Chapter 41: “Cat Theory” and Yang Shiqi
Having a deep understanding of Yin and Yang and the ability to perceive hidden truths, Dao Yan knelt down and paid his respects to Zhu Yunwen.
Zhu Yunwen issued an edict to restore Dao Yan’s secular name, Yao Guangxiao, and appointed him as the Left Buddhist Patriarch in the Central Buddhist Registry. He was also granted a position in the Hanlin Academy as an Hanlin Academician Expositor-in-waiting, responsible for reading historical books to the emperor, explaining classics, and providing advice.
Yao Guangxiao looked at Zhu Yunwen, unable to believe his ears.
Being an Hanlin Academician Expositor-in-waiting in the Hanlin Academy meant being half a member of the Grand Secretariat. Although lacking actual power, they possess the ability to influence the Emperor’s decisions!
How can one enter the Hanlin Academy without a distinguished past, without any background, without having passed the imperial examination, without any achievements, and without any governance experience, in relation to Emperor Jianwen and the Great Ming?
Originally, Yao Guangxiao thought that Zhu Yunwen’s decision to keep him was just a superficial excuse, randomly placing him in some insignificant position. However, now it seemed that Zhu Yunwen was serious, genuinely intending to utilize him!
Could it be that I Yao Guangxiao after decades of wasted time, would finally have the opportunity to fulfill my ambitions and not let my lifelong studies go in vain?
Yao Guangxiao’s promotion sparked intense debates in the court. Some officials petitioned, directly criticizing Zhu Yunwen, hoping that the emperor would not make arbitrary appointments and not heed malicious rumors. Some even went as far as to claim that there was no place for monks in the court.
However, these individuals forgot that Zhu Yuanzhang himself was once a monk. Why couldn’t Ming Dynasty have one more monk?
In his anger, Zhu Yunwen took out Deng Xiaoping’s “Cats theory” and wrote a three-thousand-word article, venting his dissatisfaction, expressing his innermost thoughts:
No matter if it’s a black cat or a white cat, as long as it can catch mice, it is a good cat.
Regardless of being a monk or a nun, as long as one possesses talent and ability, they can serve as officials.
Those who are capable will rise, while those who are mediocre will fall.
If you dare to hold onto your position without doing anything, I will let you be laid off and redirected to contribute to the agricultural development of Ming Dynasty.
“The way to recruit talent lies in observing their character, discerning their abilities, and utilizing the right people. After perusing numerous books, I particularly appreciate the following phrase: I urge Heaven to value vigor and not confine talent to any specific mold. After much consideration, I believe that this statement should serve as the fundamental strategy for selecting talent within the empire!”
Zhu Yunjuan’s article received great acclaim, from Xie Jin’s admiration to Xu Huizu’s skyward roar, and eventually, all officials paid their respects. All of this took only two days.
“Cats Theory” became the focal point of discussion in the Grand Secretariat and the Six Ministries, spreading from the court to the common people.
In no time, hand-copied versions of “Cats Theory” became the most popular reading material among the citizens of Nanjing. Seeing this trend, some bookstores even rushed to print and sell “Cats Theory” in the capital. Merchants leaving the capital would also bring along substantial copies of “Cats Theory”.
Soon after, “Cats Theory” by Emperor Jianwen started appearing in various places, including Suzhou, Hangzhou, Nanchang, Kaifeng, Jinan, Beijing, and others.
Wuchang Prefecture, Jiangxia.
A gentleman in his thirties, dressed in a dark blue robe, smiled and nodded at the children in the study hall. After the children paid their respects, they left the study hall.
To call this place a study hall was not entirely appropriate.
It was merely a makeshift room that had been tidied up.
And the students were just a few children from the countryside.
“Teacher Yang, haha, you’re still here,” Vice Director Ding Jin, walked briskly into the study hall, loudly calling out.
Yang Shiqi closed the book he was holding, “The Great Learning,” and looked up at Ding Jin, who had reached the doorway. He stood up and saluted, saying, “You are too kind, Vice Director.”
“Haha, there’s no need for such courtesy between us,” Ding Jin laughed heartily, lifted the food and winse in his hand, and said, “Today, I bring good news.”
