Zhuge Liang

I have loved Hong Kong films since the early 1990s when I saw John Woo’s  “Hard Boiled” with Chow Yun Fat and Tony Leung.  I love the epic historical film, as well.  I recently saw John Woo’s “Red Cliff” – the international release, not the “short” American release.  Red Cliff is spoken in Chinese and is well delivered by the wonderfully outstanding cast.  the english subtitles are beautifully written.  I totally enjoyed this film.

One of the historical main characters of the “Battle of Red Cliffs” is Zhuge Liang, a chancellor of Shu Han.  He lived 181–234, and is variously known as Kongming, aka Crouching Dragon.  The actor who is him totally brings this man to life –  I am enchanted with Zhuge Liang.

I am currently reading Thomas Cleary’s translation of Zhuge’s commentary on Sun Tzu’s “Art of War”.°  From his introduction are some quotes I especially like.  To his nephew he wrote:

“Aspirations should remain lofty and far-sighted. Look to the precedents of the wise. Detach from emotions and desires; get rid of any fixations. Elevate subtle feelings to presence of mind and sympathetic sense. Be patient in tight situations as well as easy situations; eliminate all pettiness.”

“Seek knowledge; be questioning widely; set aside aversion and reluctance. What loss is there in dignity, what worry is there of failure?”

“If your will is not strong, if your thought does not oppose injustice, you will fritter away your life stuck in the commonplace, silently submitting to the bonds of emotion, forever cowering before mediocrities, never escaping the downward flow.”

To his son:

“The practice of a cultivated man is to refine himself by quietude and develop virtue by frugality. With out detachment, there is no way to clarify the will; without serenity, there is no way to get far.”

“Study requires calm, talent requires study. Without study there is no way to expand talent; without calm there is no way to accomplish study.”

“If you are lazy, you cannot do thorough research; if you are impulsive, you cannot govern your nature.”

“The years run off with the hours, aspirations flee with the years. Eventually one ages and collapses. What good will lamenting over poverty do?”

It certainly sounds like he read both the Dao De Jing and the Nei-yeh.  In the movie, his character says, “To know a trifle about everything adds color to life,” which caused me to pause the film so I could write than down.  We are lucky to have what we do have about Zhuge Liang – I am glad to know such a man exists.

° technically, as far as i can discern, takeshi kaneshiro is the reincarnated zhuge liang, who at the time of the biounit known as zhuge liang’s occurance, zhuge liang was the reincarnated sunzi; which means that takeshi kaneshiro is the reincarnated Sun Tzu as well as the previously mentioned reincarnated zhuge liang, who is also known as KONGMING and crouching dragon.

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