Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Compass AE Origins (3): Information on Jiang Tai Gong

A footnote on Jiang Tai Gong
Jiang Tiao Gong (JTG) was a famous strategist, who lived in the 11th century B.C. He became advisor to King Wen and his son King Wu, founders of the Zhou dynasty (1122-771 BC). JTG was supposedly instrumental in aiding the fall of the Shang Dynasty (approximately 1700 BCE - 1045 BCE) and in establishing the Zhou (1045 BCE - 221 BCE). He was also the prime minister for the first Zhou emperor and his loyalty and farsightedness in governing spread his fame throughout China. The legend of Jiang Taigong captured popular imagination.

Jiang Taigong is honored throughout Chinese history as the first great military advisor and the father of strategic studies. After his wife left him, Jing Tai Gong, went to Wei-shui River (near today's Xi'an) to fish, knowing that the future Zhou ruler Wenwang (located in central Shaanxi) would come along one day and meet him. The opportunity occurred one day, when King Wen decided to go hunting in the area near the river, where he saw Lu Shang sitting on the grass, fishing with a bamboo pole that had a barbless hook attached to it. (Some claimed that there was no hook on the line.) The hook was then positioned a few feet above the surface of the water. This unique act of fishing is based on Jiang's theory that the fish would come to him of their own volition when they were ready. This action requires the fisherman to be patient and devise the philosophy of "if one waits long enough, things will come their way."

The story of Jiang Taigong has been used on many levels in China. At its simplest it may be said to be an example of patience or the philosophy that if you wait long enough things will come your way. A more sophisticated message applicable in military and political strategy is: Wait until circumstances ripen.

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