Correcting a King's Faults with Righteousness and Selflessly Serving the People 匡正君过 无私为民
2016-10-03

Correcting a King's Faults with Righteousness and Selflessly Serving the People
 
Yan Ying, otherwise known as Yan Zi (578 – 500 BC), was the Prime Minister of the State of Qi during the Spring and Autumn Period (771 – 476 BC). Assisting the kings of the State of Qi for dozens of years, Yan Zi did not avoid criticizing the kings' faults frankly, showed compassion to the people and he administrated the country with honesty, uprightness, and selflessness. Free from corruption, he left behind numerous touching and inspiring stories.
 
One day, King Jinggong of Qi held a banquet and invited his friends and officers. Drinking happily, he said, "Feel free to drink as much as you want. Don't take etiquette too seriously."
 
Yan Zi quickly responded, "It is etiquette that differentiates humans from animals. Nowadays a five-foot-tall child in the Qi kingdom is stronger than you and I, but because of etiquette they dare not run amok. Animals take the strongest as their leaders and the strong eat the weak. As a result, they keep changing their leaders. If our officers disregard etiquette, our country will surely be in chaos and the king could be replaced. When that happens, how would you handle it? As a result, people cannot live without etiquette and rules."
 
Hearing Yan Zi's criticism, King Jinggong felt that it dampened the mood, so he turned away from Yan Zi and stopped paying attention to him. Soon King Jinggong had to leave. Everyone but Yan Zi stood up and saw him off. When King Jinggong returned, Yan Zi did not stand up to receive him. King Jinggong asked everyone to raise their wine glasses for a toast, but Yan Zi acted as if he was alone and drank his glass before everyone else.
 
Witnessing Yan Zi's poor manners, King Jinggong was furious. "You just said how important etiquette and rules are, but now you ignore them yourself!"
 
Yan Zi left his seat and quickly bowed, "Your Majesty. Please don't be angry. I dare not be offensive. All I did was to demonstrate what the lack of etiquette would lead to. If your majesty should disregard etiquette, it would be like this."
 
King Jinggong suddenly realized, "Apparently it was my fault. Please be seated. I'll listen to your advice."
 
From then on, King Jinggong perfected the system of etiquette and consolidated rules to administrate the State of Qi. All government officials followed etiquette and all the people obeyed the laws.
 
Knowing that King Jinggong was fond of extravagance, Yan Zi used his own frugality to influence King Jinggong. As the primer minister, Yan Zi lived near the busy downtown in an old house with low ceilings which he inherited from his ancestors. When King Jinggong tried to move him to a much bigger and brighter house, Yan Zi declined, "My ancestors used to live here. It's already too much for me to live here as I don't contribute much to the country, let alone that I should live in a better house. One should not pursue extravagance. Besides, it's pretty convenient to shop here. It helps me to understand the lives of everyday people as well." Later, while Yan Zi was on a diplomatic mission to the State of Jin, King Jinggong took advantage of this opportunity to relocate Yan Zi's neighbors in order to build a large beautiful house at the same premise. On his way back, Yan Zi learned of this so he parked his carriage outside the city and dispatched his subordinate to request King Jinggong to demolish the new house, to rebuild his neighbors' homes, and to ask them to move back. After several requests, King Jinggong agreed and Yan Zi finally entered the city.
 
While Yan Zi managed to build up prosperity for the State of Qi, he lived a very frugal life. One day, Yan Zi had just sat down for lunch when an envoy from King Jinggong arrived to discuss state affairs. Having learned that the officer had not had lunch, Yan Zi offered to share half of his lunch. In the end, the officer was not full, and neither was Yan Zi. When the officer reported this to King Jinggong, he was very astonished, "I never knew the prime minister is so poor. It's my fault." Right away King Jinggong ordered his envoy to send a large amount of gold and rice to Yan Zi. They were all refused by Yan Zi. The envoy tried three times, but Yan Zi declined each time.
 
Finally, Yan Zi went to thank King Jinggong in person. The king replied, "I didn't know you were so poor. With our kingdom being so rich, this small offer of gifts really means nothing."
 
