Treatise of the Exalted One on
Response and Retribution
( T'ai-Shang Kan-Ying P'ien)
With a compassionate heart turn toward all creatures.
Be faithful, filial, friendly, and brotherly.
First rectify thyself and then convert others.
Take pity on orphans, assist widows;
Respect the old, be kind to children.
Even the multifarious insects, herbs, and trees
Should not be injured.
Be grieved at the misfortune of others
And rejoice at their good luck.
Assist those in need, and rescue those in danger.
Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain,
And regard your neighbor's loss as your own loss.
Give to others and do not regret or begrudge your liberality.
(A Description of Evil-Doers)
Yet there are some people whose behavior is unrighteous.
Their deportment is irrational. In evil they delight.
With brutality they do harm and damage.
Insidiously they injure the good and the law abiding. .
They deceive the uninformed.
They slander their fellow-students.
Liars they are, bearing false witness, deceivers, and hypocrites;
Malevolent. . . mischievous and malignant;
Not humane; cruel and irrational; self-willed.
Right and wrong they confound. . .
They oppress their subordinates and appropriate their merit. . .
They remember their hatred and are never satisfied.
They hold in contempt the lives of Heaven's people.
They agitate and disturb the public order.
They patronize the unscrupulous and do harm to the inoffensive.
They murder men to take their property,
Or have them ousted to take their places.
They slay the yielding and slaughter those who have surrendered.
They malign the righteous and dispossess the wise.
They molest orphans and wrong widows. . .
Disregarders of law they are, and bribe takers.
They call crooked what is straight, straight what is crooked. . .
They aggravate it by harshness.
Though they know their mistakes they do not correct them;
Though they know the good they do not do it.
In their own guilt they implicate others.
They impede and obstruct the professions and crafts.
They vilify and disparage the holy and the Wise.
They ridicule and scorn reason and virtue.
They shoot the flying, chase the running, expose the hiding,
Surprise nestlings, close up entrance holes,
Upset nests, injure the pregnant,
And break the egg.
They wish others to incur loss.
They disparage others that achieve merit.
They endanger others to save themselves.
They impoverish others for their own gain.
For worthless things they exchange what is valuable.
For private ends they neglect public duties.
They appropriate the accomplishments of their neighbor
And conceal his good qualities.
They make known his foibles and expose his secrets.
They squander his property and cause divisions in his family.
They attack that which is dear to others.
They assist others in doing wrong.
Their unbridled ambition makes for power,
And through the degradation of others they seek success.
They destroy the crops and fields of others.
They break up betrothals.
They have grown rich improperly, and withal they remain vulgar.
Improperly they shirk without shame.
They claim having done acts of favor and disclaim being at fault.
They give away evil in marriage and they sell wrongs.
They sell and buy vainglory.
They conceal and keep a treacherous heart.
They crush that which is excellent in others.
They are careful in hiding their shortcomings.
Being on a high horse they threaten and intimidate.
With unrestrained barbarism they kill and stab.
Recklessly they cut cloth to waste.
Without festive occasions they prepare cattle for food.
They scatter and waste the five cereals.
They trouble and annoy many people.
They break into others' houses
To take their property and valuables.
They misdirect the water and light fires
To destroy the people's homes.
They upset others' plans so as to prevent their success.
They spoil a worker's utensils to hamper his efficiency. . .
When seeing the success and prosperity of others
They wish them to run down and fail.
Seeing the wealth of others, they wish them bankrupt and ruined.
They cannot see beauty without cherishing
In their hearts thoughts of seduction.
Being indebted to others for goods or property,
They wish their creditors to die.
When their requests are not granted
They begin to curse and wax hateful.
Seeing their neighbor lose his vantage they gossip of his failure.
Seeing a man imperfect in his bodily features they ridicule him.
Observing the talent and ability of a man worthy of praise,
They suppress the truth. . .
With violence they seize, with violence they demand.
They delight in fraud, they delight in robbery,
They make raids and commit depredations to get rich
By artful tricks they seek promotion.
They reward and punish without justice.
They indulge in comforts and enjoyments without measure.
They harass and tyrannize over their subordinates.
They terrify and threaten to overawe others.
They accuse heaven and find fault with man.
They blame the wind and rail at the rain.
They stir up party strife and law suits.
Unprovoked they join factious associations. . .
They take up the new and forget the old.
Their mouth asserts what their heart denies.
Shamelessly greedy they are for wealth. . .
They invent and circulate vile talk,
Traducing and slandering innocent men.
They slander others, yet themselves feign honesty.
They rail at spirits and claim to be right themselves.
They reject a good cause and espouse a wrong cause,
Spurning what is near, longing for the distant.
They point at heaven and earth
To make them witnesses of their mean thoughts.
They even call on bright spirits
To make them witness their degrading deeds.
When they ever give charity they regret it afterwards.
They borrow and accept without intention to return.
Beyond their due lot they scheme and contrive. . .
Their lusty desires exceed all measure.
Their heart is venomous
While they show a compassionate face.
With filthy food they feed the poor.
With heresies they mislead others.
They shorten the foot, they narrow the measure,
They lighten the scales, they reduce the peck.
They adulterate the genuine, and they seek profit
In illegitimate business.
They compel respectable people to become lowly.
They betray and deceive the simple-minded.
They are greedy and covetous without satiety.
They curse and swear to seek vindication.
EXPLANATORY NOTES 1. T'ai-Shang, "the Exalted One," also called T'ai Shang Lao Chün, "the Exalted Ancient Master," is an honorary appellation of Li Er, who is popularly known as Lao Tze, "the Ancient Philosopher." 2. The title is commonly but not correctly translated "The Book of Rewards and Punishments." For an explanation of the meaning of "Response and Retribution" see the Introduction. 3. The word "says" can scarcely be construed to imply a claim that the treatise has been written by T'ai Shang, i. e., Lao Tze; it simply means that the doctrines here enunciated are his. 4.
Translated from the Chinese by
Teitaro Suzuki and Dr. Paul Carus
Containing Introduction, Translation,
The Open Court Publishing Co. COPYRIGHT BY THE OPEN COURT PUBLISHING [1906); Treatise Of The Exalted One On Response And Retribution (Introduction) THE Exalted One says: Curses and blessings do not come through gates, but man himself invites their arrival.