Yang Shiqi was somewhat surprised, looking at Ding Jin, not understanding what had happened.
Ding Jin pulled Yang Shiqi to sit down, placed the food and wine on the table, and said with a smile, “It’s a great joy! Teacher Yang, you are going to the capital!”
“To the capital?”
Yang Shiqi stood up, his face filled with astonishment.
Ding Jin gestured for Yang Shiqi to sit down, rubbed his hands together, glanced at the dilapidated study hall, and said, “Your place here is too cold. But the days of hardship are over. First, read this article.”
Yang Shiqi took the article that Ding Jin pulled out from his pocket, lowered his head, and saw the words “Cats Theory” written on it. He couldn’t help but smile and say, “When did cats become something worth your surprise?”
“Just keep reading.”
Ding Jin filled his cup with wine and took a sip on his own.
Yang Shiqi carefully read through the article, and his originally smiling face gradually became serious. When he read the line “I urge Heaven to value vigor and not confine talent to any specific mold,” he even slapped the table and exclaimed, “What a great article!”
“Keep it down, you might spill my wine. Then I’ll have to punish you for disrespect!” Ding Jin chuckled.
Yang Shiqi continued to read the article several times, marveling at it, and said, “This ‘Cats Theory’ is straightforward and easy to understand, it establishes its point clearly, and it is remarkably distinctive. Reading it is like having a thunderous awakening and a sudden enlightenment. What is talent? How to select talent? It should be done according to this strategy for governing the world. Our current emperor is a wise ruler. I must pay my respects!”
After Yang Shiqi finished speaking, he placed “Cats Theory” on the table with utmost respect and performed a solemn bow.
Ding Jin nodded heavily, stood up, and accompanied Yang Shiqi in bowing.
Although “Cats Theory” was only three thousand words long, But if this argument is accepted, it signifies that the talents of the Great Ming will be given opportunities for prominent positions! Meanwhile, those mediocre individuals who have been idle and lived off their positions will be kicked out.
Yang Shiqi was not just bowing to Emperor Zhu Yunwen but also to the future of Ming Dynasty!
“Today, we won’t return until we are drunk!”
Yang Shiqi said solemnly.
Ding Jin burst into laughter and said, “If we don’t return until we are drunk, then let’s not talk about it. Drink less so that your old mother won’t worry.”
Yang Shiqi laughed heartily, tears glistening in his eyes.
After the New Year, he would turn thirty-six.
At the age of one, he lost his father and traveled with his mother.
At the age of six, his mother remarried to Luo Xing, and he changed his surname to Luo.
During the ancestral worship in the Luo family, he made a clay statue to worship his ancestors from the Yang family. Luo Xing discovered it and recognized his ambition, so he restored his Yang surname and supported him in pursuing education.
Later, Luo Xing offended a powerful figure and was sent to the frontier, where he passed away.
With no one to rely on, he could only bring his elderly mother and make a living by teaching.
Although he had served as a local teaching officer, he lost his official seal and had to flee with his mother, wandering and seeking refuge in Hubei and Hunan.
People are not afraid of hardships; they fear not seeing the end of their hardships.
Yang Shiqi understood clearly that with the publication of “Cats Theory,” his day of success would come.
Ding Jin raised his wine bowl and smiled, saying, “Teacher Yang, the magistrate of Hanyang Wang Shuying, and Hanlin Academician Fang Xiaoru, are close friends. Wang Shuying highly values your talent. After the New Year, it will be the first year of the Jianwen reign. The Emperor will surely order the compilation of the ‘Veritable Records of the Ming Dynasty.’ Magistrate Wang has already recommended you to the higher authorities. I believe it won’t be long before you enter the capital.”
Yang Shiqi smiled and said, “If that’s the case, I should express my gratitude to Magistrate Wang.”
“Just thank Magistrate Wang? What about me?”
“Naturally, I am grateful as well. Haha.”
The two laughed heartily in the dilapidated study hall.
In mid-December, in the King of Yan’s Mansion in Beiping.
Zhu Di had been acting crazy for a while, but pretending to be mad all the time wasn’t a good solution. After all, winter swimming wasn’t that cold, but if he didn’t change clothes after coming ashore, he would freeze to death.
