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Broken Sandal, Wei Qi and Great Composure
Zeng GuoFan, played a game of go each day for his mental well-being during the war. He was a quiet person, who seldom showed his emotions. Zeng was know for his calmness and composure. However, when told that AnQing city was recovered following the annihilation of the enemys army lead by Hong Yang, Zeng was so happy that his eyes were filled with tears. And he was so excited that he almost fainted. Luckily, no one but his son Ji Ze saw what happened. Zeng was very regretful afterwards that he became so emotional. The story of Xie An of Dong Jin Dynasty (317-420 A.D.) kept floating to his mind. And Xie An was whom Zeng respected most. When Xie Ans nephew brought him the news that his enemies were defeated in the Battle of FeiShui, Xie quietly uttered, "the kids have defeated the thieves", and continued his game of Go with his guest. Zeng felt embarrassed that he lost his cool when compared to his idol.
Xie An, also know as An Shi, was a scholar during Dong Jin. He was very famous at a young age, and had been evading invitations from the government to become an official. Xie made his home in Dong Shan of HuiJi, and spent his time reading and studying. He loved wine and playing Go. Xie was often compared to a piece of precious jade hidden in a jewelry box waiting to be discovered. Others questioned, "Without Xie working for the government, who is going to deliver the people from suffering?" When Xie finally decided to serve the country, he was over 40 years old and he became the minister of Emperor Xiao Wu. During the eighth year of TaiYuan, Qi (another kingdom) decided to annihilate Dong Jing by sending a million soldiers led general by Fu Jian. At that time, Dong Jin was very weak, with less than 70 or 80 thousand soldiers only. The entire kingdom was shocked as the news of Qins invasion spread. Emperor Xiao Wu ordered Xie An to resist the invasion, giving him the title of the Chief General. Xie carried this enormous responsibility on his back, knowing that if he failed, the whole kingdom would be destroyed. Every relative of Xie was worried for him. When Xie came home that night, all his family members were nervous and wanted to know his plans. Xie deliberately evaded the questions, but instead started a game of Go with his nephew, betting the game on his villa. Xie Ans nephew, Xie Xuan was also a general of Dong Jin. But unlike Xia An, Xuan was extremely nervous about the invasion. Normally, Xuan was a much better Go player than Xie An, who didnt stand a chance of beating his nephew. However, due to Xuan's worries, he couldn't concentrate on the game and lost to his uncle. With this lesson, Xie An told his nephew that being stronger does not always guarantee victory. The same night, Xie ordered his army to get ready for the war. From this story of "betting a game of Go on a villa", we learn that in order to persevere and come out ahead, one must be calm and collected when faced with adverse situations.
Xie Xuan lead 80,000 soldiers and left Jiang Bei to meet their invaders. The two armies clashed at Fei Shui. After a fierce battle, Dong Jins armies were victorious over their enemies. The Qin army was so badly defeated that straw and trees were mistook as soldiers as they fled. (According to the legend, Xie An did use dummies as soldiers to confuse the Qin army.) When the news of victory reached Xie An, who was playing a game of Go with his guest, and he remained calm and composed,. Xie An biography in Jin Shu described the situation as follow, "After Xie An read the news of victory, he calmly put down the message and continued with his game of Go, not showing any emotion. When asked by his guest, Xie replied, "the kids had defeated the enemies". After the game, he returned to his bedroom. He was so happy that he tripped over a step and broke his sandal without knowing. What a good job Xie did in staying composed before his guests!
Xie An, with his calmness and composure has been respected by the Chinese throughout history. Wang Hui of the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) painted Minister Xie An Playing Wei Qi, and in an accompanying poem, he wrote, "The outcome was clear to him, he who deployed the unexpected army. The news of victory could not affect him, he who continued his game of Wei Qi with a smile." Long DingZi, a poet in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) paid tribute to the battle field of Fei Shui and wrote, "Broken sandal, Wei Qi and great composure, even the mountains bow down before him." Although Xie An did let his emotion take over a bit and accidentally broke his sandal, his overall calmness in accepting the news of victory with a smile while playing Go had earned him a name of great composure in history.
Copyright Yutopian Enterprises 1999.
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