December 12, 2010

DIVISION 17 (第十七)

The best of all rulers is but a shadowy presence to his subjects.
Next comes the ruler they love and praise.
Next comes one they fear;
And then ones they despise.
If you don't stand sincere by your words
How sincere can the people be?
Hesitant, he does not utter words lightly.
When his task is accomplished and his work done,
The people all say, “It happened to us naturally.”

COMMENTARY by Koeng S. Wan:
The best indicator of a ruler's effectiveness is that his administration is the least noticed (and credited) by those ruled given the conditions of the day.  As a
shèng rén (sage), an effective ruler uses words sparingly as they can be a source of misunderstanding (Division 2), but when he does, he uses them to gain the trust of those ruled (Division 8) and to promote social harmony.

Order is best achieved when contention is minimized among those ruled (Division 8). Division 3 specifies essential conditions for such a rule in that the people tend to be well-fed, physically strong, and are so satisfied that their ambitions don't stir social disruption. Both Divisions 3 and 13 warn rulers that their own ambitions can be a source of contention, with the latter division emphasizing that the ruler selflessly rules as a shèng rén out of love for those he governs, honoring and benefiting those ruled as they were himself.