The Greatest and Strongest Moral Force
(Minghui.org) Mencius (372 BC － 289 BC) was born in the state of Zou during the Warring States Period (475 BC - 221 BC). He wrote a book named “Book of Mencius,” and was referred to as the “Next Sage” after Confucius. Their philosophies are called the “doctrine of Confucius and Mencius.” Mencius once said to one of his disciples, “I am proficient in cultivating my noble spirit. It is the greatest and strongest force. It will fill heaven and earth with a noble mind. It must be matched with virtue and morality, otherwise it will lack force. Besides, it must be constantly reinforced with virtue and morality in order to maintain it, rather than relying on the occasional act of justice.” “Be impervious to the temptation of wealth and high position, do not be shaken by poverty, and do not be subdued by force.” Mencius advocated benevolent governance his whole life. In his dealings with feudal lords and nobility, he behaved neither submissively nor pompously. His pursuit of the truth deeply influenced later generations.
Mencius' view of destiny was that heaven possessed the highest will. “The mandate of heaven determined the change in dynasties and emperors, rise and decline, and rich and poor. People had to follow the will of heaven and know how to dedicate, know heaven and do things for heaven. Those who submitted to heaven's will prosper and those who defy it will die." Mencius emphasized moral cultivation. He considered morality to be a natural gift, innate to the human mind and conscience of people. If everyone is able to maintain goodness and strive to improve in self-cultivation, people can be like Emperors Yao and Shun. Both Mencius and Confucius toured various states to promote their teachings. He spread the virtue and benevolent governance of the ancient emperors Yao, Yu Shun, and others. Lord Wei Hui treated him with a courteous reception and Lord Qi Xuan honored him as a high official. He persuaded them to apply benevolent governance that had won popular allegiance, and many times avoided war.
Mencius once traveled from Qi to Wei and was stopped by a heavy rain. People found out about it and ran around spreading the news. Many people came to visit him to ask for advice. Seeing people were so eager to learn, he thus decided to stay to lecture for several days. Mencius believed that a man of noble character must pursue morality, and persuade monarchs to establish moral supremacy, and value justice above material gain. The following are stories of his unswerving determination to urge people to do good.
Rule a Country With Justice, Why Talk About Profits?
When visiting Liang, Lord Liang Hui said to him, “You have traveled a great distance to come here. You must have some things to benefit my country?” Mencius replied, “Lord, why talk about benefits? It is sufficient to just say righteousness.” Lord Liang said, “How can it benefit my country?” Mencius said, “If people are always asking: 'How will my family benefit from this?' and, 'How will I benefit from this?' the result will be that everyone will be competing for their own benefits. Then the country will be in danger! In a country with 10,000 military vehicles, often the senior officers who own 1,000 military vehicles will kill their monarch. In a country owning 1,000 military vehicles, the monarch is often killed by the senior officers who own 100 military vehicles. You cannot say that these senior officers don't own enough. However, those who put their own interests above righteousness will never be satisfied with what they already own and will try to seize their monarch's position. Those who always think of benevolence will never abandon their parents and those who always think of righteousness will not abandon their monarch. Therefore, why do you only want to talk about benefits?” The prominent historian Sima Qian in the Western Han Dynasty sighed when he read this dialogue between Mencius and Lord Liang, “Personal interest is really the source of chaos!”
Being Fond of Good People is Good Enough to Rule the World
The state of Lu intended to let Le Zhengzi govern. Mencius was very glad to hear the news. His disciple Gongsun Chou asked, “Is Le Zhengzi very experienced?” Mencius said, “no.” Gongsun Chou asked, “Then why are you pleased?” Mencius said, “He likes to listen to well-intended advice and he has always fulfilled his duties.” Gongsun Chou asked again, “Are these enough?” Mencius said, “With these qualities, one can rule the world, not to mention govern the state of Lu! If one likes to listen to truthfulness, he will only be willing to meet with good people and villains would have no market. If one doesn't like to listen to good words, then those with breadth of vision will shy away and those with vile character will come. He will be surrounded by people of vile character. How can he govern a country well? Officials must dare to uphold justice and fairness. If one cannot be diligent and responsible, why then would one want to be an official?”
Every Day I Was Hoping Lord Qi Would Change His Mind!
Mencius went to Qi twice to persuade Lord Qi to carry out a policy of benevolence, but he did not get to see the lord. When Mencius left Qi for the second time, a Qi person, Yinshi, said to Mencius's disciple Gaozi, “It is unwise not to know that Lord Qi will never be a monarch like Emperor Shang Tang or Emperor Zhou Wuwang. If knowing that Lord Qi cannot be convinced and Mencius still comes to Qi, it looks like he was hoping to gain benefits. After traveling a long distance to see the lord, he found that he could not be persuaded and thus left. But Mencius still stayed for three nights before leaving. Why was he so reluctant to leave? I am not very appreciative of Mencius.” Gaozi told Mencius about Yinshi's remark.
