See also: 南辕北辙
south shafts of cart; yamen northrut; track; to remove; to withdraw trad. (南轅北轍) 南 轅 北 轍 simp. (南辕北辙) 南 辕 北 辙 Literally: “south (bound) shafts (of a cart running on) north (bound) ruts (in the road)”.
- 魏王欲攻邯鄲，季梁聞之，中道而反，衣焦不申，頭塵不去，往見王曰：「今者臣來，見人於太行，方北面而持其駕，告臣曰：『吾欲之楚。』臣曰：『君之楚，將奚為北面？』曰：『吾馬良。』臣曰：『馬雖良，此非楚之路也。』曰：『吾用多。』臣曰：『用雖多，此非楚之路也。』曰：『吾御者善。』『此是者愈善，而離楚愈遠耳。』今王動欲成霸王，舉欲信於天下。恃王國之大，兵之精銳，而攻邯鄲，以廣地尊名，王之動愈數，而離王愈遠耳。猶至楚而北行也。」 [MSC, trad.]
- From: c. 77 BCE - 6 BCE: Liu Xiang, Zhan Guo Ce, Strategies of Wei, Chapter 4 (戰國策) (Wiktionary translation)
- Wèi wáng yù gōng Hándān, Jì Liáng wén zhī, zhōng dào ér fǎn, yī jiāo bù shēn, tóu chén bù qù, wǎng jiàn wáng yuē: “Jīn zhě chén lái, jiàn rén yú Tàixíng, fāng běi miàn ér chí qí jià, gào chén yuē: ‘Wú yù zhī Chǔ.’ Chén yuē: ‘Jūn zhī Chǔ, jiāng xī wèi běi miàn?’ Yuē: ‘Wú mǎ liáng.’ Chén yuē: ‘Mǎ suī liáng, cǐ fēi Chǔ zhī lù yě.’ Yuē: ‘Wú yòng duō.’ Chén yuē: ‘Yòng suī duō, cǐ fēi Chǔ zhī lù yě.’ Yuē: ‘Wú yù zhě shàn.’ ‘cǐ shì zhě yù shàn, ér lí Chǔ yù yuǎn ěr.’ Jīn wáng dòng yù chéng bàwáng, jǔ yù xìn yú tiānxià. Shì wángguó zhī dà, bīng zhī jīngruì, ér gōng Hándān, yǐ guǎng dì zūn míng, wáng zhī dòng yù shù, ér lí wáng yù yuǎn ěr. Yóu zhì Chǔ ér běi xíng yě.” [Pinyin]
- The king of Wei was about to attack Handan. Ji Liang heard about it, and turned back in the middle of his journey. He did not straighten the wrinkles in his clothes, nor did he brush the dust off of his head, but went straight to the king. He said, "Today, on the road to the Taihang Mountains, I encountered a man whose carriage was heading north. The man told me, 'I am going to Chu.' I said, 'If you're going to Chu, then why are you facing north?' He said, 'My horse is good.' I said, 'although your horse is good, this is not the road to Chu.' He said, 'I have abundant resources.' I said, 'although you have abundant resources, this is not the road to Chu.' He said, 'My driver is excellent.' I said, 'the better your driver and all the other things, the further from Chu will you be.' At present, the actions of your highness are because you want to become a supreme overlord. Yet, you would like your behavior to be trusted by all under the heavens. Relying on the power of your kingdom and the quality of your soldiers, you attack Handan. In this way, you plan to expand your territories and garner respect for your name. However, the more actions taken by you the king, the further from a king you become. It's akin to traveling north to get to Chu.
魏王欲攻邯郸，季梁闻之，中道而反，衣焦不申，头尘不去，往见王曰：“今者臣来，见人于太行，方北面而持其驾，告臣曰：‘吾欲之楚。’臣曰：‘君之楚，将奚为北面？’曰：‘吾马良。’臣曰：‘马虽良，此非楚之路也。’曰：‘吾用多。’臣曰：‘用虽多，此非楚之路也。’曰：‘吾御者善。’‘此是者愈善，而离楚愈远耳。’今王动欲成霸王，举欲信于天下。恃王国之大，兵之精锐，而攻邯郸，以广地尊名，王之动愈数，而离王愈远耳。犹至楚而北行也。” [MSC, simp.]
- to be counterproductive; to run counter to; to work at cross-purposes; to sabotage your own progress; to go off in the wrong direction