Acting crazy and foolish was acceptable, but if he went too far and lost his life, it wouldn’t be worth it.
So Zhu Gaochi and others arranged for the King of Yan’s guards to tie up Zhu Di and bring him back to the King of Yan’s Mansion. Although he occasionally went out to cause trouble, the frequency became less and less. Eventually, he simply hid at home and acted crazy.
Some time ago, Zhu Di received a letter from King of Ning, Zhu Quan, which described the “Palace Debate” between Zhu Quan and Zhu Yunwen before Zhu Quan left the capital. He advised Zhu Di to give a similar performance and wrap it up.
Zhu Di hid in a corner of the house, wrapped in a quilt, shivering as he watched the door. After the commotion at the door subsided, he stopped trembling.
At the end of November, Zhu Gaochi, on behalf of Zhu Di, promised safety and implemented the New Military Policy into the Three Guards, stabilizing the Three Guards and buying time.
However, what Zhu Gaochi didn’t expect was that the New Military Policy was not just about policies but also about ideology.
Zhu Yunwen’s intention was clear. Since you have implemented New Military Policy, it is only natural to accept ideological education that promotes “loyalty to the emperor and patriotism, defending our Ming Dynasty’s mountains and rivers.”
As a result, a group of Confucian scholars were stationed in each guard.
These scholars had a solid foundation in the ideology of loyalty to the emperor and patriotism, and conducting ideological education and cultural propaganda was a matter of course. However, Zhu Yunwen highlighted certain key points to strengthen the effectiveness of ideological education.
To cultivate the soldiers the will to ‘fear no hardship and fight tenaciously’, to instill in them the belief in ‘fighting for their family, their country, and the Great Ming, willing to kill enemies a thousand miles away and die a heroic death,’ and to foster their aspirations of ‘achieving meritorious deeds and being rewarded with high positions despite starting from humble beginnings’…
Zhu Di understood that the current Three Guards of King of Yan, although still bearing the name “King of Yan,” had essentially become Zhu Yunwen’s personal guard.
Before the Three Guards begin their training, they must swear loyalty to the court, loyalty to the Jianwen Emperor, and loyalty to the Great Ming. After the training, they must shout the slogan “For the country, kill the enemy, and fear no death.” Even before the soldiers go to sleep, they have to shout out loud, “Build the New Army, defend our mountains and rivers.”
Even the veteran soldiers and generals of the King of Yan’s Mansion gradually become distant from the King of Yan’s Mansion.
Footsteps were heard outside the door, and Zhu Di immediately trembled.
The door opened, and Zhu Gaochi walked in, closed the door, approached Zhu Di, and knelt down, presenting a small booklet to Zhu Di, saying, “Father, news has come from the capital. Master Dao Yan has entered the Hanlin Academy. This ‘Cats Theory’ is a strategy written by the Emperor for the appointment of Master Dao Yan, also known as the ‘Talent Theory of the Great Ming.'”
Zhu Di stopped trembling, his scattered gaze gradually focused, looking deeply at Zhu Gaochi, and asked, “Master Dao Yan has entered the Hanlin Academy?”
Zhu Gaochi nodded sadly and said, “It is absolutely true.”
The corners of Zhu Di’s mouth trembled, his eyes filled with disbelief, and he said, “This can’t be true! Master Dao Yan has a deep and loyal relationship with me. He is my confidant. I have known him for over ten years. How can this be possible!”
Zhu Gaochi sighed and said, “I don’t know the details, but the fact remains. According to the information obtained from King of Ning, it is highly likely that the Emperor has already anticipated our every move, Father, we… should lower our heads!”
Zhu Di leaned against the wall and chuckled.
Countless times, he had dreamed of taking over the imperial seal from his father, Zhu Yuanzhang, and sitting on the supreme throne, giving orders, and ruling over the Great Ming!
But would dreams ultimately be shattered by reality?
His good nephew!
He was a cunning person, a capable person, and apparently a competent emperor!
But to make him bow and submit!
He was unwilling!
“Father, Big Brother.”
Zhu Gaoxu rushed into the room, bringing a gust of cold wind and uttered a sentence that made Zhu Di and Zhu Gaochi shudder:
“Master Dao Yan has returned!”
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