入國而不存其士則亡國矣見賢而不急則緩其君矣非賢無急非士無與慮國緩賢忘士而能以其國存者未曾有也 To enter upon rulership of a country but not preserve its scholars will result in the downfall of the country. To see the worthy but not hasten to them will make the country's ruler less able to perform his duties. To the unworthy is due no attention. The ignorant should remain without inclusion in the state's affairs. To impede the virtuous and neglect the scholarly and still maintain the survival of the state has yet to be, indeed.
昔者文公出走而正天下，桓公去國而霸諸侯，越王句踐遇吳王之醜，而尚攝中國之賢君。三子之能達名成功於天下也皆於其國抑而大醜也 In former times, Duke Wen fled his country but still was upright and just in the realm. Duke Huan was ousted yet he became hegemon over his state's princes. King Gou Jian of Yue met humiliation at the hands of the King of Wu and yet became the foremost among the princes and lords of China. These three gentlemen reached repute and success in the world. In the case of each of those men, they faced in their countries oppression and great humiliation.
太上無敗其次敗而有以成此之謂用民 The highest of people are without loss of those under them. Failure turned into success; this is the efficiently employed people of the nation.
吾聞之曰非無安居也我無安心也非無足財也我無足心也是故君子自難而易彼眾人自易而難彼君子進不敗其志內究其情雖雜庸民終無怨心彼有自信者也 I have heard this said: It is not a home without peace, it is that my heart is without peace. It is not that I am without sufficient wealth, it is that I am without a fulfilled heart. For this reason, the noble person disciplines themselves and yet is obliging with others. When the masses are lenient on themselves but stern with others, the noble person progresses and does not fail in his aspirations or in carefully examining his motivations. Even though lesser peoples mix into the masses, they are without begrudging hearts, as the lesser peoples have much confidence.
是故為其所難者必得其所欲焉未聞為其所欲而免其所惡者也是故偪臣傷君諂下傷上君必有弗弗之臣上必有詻詻之下 For this reason, those who do that which is difficult to them will surely receive that which they desire. But there are just as surely none who pursue their desires yet avoid that which they hate. Therefore, overbearing ministers harm the ruler, and flattering underlings damage their superiors. A lord must most definitely have efficient ministers, and superiors must have most uncompromising underlings.
分議者延延而支苟者詻詻焉可以長生保國 Separate the advisors who are delayed in their counsel, as well as the realism of those who support the negligent. Through this can a long life and security be had for the state.
臣下重其爵位而不言近臣則喑遠臣則唫怨結於民心諂諛在側善議障塞則國危矣桀紂不以其無天下之士邪殺其身而喪天下故曰歸國寶不若獻賢而進士 When ministers and subordinates give importance to their offices yet do not speak, close ministers fall silent, distant officials mumble under their breaths, unrest binds the heart of the people, sycophantic flattery by those at their sides surrounds superiors, and good counsel is obstructed, the state is endangered. Kings Jie of Xia and Zhou of Shang did not use them; were not their realms devoid of scholars? They destroyed themselves and lost their realms. Thus it is said that to return a national treasure is not as valuable as introducing the worthy as well as presenting the learned.
今有五錐此其銛銛者必先挫有五刀此其錯錯者必先靡是以甘井近竭招木近伐靈龜近灼神蛇近暴是故比干之殪其抗也孟賁之殺其勇也西施之沈其美也吳起之裂其事也 Currently, there are 5 drilling tools. Among these 5 tools, the sharpest will surely go dull first. Among 5 blades, the one most finely made will surely be the first discarded. Therefore, the sweetest wells are immediately exhausted, the most appealing trees are quickly cut down, the most vigilant tortoises are burned forthwith, and the most extraordinary serpents are exposed and assailed without hesitation. For this reason, Bi Gan's demise resulted from his resistance, Meng Ben's death resulted from his bravery, Xi Shi's drowning resulted from her beauty, and Wu Qi's rending resulted from his achievements.
故彼人者寡不死其所長故曰太盛難守也 Hence, among others, few die not when they excel beyond their station. Therefore it is said: Exceeding attainment is difficult to maintain.
故雖有賢君不愛無功之臣雖有慈父不愛無益之子是故不勝其任而處其位非此位之人也不勝其爵而處其祿非此祿之主也 Examine these cases: although there is a worthy ruler, they love not incompetent ministers. Although a father may be kind, he will not love profitless offspring. For this reason, the person that is not equal to the responsibilities their position involves and yet enjoys its authority is not the person for this position. The person who does not measure up to their rank and yet retains its benefits is not the proper recipient.
良弓難張然可以及高入深良馬難乘然可以任重致遠良才難令然可以致君見尊是故江河不惡小谷之滿己也故能大聖人者事無辭也物無違也故能為天下器 Good bows are difficult to draw; thus, they can fly high and pierce deeply. A good horse is difficult to ride; thus, it can bear heavy burdens and be sent a great distance forth. A genius is difficult to order; thus, they can be be envoys to lords and meet dignitaries. For this reason, rivers from the north to the south do not disdain small ravines for filling themselves. Hence, the affairs of adept sages are done without resignation, and they reject nothing; thus can one become an instrument for all the world.
是故江河之水非一源之水也千鎰之裘非一狐之白也夫惡有同方取不取同而已者乎蓋非兼王之道也是故天地不昭昭大水不潦潦大火不燎燎王德不堯堯者 For this reason, waters of the rivers of the north and the south are not from the waters of a single source; a fur coat worth a thousand yi is not from the white fur of a single fox. So, abhor to have those that have similar motivations and do not choose those who agree with you and only you, as to do so is certainly not the way of a king who loves all. For this reason, the world is not perfectly understood, large rivers do not inundate greatly, great fires do not completely scorch, and the king's character is not impeccable.
乃千人之長也其直如矢其平如砥不足以覆萬物是故溪陝者速涸逝淺者速竭墝埆者其地不育王者淳澤不出宮中則不能流國矣 But thus is the chief of a thousand people: They are straight like an arrow, level like a whetstone, but that is not enough to overturn the Myriad. For this reason, mountain creeks quickly dry up, the aged and shallow quickly become effete, and those who are stony and unmoving do not raise a king. Genuine benevolence that does not leave the palace cannot flow throughout the realm.
Chinese text: This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago. English translation: This work is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license, which allows free use, distribution, and creation of derivatives, so long as the license is unchanged and clearly noted, and the original author is attributed. (https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Translation:Mozi)