Now Cao Cao also had his own advisors,
who told him, "Xu Shu is a most filial son. His mother,
whose name is Fang, is a widow. If we can get his mother to
come here and convince her to write to her son, then Xu Shu
will most certainly come." Cao Cao said, "Brilliant scheme!
That is a good method."
Thereupon, they informed Xu Shu's mother
that her son was sick in Cao Cao's barracks and invited her
to come to see him. By means of this plot, he cheated Xu
Shu's mother. Then he tried to make her submit, by a system
of both intimidation and seduction, saying to her "If you do
not write a letter to summon your son, we will kill you."
However, she was someone who would not be coerced into
submission. She was a stubborn woman. If she had not been
resolute, she would not have maintained her purity and never
remarried. And so she said, " I won't write such a letter!"
Cao Cao meanwhile had obtained some notes
written by Xu Shu's mother, so he ordered someone to forge a
letter in the old woman's writing. The letter was as if
written by her, asking her son to come to the Cao camp. When
Xu Yuan-zhi saw the letter, he immediately realized it was a
forgery. However, he was afraid that Cao Cao would actually
murder his mother. Since he had very intense filial
thoughts, he decided to go to the Cao camp. Instead of
protecting Liu Bei, he went along with Cao Cao instead.
When Xu Shu got there, his mother
realized he had been taken in by the scheme. The mother felt
she was guilty of preventing her son from fulfilling his
aspirations, and so she hung herself. Originally Xu Yuan-zhi
had come with the intention of saving his mother. He had not
thought that his mother was even more resolute than he. Mrs.
Xu would rather kill herself than become a burden to her
son. Afterward, Cao Cao did not order Xu Shu to leave. He
put him under house arrest. Everyday he offered him good
food and good clothing. Xu Shu was unhappy at the Cao camp
since there was no opportunity for him to utilize his
talents. He never spoke a word. So there is this saying, "
After Xu Shu entered the Cao camp, he did not say a word."
Why didn't he saya word? Because he and Cao Cao had
divergent paths. Cao Cao was a treacherous hero, and Xu Shu
did not wish to aid him. Besides, Cao Cao had used a scheme
that indirectly caused the death of Xu Shu's mother, so
there was a spirit of vengeance underlying their
relationship. For those reasons, Xu Shu never exerted any
effort to try to help Cao Cao. Although they provided for
him at the Cao camp, Xu Shu acted as if he were dead man.
Afterward he became a recluse and
cultivated the Way. People like Xu Shu, Zhu-ge Liang and
Pang Tong were hermits of the past. They were great
scholars, but they cherished few desires and were content
with their situation. They looked lightly on worldly things
and maintained their bright resolve. It is not known how
long Xu Shu stayed in the Cao Camp. But later on he left and
went to Qian Mountain in Manchuria to cultivate. According
to some rumors, to this day there are people who have seen
A verse in praise 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."
His bosom was filled with patriotic fervor, / And
his heart was utmost true and sincere. He had a
"red" heart, that is, a very loyal attitude, and was
resolved to revive the Han dynasty. Therefore, he protected
Liu Bei in the beginning. With but a tiny plot, he
scared the wits out of Cao Cao. He had barely used
a little bit of his talent, not having completely developed
it, but that was enough to intimidate Cao Cao, With a few
troops he was able to smash Cao Cao's large army. Cao Cao
A letter forged in his mother's
hand, / Led Mr. Xu running to her rescue. Cao Cao
had someone forge a letter in Xu Shu's mother's hand, and Xu
Shu ended up in the Cao camp. He fell into Cao's treacherous
trap. Thereafter he never uttered a word.
Oppressed by circumstances, he never said a word after he
moved into the Cao camp. "Let me return to my
purity. I am not going to do anything else. I wish
to cultivate the Way." If he had not done this, he would
certainly have tried to kill Cao Cao to avenge his mother's
death. The vengeance arising out of someone killing one's
mother cannot be weathered under heaven.
Another verse says:
He served his mother with utmost filiality
and was extremely loyal to his country.
He 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.
He served his mother with utmost
filiality and was extremely loyal to his country.
His mother was a widow who did not remarry. Xu Shu was very
filial. He also wished to revive the Han dynasty and was
very loyal. He constantly followed Liu Bei east and
west. He recommended himself to Liu Bei and wished
to bring the Ban house back to power. What a pity
his lofty aspirations were never fully realized.
