The wise flash of social consciousness in Han Dynasty: not greedy for wealth

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At the time of Qin and Han Dynasties, Chen Sheng’s famous words of “seeking wealth and honor without forgetting” (historical records of Chen sheshi’s family) and Xiang Yu’s famous words “wealth and honor do not return to their hometown, such as walking at night in embroidered clothes” (historical records of Xiang Yu’s book) reflected the common aspiration of different people for “wealth and honor”. The pursuit of “wealth” was a positive life goal at that time, and people made no secret of it. The words “wealth” are often seen in tile characters, seal characters and mirror inscriptions. The money tree buried in the Han tombs and the common money patterns in the decorative forms of the Han Dynasty also reflect that the pursuit of “wealth” has become the common ideal of the society. The expectation of “great wealth”, “long-term wealth”, “constant wealth” and “wealth without central authority” and “long live wealth” became an important manifestation of the social consciousness of the Qin and Han Dynasties.

However, in addition to the secular clamour for “wealth” pursuit, we can hear a clear voice pointing out the negative effects of “wealth”. Through wise social and historical investigation, many people have soberly discovered the dark cultural expression and social role of “wealth” from behind the brilliant golden light, noticed the possible life patients and family harm caused by “wealth”, and pointed out the proper attitude towards life in the face of “wealth”. Some of them are still of immortal value today.

Be rich and ominous

After Chen Sheng’s uprising, anti Qin forces rose. Chen Ying was elected king. His mother reminded him, “it’s a bad name.” Chen Ying then “dare not be king” (“historical records · Xiangyu Benji”). “It’s ominous to get a big name”. In the book of Han Dynasty, Xuzhuan I, “it’s ominous to die rich and noble”, that is, it’s ominous to be suddenly rich and noble. Li Xian’s notes on the book of Han in the biography of Gengchun in the later Han Dynasty quote that “those who become rich and powerful are ominous”. The corresponding words in Geng Chun Zhuan are: “the sudden rise of spoiled wealth is something that the wise man should avoid.” “Spoil wealth and prosper” means “prosper”. The “wise man” is regarded as “ominous” and is deeply “taboo” for his sudden wealth without hard work, reasonable foundation and proper accumulation. “Huainan Zi · human world”: “those who are rich and have no merit should not live there.” The same is true. “Lun Heng asked Confucius” wrote: “Confucius said: wealth and noble is what people want, not to get it by its way, not to live.” It is emphasized that wealth is “what people want”, but it should be “obtained by its way”, otherwise it should not be possessed and enjoyed.

Misfortune is the death of virtue and prosperity

The book of Han Dynasty, biography of the thirteen kings of Jing, praised: “the ancients used feasting as poison, and died of virtue and wealth, which was called misfortune.” It is actually an unfortunate thing to think that we have achieved “wealth” without morality. A passage in “Qian Fu Lun GUI Zhong” can be understood as an explanation of this understanding: “a man who steals his position… Once he is rich, he will donate his old family, lose his original heart, become close to his family, be thin on close friends and thick on dogs and horses. He would rather see thousands of corruption than lend money to others. He knows that he has accumulated millet and rotten storehouses. He would not bear a fight to lend money to others. His flesh and blood will complain about his family, and small people will slander the Tao. If his predecessors lose, he will fight against them later. The sincerity can be hurt.” Those who have no virtue, once they are rich, often go to the destruction of life.

If you are rich, you will be poor

According to the biographies of historical records of Lisi, Lisi once sighed when he was in power and was in hot demand: “Alas! I heard that Xunqing said, ‘things are forbidden and prosperous’. He was the head of Guizhou in the lower alleys. He did not know his subordinates, so he was promoted to this place. Nowadays, there is no superior minister in the position of minister, so he is extremely rich. Things are extremely poor, and I do not know what tax he will pay!” Sima Zhen said in his “Suoyin” that “Li Siyan is extremely rich today, but he doesn’t know where the good and bad luck will stop.” As expected, LISS went to a tragic end. Perhaps it is based on the understanding of “extreme wealth and honor” and “extreme wealth and decline” that the meaningful life motto “extreme wealth and honor, people should be content” in the book of later Han Dynasty · Yin Xing Zhuan appeared.

