Convincing People with Virtue (1/2)
At the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty (184-220 AD), the land of China was divided into three nations: Wei, Shu, and Wu. The emperor of Shu nation, Liu Bei, left instructions in his will before he died asking Prime Minister Zhuge Liang to invade the North and revitalize the Han nation.
At that time, the regions to the south of Shu invaded Shu under the leadership of Meng Huo. Zhuge Liang immediately organized the army for a southern expedition.
When the army arrived in the southern territory and fought the army led by Meng Huo, Zhuge Liang used a strategy of appearing defeated. Superior in numbers, Meng Huo led his army to chase Zhuge Liang. As a result they fell into the trap Zhuge had set. The southern invaders were defeated and Meng Huo was captured.
Meng Huo was taken to see Zhuge Liang in the main camp. He thought to himself: I will certainly die this time. Surprisingly, Zhuge Liang ordered soldiers to untie the rope and kindly persuaded him to surrender. But Meng Huo was not convinced. He said, "Victory or defeat is common in battle. I was not careful and fell into your trap. How can I be convinced?"
Zhuge Liang did not force him. Instead he took Meng Huo on a tour of his army camp on horseback. He then asked Meng Huo, "What do you think of my army?" Meng Huo said arrogantly, "I failed because I was not clear about the proportions of your army. After you showed me your formations today, I have to say that it is not that impressive. It would not be that difficult to defeat you." Zhuge Liang laughed and said, "Since you think this way, then go back and prepare better next time. We will have another battle."
After his release, Meng Huo prepared his army and once again fought the Shu army. However, he was a person with courage but no wisdom. He was not nearly as competent as Zhuge Liang. Once again Meng was captured. However, Meng still refused to surrender. Zhuge Liang once again released him.
The generals in the Shu army were all puzzled. How could we let go of our enemy easily after marching so far away from our homeland? Zhuge Liang had his own reasons, "In order to have long-term stability of the southern border of Shu, the only way is to convince them with virtue and then they would be convinced from the bottom of their heart. Overcoming the issue with a show of strength would prove troublesome in the future." All officials admired his insights.
When Meng Huo once again came back, his brother Meng You came up with a plot. At midnight, Meng You led trooops to the Shu Camp and pretended that they would surrender. Seeing his true intention at first glance, Zhuge Liang treated his soldiers to a large amount of good wine. As a result, Meng You's soldiers were all drunk. At that time, Meng Huo led his army to strike but he received no help from the drunk soldiers. He was captured again. But he was still not convinced. Zhuge Liang then let him go for the third time.
Upon returning, Meng Huo prepared his army for another strike. One day, his spy suddenly reported to him, "Zhuge Liang is exploring the terrain all alone." Meng Huo was so excited and led his people to capture Zhuge Liang. However, he once again fell into a trap and was captured for the fourth time. Knowing that he would not be convinced this time, Zhuge Liang once again let him go.
One general of Meng Huo's army, Yang Feng, fought alongside Meng Huo and was captured and freed numerous times. He was very grateful for the generosity of Zhuge Liang. To return the favor, he and his wife captured Meng Huo after they made him drunk and took him to the Han Camp. Meng Huo was captured for the fifth time but he was still not convinced and said that he was framed by traitors. Zhuge Liang then let him go for the fifth time and asked him to fight again.