人命关天 – Chinese philosophy and culture

rénmìng-guāntiān 人命关天

Life Is as Important as Heaven.

人之生死,事关重大。“人命”即人的性命,“天”比喻极其重要的事物。同“人命至重”。中国古人认为,人是天地之间最尊贵的生命存在,而生命属于每个人只有一次,最可宝贵。所以,断案、用兵、行医等,但凡事关人命,都要格外慎重。它体现了尊重人、尊重生命的中华人文精神。

Life and death are of the utmost importance. “Life” refers to the lives of people, and “heaven” means the most important matters. The meaning of this phrase is similar to the expression that “life is of supreme importance.” The ancient Chinese regarded human beings as the most exalted form of life in the world. Life is the most precious because each person only has one life. Therefore, in judging cases, using military force, practicing medicine, etc., special caution must be exercised when lives are at stake. This exemplifies the humanistic Chinese spirit of respecting people and respecting life.

引例 Citations:

◎且人命至重,难生易杀,气绝而不续者也,是以圣贤重之。(《三国志·魏书·王朗传附子肃》)

(而且人命至关重要,养活不易但杀死很容易,死了不可能复生,所以圣贤很看重人的生命。)

And human life is of the utmost importance. It is hard to sustain life but easy to kill. The dead cannot come back to life; hence the sages took it very seriously. (The History of the Three Kingdoms)

◎人命至重,有贵千金。一方济之,德逾于此,故以为名也。(孙思邈《千金方·序》)

(人命至关重要,比千金还要珍贵。开一个药方,把病人治好,这种恩德超过千金,故我将本书取名为《千金方》。)

Human life is the most important, more valuable than a thousand pieces of gold. Writing a prescription which cures a patient is a good deed which is more valuable than a thousand pieces of gold. Therefore the title of my book is Qianjinfang (literally Essential Formulas for Emergencies Worth a Thousand Pieces of Gold, shortened as Essential Formulas for Emergencies). (Sun Simiao: Essential Formulas for Emergencies)

◎人命关天,非同儿戏。(《红楼梦》第六十九回)

(人的生死,事关重大,跟小孩子玩游戏可不一样。)

Life and death are of the utmost importance; they are not children’s games. (Dream of the Red Chamber)

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