A Wise Ruler Fears Three Things
(Clearwisdom.net) Han Ying wrote an inspirational tale in The Outer Commentary to the Book of Songs. It is worth reading and abiding by.
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A wise ruler fears three things: He is afraid of not knowing his mistakes because of his lofty position. Second, he fears arrogance and self-complacency when he succeeds. Third, he is afraid of not following wise advice.
King Goujian of the Yue Kingdom defeated the State of Wu and conquered the nine ethnic groups, thus becoming the ruling kingdom in southern China. But he summoned a royal court meeting and told his court officials, "King Fuchai of Wu State led his state to its doom because he was too arrogant to reflect upon or correct himself. I must learn from his deadly lesson. I will now make it a new law that it is a capital offense if anyone discovers that I have a flaw but does not inform me of it. He will receive the punishment of death." This is an example of a ruler who is afraid of not knowing his flaws.
After Duke Wen of the Jin State (named Ji Chong'er) defeated the State of Chu, the Jin troops got out of hand. They started burning the camp of Chu's troops. The fire lasted over three days and three nights and took a severe toll on money and property. After Duke Wen retired from a court meeting, he looked grave and worried. His attendants asked, "We have defeated Chu's troops. Why does Your Majesty look worried?" Duke Wen explained, "A man must refrain from arrogance and unscrupulousness after a success in order to maintain longterm peace. Now that my troops are arrogant, self-complacent, and unscrupulous, I am worried about the potential danger to our state." This is an example of a ruler who is afraid of becoming arrogant and self-complacent when he scores a victory.
Having Guang Zhong and Xi Peng as his wise ministers, Lord Huan of Qi State was able to tell right from wrong and improve his moral values. Lord Huan was very thankful for their advice. On a selected good day, Lord Huan paid his respects to his ancestors by burning incense. He knelt down and said, "It is my ancestors' blessing that I have two virtuous ministers to help me with my administration. They make me keep my ears open and see things more clearly. I humbly ask my ancestors to continue their blessings so that I will rule with reason, humbly accept their advice, and never close my ears or obstinately insist on doing things my way." This is a good example of a ruler who is afraid of not following wise advice.
The ancient Chinese people advocated being modest, cautious, and vigilant. Sima Guang of the Song Dynasty once wrote, "Your Majesty should be vigilant for mistakes."
Actually, everybody should pay attention to the three things to fear. Anyone who wishes to improve or succeed should know his flaws and promptly rectify them. Everyone should be modest and cautious and should not act unscrupulously at any time. Everyone should follow virtuous advice when it is given. Wise advice should not be forgotten. Everyone should fear the three things.