Ravaging Times

chapter 180

Master once said,

the Greater Good is a vague notion.
(“righteousness”)
That’s why the eight of us did not reach a consensus on the political view.

We are taught by what the ancient sages teach us.
We are enlightened by what reality teaches us.

Sometimes Principle and Truth always diverge.

chapter 180 Hidden Dragon Uninvolved
(“Hidden Dragon. Do not act.“)

What have I learned in the face of this imposing reality?

In Principle, a Loyalist who gave his all for his country.
{flag reads: Liu}

In Reality, the many who are destined for greatness are preparing for their future near the end of an era.

The outcomes of these conflicts will determine how history is written.
The notion of Principle is always vague.

For a nobody who is not mentioned in historical records, what does he represent in these chaotic times?

Is he a great man? Or a small boat that sinks in the ocean?

A righteous man who was inspired to fight for his country?

Or is he, in his mother embrace, the last of a bloodline?

Who is right? Who is wrong?
Loyalty and Righteousness cannot coexist…

When one is near the wise sages, reality seems so insignificant.

When one is near reality, the wise sages then becomes not worthy of mentioning.

The lords will only wait for the song of triumph.

The nobodies will only live to serve.

Is this a one-sided Righteousness? Or is this their truest desire?

On that day, Liu Bei‘s Xuzhou army (of righteousness) attacked Yuan Shu‘s army at Xuyi.

For an event that spans but a few words in historical records,

it was written by millions of drops of blood.

It is a little tune of history composed with millions of sorrowful wail.

But this is the Central Plain’s unique culture for millenniums.
(“central plain” is more or less synonymous to “middle kingdom”, but has clearer connection to the title “fiery phoenix light up the plains”)

Chaos returns after flourishing times, and the cycle repeats.

Who will remember this?

Those who fall back will be replaced by the next wave.

Those who fall down become ashes.

What is driving the events forward?

Is it the principle of the loyalty between Lords and Subjects?

Or is it the (state of) ignorance that did not evolve?

No words.

Too speechless to ask Heaven.

Heaven sneers at the world of men.

A smile without feeling,

is it out of relief?
Or at his own ignorance?

A roar without feeling,
as if out of frenzy,

but is secretly a curse to the shameless Righteousness.

Eventually one will understand the meaning of life.

Those who understand are gone,
while those who do not keep coming.

The answer is thousands of years of war.

That is the Truth for thousands of years.
{flag reads: Ji}

This valuable lesson that Heaven teaches us,
yet who has truly understood the principles advocated by Master Kong and Master Meng?
(This line is really confusing; I keep reversing its meaning every time I re-read it. You may need to rely on your own understanding of Confucianism, etc.)

And who has misconstrued these great but imperfect Thinkings?
My field of vision is suddenly filled with scenes of eternal suffering.

Why?
(not sure)

Every battle changes me. The misunderstanding is only about a transient human reaction.
(not sure; I’m not used to this grammar! The other version could be: “The transient misunderstanding is only human nature.” You don’t have to agree with my translation at all. ^^;)

I am suddenly reminded of a saying…

The world is filled with evil. Fighting it is like hitting a rock with an egg.

Lengthy war would only bring misery to the living.
It may be better if one helps the strongest power conquer the world in shorter time, then take over the reign.

This method is far more benefitial than forcing civilians through years of war.

The momentary suffering would soon be replaced by happiness without war, and that is the Greater Good for the people.
Seeing it up close and often, one sees the contradiction between Principle and Reality.

One sees the conflict between principled men like me and those “benevolent realists”.
(referring to Sima Yi, not Liu Bei, hence the quotes)
It is sad… that simpleminded men like me, who value foresight, will never see the Principle in effect;

while this “benevolent realist”
will be branded a sinner for all eternity by simpleminded historians.
Ironic, but that is also the Truth.
(here “Principle” means something like “reality”)

He was really melancholy that day.

The Crouching Dragon suddenly fell into a deep slumber.
====
Mr. Chen packs way too much “commentary” per sentence. I cannot translate them correctly (losing a lot of the punch), not to mention I cannot fully comprehend what he’s saying most of the time… but we all know the big idea already.

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