Posted 26 July 2006 - 04:02 PM
Posted 26 July 2006 - 08:32 PM
1) Han Wudi invited him for a meal in the palace. After the meal, he carried the leftover meat home, staining his clothes.
2) Han Wudi rewarded him with coins and bolts of silk, and he used them up by marrying a new wife every year and discarding the old one (i.e. each wife had a shelf life of one year). His wives were all young and beautiful, hence the need for large amounts of coins and silk as a bride price. People in the Han court began calling him "the madman".
3) In response to his being called a madman, Dongfang said that he had entered the palace to escape the world, unlike ancient hermits who entered the mountains to escape.
It is clearly stated by Sima Qian that Dongfang Shuo fell ill and died in his old age. But in the book "Biograpies of Immortals" by Liu Xiang of the late Western Han, Dongfang Shuo was transformed into a Daoist immortal:
Dongfang Shuo is from Yanci/Pingyuan commandery. He stayed for a long time in Wuzhong where he was school master for several decades. In the time of emperor Han Wudi (r. 140-87 BC), he presented several proposals and was made a court director. In the time of emperor Zhaodi (r. 86-74 BC), some people argued if he was a saint, but others said he was an ordinary person, because sometimes he had a very profound attitude, sometimes a superficial one, sometimes he was very open-minded, but sometimes very reserved. Nobody knows what to think about him, because he could be very sincere, but also extremely playful. During the reign of emperor Xuandi (r. 73-49 BC), he retired from office to escape the chaos of the official world. After laying down his director cap in the office, he was blown away by the wind. Later he was seen at Guiji where he sold drugs in the area of the Five Lakes. Wise people esteem that he was the spirit of the planet Jupiter.
(from http://www.chinaknow...exianzhuan.html )
This led Dongfang Shuo to become a prominent figure in Daoist immortality practices and religious sects. He is still worshipped by Daoists today. One famous Daoist story invented about him was that he stole the immortality peaches of the Queen Mother of the West, an important mythical figure in Han religion. He also became a favourite hero of Chinese jokes.
Some apocryphal stories about Dongfang Shuo:
Posted 26 July 2006 - 09:08 PM
Edit: btw, Dong fang su's displayed genius and importance in "Da Han Tian Zi" is WAY overexagerated. No one can possibly be that smart(excluding myself, naturally).
Edited by Anthrophobia, 27 July 2006 - 05:57 PM.
Posted 27 July 2006 - 03:56 PM
Posted 30 July 2006 - 07:43 AM
Posted 09 August 2006 - 03:46 PM
Some apocryphal stories about Dongfang Shuo:
"During the Wu Han Dynasty, the imperial court had an articles of tribute which included a glass of wine that was supposed to give the drinker eternal life. One day, a guy named Dongfang Shuo drank some of the wine thinking that nobody had seen him. Unfortunately, the King learnt about his act and was furious. He decided to put Dongfang Shuo to death.
Dongfang Shuo pleaded the King: "My Lord, the wine I drank was supposed to give me eternal life. That means I wouldn't die even if you kill me. If I should die, then the wine is not the real wine of eternal life."
The King was amused by what Dongfang Shuo said and he pardoned him."
That one is quite apocryphal indeed! It is a transposition of an anecdote by Han Feizi (who lived a couple of centuries before)
Here is a link to the original (or at least the older) Han Feizi version (from chapter 22, 說 林)
Edited by fcharton, 09 August 2006 - 03:51 PM.
Posted 07 August 2011 - 05:10 PM
[When Dongfang Shuo came to office] his stipend was meager, and he had not yet been granted an audience with the Emperor. After some time, Shuo played a trick on the dwarffs who worked in the stable, telling them, "His majesty has decided that you fellows are of no benefit to the government. In plowing fields and raising crops you are surely no match for ordinary men. Given official posts and put in charge of the multitude, you would never be able to bring order to the people. Assigned to the army and dispatched to attack the barbarians, you would be incapable of handling weapons. You contribute nothing to the business of the state- all you do is use up food and clothing! So now he has decided to have you killed."
The dwarfs, thoroughly terrified, began weeping and moaning, whereupon Shuo instructed them, saying, "When his Majesty passes by, knock your heads on the ground and beg for mercy." After a while, word came that the Emperor was on his way. The dwarves all wailed and bowed their heads, and when the Emperor asked them why they were doing that, they replied, "Dongfang Shuo told us your Majesty was going to have us all executed!"
The Emperor, knowing that Shuo was a man of many devices, summoned him and asked him what he meant by terrifying the dwarves in this fashion. Shuo replied, "I will speak out, whether it means life or death for me! The dwarves are somewhat over three feet in height, and as a stipend they receive one sack of grain and 240 cash each. I am somewhat over nine feet in height, and as a stipend I too receive the same amount. The dwarves are about to die of overeating. I am about to die of hunger. If my words are of any use, I hope I may be treated differently from them. If my words are of no use, then dismiss me. There's no point in merely keeping me around to eat up the rice of Chang'an!"