That is a most lamentable thing to people who came later. Of
course he himself felt that it was a shame, too. The
"Little Ghost" lured Mr. Xu into his camp with a trick.
Cao Cao was a "little person" (小人), but I am calling him a"
petty ghost "(小鬼) in this case. He was never open and
aboveboard. He resorted to scheming and wicked designs. In
the end Xu Shu lost the opportunity to utilize his talents.
And Cao Cao did not benefit from his own scheme either. We
should accept when we are faced with difficult circumstances
which are things that do not accord with our will or
situations where when one seeks but fails to have something.
Overall, things just won't come according to your wish, or
even all sorts of disasters and calamities can happen to
If one can be content and accept fate,
One shall be free from all afflictions.
Beautiful sounds and sights are unappealing.
One will seek neither fame nor profit.
"If you glare at me, I don't even notice.
If you scold me, I will accept it. If you hit me,
I will promptly kneel and bow. I won't cry but I will just
Such an attitude is rare in the world. You cannot find such
He is a real monk from the West,
Who carries a mani jewel with him
If you can be like the person in the
above verse, then that is the Tao in action. Difficult
situations always make heroes. You must understand that
difficult circumstances in fact are speaking the Dharma so
that you remain spirited. You should be tough enough and not
be overwhelmed by unfavorable situations. If you can't take
it, that is succumbing to the situation. You must be able to
accept circumstances that go against you and be able to turn
them around. There is a saying, 'One will not become a
Buddha if one cannot undergo the demons. One will not enjoy
blessings if one does not goes through hardship.' We must
learn from trying circumstances. If you can understand this
meaning, then "There is the Tao in action in the adversary;
there is usefulness in vulnerability." Vulnerable, it is
like softness or frailty, but that is the usefulness of the
The verse continues: Returning to
the roots, great undertakings flourish. If you can
return to the roots and plumb the source, and recognize your
original self, then all virtues will be perfected. Living in
this world can be likened to acting in a movie or having a
dream. The Diamond Sutra says, "All conditioned dharmas are
like dreams, illusions, bubbles and shadows, like dew drops
and a lightning flash. Contemplate them thus." In this world
everything with form and characteristics is called
conditioned dharmas. They are like a dream which is unreal,
and like water bubbles and shadows which are nonexistent.
They are further compared to the dewdrops in the morning and
lighting, which are impermanent. One should contemplate and
understand in such a way.
The verse says: Zhang Zi-fang
apprenticed under Red Pine and mounted the yellow crane.
"Red Pine" (Chi Song) is the title of Taoist master Huang
Shi Gong or "The Elder Yellow Rock." Zhang Liang, during the
Three Kingdoms period, met Huang Shi Gong who had lost his
shoe at the Bridge. Zhang Liang retrieved the shoe, knelt
down in respect and returned it to the old man. Huang told
him he was going to give him some books on military
strategies and told him to come back the next day. That is
known as "retrieving the shoe and presenting it on the
Bridge." The next day, Zhang came back early in the morning
but saw that Huang was already waiting there. Huang scolded
him for being late and letting an elder wait for him. He
asked Zhang to come back again the following day. Zhang
reached the bridge early in the morning to collect the
books, but Huang again was waiting for him. Zhang thought to
himself this time, "He is always earlier than me no matter
what; I will stay here tonight and wait for him." At
midnight, Huang came back and saw Zhang kneeling there
bowing to him. Huang introduced himself as Huang Shi Gong,
or "Red Pine," and told him that they have great affinities
and he wished to transmit to him the three volumes of
celestial books containing instructions on managing and
stabilizing a country, self-cultivation, and military
Later, Zhang Liang studied and
familiarized himself with the three celestial volumes and
assisted Liu Bei in establishing the Han dynasty. He became
one of the three heroes of heaven and earth. After he had
successfully established the Han dynasty, Zhang renounced
all his wealth and fame and went off to cultivate the Way.
After perfecting his cultivation, he rode the yellow crane
to heaven. One does not need an airplane or a rocket to go
places. One is at ease either going to the heaven or staying
on earth. You should cultivating diligently if you want to
have this kind of freedom.
The verse continues: Mr. Xu can
be said to be Zhang's equal. Xu Shu can be compared
to Zhang Zi-fang (better known as Zhang Liang). Zhang Liang
knew how to retreat after his success. Although Xu Shu did
not have as much success or fame as Zhang, he was able to
withdraw and cultivate within a very short period of time.
They both had proper knowledge.