Therefore the kings of the world in ancient times, though their knowledge encompassed all Heaven and earth, did not of themselves lay plans; though their power of discrimination embraced the ten thousand things, they did not of themselves expound any theories; though their abilities outshone all within the four seas, they did not of themselves act. Heaven does not give birth, yet the ten thousand things are transformed; earth does not sustain, yet the ten thousand things are nourished. The emperor and the king do not act, yet the world is benefited. So it is said, nothing so spiritual as Heaven, nothing so rich as earth, nothing so great as the emperor and the king. So it is said, the Virtue of the emperor and the king is the counterpart of Heaven and earth. This is the way to mount upon Heaven and earth, to make the ten thousand things gallop, to employ the mass of men.One way that we express ideals is to imagine that there were people who came before us who understood the mysteries of life and death far better than we do. In many societies, these mythic figures are revered not so much because people believe they actually lived, but because they embody the idealized person of our imaginations.
~ Burton Watson translation ~
To view the Index page for this series, go here.