Mencius: One Prospers in Calamities and Perishes in Comfort
2018-10-20

The philosopher Mencius told people in 300 BC that one prospers during calamities and hardship and that one perishes when living at ease and comfort. However, in modern days, people tend to be led by inertia and laziness. People try to seek pleasure and escape from suffering, and thus they live a life in vain.

Mencius said that when Heaven is about to confer great responsibilities to a man, the individual must learn about suffering and physical hardship, be exposed to hunger and poverty, and experience disorder in his life. All these methods stimulate the mind, harden the nature, and develop his great potential.

Mencius believes that humans make mistakes but can correct themselves based on past experience. When they are distressed and perplexed, they will rise and achieve great accomplishments.

When men have seen, heard about, and experienced hardship, they can understand and rise to new heights. Hardship and calamity help one develop great skills and abilities, while ease and comfort have the opposite effect.

In modern China, because of the improvement of material benefits, many people have not experienced hardship, especially those who grew up under the one-child policy. These children have gradually developed selfishness and a domineering character.

In many people’s minds, pursuing pleasure and happiness is the primary aim of human life. They want to reap without sowing and pursue overnight success and extreme luxury. Many young people are not willing to work hard and complain a lot about their lot in life. They feel resentful whenever they encounter a little difficulty in life, refuse to excel in the workplace, and feel that they have been taken advantage of by others.

Hardship is not a bad thing, as one can develop a strong will, and it can strengthen one’s mind and help one succeed. In fact, most things that are good for people are less comfortable. For instance, morning exercises and other sports are tiring, but they are good for one’s health.

Strict supervisors may not be pleasing but can help subordinates develop efficiency. Good medicine tastes bitter because it results in a cure, and unpalatable advice helps people see their faults and do things better.

People have karma, which leads to hardship. Enduring the hardship can eliminate karma. If a person has never endured hardship but only enjoys happiness, the outcome will probably be the opposite.

“Eliminating the calamity earlier, curing the illness earlier, and enduring the hardship earlier” is a good thing.

Ancient Chinese Government Officials From Humble Backgrounds

According to Mencius, in the chapter of Gaozi II, Mencius spoke of Emperor Shun, one of the ancient Five Emperors. He was discovered while working on a farm.

Fu Yue was promoted from a laborer skilled in building defensive walls to the position of a government minister in the Shang Dynasty.

Jiao Ge was a fish and salt trader before he became a Grand Counselor during the Shang Dynasty under King Zhou.

Guan Yiwu, also called Guan Zhong, became a famous prime minister under Duke Huan of Qi. He became a prime minister after he was released from prison. He was known for his reforms and skillful diplomacy.

In the Spring and Autumn Period, Sunshu Ao became the well-known prime minister of the Hegemony of Chu. He was a hermit before he was selected to serve the country.

Baili Xi was a slave who later became a very important minister under Duke Mu of Qin.

生于忧患 死于安乐

孟子于公元前三百多年时就告诫人们:生于忧患,死于安乐。但现代人往往任由惰性主导,贪图享乐而逃避苦难,结果错失人生。

据《孟子·告子下》记载,上古五帝之一的舜是从农耕的田野中被发现的,殷商时期著名贤臣傅说是从泥水匠中被选拔出来的,周文王推荐给纣王的重臣胶鬲是从鱼盐贩子中被选拔出来的,鲍叔牙推荐给成为齐桓公重臣的管夷吾是从狱官手里释放出来加以任用、成为中国历史上著名宰相的,春秋时期楚国名相孙叔敖是从隐居的海边被提拔上来的,秦穆公手下的贤臣百里奚是从奴隶集市场被赎出后加以重用的。

孟子说,上天将要降临重大责任在这个人身上,一定要先使他的内心痛苦,使他的筋骨劳累,使他经受饥饿而体肤消瘦,使他缺乏钱财、受贫困之苦,使他所行不顺、做事错乱,用这些来使他的内心受到震撼,使他的性格坚韧,增长他过去所没有的才能。

孟子认为,人常常犯错误,这样以后才会改正;心意困惑,思虑堵塞,然后才能奋发;(心绪)显露在脸色上,表达在声音中,才能被人了解。忧虑患害使人发展,安逸享乐使人灭亡。

现代中国,由于物质条件提高了,很多人几乎从出生就没吃过什么苦,大多数独生子女更是在蜜罐中长大的,逐渐的养成了自私、霸道、强势的性格,更不懂得“生于忧患,死于安乐”的道理。在很多人的观念当中,追求享乐是理所当然的,错把“不劳而获”、“一夜成名”、“穷奢极欲”等当成价值取向。很多人年纪轻轻就不愿努力付出,而且还爱抱怨,生活中遇到点苦难或者工作上稍微多做点事就开始愤愤不平,觉得自己吃了很大的亏。

其实吃苦并非什么坏事。从现实上说,苦难可以磨炼一个人的意志,使之内心变得坚强、能够成事。

事实上真正对人有益的事情,多半都是不太让人舒服的。例如,晨练等运动虽然辛苦,但却可以让身体健康;上司对下属严厉让人心有不快,但却可以培养人做事严谨高效的习惯;良药苦口利于病,忠言逆耳利于行。

再往深层去探讨,人是有业力的。有业力就有苦难,人在吃苦时就可以消业。如果一个人活在世上只是享福而从不吃苦,结局多半会很糟糕的。说句笑话,“有难早消,有病早治,有苦早吃”,是好事不是坏事。
    来源: 看中国 责编: Kitt

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