CHAPTER 7: FROM NOTHING BORN SOMETHING
Beautiful Chinese women, picture taken from https://www.hotpot.tv/news/top-10-most-watched-chinese-dramas-of-2019
Meaning and Philosophy
If you have to do something to save a difficult situation, do not just act on that something. Create another situation so that by attending to the second situation, you or other people will contribute to the first situation.
After the death of Shi Hwang Ti, the First Emperor of Qin, his second son, Hu Hai, was made the next emperor. Hu Hai was incapable and was under the control of the Prime Minister, Zhao Gao.
Zhao Gao wanted to usurp power but he was weary of other ministers of the court. He schemed to prove that the emperor was mentally sick.
One day he brought a deer into court and presented it to the emperor.
“My Lord,” he told the emperor, “I wish to present a fine horse to you.”
The emperor was puzzled. He had another look at the animal, and said to Zhao Gao, “Prime Minister, this is a deer, not a horse.”
Zhao Gao pretended to be concerned. “My Lord, you may be sick. This is a horse, and not a deer.”
The emperor was more puzzled. Zhao Gao grabbed the opportunity. He asked a minister whom he knew would support him., “Now, please tell our Majesty whether it is a deer or a horse.”
The frightened minister said, “Your Majesty, it is a horse.”
Zhao Gao then asked another minister whom he knew was loyal to him. Pointing to the deer, he said, “Is it a deer or a horse?”
“It’s a horse.”
Zhao Gao continued to ask a few more ministers, and all of them said it was a horse.
Eventually the emperor himself was very confused. He thought he was really sick.
Zhang Yi and Two Beautiful Women
During the Period of Warring States (472-271 BCE) Zhang Yi went to see the King of Chu. The King however did not pay much attention to him.
After staying for some time, Zhang Yi told the Chu King, “My Lord, if you have no use of me here, please give me permission to go to the State of Jin.”
“Oh yes,” the Chu King said, “You can go wherever you want.”
“Although you have no use of me, my heart is still with the State of Chu. Do you want me to bring back anything from the State of Jin?”
“No, thank you. We have everything here. We have plenty of gold, pearl and silk in Chu. There isn’t anything Jin can offer me.”
“Don’t you want the beautiful women of Jin?” Zhang Yi said. “Jin women are most beautiful. They are like fairies. Their skin is pearly fair, their hair is silky black, their cheeks are rosy, their eyes sparkle, and when they speak their voices sound like peels of crystal bells.”
The Chu King was visibly moved. “Yes, I shall give you some money for the journey. Please come back quickly with these beauties.” The King ordered some imperial guards to give Zhang Yi some pieces of gold.
Zhang Yi delayed his journey, and deliberately spread the news that he would bring back some beautiful women from the State of Jin for the Chu King.
The King had two favourite concubines, and soon they heard the news.
Out of impatience, the King went to see Zhang Yi. “Why haven’t you started your journey?” the King asked. “Go quickly and come back quickly with the beauties.”
“I’ll set off tomorrow. But before I leave, it will be great if Your Majesty can show me two most beautiful women in Chu so that I can make comparison with the beauties in Jin.”
“I’ll hold a banquet for you this evening, and ask my two beautiful concubines to join us,” said the King.
At the banquet in the presence of the two beautiful concubines, Zhang Yi knelt before the King. “Your Majesty, I deserve your punishment.”
“What punishment?” the King asked.
Referring to the two concubines, Zhang Yi said, “You have two most beautiful women in the whole world. After seeing their rare beauty, the women of Jin just have no comparison.”
The King was very happy. “Everyone has said my two concubines are the most beautiful women in the world.” He made Zhang Yi a court minister, and Zhang Yi proved to be very capable. The two concubines also frequently presented Zhang Yi with gold and silver.
How Peter the Great Saved Russia
At the beginning of the 18th century Russia and Sweden fought to control the Baltic Sea. King Charles XII of Sweden organized a huge expedition against the Baltic region of Russia. Russia was ill-prepared for the conflict, and kept retreating. There was much disagreement amongst the Russian generals. Many of them were of the opinion to forgo defence of the Baltic region and retreated back to the Russian mainland.
Peter the Great employed the strategy of “From Nothing Born Something” to save the Russian Baltic region. He sent out messages to Russian generals to marshal huge forces to attack the Swedish navy. In truth Russia did not have huge forces at this time. It was a ruse to trick the Swedish and it worked very well.
The messengers acted carelessly on purpose. The secret message was soon knew by many people. Some of the messengers were caught by the Swedish navy, and the message reached King Charles XII.
The Swedish King thought to himself. “So this is the reason why we could take Russian ports so easily. They have a trap for us. The Russian armies purposely retreated to ensnare us with their huge forces.” So King Charles XII thoughtfully retreated his huge navy, and Russia was saved.
A Beautiful Story of Hands and Sheep
This strategy of “From Nothing Born Something” is frequently used in the business world with outstanding results.
In the 1970s, a certain American company in California successfully employed this strategy to beat many other companies selling similar products.
The winning publicity of this company is an advertisement showing a human hand with a herd of sheep. There was a beautiful story behind this advertisement which touched the heart of many people resulting in rising sales of the company products.
Long ago there was a king who loved delicious food. The king had an excellent chef and whatever food made by him was very delicious.
One day the king found the taste of his food different. He summoned the chef, and found that both hands of the chef were swollen. The chef was also in great pain. The king ordered his royal physicians to cure the chef, but to no avail.
So the chef left the king’s service and wandered into the woods. He stayed with a shepherd and helped him tend his sheep. Sometimes he helped the shepherd shear wool. Surprisingly, he found that the swelling and pain in his hands gradually diminished, and eventually he was pain-free and his hands back to normal.
The chef went back to the king. The king was very happy to see him with his healthy hands again, and of course he continued to enjoy his delicious food.
This beautiful story was created by the Californian company, and it helped to boost the sales of its products.
Hands and Sheep, picture taken from https://mustdonewzealand.co.nz/tours/kaikoura-the-point-sheep-shearing-show/
Questions and Answers on the 36 Strategies -- Overview