Living Leisurely in Tang Dynasty Chapter 83

Li Yuanying successfully persuaded Li Zhi. He then dragged him along to look for Li Chunfeng to get the relevant records.

Hearing that the young prince wanted to debate about this topic, Li Chunfeng tried persuading him with a few words, telling him to not simply spread ideas casually.

Anyone who wants to overthrow this theory is liken to wanting to offend Confucian scholars all around the world. Since it is a fact that the monarch believes that he is ordained by the Heavens, then when his ministers want to persuade him, they can only use theory relating to destiny.

It is actually a kind of “Confucianism” to associate various “disasters” with politics and religion observed by the King and court.

Confucius knowledge and Confucius tactics only has 1 different character but the meaning behind both words were very different.

Knowledge refers to learning the school of thought but tactics refers to using it as a strategy of sorts.

Therefore, whoever wants to kill the theory of catastrophe, is equivalent to wanting to take away a big tool from the hands of Confucian scholars. This person will definitely become a thorn in the side of many people and may even be attacked by groups!

Li Chunfeng had a superior above him and didn’t need to take on everything by himself. He had time to study lots of miscellaneous things with observing astronomical phenomena being his specialty. However as he studied more in-depth about this topic, he finds more flaws in previous theories.

Whether it is the study of yin and yang or the various sayings in Confucianism, they are quite contrary to the laws of various celestial phenomena he has observed.

Li Chunfeng is a smart person who is well aware that being in his early thirties, his age is not seen as senior for his profession and his qualifications even less. If he speaks out about something rashly, he will only be attacked for being a lunatic. On the contrary, if he can subtly mix in what he has mastered into what he is learning then it becomes believable for the masses and he can obtain a promotion or benefits from it.

The thought of wanting to debunk a theory completely in such a simple and rude way has never occurred to him before.  

He thought for a moment, then recommended a book to Li Yuanying: “Have you read <<Discourses Weighed in the Balance (Lunheng)>> before, Your Highness?”

Li Yuanying shook his head.

“I have the collection here. If your highness is interested, you can take it back and have a look. There may be something you need in it.”

When Li Yuanying heard that he had to read another book on his own he frowned and asked, “Is it interesting?”

Li Chunfeng stroked his beard. “It’s interesting. Theories of a hundred schools of thought are in it and there are some with special insights of its own.”

Li Yuanying happily carried two books. The <<comet records>> and <<Lunheng>> and left with Li Zhi.

 “Since the minister also said not to write this article, why don’t we just stop?” (Li Zhi)

Li Yuanying didn’t think much at first, but now that he  has heard what Li Chunfeng has to say, he also felt that it’s not a good idea to encourage Li Zhi to continue with it. Li Zhi has always been a good boy, Kong Yingda and the other ministers are always full of praises for him. It’s not right to suddenly ask him to write such deviant things.

 “Okay, don’t write.” (Li Yuanying)

Li Zhi looked at the  books that Li Yuanying was holding.

“Then shall we return these manuscripts?” (Li Zhi)

“I said that we won’t write the article but I still want to learn and read this. Up to you if you want to follow me.”  (Li Yuanying)

After thinking, he gave Li Zhi the task of tutoring the girls today so that he can go home and read both books by himself.

Li Zhi objected: “I can’t teach sister Shu.”

Li Zhi  realized that the pace of Li Yuanying’s learning was shocking. Two years ago young uncle was just a blank slate but now he has already read more books than himself. Recently, Li Yuanying invited Wei Shu over to study with them and Li Zhi suffered another blow. This little girl is not much older than Sizi but her calligraphy and comprehension are way better than most people. She doesn’t act like a 7 or 8 years old child at all!

Yuanying has no care for Li Zhi’s feelings and proudly said: “Of course, you don’t read as much as Sister Shu. How about this? You ask sister shu if she is interested to drop by my place to read these 2 new books with me. We can divide our troops into two groups and learn from each other!”

Li Zhi nodded and went to join Chengyang and the others.

After a while, Wei Shu came over bringing along Li Zhi and Cheng Yang. The study room today has been changed to Li Yuanying’s courtyard. One group studied for their exams whith the other group read about comets and Lun Heng.

Gao Yang was not interested, so she went to play polo with friends.

Li Yuanying passed part of <<Lun Heng>> to Wei Shu as the work was divided into many volumes. The two quickly immersed themselves in this brand new book.

In the next few days, Yuanying discussed and debated on the questionable content with Wei Shu. They  quickly swept through all 80 volumes of it.

This book doesn’t fall under the study of Confucius or Taoism. It can only be classified as an “extraordinary book” as what Li Chungfeng has said it was.

 The views expressed here are even contrary to what Li Chunfeng does in his daily life. The author of this book was an Eastern Han man named Wang Chong  who was an atheist.

The author Wang Chong in his works refuted the theory of interaction between heaven and man which Confucian scholars in the Han Dynasty strongly believes in. His point of view is: If there really was something called the will of heaven, then surely it is possible to directly send those message to the wise monarch. Why didn’t Heaven choose to mandate someone wise like Yao Shun to rule but instead choose incompetent and mediocre rulers and then had to repeatedly send warnings and mandates from heaven to condemn the world? Isn’t this too tiring for Heaven?!

Therefore, Wang Chong refuted strongly against such theories that were often talked about by the Eastern and Western Han Dynasties. The author believes that the treasures of heaven and earth are natural occurrence and have nothing to do with the king and court. You are just seeing things by chance; the disaster visions occur and disappear by themselves and have nothing to do with anyone, merely just chance encounters.