Yan Zi replied, "Your majesty, thank you for your concern. In fact I don't have any hardship at all. In my understanding, if I give away the gifts from your majesty, it's an act of deceiving your majesty and pleasing other people. As an honest officer, I cannot do that. If I get a lot of things and keep them for my own luxury, I wouldn't be a moral person. Besides why do I need so much money? As the saying goes, the subordinates follow what the superiors do. You ask me to administer all the officials so I have to be free of corruption for the kingdom. This way I can be a role model for the officials. On the other hand, if I should pursue an extravagant life, all of them would follow my example. How would I lead them then?" King Jinggong nodded his head. After this, his life became less extravagant.
 
King Jinggong loved to indulge in a life of pleasure. One day he had been drinking in the palace late into the night. The king was in the mood for more alcohol so he went with his servants to Yan Zi's home to drink some more. Going out to receive the king, Yan Zi asked, "Your majesty, is there something urgent to make you visit me so late at night?" "Wine is delicious and the sound of gold is splendid. I just want to enjoy both with my prime minister," the king replied. Normally when the king personally came to an officer's home to drink with him, it would be the greatest honor. Yet Yan Zi was rather unhappy. He replied seriously to the king, "There are so many people around your majesty who can drink with you. It's not my duty to do so. I dare not follow the order."
 
After being discouraged by Yan Zi, King Jinggong then turned to another favorite officer of his, Tian Rangju. When the king arrived, Tian quickly wore his military uniform and grabbed his halberd to receive the king. He anxiously asked, "Is another state trying to attack us? Is there a riot?" Smiling, the king said, "Not at all." Pretending to be puzzled, Tian continued, "Then why does your majesty personally come to his officer late at night?" "Nothing. I just want to drink and relax with my general for doing his tireless job," the king answered. Exactly as Yan Zi had said, Tian replied, "There are so many people around your majesty who can drink with you. It's not my duty to do so. I dare not follow the order."
 
Surprised at the rejection from his officers, the king was very unhappy. Finally he went to the home of Liang Qiuju, where Liang happily received him. Delighted, King Jinggong drank to his satisfaction, beat the drums and played music in person. "Do moral people also like this?" he asked Liang. Liang pandered, "With the same eyes and ears as any other human, why don't they?" They enjoyed drinking the whole night.
 
Later, King Jinggong wanted to promote Liang so he praised him in front of Yan Zi, "While some people do not prepare for what I like, he would give me what he owns. Therefore he is loyal to me. Whenever I have needs, he shows up next to me. So I know he cares about me." Yan Zi replied, "When an officer has all of the king's time, it's disloyal; when one son has his father all the time, it's unfilial. As a key minister, it is loyal to guide the king to treat his officers with respect, to be compassionate to his people, and to be trustworthy for his governors so that everyone will be loyal to the king and love the king. Today among all the ministers and people in the State, only Liang is "loyal" to you. What is going on? It's wise to consider what’s good or bad for the State as criteria of punishments and rewards." King Jinggong understood and decided not to reward Liang.
 
Once Yan Zi was accompanying King Jinggong to tour Mai Qiu when an elder came by. He said, "Long live your majesty. I hope that you won't offend your people." Confused, King Jinggong said, "It's possible that people can be prosecuted for offending their king. I've never heard any king offending his people." Yan Zi asked: "Did Jie (the last emperor of the Xia Dynasty) and Zhou (the last emperor of Shang Dynasty) offend kings or their people? Were they killed by kings or the ordinary people?" Suddenly awakened, King Jinggong rewarded the elder with Mai Qiu as fiefdom to thank him for his advice and wisdom.
 
In front of Yan Zi's frank criticism, King Jinggong sometimes felt embarrassed so he tried hard to punish Yan Zi. Nevertheless he knew what Yan Zi said made sense no matter how it offended the ears. As a result, King Jinggong often admired Yan Zi for his courage of offending the king for the sake of the country and its people.
 
