The Best Way to Rule a Country
(Originally in Chinese)
During the Song dynasty [in ancient China], there was a scholar named Hui Ang who practiced spiritually and seemed to have great wisdom. On one occasion, he went to pay his respects to Emperor Song Kang. The Emperor greeted him warmly and, without wasting any time asked, "I only like courageous men who have warrior skills. I do not like men who preach righteousness. Is there anything you can enlighten me on?"
Emperor Song Kang made it clear that he only loved to use force and gave no consideration to righteousness at all. What else could anyone say to him? Yet there were people who would visit such a ruler. Ancient people were more patient. I would not go to see such a person. Would you? I would not! I have less patience. Nonetheless, the emperor asked courteously, "What can you enlighten me on?"
"I have a special magical power. With this power, no matter how daring the enemy is, his sword cannot pierce your body; and no matter how fierce and powerful he is, he cannot touch you,” Hui Ang said. “Would Your Majesty like this kind of magical power?"
"Wow! I would love it! I would! I would love this kind of magical power," replied the emperor.
Hui Ang then tempted him further, saying, "Although their swords cannot pierce you or touch you, you will nonetheless suffer humiliation. This is still not good enough." ( comments: Hui Ang first tried to entice the Emperor with minor magical power, and then instilled higher truths in him.) "I have yet another magical power that will make the enemy, however brave, afraid to strike or hurt you with his sword when he sees you. This will be even better! I wonder if Your Majesty would like this?" Of course, the Emperor loved it very much.
Hui Ang continued, "Although those people dare not hurt Your Majesty, that doesn't mean they do not want to hurt you. Perhaps they want to do so very much, but they dare not. I have yet another magical power that could make those people dismiss even the idea of hurting or killing you. Would Your Majesty like this kind of magical power?" Would you like it or not? You are so quiet! I do not possess this kind of magical power; don't expect it from me. Of course, the Emperor would have loved it so he said, "I want it! I do! Please tell me more! Tell me more!"
So Hui Ang said, "Now, although those people stop wishing to hurt or kill you, that does not mean they respect you or are eager to help you. I have another magical power that can make those people abandon the thought of hurting and killing you, and further respect you and help you. Would Your Majesty like that?"
Wow! Emperor Song Kang could hardly contain himself! He could hardly sit still on his throne and wanted very much to come down and shake hands with Hui Ang. "Please tell me quickly! Tell me quickly," he said.
“I have this magical power, with which all men and women, upon seeing Your Majesty, will immediately be eager to help you, and respect and admire you from the bottom of their hearts. As such, Your Majesty will not only be powerful, but also wise and virtuous. Therefore, I think this power is superior to all those I have just mentioned. How can Your majesty not be fond of this magical power?"
Of course, the emperor said, "Yes! I like it! I love it dearly!"
Finally, Hui Ang revealed, "Your Majesty is aware that this magical power belongs to Confucius and Mocius. Take Confucius and Mocius for example. Although they did not rule a country or possess wealth, they were kings all the same. People respected them. Everyone admired and loved them. (explains: He was referring to the kind of king in people's hearts. One does not have to sit high on a throne and have huge armies, weapons or nuclear bombs, to be a king. Therefore, Confucius and Mocius were kings of some kind. That was what he meant.) They had no official titles; they did not have an army, yet they were lords." Hui Ang meant "the Lord." This was like how we revere Jesus Christ as "the Lord." If we translated Sanskrit into Chinese, we would revere Sakyamuni Buddha as "Lord Sakyamuni." During his lifetime, Jesus Christ was called “My Lord” by his disciples. When Sakyamuni Buddha was living, His disciples also called Him "My Great Lord!” “My Lord!” and “My Master!" So what Hui Ang meant was that though Confucius and Mocius did not have an army they were still kings and lords.
Then Hui Ang continued, "Not one single soul in this world upon seeing them could refrain from standing on tiptoe and straining their necks to get a look at them. People never tired of watching them and didn’t even want to blink their eyes. Furthermore, no man or woman in this world, upon seeing them, could refrain from helping, supporting and revering them. This feeling rose naturally from their hearts. All people in the world would bow and worship them. They loved them so much that they would protect and do anything for them, even die for them."
What Hui Ang meant was that Confucius and Mocius had won the true heartfelt admiration of the people, without having to sit on the throne to be loved. Many people sat on the throne but no one liked them! They were even cursed or overthrown by revolutions. Therefore, when you sit on the throne and call yourself a king, it is not definite that people will like you. Conversely, Mocius and Confucius did not even have a piece of land to their names and had no wealth, officials, weapons, nothing, yet everyone who saw them loved and supported them. They wanted to stand on their toes and stretch their necks to see them for a long time, the longer the better. Therefore, Hui Ang said, "Since Your Majesty is already the king of the country, if you carry out the magical power of Confucius and Mocius, Your Majesty will definitely be even wiser and more virtuous than the two of them!"