Wealth is changeable

It is said that “wealth is impermanent” is Confucius’ words, which have been used by the world in the Qin and Han Dynasties. “Liu Xiangzhuan in the book of Han”: “Confucius discussed the poem. As for ‘Yin Shifu was so sensitive that he was naked in the capital’, he sighed and said: ‘great is the destiny! Goodness must be passed on to his descendants. It is because of wealth and impermanence; rather, why should the princes be cautious and the people encourage?'” the admonition recorded in the book of Han gaikuanrao is particularly vivid: “(GAI kuanrao) Looking up at the house, he sighed and said, ‘how beautiful! However, wealth and honor are changeable, and suddenly people change. This is like passing on and giving up. I have read a lot. You have to be cautious for a long time. You don’t want to quit! ” As for the “impermanence of wealth and honour”, the fatalism in Lun Heng · Ming Lu is that “a man who is rich and noble does not want to be poor and humble, and the poor and lowly come from him; a man who is poor and humble does not want to be rich and noble, and he is rich and noble.”.

One day’s wealth and honor is a murderous man who repents

The first chapter of the Han Dynasty · Xuzhuan mentions the short-lived “wealth”: “when people are united, people are scattered, and people die in desperation, Shang Yang uses three techniques to show filial piety to the public. Li Sifeng wants to be the first emperor because of current affairs. Both of them are quietly gathering in the wind and clouds, and they are full of potential wealth. According to the theory, they take advantage of evil to achieve one-day wealth and honor. In the morning, they are exhausted at night, their blessings are not enough, and their misfortunes overflow the world. The murderer repents himself. Kuang Jishi depends on him!” The so-called “one day’s wealth, one day’s glory, and one night’s exhaustion” is obviously not what people want. In the story of Lisi’s “self repentance”, there is a famous plot (historical records · Lisi Biography) that “he was obsessed with his son, and Gu said that the Confucius said:” I would like to go out of Shangcai Dongmen with a yellow dog to chase the cunning rabbit! “So the father and son wept with each other, and the three barbarians”. The song poem “who leads the yellow dog out of the east gate after Li Si sighs” (Qin Guan: the second poem of the second rhyme prefect ascending the stairs to look at the public, Volume 36 of the Song Dynasty poem notes) “you look at Cai leading the yellow dog, and regret killing thousands of families” (Su Yu: Green Yin, Volume 8 of the lingran Zhai poetry anthology) is an exclamation of this historical story.

Long riding on wealth and honor, misfortune accumulates for trouble

The wise men of the Qin and Han Dynasties found through observation and reflection that “wealth” was often associated with mischief. “Historical records · biographies of Uncle Tian” wrote: “when a man’s moon is full, he will lose. When things are prosperous, they will decline. Heaven and earth are always in the same place. If you know it and then don’t know how to retreat, you will ride on wealth for a long time, and misfortune will accumulate for trouble.” “After the Han Dynasty, Le Hui biography” also pointed out: “in modern times, the relatives are rich and noble, and there must be arrogant and excessive defeat.” The biography of Fan Hong in the book of the later Han dynasty recorded that Fan Hong, who was “modest, gentle, fearless and cautious, did not strive for progress”, often admonished his son: “wealth is overflowing, and there is no end to it. I do not like glory. The way of heaven is evil and full of humility. All the nobles and relatives in previous generations have clearly admonished it. How happy it is to protect myself!” The so-called “wealth overflows, but there is no one who can end” is a regular understanding proved by history. In Wang Fu’s “Qian Fu Lun GUI Zhong”, he said that “prosperity leads to arrogance and illness”: “What’s the difference between the intentions of dignitaries and infants? Infants are often ill, dignitaries are often in trouble, parents are often lost, and people are often in trouble. Infants are often ill, and their satiety is hurt; dignitaries are often in trouble, and their favor is hurt. Breastfeeding often leads to epilepsy, and wealth leads to arrogance and disease. There is not one person who loves children but thieves, and arrogant ministers who die. If he is severely punished, there is a servant who dies in prison and holds a sword in the city. Isn’t it useless to heaven and harmful to people?” Wang Fu used the metaphor of “babies often suffer from diseases” to “noble ministers often suffer from disasters”, indicating that the so-called “prosperity leads to arrogance and illness”, which should be said to be a sober judgment from the perspective of social pathology.

