Clev­er­ness VS Wis­dom

智巧与智慧

Special Focus - - Contents - Liu Yun­sheng 刘云生

The prin­ci­ple that prestigious fam­i­lies give to their offspring to pre­pare them as high-rank of­fi­cials nor­mally comes in three ways: re­spect the law, moral­ity, and worldly wis­dom. This is the well-known three-in­one “emo­tion, rea­son, and law” prin­ci­ple.

To speak of it, it is clear and con­cise, but to re­ally put it into prac­tice is ex­tremely dif­fi­cult. To do the right thing and avoid evil is some­thing that most of us are able to do. To be able to main­tain one’s in­tegrity and val­ues in a di­verse and com­plex po­lit­i­cal at­mos­phere, while still tak­ing ac­tion to do the things you need to do and pre­serv­ing one and one’s fam­ily in­volves our senses of rea­son, cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties, and good judg­ment.

Some types of be­hav­ior are fair and just, while be­ing com­pletely above the law, but no mat­ter how you look at it, it al­ways seems to come across as some­what im­proper, bor­der­ing on hyp­o­crit­i­cal and fraud­u­lent, quite like a ‘schem­ing civil ser­vant.’

Dur­ing the Song dynasty, Teng Zi­jing built the Yueyang Tower, turn­ing Teng Zi­jing into a house­hold name. Fame, though, does not nec­es­sar­ily equate to a good rep­u­ta­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to records in Sima Guang’s

Records of Ru­mors from Sus hui, Teng Zi­jing didn’t use any of the lo­cal gov­ern­ment’s funds to build the Yueyang Tower, nei­ther did he dis­trib­ute the costs among the com­mon­ers. Where did the money come from? He sug­gested that any long un­paid debts of the com­mon­ers could be do­nated, in­stead, to the gov­ern­ment for the con­struc­tion of the tower. This not only al­lowed peo­ple to pay off the debts weigh­ing heav­ily on their con­sciences, but also proved to be an op­por­tu­nity to do some­thing char­i­ta­ble. Peo­ple were able to have their names etched into stone tablets, hav­ing their name left be­hind for ages, while also bring­ing bless­ings for one’s prog­eny.

His method was quite ef­fec­tive, with large sums of money flow­ing in like a steady stream. As a mat­ter of fact, it was quite in­ge­nious of the clever Teng Zi­jing, just not quite eth­i­cal. He took all of the money and kept it locked up tight, by him­self, with only him left to be in charge of all rev­enues and ex­pen­di­tures. There was not even a sin­gle digit writ­ten down in the ac­count­ing books. The Yueyang Tower was con­structed mag­nif­i­cently be­yond com­pare and Teng Zi­jing made a king’s ran­som. The av­er­age man did not find him to be greedy, in­stead think­ing of him as quite a ca­pa­ble per­son.

This is our so-called ‘schem­ing civil ser­vant.’ How­ever you look at it, what he did was fair, rea­son­able, and law­ful, it even amounted to a char­i­ta­ble deed—he made a good name for him­self and fat­tened up his wal­let.

This is clev­er­ness, but it is not wis­dom, as what he did harmed the in­tegrity and moral­ity of his name.

In the reign of Qian­long dur­ing the Qing dynasty, Zhao Da­jing be­came the Vice-pres­i­dent of the Court of Cen­sors, equiv­a­lent to to­day’s Deputy Min­is­ter of Af­fairs at the Min­istry of Su­per­vi­sion. His stu­dent, Yong Gui, was the gover­nor of Zhe­jiang. Be­fore tak­ing of­fice he went to bid farewell to his teacher and ask for ad­vice about the proper gov­er­nance of state.

Vice-pres­i­dent Zhao asked his stu­dent: “A new of­fi­cial upon as­sum­ing of­fice sets

three fires, what will your first fire be?”

Yong Gui replied: “To pun­ish the cor­rupt.”

His teacher and vice-pres­i­dent laughed: “Let me give you a sug­ges­tion, you must ab­so­lutely not touch any­one who al­ready has re­ceived any em­bez­zled money or goods.”

The would-be gover­nor dumb­founded: “Then which cor­rupt am I sup­posed to be go­ing af­ter?”

The vice-pres­i­dent and teacher be­gan his en­light­en­ment of of­fi­cial­dom: “Cur­rent of­fi­cial cir­cles have al­ready be­come a large web of profit, it is in­de­struc­tible and you must most cer­tainly not act im­pru­dently. So, just for­get about fight­ing cor­rup­tion. But, you can’t idle about do­ing noth­ing, I would ad­vise you to go af­ter thieves and rob­bers—they don’t have any back­ers or sup­port­ers. Ar­rest­ing them will be your con­tri­bu­tion to so­ci­ety and count as one of your pro­fes­sional achieve­ments, all with­out the slight­est con­se­quence or risk.”

