During the Ming Dynasty in China, an author named Hong Zichen integrated the essence of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism into
Discourses Regarding the Roots of Vegetables. In this publication, Hong Zichen expounded immensely profound and wise principles with regard to interacting with people and things, to maintaining a household and to handling mundane business. He mentioned in the book that, "When family members make a mistake, we should not become angry and give up too easily. If an issue is difficult to discuss, then use other matters to allude to the issue at hand. If family members do not understand immediately, then warn them again at another time. The model for families should resemble the spring wind that melts deep-freezes or the balmy air that thaws ice."
Mr. Chu's Proverbs on Managing the Household also said, "A household established on miserliness will not last." This is to say that one must be generous and tolerant in treating others and running a home to make family ties lasting. Although you should be generous in maintaining a home and treating people, you must also have some strict rules that ensure levels of seniority between the old and the young and differentiation between insiders and outsiders. At the same time,
Mr. Chu's Proverbs on Managing the Household emphasized that "We should apply serious methods and stern words toward elders, youngsters, insiders and outsiders." Some people may treat others generously but make the mistake of being too lenient, thus blurring the line between insiders and outsiders. In contrast, some people speak and behave in an upright manner, but make the mistake of being too severe, thus causing people to respectfully keep their distance. The middle way in conducting oneself properly and treating others generously and harmoniously, is to regard family members as if they were guests and not be overly intimate.
During the Han Dynasty in China, there was a benevolent government official named Liu Kuan. His cultivation was first-rate; not only was he tolerant and mild-tempered, but he was also very generous and kind to the people. Whenever a local resident violated the law, he refused to use the more severe forms of punishment. At the most, he would lightly spank the offender a few times with a whip made of rushes. Once when Liu was travelling in his oxcart dressed in civilian clothes, a farmer blocked Liu's path and insisted that the ox Liu was riding was the one the farmer had lost. Liu didn't even argue with him; instead Liu stepped off the cart and walked home. A few days later, the farmer found his ox and realized that the ox he had claimed belonged to the high-ranking officer Liu Kuan, so he rushed to return Liu's ox, even kneeling to apologize. Liu warmly said to him, "Sometimes things appear similar; mistakes are bound to happen. Since you didn't do this on purpose, what crime have you committed? Get up and run along!" That time, the farmer didn't even receive a light beating.
Since Liu cultivated excellently, his wife wanted to test his temper. One morning, Liu had put on his formal clothing in preparation for a meeting with the emperor. At that time, Liu's wife told an elderly maidservant to serve a bowl of hot soup to Liu for breakfast, but Liu's wife intentionally knocked the soup over so that it spilt onto Liu's formal robe. The housemaid was alarmed and the wife thought Liu would certainly be outraged this time. To their surprise, not only did Liu remain unruffled, he earnestly inquired after the elderly woman, saying, "Did you burn your hand?" Liu then went to change into another robe before heading to the emperor's court. Liu consistently treated his servants and his citizens with kindness and tolerance. One who supervises with kindness and tolerance receives lasting support from subordinates. On the other hand, one who uses force and intimidation to oppress people will only make others submit temporarily in fear, but will not win their hearts over for a lifetime.
In the past, Lord Ding of the State of Lu had praised Dong Yebi's skill in charioteering to Yan Hui. However, Yan Hui, who had received the mind-transmission from Confucius, replied, "There is no question about Don Yebi's skill, but I'm concerned that his horses will collapse at any moment." Lord Ding was quite upset. Incredibly though, three days later, two of Dong Yebi's horses fell; thus Lord Ding scurried to invite Yan Hui back. When Lord Ding asked Yan Hui how he was able to predict the fall of Dong Yebi's horses, Yan Hui answered, "In the past, Da Shun was best known for how well he used the strength of his citizenry because he never drained their energy. Zao Fu was reputed to be the best equestrian because he never drained his horses' energy. Thus, Da Shun never wore out his citizens while Zao Fu never wore out his horses. Although Dong Yebi's riding style is technically correct, he rides all day without a break. Even when Dong Yebi's horses are tired, he makes them do this and that rather than let them rest. Therefore I guessed that his horses would not last." Yan Hui further expostulated, "Birds that are cornered will peck, beasts that are pushed will bite, horses that are treated harshly will collapse, people who are pressured will lie and do all kinds of awful things! Historically, an outburst never fails to occur as a result of oppression."
Towards the end of World War II, the United States and Great Britain had hoped that the Soviet Union would join them to quickly end the war. At the time, the Soviet Union had just undergone the revolution by the Red Army, overturning imperial rule and establishing a totalitarian communist regime. In February of 1945, President Roosevelt of the United States, Prime Minister Churchill of Great Britain, and Stalin of Soviet Union secretly met in Yalta. The Big Three drafted and later announced the Yalta agreements, which included the condition that after the European warfare ended, the Soviet Union had to declare war against Japan and cut the Japanese off from the back by way of Manchuria (Northeast China).
The political joke of the day was that when these three heads of state were approaching Yalta in a car, a huge ox stood in the middle of the road, preventing their car from proceeding. Roosevelt first got out of the car and politely requested the ox to step aside, but the ox refused to move. Churchill then firmly commanded the ox to get out of the way, but the ox still would not budge. Finally, Stalin walked over and spoke a few words into the ox's ear. Strangely enough, that ox fled and disappeared like a wisp of smoke.
Roosevelt laughed heartily and asked Stalin, "Generalissimo, what kind of magic did you use?" Stalin responded, "It's very simple! I just told the animal that I was going to send it to a collective farm." Even an ox was afraid of collective farms, which were communist concentration camps known for their extremely oppressive nature. Unfortunately, citizens of communist countries were under the gloomy shadow of the secret police and were fearful and angry, but afraid to say so. Today, communism is finally facing its dissolution, remaining only in name but not in substance. This proves that power by force lacks the democratic foundation of the people's will; thus it can control people for a time but not for long.