This means respecting and valuing one’s own life as well as that of others. Since each person has only one life to live, he does not easily give up his life and will not take away other people’s lives. He who is in power should respect people’s lives and do his utmost to uphold the people’s legitimate right to life. He must not do anything harmful to people’s life and health. On the other hand, he should not just allow his life to drift along without moral purpose.
“I have noticed that people often say that one must not hurt the nurtured in order to take the stuff used to nurture them.” …People like Danfu, grandfather of King Wen of Zhou, truly respect life. He who respects life, though wealthy, does not harm his health because of enjoying luxury; he who respects life, though poor, does not exhaust his body in the seek of wealth and position. (Zhuangzi)
The sage considered carefully about the things under heaven and thought that there was nothing more precious than life… State power was regarded as the most important, but the sage would not risk his life to secure it, let alone other things. State power should be entrusted to those who do not try to secure the power by endangering their own lives. (Master Lü’s Spring and Autumn Annals)
Therefore, what is meant by respecting life is preserving life, which, in turn, means satisfying people’s justified desires. (Master Lü’s Spring and Autumn Annals)