Mr. Xu Shu's other name was Yuan-zhi. He was born in
Yingquan district during the Three Kingdoms period. In his
youth he practiced martial arts. Later he gave up his
martial practices in preference of literary pursuits and
studied under Mr. Si-ma Shui-jing. Mr. Xu had extraordinary
mental skills. He was a brilliant strategist, being very
erudite and knowledgeable.
At the beginning of his career,
he served Liu Bei, the emperor's uncle, and was treated with
deference and decorum. When the Cao army launched an attack
on Liu Bei, Mr. Xu devised a plot to smash the enemy.
Without exerting the slightest strength, he scored an
Cao Cao, aware of Mr. Xu's
ability at superb military stratagem, used a plot to deceive
Mr. Xu's mother and lured her into the Cao camp. He asked
her to write a letter to summon her son. However, the elder
Mrs. Xu deeply understood the principle of righteousness and
refused to comply. Then Cao Cao ordered someone to forge a
letter in Mrs. Xu's hand. Although Mr. Xu clearly knew that
the letter was a forgery, he took shelter with the Cao camp
in order to save his mother's life.
Liu Bei, the emperor's uncle,
personally saw him off. In the midst of their journey, they
came upon a rough thicket which blocked their vision. Liu
Bei ordered his soldiers to chop down the trees, thus
clearing the path for Mr. Xu. Mr. Xu was deeply moved by the
act. He turned his horse around to recommend the services of
Zhu-ge Liang to Liu Bei.
When the elder Mrs. Xu saw her
son at the Cao camp, she was so furious that she hung
herself. Thereafter, although Mr. Xu remained in the Cao
barracks, throughout his entire life he never devised a
single plot on Cao's behalf.
A verse in praise says:
Another verse says:
His bosom was filled with patriotic fervor,
And his heart was utmost true and sincere.
With but a tiny plot, he scared the wits out of Cao Cao.
A letter forged in his mother's hand,
Led Mr. Xu running to her rescue.
Thereafter he never uttered a word;
"Let me return to my purity."
He served his mother with utmost filiality
and was extremely loyal to his country.
He constantly followed Liu Bei east and west.
What a pity his lofty aspirations were never fully realized.
The "Little Ghost" lured Mr. Xu into his camp with a trick.
Taking adversity in stride is the motion of the Way.
Returning to the roots, great undertakings flourish.
Zhang Zi-fang apprenticed under Red Pine and mounted the
Mr. Xu can be said to be Zhang's equal.
"In Memory of" means to reminisce, to think over the
remarkable personages who appeared during the Three Kingdoms
period (222-265 C.E.) in China. Xu Yuan-Zhi was one of them.
He was full of strategies; however, he did not have a chance
to make many contributions. Why was that? It was probably
because fortune was not on his side, and his entire life was
paved with obstructions. Although he had ample talent and
ability, there was no opportunity for him to use it.
Although he had extensive learning, there was no way he
could make it available to people. This is a matter of cause
and effect. Since the causes he planted in the past were
imperfect, the consequences he reaped were also
unsatisfactory. Although the situation was unsatisfactory,
yet "reversal is the motion of the Path." He did not take
part in the battle between two armies vying for victory.
It is rumored that he went to cultivate
the Way. This is only hearsay, but some say that he went to
live at Qianshan ("Thousand Mountains") in Manchuria. In
Manchuria there is Guangwen ("Extensive Culture") Mountain
and Thousand Mountains. There is a saying, "There are many
immortals in Qian and Guang Mountains. Some old Bhikshus who
live there are several hundred years old.
When the Abbot of our temple, the elder
master Chang Ren, was observing filial practice by his
parents' grave, someone from the Ming dynasty came to visit
him. This person carried a pole on his shoulders with two
little bags suspended on it. Before this old man appeared,
Master Chang Ren was toying with the thought, " After I
complete my filial duties, I will go to cultivate at Qian
Mountain, since that is an ideal place for applying effort."
One day he heard a voice tell him, " Today a noble person
will come to see you.
At that time, Master Chang Ren was
observing filial practice. He did not talk to people and he
had no idea who this "noble person" would be. At around 10
o'clock in the morning a monk came, carrying a pole with two
bags hanging from it. Master Chang Ren asked him in his
mind, "Where are you from? " The old monk answered out loud,
"I came from Qian Mountain."
"Why have you come here?"
"I came to tell you," said the old
Bhikshu, "that after you complete your filial practice, it
is not necessary for you to go to Qian Mountain to
cultivate. The local people in the surrounding area have
affinities with you, Therefore, you should cultivate here."
"Who are you?"
The old Bhikshu said, "I used to be a
general during the Ming dynasty. When we lost power at the
beginning of the Qing dynasty, I went up to the mountain to
cultivate. Because I have affinities with you, I have come
especially tell you this. Now I will go back to Qian
Mountain." The old Bhikshu told Master Chang Ren his name,
but since Master Chang Ren was forgetful, he probably forgot
the name and did not mention it. But cultivators of old have
the power to appear and disappear at will, much like
spiritual dragons. They are capable of infinite changes and
Mr.Xu was called Shu (庶), which means"
many" or" the populace." His other name was Yuan-zhi (元直).
He was born in Yingquan district, Henan Province, during the
Three Kingdoms period. In his youth he practiced martial
arts. Later he gave up his martial practices in preference
of literary pursuits and studied under Mr. Si-ma Shui-jing.
司馬水鏡. He became Mr. Si-ma's student. Mr. Xu had
extraordinary mental skills. He was a brilliant strategist,
being very erudite and knowledgeable. He could figure out
military plans at a single glance. He understood all about
Sun Zi's Military Strategy and so forth.
At the beginning of his career, he served
Liu Bei, the emperor's uncle, and was treated with deference
and decorum. Liu Bei treated him very well, and Xu Shu
became his military advisor. Liu Bei was stationed at a
small place called Fan Cheng, and Cao Cao wanted to
overwhelm Liu Bei with his troops. At most Liu Bei had under
ten thousand men, and there seemed to be no way he could
combat Cao Cao's army, which was so much greater and
stronger in numbers. However, because he exercised his
brilliant strategy, Xu Yuan-zhi managed to defeat Cao's army
of a hundred thousand men. Originally Cao Cao assumed that
his hundred-thousand-strong army could smash Liu Bei's
forces until not a single soldier was left. He had not
expected that his own army would be vanquished and reduced
to utter uselessness.
Cao Cao was also a brilliant strategist.
He was as crafty as a ghost. It is said, "Cao Cao was as
treacherous as a ghost. Emperor Yao had wisdom like a
spirit." Cao Cao looked into the reason he lost his battle,
then he found out that in Liu Bei's barracks there was Xu
Shu who was a master of war, someone who understood all the
intricacies of military warfare. Cao Cao then devised a
method to draw Xu Shu into his own camp.
~ To be continued