The Emperor roared with laughter and accordingly assigned him to await command at the Golden horse Gate. Little by little, Shuo gained the confidence of the Emperor.
Some time during the hottest days of summer, the Emperor ordered that a gift of meat be given to his attendants. But, although the day grew late, the assistant to the Imperial butler did not distribute the gift. Shuo then took it upon himself to draw his sword and cut off a portion of the meat, saying to his fellow officials, "In these hot days one ought to go home early. With your permission, therefore, I will take my gift." Then he put the meat into the breast of his robe and went off. The imperial butler reported him to the Emperor, and when Shuo appeared at court, the Emperor said, "Yesterday when the gift of meat was being given out, you did not wait for the Imperial command but cut off a piece of the meat with your sword and made away with it. What do you mean by doing such behavior?!"
Shuo doffed his cap and apologized, but the Emperor said, "Stand up, sir, and confess your faults!"
Shuo bowed twice and said, "All right now, Shuo! You accepted the gift without waiting for the Imperial command-what a breach of etiquette! You drew your sword and cut the meat-what singular daring! When you carved it up, you didn't take much, how abstemious of you! You took it home and gave it to the little lady-how big hearted!
The Emperor laughed and said, "I told you to confess your faults and here you are praising yourself!" Then he presented him with a further gift of a gallon of wine and a hundred catties of meat and told him to take them home to "the little lady."
Shuo said, "The affairs of Yao, Shun, Yu, Dang, Wen, Wu, Cheng and Kang belong to high antiquity; they took place several thousand years ago and are difficult to speak about. I for one would not venture to describe them. Instead I wish to talk of recent times, the age of Emperor Wen the Filial, which was seen and experienced in person by all the older men of today. At that time, though the ruler enjoyed all the honor of a Son of Heaven, all the wealth to be found within the four seas, he dressed himself in coarse black silk, wore on his feet shoes of untanned leather, and buckled on his sword with a simple thong. Sedge and rushes served for his mat, his weapons were of wood without any blades, his robes were stuffed with wadding and innocent of design. He gathered up the old bags that had been used to submit memorials to the throne and had them made into curtains for his hall, for he regarded the Way and its Virtue as his adornment, benevolence and righteousness as his standard. So it was that the whole world looked to his example and shaped its customs on this basis. With brilliant effectiveness, he reformed the people.
But now Your Majesty [Emperor Wu], regarding the area within the capital walls as too small, plans to build the Jianchang Palace. To the left your Phoenix Portals, to the right your Spirit Bright Tower-a thousand gates, ten thousand doors' is the way men speak of them. Even trees and earth mounds wear rich brocade, dogs and horses go draped in five-colored felt. Your palace people sport tortoise-shell combs and drip with round and oval pearls. You train stunt-riders in their chariots and set them racing and chasing; you adorn with hue and pattern, collect what is rare and strange. You strike bells that weigh ten thousand piculs, pound on drums that roll like thunder, command your actors and entertainers to perform, your women of Cheng to do dances. If a ruler indulges in such luxury and excess, and still hopes to persuade the common people not to be wasteful and extravagant, not to give up farming, I am afraid he will have a difficult time of it.
But if your Majesty would only follow my plan, would tear down the elegant draperies and burn them in the street where the avenues cross, then you would create an age of order worthy to stand beside the greatest days of Yao and Shun! The Book of Changes says, 'Make the base upright and ten thousand affairs will be ordered. An error of one inch can make a thousand miles' difference.' I hope your Majesty will consider the matter and give it careful thought.
At this time [during Emperor Wu's reign], there were many talented and worthy men at court. The Emperor continued to question Shuo, saying, "Nowadays we have men like Prime Minister Gongsun, Lord Ni, Dong Zhongshu, Xiahou Shichang, Sima Xiangru, Wuqiu Shouwang, Zhufu Yan, Zhu Maichen, Zhuang Zhu, Zhi An, Xiao Zang, Zhong Jun, Xu Yue and Sima Qian, all of great wisdom and understanding, with superlative talent in letters and learning. Looking at yourself, how do you think you compare?"
Shuo replied, "When I see them clacking teeth and fangs, puffing out jowls, spluttering from the mouth, craning necks and chins, lining up flank by thigh, pairing off buttock bones, snaking their way along, mincing side by side in crook-backed ranks, then I say to myself, Shuo, you may not be much, but you're still equal to all these gentlemen put together!"
Shuo answered all the Emperor's queries in this deft and nimble manner.
Edited by SlickSlicer, 07 August 2011 - 05:21 PM.
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