When Yan Zi passed away. King Jinggong learned about the sad news while he was sightseeing. He urged his servant to return as quickly as possible. Complaining that the horse was running too slowly, King Jinggong jumped out of the carriage and ran on his own feet. Still he was not as fast as the carriage so he got back into the carriage. He tried four times this way to outrace the horse. Finally he was crying while running as he entered Yan Zi’s home, "Sir Yan Zi kept advising me day and night, urging me on even a small detail. Yet I have been indulging in pleasure all the time. Disaster fell on him instead of me. The Kingdom of Qi is in peril. Without Yan Zi, who can the people complain to?"
 
Taking the people as essential, Yan Zi focused on ordinary people in his frank criticism of the king, his governing of the state, and his own actions. With his kindness, his wisdom, and his good deeds for the people, he has been memorialized among ordinary people ever since.
 

匡正君过 无私为民
 
晏子是战国时期齐国的宰相,辅佐齐国君主几十年,他勇谏君过,体恤民众,为政清廉,正直无私,留下了许多感动人心、启人心智的故事。
 
一次,齐景公举行酒宴,饮到高兴处,便对大臣们说:「请各位大夫痛快的畅饮,不必讲究礼节!」
 
晏子听后马上进言说:「人之所以比动物高贵,就是因为存在礼节。现在齐国五尺高的儿童,力气却都超过我,也胜过您,如此却不敢做乱的原因,就是敬畏礼节。禽兽都是以雄健有力者为首,弱肉强食,所以天天都在更换首领。大臣们如果抛弃礼法,国家必乱,就有更换国君的危险,敢问您将如何处理呢?所以人不能离开礼法的约束。」
 
景公觉的很扫兴,转过脸去不听,也不理晏子。过了一会儿,景公有事出去,除了晏子安坐不动之外,其他大臣都站起身来相送。等景公办完事回来时,晏子也不起身相迎。景公招呼大家一齐举杯,晏子却旁若无人,先把酒喝了。
 
景公见晏子这样没有礼貌,怒对晏子说:「你刚才还大讲特讲礼法是如何重要,而你自己却一点都不讲礼法。」
 
晏子离开席位,连忙施礼说:「臣不敢无礼,请大王息怒。我只不过是想把不讲礼节的实际状况做给大王看看。大王如果不要礼节,就是这个样子。」
 
景公听了恍然大悟,忙说:「看来是我的错啊!先生请入座,我听从你的劝谏。」
 
从这以后,景公完善礼制,整顿法度来治理齐国,由此官员守礼,百姓肃然。
 
晏子看到景公爱好奢华,就常以自身节俭去规劝景公。他身为相国,但住的房子还是从先人那里继承来的在闹市附近的低矮的旧房。景公要给他换一座高大明亮的宅第,晏子不同意,说:「我的先人住在这里,我对国家没有甚么功劳,住在这里已经过份了,怎么还能住更好的房子呢?人不能追求奢华,再说这里买东西方便,又能体察民情。」过了不久,晏子出使晋国,景公利用这个机会派人迁走了晏子左右的邻居,在原地从新盖了一座大宅第。在出使归来的路上,晏子听到了这个消息,便把车停在城外,派人请求景公把新宅拆掉,请搬走的百姓再搬回来住,给百姓建房子。经多次请求,景公同意了,晏子才驱车进城。
 
晏子把齐国治理的国富民强,然而自己的家里却非常清贫。一天,晏子刚坐下来吃饭,景公派来找他商量国事的使臣到了。晏子听说使臣还没吃饭,就把自己的饭分一半给他吃,结果,使臣没吃饱,晏子也没吃饱。使臣回去就把这个情况告诉景公,景公很吃惊,说:「我一直不知道相国家里这样穷,这是我的过错。」马上派人送去一千两黄金和一千石粮食,晏子说甚么也不收,使臣送了三次,被晏子拒绝了三次。
 
最后,晏子亲自去向景公道谢。景公说:「我不知道您的家里这样穷困,国家这么富有,这点财物算甚么呀?」
 
晏子说:「谢谢您的关心,我的生活一点也不困难。我听说,从君主那里得到很多财物,要是送给别人,那是瞒着君主,讨好别人,忠正的大臣是不干这种事的;要是自己得到很多财物,而不送给别人,储藏起来供自己挥霍享受,有道德的人是不会这样干的,我要那么多财物干甚么呢?有句话叫上行下效,您派我管理百官,我应该廉洁奉公,这样才能给百官做好榜样。如果我追求奢华,百官要是都跟着学,我怎样去管理他们呢?」景公听了觉的很有道理,自己生活也有所收敛。
 
