Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ancient Wisdom: Ximen Bao

Ximen Bao was a senior official of the Wei Kingdom (403 B.C. to 225 B.C.) during the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770 B.C. to 256 B.C.).

One of Ximen's legend was his handling of the wizard of River Zhang in Ye. In the year of 422 B.C., Ximen was named the governor of Ye. Upon arrival, he saw Ye an almost deserted place. So he asked local people why many were fleeing homeland. They told him that the Wizard of River Zhang was ruling the place with magical power. One of the routine magic performed by the wizard was wedding of the River Zhang. The wizard will appoint a young girl to be the wife of the River Zhang, and sink her into the river.

Ximen appeared in the next wedding ceremony of the River Zhang. He called the poor girl to him, and declared she was too ugly for the taste of the River Zhang. He said he would have to sent the Wizard to River Zhang to ask for his forgiveness while he would be looking for a prettier wife for the river. Then he order the Wizard to be thrown into the river. Then Ximen waited on the bank for awhile, before he claimed the top disciple of the Wizard should go to get the Wizard back. So the top disciple was thrown into the River Zhang, who was followed by the second disciple, and the third disciple. After more waiting, Ximen was annoyed that nobody came back, so he ordered local officials to go get the Wizard back. And three officials were thrown into the River Zhang. Moments later, Ximen asked another official to volunteer passing the message to River Zhang. The official immediately begged for his pardon and admitted the performance was nothing but a hoax to solicit people's money.

From that day, nobody in Ye dared to bring up the Wedding of River Zhang.

Having got rid of the Wizard, Ximen started a big hydraulic project in Ye. Twelve spillways were dug along 8 miles of River Zhang, which were controlled by flood gates. The canals were used for irrigation and flood control. The project benefits an area as large as ten thousand acres where unit yields increased by over eight times. It would be used in the next one thousand years before ruined around 757 A.D. in Tang Dynasty.

source of above

Although the hydraulic project was successful, local officials and remaining disciples of the Wizard who had been straying with the River Zhang were not happy. They complained to the King of Wei that Ximen only cares about people but overlooked the interest of the King to maintaining a strong military. King of Wei reprimanded Ximen. Ximen argued, which would be famously quoted repeatedly through Chinese history, "A great nation enriches its people, a mighty nation strengthens its military, only a failing nation enriches the King". To prove his point, Ximen summoned an army with well equipped weaponry and supplies in one day, telling them they were asked by the King. The King was impressed and very satisfied. He told Ximen to let the men go home. Ximen countered, a King must follow his words. Since the army was asked, they must commit a fight. So the army attacked a neighboring state Yan, and scored a big win.

source, Renjian Xun, Huainan Zi

Today's China the wealth is concentrated into the government by means of state controlled enterprises in strategic industries, such as banking, oil and real estates. Common people do not have adequate medical insurance and can't afford a place to live. The ruling class of CCP should take some time to revisit the ancient wisdom of Ximen Bao.

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