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New Art Of War: Know When To Plow a Lonely Furrow

New Art Of War: Know When To Plow a Lonely Furrow

PARK Jae-Hee

Apr. 4, 2008


Hello, I am Jae-Hee Park on The New Art of War.

When someone’s life is turned upside down it is all the more disheartening to find out that he has been victimized by people’s schemes.

Qu Yuan, a great poet and a minister of Chu during the Warring States Period, was such a victim. He was banished from his country and left to wander from place to place. But a chance encounter helped enlighten him about his place in this world.

Qu Yuan was murmuring poems as he walked along a river bank. He was despondent and disheveled.

A fisherman saw him and asked: “Aren’t you His Excellency the minister? What has laid you so low?”

Qu Yuan replied: “For all the world is muddy and I alone am clean; for all men are drunk and I alone am sober.it is for this that I was exiled.”

Qu Yuan lamented that the entire world was corrupt and intoxicated while only he was clean and awake.

The fisherman said, “A sage does not stay apart and aloof, but adapts to his environment. If all the world is muddy, why not beat up the mud and stir up waves? If all men are drunk, why not drink their dregs? Why get yourself exiled because of your deep thoughts and noble aspirations?”

Qu Yuan replied, “I have heard of he who has rinsed his hair then brushes his cap; he who has washed his body then shakes his clothes. One does not sully his own cleanliness with filthiness. I would rather jump into the river, bury myself in the bellies of the fishes, than suffer my own purity to be covered by the dirt of the vulgar world.”

On hearing this, the fisherman smiled and began to row away. He did not say anything more. But he sang out :

“When the river water runs clear and fleet it is fit to rinse hat-tassels. When the river water’s full of murk, it will still suffice to wash my feet.”

No matter what the world offers you just live by your own principles. It does not really matter what the outside world offers you. Just keep your head down and focused on your task at hand.

Our lives are so hectic these days. We come across so many different kinds of people while witnessing injustice and mistreatment. When you face these things, remember this dialogue between Qu Yuan and the fisherman to keep your spirits up.

This has been a lecture on The New Art of War by Jae-Hee Park.

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