景公贪图享乐,一天,在宫中饮酒取乐,一直喝到晚上意犹未尽,便带着随从来到晏子家,要与晏子夜饮一番。晏子忙迎接出门,问景公:「国君为何深更半夜来到臣家?」景公说:「酒醴之味,金石之声,美妙的很,我想和相国一起享受一番。」按说国君亲自跑来找臣子喝酒,这是臣子莫大的荣耀,是求之不得的事。不料,晏子却不高兴,反而板起面孔,对景公说:「陪国君饮酒享乐,国君身边有这样的人,此等事非臣之职份,臣不敢从命。」
 
在晏子这儿吃了闭门羹,景公又想起了田穰苴,于是又来到田穰苴的家中。田穰苴听说景公深夜到访,忙穿上戎装,持戟迎接出门,急问:「有诸侯国发兵了吗?有大臣叛乱了吗?」景公笑着说:「没有。」田穰苴佯装不解,又问:「那么深夜屈驾到臣子家中,为甚么呀?」景公说:「没有别的原因,只是念将军军务劳苦,想与将军饮酒享乐放松一下。」田穰苴接下来的回答与晏子的回答如出一辙:「陪国君饮酒享乐,国君身边有这样的人,此等事非臣之职份,臣不敢从命。」
 
景公想不到在臣子的家门前竟吃了两次闭门羹,不由意兴索然。最后还是到梁丘据家,梁丘据曲意逢迎,景公感到很快乐,把酒欢呼,亲自击缶奏乐。他问梁丘据说:「仁德的人也喜欢这样吗?」梁丘据就投其所好说:「仁人的眼睛耳朵,也像一般人一样,为甚么会不喜欢这样呢?」于是喝了个通宵达旦。
 
后来,景公想封赏梁丘据,在晏子面前夸他说:「我喜欢的东西,别人没有给我准备,他会拿他自己的给我,所以我认为他对我忠诚。无论何时,每当我有所需求的时候,他都会出现在我的身边,我因而知道他对我有多么爱护。」晏子说:「臣子独占国君,就叫作不忠;儿子独占父亲,就叫作不孝。作为大臣,引导国君礼遇臣下,施惠百姓,取信于诸侯,让天下人都忠于国君、都爱护国君才叫作忠诚。现在,全国的大臣和百姓,就他自己忠于您爱护您了,为甚么呢?应该以对国家有利或有害作为赏罚标准才对啊!」景公明白了,于是没有封赏梁丘据。
 
晏子在陪同景公到麦丘游览的时候,遇到了一位老者。老者说:「希望您长寿,希望您不要得罪百姓。」景公说:「如果说百姓得罪君主还有可能,哪里有君主得罪百姓的说法呢?」晏子说:「桀、纣是得罪了君王还是得罪了百姓呢?是被君王杀死的,还是被百姓杀死的呢?」景公如梦方醒,将麦丘赏给了老者作为封地,感谢他给了自己忠告和智慧。
 
面对晏子的犯颜直谏,景公有时觉的很失面子,感到非常难堪,总想找机会治治晏子。但当他想到晏子说的话,又觉的句句都很在理,确是逆耳忠言,于是又佩服他为国为民的勇气。
 
晏子去世了,景公在游玩时听说了这一消息,就催促赶快驾车回去。景公自认为马跑的太慢,就下车自己跑,但还是没有车子跑的快,就又上了车,先后四次下车急跑。最后是边跑边哭,进了晏子家,放声大哭说:「先生不分白天黑夜的规劝我,细小的过失也不放过,我还是放纵自己而不知收敛。灾祸没落在我的头上,却落在先生的身上,齐国危险了,百姓将向谁去诉说啊!」
 
晏子主张以民为本,他在谏言中、在治理国家中、在身体力行中无不体现出以天下苍生为重,他的美德,他的智慧,他为百姓做的好事,人们一直怀念至今。
    来源: 看中国 责编: Kitt

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