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Chapter XXVIII. Achievement and Reputation1

The factors of the intelligent ruler's success in accomplishing achievement and establishing reputation are four: The first is said to be "the time of heaven"; the second, "the hearts of the people"; the third, "technical ability"; and the fourth, "influential status."

Without the time of heaven, even ten Yaos cannot in winter grow a single ear of grain. Acting contrary to the hearts of the people, even Pên and Yü cannot make them exert their forces to the utmost. Therefore, when grains gain the favour of the time of heaven, they grow of themselves with no need of special care; when the ruler wins the hearts of the people, he elevates himself without being raised. When one relies on his technical ability, he hastens by himself without being hurried. When one occupies an influential status, his name is made without being commended.

Like water flowing and like the ship floating, the ruler follows the course of nature and enacts boundless decrees. Hence he is called "an enlightened sovereign".

Indeed, the possessor of talent who has no position, even though he is worthy, cannot control the unworthy. For illustration, when a foot of timber is placed on the top of a high mountain, it overlooks the ravine a thousand fathoms below. Not that the timber is long, but that its position is high. Chieh, while the Son of Heaven, could rule over All-under-Heaven. Not that he was worthy but that his position was influential. Yao, while a commoner, could not rectify three families. Not that he was unworthy but that his position was low. A weight of one thousand chün, if aboard a ship, floats; but the utmost farthing, if overboard, sinks. Not that one thousand chün is light and the utmost farthing is heavy, but that the former has a favourable position while the latter has none. Therefore, the short thing can by its location overlook the tall one; the unworthy man can by his position rule over the worthy.

The lord of men, because supported by All-under-Heaven with united forces, is safe; because upheld by the masses of the people with united hearts, he is glorious. The minister, because he maintains his merit and exerts his ability, is loyal. If a glorious sovereign 2 rules loyal ministers, everybody in the state can live a long and enjoyable life and accomplish achievement and reputation. Name and reality will support each other and will be accomplished. Form and shadow will coincide with each other and stand together. Hence sovereign and minister have the same desire but different functions.

The anxiety of the lord of men comes from the absence of minister's responses to his call. Hence the saying: "Nobody can clap with one hand, however fast he moves it." The anxiety of the minister lies in the inability to secure a full-time routine of work. Hence the saying: "The right hand drawing a circle and the left hand drawing a square at the same time cannot both succeed." Hence the saying again: "In the state at the height of order the ruler is like the drumstick and the minister like the drum; the technique is like the carriage and the task like the horse." Therefore, men having surplus strength respond easily to calls; techniques having excessive skill are convenient to tasks. On the contrary, if those who accomplish achievements are not sufficiently strong; if those who are near and dear to the ruler are not sufficiently faithful; if those who have made names are not sufficiently influential; if only those who work within the ruler's reach become intimate; and if those who are stationed far away are not familiar; such will instance the discrepancy between name and fact. If the position of a sage like Yao and Shun in virtue and like Po-i in conduct is not supported by the world, his achievement will not be accomplished and his reputation will not be established.

Therefore, the ancients who could secure both achievement and reputation, were all assisted by the multitudes with forces, the near supporting them in earnest, 3 the distant praising them with names, and the honourable supporting them with influences. Such being the case, their achievements as magnificent as Mountain T`ai have stood permanently in the country and their reputations as glorious as the sun and the moon have shone upon heaven and earth for ever and ever. It was in such wise that Yao faced the south and maintained his reputation and Shun faced the north and accomplished his achievement. 4


1. 功名.

2. With Wang Wei 主 should not be repeated.

3. With Kao Hêng 成 reads 誠.

4. This refers to the time when Yao was ruler and Shun was minister.

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IATHPublished by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, © Copyright 2003 by Anne Kinney and the University of Virginia