Study the lessons passed down from the ancients and take heed of what makes a good government minister. Ill-conceived government actions are less likely to happen if a government can base its decision-making on ancient wisdom and advice.
Scroll 2: Shang Shu
Do not forget the experiences and lessons learned from the past for they shall serve as a reference for future undertakings. A ruler will study history and verify the lessons in human affairs within a contemporary context to understand the rise and decline of a nation. They will also contemplate the balance of power and its corresponding scenarios, orderly weighing which ones to reject and which ones to adopt. Based on these considerations they will develop appropriate policies that over time will bring lasting peace to the nation.
Scroll 11: Shi Ji, Vol. 1
King Wu asked his strategist, Shang-fu: “Can you tell me how the five ancient emperors kept vigilant of themselves?” Shang-fu said: “Emperor Huang warned himself with this saying: ‘When I lead the people, I am worried and fearful as if night will not turn to morning.’ When Emperor Yao was leading his people, he was extremely apprehensive as if he was standing on the brink of a deep abyss. When Emperor Shun was leading his people, he was extremely cautious as if he was treading on thin ice. King Yu was extremely watchful as if he would not live through the
day. King Tang would stay on guard as if he would not live to see tomorrow.” King Wu said: “Now that I am leading the newly conquered subjects of the Yin nation, I must
rule cautiously and remain vigilant without the slightest negligence.”
Scroll 31: Yin Mou