On the Treatment of Illness
A good doctor does not treat a patient by looking at his weight, but by observing whether anything is wrong with his pulse. A good strategist does not administer a country by inspecting its safety, but by checking if political guidelines are properly followed. Administering a country is like treating a patient; a country's safety is like a patient's weight; political guidelines are like a human's pulse. If a patient's pulse is not diseased, then his thinness is not detrimental. However, if his pulse is diseased, although he is fat, he may die. Anyone who is conversant with his principle also knows the principle of administering a country!
Although the wars between the feudal lords erupting every day caused the Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties to decline, each had an uninterrupted line of succession for as many as a dozen generations. This is because political guidelines were installed. On the contrary, although all feudal lords were wiped out, the throne of the Qin Dynasty lasted for only two generations before it collapsed. This is all because of its lack of political guidelines. Therefore, even if one's entire body is fine, there is nothing to be content with, for it is the pulse that is the deciding factor. Even if the whole country is at peace, there is nothing to be complacent over, for it is the political guidelines that play a vital role. If one is worried about what he should be content with or fears what he can be complacent over, he is then a good doctor or a good strategist, and he will then have Heaven's assistance. The Book of Changes says: "Life is but a journey; watch your footsteps!" That's exactly the instruction a good doctor or a good strategist is supposed to follow.