour of rank and emoluments acquired by actions contrary to the law and which are prompted by selfish interest. Generally a ruler of men does not, in virtuous conduct, exceed other men, nor does he do so in knowledge, nor does he surpass others in courage or strength, yet the people, though they may have sages and wise men, they dare not plot against him; though they may have courage, dare not kill him; though they are numerous, they dare not over-rule their lord; though the people may reach a number of many tens of thousands, if heavy rewards are set before them, they dare not contest for them; if penalties are applied, they dare not resent them. The reason is that there is law. If a state is in disorder, it is because the people often have private opinions of what is their duty; if an army is weak, it is because people often have private shows of bravery, and as a result there will be dismemberment. If the roads to the acquirement of titles and emoluments are many, ruin will ensue. In a country, where the desire is to cheapen rank and to make light of emoluments, officials draw their salaries without activity, men have fame, without acquiring it in war, people have respect, without having the rank that entitles them to it, are rich without having emoluments, and are leaders without having office; such are said to be a wicked people.

6 畫策:
He who is called a virtuous ruler has no loyal ministers, and a compassionate father has no filial sons. If it is desired to do away with clever talkers, then all should control one another by means of the law, and should correct one another by means of mandates. Being unable to do wrong alone, one will not do wrong in the company of others. What is called wealth is to have receipts large and expenditure small. When there is moderation in dress and frugality in food and drink, then expenditure is small. When women within and men outside fulfil their duties completely, then receipts are large. What is called intelligence is for nothing to escape the sight, so that the multitude of officials dare not commit crimes, nor the people dare to do wrong. Thus the ruler of men will repose on a rest-couch and listen to the sound of stringed and bamboo instruments, and yet the empire will enjoy order. In other words, what is called intelligence is to cause the masses to have no possibility of not working. What is called strength is to conquer the empire; by conquering the empire, all the forces are united, and as a result the brave and strong will not dare to commit any violence, nor will sages and wise men dare to deceive or to be employed on empty grounds. When the multitudes of the empire are united, none will dare not to do what he (the ruler) likes, but all will avoid what he dislikes. In other words, what is called strength is to cause all bravery and force to have no possibility of being used except for the prince's own advantage. If the prince's will is effective, the empire will benefit by it; if it is ineffective, the empire will blame him. Whoever relies on the empire is rejected by the empire; whoever relies on himself, gains the empire. The one who gains the empire is he, who regards it as his first duty to gain himself; the one who succeeds in conquering a strong enemy is he, who regards it as his first duty to conquer himself.

7 畫策:
A sage knows the right principles which must be followed, and the right time and circumstances for action. Therefore the rule, which he exercises, always leads to order, the people, whom he employs in war, are always brave, and the commands, which he issues, are always obeyed. In consequence, when his army marches out, it has no equal, and when his commands are issued, the whole empire submits. A yellow crane flies a thousand li at one stretch, because it is supplied with those qualities which make it fit for flying. The Qi-lin and the Lu-er cover a thousand li a day, because they are supplied with the power needed for running. Tigers, leopards, bears and yellow bears are unmatched in fierce fighting, because they have the nature fitted for conquest. A sage views the fundamental elements of government, and knows the principle which must be followed; therefore, his way of directing the people is like directing water from a high to a low place, or like directing fire towards dry things and away from wet ones. Therefore is it said: 'The benevolent may be benevolent towards others, but cannot cause others to be benevolent; the righteous may love others, but cannot cause others to love.' From this I know that benevolence and righteousness are not sufficient for governing the empire. A sage has a nature that insists on good-faith, and he also has a law (method) by which he compels the whole empire to have good-faith. What is called righteousness is when ministers are loyal, sons filial, when there are proper ceremonies between juniors and seniors, and distinctions between men and women, when a hungry man eats, and a dying man lives, not improperly, but only in accordance with righteousness. This, however, is the constant condition, when there is law. A sage-king does not value righteousness, but he values the law. If with the law one sees to it that it is clear, and with commands that they are carried out, then it will be all right.

URN: ctp:shang-jun-shu/policies