• 2008-03-30

    power of serenity 恬静的力量


     Emperor Xiao Zong of Ming Dynasty

    I was reading Ming Dynasty history recently and was occasionally saddened by the fact that all the "leading roles",likeable or not,heroes or villains,had all faded into oblivion,swept mercilessly into the musty corner of history...

    Now looking back,All the fame and fortune that they all jockeyed,fought,even killed for in their lifetime was rendered so insignificant you start to become exceptionally philosophical.You ask sobering questions like,Was it worthwhile? What's the point of all the infighting,conspiracies,rancors and killings? Or more to the point yet,what's the point of fighting for the fame and forture after all, since you know you could not expect to outlast the glory or comfort they offer?

    But it's still a saddening fact that everything is now GONE,nothing lasts,nobody,absolutely nobody stays...

    I was especially moved by one female figure while reading and contemplating.She was the concubine of Emperor Xian Zong and the mother of Emperor Xiao Zong(see the portrait).We never knew her name, she was only known as Concubine Ji.She was not a Beijing Native,she was not from Northern China,she was not even a Han person.She was the daughter of a leader of Minority clan in Southwestern China(Hezhou,GuangXi to be exact).Her coming to the capital and becoming the concubine of the reigning emperor is nothing short of a legend.

    As the history goes,Her father rebelled and was suppressed by the emperor.Ji,as his daughter, was taken captive and sent to Beijing to serve as court lady(which was rather customary at that time).Things like this happened a lot in the past,but why,you might wonder,would this ever change her fate,promoting her from semi-serfhood to the coveted position of emperor's concubine?

    Fate is a good thing,so is personality.Her radiating SERENITY catapulted her onto the glorified altar, and into history...

    She was a very serene girl,by nature, and her serenity was so very much charming.Always calm and unperturbed,she EMBRACED her abrupt turn of Fortune.Now that I'm a servant,then Let me be a GOOD and COMPETENT servant,goes her thinking.And Become an excellent servant she did.She was also literate(very rare in Ancient China) and very smart,always able to grasp the root concept of situations.But most likeable of her traits is serenity,that graceful,elegant,disarming serenity.Nothing could ever ruffle her,she always held her cool,her grace,that detached air of her.THIS KIND OF SERENITY,I think and BELIEVE,is the most charming,most lovable,most desirable characteristic a woman would want to boast.

    So desirable that  even the Emperor fell for it.What happened next was not ficition,it was real history.One night, as fate would have it,The Emperor happened to visit the workplace of Ji, and of course,he met her there.At first he just casually asked her a few questions related to her job, and the next moment he was stricken.It was not what she said,or failed to say,but the way she answered the questions,the way she carried herself throughout.As you may have expected,ordinary court ladies would be so surprised and exhilarated by the sudden presence of the Emperor that they all trembled and stammered.But not this Girl.She remained cool and detached,as if she was answering a lost person who politedly asked directions.And she answered detailedly,accurately,pointedly,elegantly,gracefully.Upon finishing,she politely retreated sideways and bowed her head.Right on the spot The Emperor was smitten,by the disarming charm of her serenity.In his eyes,she was so special she differentiated herself from other boring servants.They were just servants,objects,instruments,nothing different from a hand rack,but not this girl.Never.She was a real woman,THE real woman,epitomizing feminism to the utmost.In his eyes,one true woman like her could easily beat thousands of beautiful puppets...

    That night he stayed with her.Soon thereafter she found she was pregnant. And typically enough,she remained calm,doing her job efficiently as usual.Actually a smart girl like her had sensed imminent danger.

    (background info: The head concubine,Wan,took care of the reigning Emperor since he was a child and they grew very close over the years.Capitalizing upon the close bond between the Emperor and her,she ruthlessly ruled the concubines.She herself was too old to be mom, so she couldn't bear to see other concubines bear children.Every time a concubine became pregnant,she sent people to abort the baby.Or if she was mad enough,she could just take the lives of the moms.So The Emperor remained heirless for many years and he began to fear sterility.)

    Ji made a bold move - she decided to give birth to her baby,at the risk of her own life.Thanks to a few kind-hearted eunuchs and concubines,she was able to give birth secretly and the secret remained sealed for 6 years.

    But they could not just keep her son(the legit heir to the throne) for ever.So they let the Emperor know,who was so elated he held the child in his arms and cried,"he is my son!He looks like Me!..."Concubine Wan got to know this shattering news and vowed to cut Ji to pieces.

    True to her trait,Ji calmly committed suicide in her house.She foresaw this at the very beginning and she chose to fit into this fate fearlessly and gracefully.She could  be low-profile and safe,but she chose to BE a proud mom,even if she must embrace death.Alas,how gracefully she embraced it...Just the way she lived her life,she died an elegant death.

    Her son,who later became Emperor Xiao Zong,was an exceptionally good ruler.He worked very hard during his reign, and died at the young age of 36 because of overwork.He was remembered as an outstanding emperor and a remarkable person in history.I think his Mom,Ji,would have been very proud of him.

    Ji led a tragic life.She was taken capitive while very young, and taken away from her hometown.Her loved ones were all slaughtered.She worked very hard at her work while in the Palace,and when she was pregnant she wasn't even allowed to have her own baby.But throughout all these mishaps and hardships,she remained unperturbed,held her cool, retained her inbred grace and serenity,living truthfully her life as a true woman,the most charming woman...

    And she was also a great mom.Would anyone ever be able to doubt it that a mom who chose to sacrifice her own life for her son is a GREAT mom?