乐生 – Chinese philosophy and culture

lèshēng 乐生

To Delight in Life

乐于生存,乐意活着。想活不想死,乃人之常情。它既是打天下者救民于水火、赢得民心、确立自身正当性的基点,也是执政者必须严守的一条底线:不能让老百姓走投无路,觉得生无可恋。为此,执政者至少应注意两点:要创造一切机会,让百姓得以生存;百姓有难,国家要全力救助。否则,国家、社会的基本秩序不可能维持,更不可能达到有效治理。它是“爱人”“民本”思想的体现,与“好生”异曲同工。

Wanting to live and not to die is only natural. A cardinal principle for those who took power was to save the people from disasters and win their trust. It was also what made governance legitimate. One should not drive the people to desperation so that they lose their will to live. Therefore the ruler should bear two things in mind: create all possible opportunities for people to survive, and when they are in difficulties, the state should do everything to help them. Otherwise basic order in state and society cannot be maintained, to say nothing of effective governance. This is the manifestation of the beliefs “caring for others” and “people first” as well as “cherishing life.”

引例 Citations:

◎凡人恶死而乐生,好德而归利。能生利者,道也。道之所在,天下归之。(《六韬·文韬·文师》)

(凡是人都厌恶死亡而乐于生存,喜好恩德而趋向利益。能为天下人谋求利益的,就代表了道义。谁代表了道义,天下人就会拥戴谁。)

Everybody wants to stay alive and hates to die, and also loves to be a man of virtue and gains benefits. To win benefits for the people is a just cause to pursue. He who represents justice is loved and respected by the people. (The Six Strategies)

◎人不乐生,则人主不尊;不重死,则令不行也。(《韩非子·安危》)

(人民都不想活了,君主也就得不到尊崇了;人们都不怕死了,政令也就得不到推行了。)

If people no longer want to live, how could one expect them to respect the ruler? If people are no longer afraid to die, how could one expect them to follow government orders? (Hanfeizi)

◎民不畏死,不可惧以罪;民不乐生,不可观(劝)以善。(荀悦《申鉴·政体》)

(人民不怕死了,靠治罪不可能让他们害怕;人民不愿意活着,靠劝导不可能让他们向善。)

If people are not afraid of death, they cannot be frightened with punishments. If people do not want to live, they cannot be persuaded to behave themselves. (Xun Yue: Lessons Offered)

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