Mencius said, “How could Yinshi know my thoughts? I traveled a long way to expound the kingly way to Lord Qi and that was my wish. I remonstrated without success and left; did I wish that? I had no alternative but to leave. I stayed for three nights before leaving. I think that is too soon. I thought Lord Qi might change his mind and ask me to return. If he called me back, I would have to make good use of the opportunity. After I left, he did not send people to chase after me to ask me to return. I was thus determined to leave. Although I did, was I willing to give up on the lord? Lord Qi can govern well. If he carries out benevolent governance, not only Qi will have peace, but also the people of the whole country. Every day I hope that he will change! Do I look like a narrow minded person? I was unable to remonstrate with a monarch, got angry and left with resentment, and then travelled a whole day before stopping for a night.” Upon hearing this, Yinshi said, “I am really a lowly person.”
People Will Be Completely Won Over With One's Virtue
Upon hearing that Lord Qi Xuan intended to use force to conquer other countries, Mencius hurried to Qi for the third time. Lord Qi Xuan asked him, “Are there principles when dealing with neighboring states?” Mencius replied, “Yes, there are. Only the benevolent monarch of a big country can serve a small country, just like Emperor Shang serving Ge. A clever monarch of a small country will serve a big country, just like Gou Jian serving Lord Wu. A monarch with great power serving a small country is obeying the destiny of heaven, while a monarch of a small country serving a big power is fearing destiny. Being willing to obey the will of heaven can bring peace and stability to the country, while fearing destiny will allow one to hold on to his country.” The “Book of Songs”(1) said: 'by fearing the dignity of heaven, a country can maintain stability.' “Lord Qi Xuan said, “Great! But I have a problem, as I like combat.”
Mencius said, “My lord, don't behave with trivial courage. When you hold a sword with a fierce look, 'Who dares to oppose me!' This is just personal courage. What is true bravery?” The “Book of Songs” said, 'Emperor Zhou Wenwang suddenly flared up and geared up his army to protect Ju.' This is the courage of Emperor Zhou Wenwang. His anger stabilized people's minds.” The “Book of Shang” (the earliest compilation of historical documents. It is one of the Confucian classics) stated, “Heaven created all the people and set up a monarch and provided teachers to assist heaven to take good care of the people and follow the code of ethics strictly. Who dares to go beyond one's duty? When there was a person rampaging the country, Emperor Zhou Wuwang felt ashamed. This was the valor of Emperor Wuwang. His anger stabilized the country. Now if my lord can get angry and stabilize the country, people will be worried that my lord doesn't like to be courageous!”
Mencius went on, “My lord should implement a policy of benevolence and reduce taxation so that people will learn loyalty, righteousness, etiquette, and trustworthiness in their leisure time. Then people close by will live in peace and contentment, and people from distant places will come to join you. If another monarch does injustice to his people and puts them in misery, when my lord goes to crusade against that monarch, who can then oppose my lord? People will welcome your troops with food and drink. Do they have any demands? They only want to avoid the abyss of suffering. Otherwise, people will look for someone else to rescue them. When a lord cares for people and unifies the country, no one can stop him.” Lord Qi Xuan nodded. Mencius elaborated on the kingly way with nature's law and popular sentiment and thus ultimately made Lord Qi Xuan give up on war and implement the policy of benevolence that achieved a great order. People were very grateful for Mencius' graciousness.
A Benevolent Monarch Is Invincible
Mencius said, “Only benevolent people can be invincible in the world and only with benevolent governance can a country be prosperous and can people live in peace. If people higher up do not follow reason and good sense to restrain themselves and people below do not use laws to bind themselves, if governments do not believe in morality and justice, officials do not abide by the law, gentlemen violate justice, villains violate the criminal law – then a country will be lucky to even survive. A state that does not have vast lands or that accumulates great wealth is not the curse. Not revering morality is the calamity for a state. Consequently, remonstrating with a monarch to cultivate virtue and carry out benevolent governance is to respect one's monarch. Expounding to a monarch with reason to clear up his wicked ideas is being respectful to a monarch. Flattering and currying favor with a monarch is to entrap him. When a monarch himself is upright, the world will come to be in allegiance with him. The “Book of Songs” stated, 'Cooperate with the mandate of heaven and one will have happiness.' Living in the world's widest residence – benevolence; standing in the most correct position – etiquette; walking on the broadest road in the world – righteousness; wealth cannot confuse one's thoughts, rank cannot change one's conduct, and force will not make one yield. This is what a benevolent person does."
Mencius lived in the middle of the Warring States Period, during which time etiquette collapsed and society was in turmoil. But he did not hesitate to push forward promoting morality and justice. He believed that the difference between people was not whether one is rich or poor, but rather, having the ability to maintain noble morality and have a clear conscience. Enlightening to the good side of people's minds and helping them follow heaven's way is the true reason for exhorting people.
In today's materialism and decline in moral standards, Falun Dafa helps people to have a brighter future and reminds people to follow and treasure the characteristics of the universe: Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.
1) “The Book of Songs” is China's first poetry collection. It brought together 305 pieces of poetry starting from the early Western Zhou Dynasty (1100 BC) to the middle of the Spring and Autumn Period (600 BC)