The vice-pres­i­dent and teacher’s words had Yong Gui on his knees: “But for your ad­vice, how could I know that these of­fi­cial cir­cles are as deep as the oceans—I might mess up and die in the wa­ters with­out even know­ing who’s harmed me?”

Vice-pres­i­dent Zhao was sup­posed to be teach­ing his stu­dents the way of proper state gov­er­nance, seem­ingly com­bin­ing emo­tion and rea­son. In ac­tu­al­ity, he is noth­ing more than a ‘schem­ing civil ser­vant.’ Clev­er­ness does not count as wis­dom. It main­tains one’s po­si­tion as a gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial and pro­tects the prof­its it brings, while dam­ag­ing moral­ity, jus­tice, and con­science. In­di­vid­u­ally it stands to rea­son, but for a coun­try it is noth­ing more than courting dis­as­ter.

Are there any gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials that stick to their prin­ci­ples while main­tain­ing a good rep­u­ta­tion? Cer­tainly. Dur­ing the Song dynasty, Qian Ru­oshui was fa­mous for his benev­o­lence and fil­ial piety, he viewed avoid­ing a greedy at­ti­tude as a trea­sure, he treated peo­ple sin­cerely, and was hon­est and straight­for­ward in his deal­ings with oth­ers. He was the state judge of Tong Zhou and was in charge of ju­di­cial ad­min­is­tra­tion. A col­league of his once tried bor­row­ing money from a wealthy man, but the wealthy man knew that it would be no more than throw­ing steamed meat buns to a dog and de­cided to not lend the money. A lit­tle time af­ter, a maid­ser­vant of the wealthy man went on the run. This co-worker of his abet­ted the par­ents of the maid­ser­vant to file a law­suit against the rich fam­ily claim­ing that it was the fa­ther and son who killed their daugh­ter and hid the body. Through tor­ture, the rich man con­fessed to the false charges and was given the death penalty.

Qian Ru­oshui, find­ing the case to be all too sus­pi­cious, bot­tled it up. His col­league came over to his res­i­dence, scream­ing ob­scen­i­ties claim­ing that he and the wealthy man have a mighty am­bigu­ous re­la­tion­ship.

Qian Ru­oshui laughed and said: “When this knife drops, there will be many be­headed, why don’t you let me have a good look for my­self, al­right?”

Later, Qian Ru­oshui se­cretly sent men to find the run-away maid­ser­vant and put the case into the hands of the mag­is­trate, the mayor him­self. A case rife with un­just, fake, and fal­si­fied charges was thus re­dressed. The mag­is­trate took off the stocks and chains right then and there, the wealthy man and his fam­ily cried bit­terly, kow­tow­ing in­ces­santly, over­whelmed with grat­i­tude. The mag­is­trate, not be­ing able to take it any­more said, “It was not I who saved

your fam­ily, it was judge Qian.” The wealthy fam­ily went to visit and pay their re­spects to Qian Ru­oshui, but Qian Ru­oshui kept his door shut and did not come out, only pass­ing on the mes­sage, “It is all thanks to the mayor’s dis­cern­ing eye, it does not have even the slight­est to do with me.” The wealthy fam­ily went around the cor­ner weep­ing, not be­ing able to leave for a long time.

Later, when the mayor wanted to rec­om­mend Qian Ru­oshui for pro­mo­tion he just shook his head and waved his hand say­ing, “Sir, I only wish to save the in­no­cent from an un­just death, and this is what I ought to do, I never imag­ined win­ning and hon­ors or be­ing pro­moted. If you in­sist on re­port­ing this case to the up­per au­thor­ity for my pro­mo­tion, what would hap­pen to my col­league and his fam­ily?”

This is the fa­mous his­tor­i­cal story of Qian Ru­oshui’s dis­cern­ing in­jus­tice. Qian Ru­oshui chose to ex­pel the evil with the good, sav­ing lives, pro­tect­ing jus­tice, and moreso show­ing so­lic­i­tude for hu­man na­ture, hav­ing good sense, which not only avoided the calamity of the de­struc­tion of the en­tire wealthy fam­ily but also pro­tected the en­tire fam­ily of his col­league’s.

Qian Ru­oshui didn’t take road of a ‘ schem­ing civil ser­vant,’ he was not op­por­tunis­tic and he didn’t make com­pro­mises, main­tain­ing both his pro­fes­sional achieve­ments and his moral­ity. He was ra­tio­nal and law-abid­ing, the per­fect ex­am­ple of the three-in-one “emo­tion, rea­son, and law” prin­ci­ple.

This is the breadth of a wise man and is more so the mag­na­nim­ity of no­bil­ity.

(From Shen­zhenSpe­cialZoneDaily

April 11, 2017.Trans­la­tion:Sam Bow­den) ,

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