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Posted 12th November 2014
King Shang Di Yi ruled during the twilight of the Shang Dynasty. Already, the Shang’s Truth had begun to be corrupted, as a series of increasingly despotic Kings had taken advantage of the Shang’s devotion to order to enrich only themselves. A secret conclave of Shang elders met to decide how best to restore the Line to its glorious heights. They decided that their best hope was in persuading Shang Di Yi to bypass his older sons and name his youngest as heir. The elders succeeded in their aim, but soon they would learn that they had made the worst possible choice. Di Yi’s youngest son became King Di Xin – the last king of the Shang dynasty and the most corrupt of them all.
Di Xin’s debauchery is the stuff of legends. He killed prisoners and nobles for sport, including members of his own royal family. He had a lake created that was filled with wine instead of water. The Shang nobles who put him on the throne regretted their choice so much that they began to openly defy the king. Civil war loomed. The Shang’s neighbor and enemy, the Zhou, saw the weakness and division among the Shang and used the opportunity to invade. And many among the Shang welcome the Zhou with open arms. In 1046 BCE, after the Zhou defeated the Shang at the Battle of Muye, Di Xin set his entire palace on fire and walked into the flames, choosing to immolation instead of submission. The Zhou swiftly set about conquering the Shang, absorbing their entire culture into a new Zhou Dynasty.
At first, the remaining Shang were simply relieved to have survived the reign of Di Xin. But very quickly they discovered that they were not much better off with the Zhou in charge. While not as extravagantly cruel as his predecessor, the new King Zhou Wu Wang was only interested in subjugating the Shang.
Another secret conclave of Shang elders was called, and this time they hatched a devious plan. As a part of the plan, they offered to assist the Zhou in establishing their right to rule over the last remnant of the Shang by inventing the concept called “The Mandate of Heaven.” According to the Mandate of Heaven, the Gods looked down and saw that Di Xin was unfit, and so they withdrew his mandate to rule. This mandate was now transferred to King Zhou.
Zhou eagerly jumped at the chance to enlist the Gods’ help in subjugating the unruly Shang, and so he codified the doctrine of the Mandate of Heaven. But Zhou was deceived. Because as soon as he claimed the Mandate of Heaven, dozens of bands of Shang rose up against him, claiming that the Gods no longer supported Zhou. The Shang used this argument to incite over a hundred years of resistance to Zhou rule.
Even though Shang power was no longer ascendant, they managed to inculcate one of the most important elements of their Truth into the people who conquered them, and into the dynasties that succeeded them – that any ruler can be overthrown if the people decide they are no longer worthy.
For the all of my Students, remember this: your power comes in your discipline and your organization. But your leaders must always remain true to your best interests. And if they do not, it is your right and your duty to replace them for the good of the Line.