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The Great Forms of Etiquette

 

Disciplines > WarfareThe Six Secret Teachings > 1.4 The Great Forms of Etiquette

Teaching set  | Observed lessons | Discussion | See also

 

Teaching set

Civil Secret Teachings 1.4 (4)

Observed lessons

  • The ruler should stay close to his ministers.
  • Ministers should not hide things from the ruler and should submit to the wishes of the ruler.
  • The ruler should be composed, dignified, restrained.
  • The ruler should see and hear with clarity, integrating different perceptions and understanding deep matters.

Discussion

The ruler is compared to heaven and the ministers to earth. This is a good analogy as the ruler takes a high-level view but does not get involved with the day-to-day running of the country -- this is the work of the ministers. It can be tempting to get involved with the detail, but to do so is to lower oneself to the position of ministers and will also lower their respect.

The question then is how does a ruler rule, if they say little? The answer must be that what they say should be of great import. They pull the larger levers of power. The ministers and those below them turn the wheels of administration in aligned response. In this way the wishes of the ruler are achieved with grace and ease.

A key element is listening. Each person who speaks to the ruler does so with an agenda, a purpose in what they say. The ruler should see this purpose and find the truth amidst the bias. A way to help see the truth is to listen to different views and hence find the underlying common issues.

See also

The Quiet Leader

 

Sawyer, R.D. (1993). The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China, Basic Books

 

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