Wealth and honor are proud, and wealth and honor are not benevolent

“Biography of Cui Yun in the book of the later Han Dynasty”: “it is said that ‘those who were born rich are proud, and those who were born noble are proud.’ those who were born rich and noble but could not be proud are not there.” “Historical records: biographies of Prince Wei”: “dare not pride the scholar with his wealth, and the scholar will fight for thousands of miles to return.” “Historical records – Preface of Taishigong”: “if you can lower the poor with wealth and honor, the virtuous and talented will be better than the unworthy. You can only believe in Lingjun.” In the book of Han Dynasty, biography of relatives, empress Dou Xiaowen said, “in order to give way to a gentleman, you don’t dare to be rich and proud.” Wealth without arrogance is the moral expression of a “gentleman”, which is also difficult for ordinary people to achieve. “Wealth and pride” means that “wealth and honor” can easily lead to the lack of self-cultivation and shallow insight. Zhong Changtong wrote in his book “Chang Yan Li Luan”: “the foolish master of his descendants, seeing that the world dare not disobey him, says that if the world cannot die”, this is also a manifestation of wealth and pride. Therefore, “It’s the desire to indulge in private affairs, the desire to indulge in evil, the desire of the emperor and his officials to indulge in prostitution, and the common evil… So he went to boil the cream of the world and consume people’s bone marrow. Resentment and boredom, disasters and chaos arose at the same time, China was bustling, the four barbarians invaded and rebelled, fell apart, and went away at once… Is it not that wealth and honor begets inhumanity, and drowning leads to ignorance, disease and evil?” The so-called “wealth begets inhumanity” can be said to be a historical discovery of zhongchangtong who has “insight into the regime” as far as “clearness”, “distinguishing right from wrong” as far as “integrity” (volume 91 of the synopsis of the Si Ku Quan Shu).

Happiness dies of wealth

“Huainan Zi Yuan Dao” said: “the supreme virtue is happiness. In ancient times, there were people who lived in caves and never lost their gods. In the end, there were people who were powerful and worried about the future. From this point of view, the holy death lies in governing people, but in gaining the Tao; the happy death lies in wealth, but in getting peace.” The competition and enjoyment of “wealth” may hinder the “happiness” of life. Those who live in the cave may enjoy the pleasure of being close to nature, but they are superior to those who are extremely rich and powerful. The book of the later Han Dynasty, biographies of the hermit, extols the character and interest of reclusive people, saying: “it is not necessary to love fish and birds and enjoy the forest and grass, even if they are willing to live in the vast expanse of land and on the haggard River and sea.” Their “music” has its own noble and fresh realm.

The ancient people are rich and famous. They cannot be remembered

Although Li Yan was quoted as saying that “wealth and honor have human origin, and poverty and lowliness have no record of heaven”, Sima Qian put forward the opposite view. “The book of reporting to Ren Shaoqing” in the biography of Sima Qian in the book of the Han Dynasty wrote: “in ancient times, people were rich and famous, but they could not win. Only those who were very casual and elegant were called Yan.” In other words, “wealth” is not necessarily equal to real success in life. “Wealth” is often unable to leave a historical impression, while “people with extraordinary elegance” are mostly famous in history. In fact, if we comment on historical and cultural contributions, it is precisely the former that has no Tao, while the latter can be called immortal. As for the so-called “unconventional and elegant people”, Sima Qian said, “Xibo performed the book of changes; Zhong Nier wrote the spring and Autumn Annals; Qu Yuan was exiled, but he wrote Lisao; zuoqiu was blind, but he had Guoyu; Sun Tzu was bin Jiao, and his art of war was compiled; Bu Wei moved to Shu, and the biography of Lu Lan; Han Fei imprisoned Qin, saying difficult things and solitary indignation; 300 poems, which were also the works of the great sage.” The most wonderful core of Sima Qian’s passage is that Chen said that “anger” can achieve cultural “great cause”. It is obvious that “wealth” is completely opposite to life circumstances such as “arrest”, “misfortune” and “exile”.

The pursuit of wealth and honor of the Qin and Han people was based on the unprecedented development of commodity economy as the social and cultural background. Dong Zhongshu’s “spring and autumn fan Lu · Wang Dao” recalls the realm of “the people cultivate virtue and are beautiful” and “do not admire wealth and honour” in the era of “the rule of the five emperors and three kings”, but it is obvious that history has been irretrievable. For the craze of pursuing “wealth” in secular society, perhaps the “not greedy for wealth” mentioned four times in “Feihan”, “Ci Meng” and “ziji” in “Lun Heng” is more beneficial to guide the world.

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