Regarding solar eclipse, Wang Chong wrote this: “The sky changes, the eclipse of the sun and the moon, the solar eclipse at forty two months, the solar eclipse in May and June. Constant eclipses, not due to politics, ever-changing disasters are all the same, not necessarily caused by politics or religion.” This means that solar eclipses and lunar eclipses can be calculated, and politics or religion have nothing to do with it. If you don’t believe me, you can calculate it according to the rules I have shared and see if it is indeed true!

After reading this passage, Yuanying lifted his spirits and asked that Chunfeng’s records on solar and lunar eclipses be brought to him so that he can try match Wang Chong’s algorithm.

Unfortunately, the eclipse observed during Zhenguan period did not conform to the theory of “one solar eclipse ievery forty two months”.

But it doesn’t matter. Li Yuanying will only single out things that agrees and make sense to him. Other conflicting views he will throw them aside and not  take it seriously.

Since he has decided not to get Li Zhi the good baby involve, he and Wei Shu work together. Wei Shu sorted out events related to astrology and eclipses while Yuanying was tasked with identifying all past major disasters and events that happened in the last 300 years.

After several days of hard work, they finally sorted out two long scrolls that could correspond to each other.

Arranging them in chronological order, it became clear whether these so-called “condemnation” is related to a monarch’s virtue. In years that the heaven had shown warnings and there were indeed times where disasters happened but not consistently. Similarly in years where there were no warnings, great disasters had also occurred.  There were even records of countries being wiped off the map without any signs.

It’s a pity that the comparison scrolls came out a little too late.

While they were busy, Li Er had already issued an edict stating that he would not go to Mount Tai next year.

Although Yuanying regretted the news about not being able to go to Mount Tai and to conveniently visit his future fief, he still took the scrolls to Li Er.

Having nothing crucial to handle at the moment, Li Er let the boy in.  Li Yuanying excitedly ran towards him.

“Brother, Sister Shu and I have compiled two manuscripts. Let me show it to you!”

Li Er nodded and ordered someone to clear the desk in front of him temporarily.

Li Yuanying hurriedly spread out his scrolls.

Two volumes as one and both records were tabulated by year. Floods, droughts, military disasters and wars did not overlap with “visions” such as eclipses and comets.

His Majesty did not expect Li Yuanying to come up with such a thing.

Such clear layout, it was impossible for the Emperor not to understand such clear comparison.

Li Yuanying sat in front of  Li Er and said: “These celestial phenomena have nothing to do with the broom star at all. In years with these phenomena, there were also great harvests and victories and in years without them, there were also catastrophes, defeats, and even national subjugation.”

He took Li Er’s hand and said firmly, “So, whether there is a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse or a star, it has nothing to do with how well you, the Emperor is doing! Brother, you are a good emperor. The best one!”

Li Er looked at the little boy sitting next to him and then at the two long scrolls .

“You guys, such consideration.”

Yuanying saw that Li Er’s eyebrows became relaxed and was in a better mood. He then told him about what Li Chunfeng had shared with him.

Li Yuanying frowned and asked: “Brother, is it really that hard and complicated when dealing with Old Wei and the others?”

Li Er glanced at his brother, tapped the scrolls lightly and said warmly, “Whether you believe these claims or not is not the most important thing.”

 Li Yuanying sat up straight, waiting for His Majesty to continue.

“These statements are for the people. If the people believe them then they become facts. If they don’t then it’s b*llshit. If we want people to trust that the Emperor has the mandate from heaven then we need to accept the relations and theories between heaven and man.”

Listening to this, Yuanying felt a little bit clear but also a little bit lost. He pondered quietly before sharing his stance.

“Brother, you feel that not all Kings is able to restrain themselves, therefore even when your men  chase after you and criticize you, you do not refute them but instead follow whatever the common men believes.”

This is tantamount to putting yourself in shackles to set an example for future generations. So that future kings will not shut their eyes and ears and become tyrants.

 Li Er nodded.

Li Yuanying is an expert in finding different angles and fault. “Brother, why didn’t you tell me you didn’t believe in these superstition? You make us work for nothing!”

Li Er thinks that his younger brother is smart. But sometimes he is likable and sometimes very annoying.

When he was young, he followed his late father in raising troops. Due to this his hands were stained with the blood of countless people. He even got the throne by stepping on his brother’s corpse. If  there was really fate and destiny, why did he have to fight his brother to the point of death for the throne? If he really believed in these teachings, wouldn’t he have to go to hell after death?

Therefore, he doesn’t believe in God or destiny.

He only want to live this life well, manage this chaotic dynasty well and leave a stable Tang to future generations.

If Li Yuanying hadn’t work so hard with Sister Shu to compile these scrolls to console the Emperor, Li Er would not have shared these thoughts with the boy.

Li Er looked at Li Yuanying solemnly: “In the future, you should think less about these things and read more useful books. You are not the only smart person in the world. What you can think of, others can think of; what you can see, others can too.”

Sensing the seriousness, Yuanying couldn’t hold back. “Brother, you have worked so hard.”

He also seriously assured him. “Brother, don’t worry. When I go to my land, I will repair the roads as soon as possible. Brother, you can visit me and often play at Mount Tai!”

Li Er heard Yuanying’s bold promises and couldn’t take anything seriously. He leaned back leisurely and pointed at the long scrolls.

“Look at your handwriting, it’s far worse than your little sister. Instead of talking big every day, why not practice your handwriting first.” .”

Li Yuanying: “…”

Notes from the author:

Little Prince: Furious.jpg

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