Analects 13.15

Original Text:

定公问一言而可以兴邦有诸孔子对曰言不可以若是其几也人之言曰为君难为臣不易如知为君之难也不几乎一言而兴邦乎

曰一言而丧邦有诸孔子对曰言不可以若是其几也人之言曰予无乐乎为君唯其言而莫予违也如其善而莫之违也不亦善乎如不善而莫之违也不几乎一言而丧邦乎

Translation:

Other Translations:

Duke Ding asked, “A single saying that can cause a state to flourish—is there such a thing as this?”

Confucius replied, “There is no saying that can have that sort of effect. There is, however, something close. People have a saying, ‘Being a ruler is difficult, and being a minister is not easy.’ If this saying helps you to understand that being a ruler is difficult, does it not come close to being a single saying that can cause a state to flourish?”

Duke Ding asked, “A single saying that can cause a state to perish—is there such a thing as this?”

Confucius replied, “There is no saying that can have that sort of effect. There is, however, something close. People have a saying, ‘I take no joy in being a ruler, except that no one dares to oppose what I say.’ If what the ruler says is good, and no one opposes him, is this not good? On the other hand, if what he says is not good, and no one opposes him, does this not come close to being a single saying that can cause a state to perish?”

Confucius, & Slingerland, E. (2003). Analects: With selections from traditional commentaries. Hackett Publishing.

Duke Ding asked, Is there one word that can bring prosperity to the domain?

Confucius replied, Words alone cannot do that. But there’s a saying that might come close. People say, To be a ruler is difficult; to be a minister is not easy. If the ruler understands that it is not easy to be a ruler, this would come close, would it not, to “one word that can bring prosperity to the domain”?

And is there one word that can bring ruin to the domain? asked the duke.

Confucius replied, Words alone cannot do that. But there’s a saying that might come close. People have a saying, I have no delight in being a ruler. My sole delight is making certain that no one contradicts my words.

If he is a good ruler and no one contradicts him, that would be good, would it not? But if he is not good and no one contradicts him, this would come close to being “one word that can bring ruin to the domain,” would it not?

Confucius, & Watson, B. (2007). The Analects of Confucius. Columbia University Press.

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