Stories from Ancient China: King Wen of the Zhou Kingdom Rules by Virtue

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King Wen ruled the Zhou kingdom by virtue. (Blue Hsiao/Epoch Times)

King Wen of the Zhou kingdom (BC 1152 – BC 1056) from the Shang Dynasty was known for ruling by means of virtue and kindness. He taught people to be honest, respectful to God, and virtuous. He often said: "The king shall rule people with benevolence; officials shall manage people with care; children shall respect parents with filial piety; parents shall raise children with love; and the people shall associate with one another in good faith."

King Wen was very meticulous, cautious, and conscientious. He put himself forward as an example for people. He wore simple clothes and often worked together with farmers in the fields.

His first thought was for the good of the people. He cut taxes for farmers and encouraged farmers to farm public fields by charging them a tax of only one-ninth. With all these preferential measures, the farmers could save money. In addition, King Wen eliminated tariffs for import/export transactions and abolished the law requiring wives and children to be punished for the crimes committed by their husbands or fathers. King Wen provided the poor with prompt help and care.

Once, two kings who were arguing with each other about a boundary went to the Zhou kingdom to seek a judgment from King Wen. As soon as they entered the Zhou kingdom they observed how the people were very polite, peaceful, and courteous. Being touched by what they saw, both kings stopped arguing and wanted to let the other king have the disputed land.

Dukes near the Zhou kingdom heard about the matter and respected King Wen as a model for how to rule. All of them came to Zhou to promise to obey Wen and become part of the Zhou kingdom.

King Wen knew a state would not run well without virtuous persons to assist him. When King Wen heard Jiang Ziya was a very virtuous sage with very profound knowledge, he visited Jiang Ziya and asked him to be his advisor in how to rule a state. Jiang Ziya assisted first King Wen and later King Wu of the Zhou kingdom.

The way that King Wen ruled the kingdom laid a good foundation for future generations for the good rule of the united nation.

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