治大国若烹小鲜 – Chinese philosophy and culture

zhì dà guó ruò pēng xiǎo xiān 治大国若烹小鲜

Governing a Big Country Is Like Cooking Small Fish.

治理大国就像烹制小鱼一样。“小鲜”即小鱼。这是老子基于“无为”理念阐发的治理大国的基本原则。烹制小鱼,必须注意调和好各种佐料,精心掌握好火候,使每条小鱼都入味;同时不能多加搅动,多搅则易烂。与此相类,大国幅员辽阔,人口众多,各地域、阶层的差别大,治国者要精心周到,统筹兼顾,使政策措施惠及每一个人;国家大政方针一旦确立,施政者不要过多干预社会生活。

Governing a big country is like cooking small fish. This is a fundamental principle of state governance based on the concept of “non-action” advocated by Laozi. When cooking small fish, one needs to mix various kinds of ingredients, carefully control time of cooking and degree of heating, so that every small fish is equally tasty. One should not stir the fish too much in cooking so that they will not fall apart into small pieces. Similarly, as a big country has a vast territory, a large population, and wide differences among regions and social groups, those who govern the land must be meticulous and thoughtful and take all factors into consideration, so that their policies and measures benefit everyone. Once fundamental policies for governance are adopted, those who govern should not intervene excessively in social activities.

引例 Citation:

◎治大国,若烹小鲜。以道莅天下,其鬼不神;非其鬼不神,其神不伤人;非其神不伤人,圣人亦不伤人。夫两不相伤,故德交归焉。(《老子》第六十章)

(治理大国,就像煎烹小鱼。用“道”治理天下,鬼神起不了作用;不仅鬼神不起作用,而且鬼神的作用伤不了人;不但鬼神的作用伤害不了人,圣人有道也不会伤害人。这样,鬼神和圣人都不伤害人,所以所有的德惠都归于民众。)

Governing a big country is like cooking small fish. When the country is ruled by Dao, demons can neither disrupt it nor harm the people. Even sages acting in Dao principles will not bring harm to people either. Free from harms by demons and sages, people stand to gain all benefits. (Laozi)

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