Epoch Times, Singapore Edition (Issue 493, Aug 22 – Sept 4, 2014)
By Ting Ting
Epoch Times Staff
“Dizi Gui” (Standards for Being a Good Student and Child) is a traditional Chinese textbook for children that teaches children morals and proper etiquette.
One of the important lessons mentioned in Dizi Gui is how we should carry ourselves in our day-to-day activities.
According to Dizi Gui, we should “walk in a confident and relaxed manner, and maintain a straight posture; bow deep and round, and pay your respects reverently.” Maintaining a good posture is important, as sitting or standing up straight communicates respect to others.
In addition, Dizi Gui says, “Don’t stand on thresholds; don’t lean on one leg. Don’t sit with your legs sticking out straight; don’t wave your bottom.” Our actions and body language should also be appropriate, so that we earn the respect of others as well.
A good example of a person who inspired respect with his demeanour is Zhang Jiuling, a Tang minister of great charisma.
The Respectable and Charismatic Zhang Jiuling
Zhang Jiuling (張九齡) was a prominent minister, noted poet and scholar of the Tang Dynasty, serving as chancellor (the highest-ranking official in imperial China) during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong.
Zhang was born in Qujiang in the Linnan region. As a virtuous chancellor of the Kaiyuan Era (the golden age of the Tang Dynasty), Zhang had the gift of foresight and wisdom. He was also greatly respected for his loyal and forthright character an ideal that was thereafter known as “the Qujiang Charisma”.
According to ancient Chinese history texts, Zhang was “upright and gentle, with a well-groomed appearance”. No matter whether he was working in the office or relaxing at home, he was always neatly dressed. He always had an energetic and sprightly stride, as well as an alert and sharp gaze.
To maintain a tidy appearance, Zhang invented a contraption that became a fashion trend. Ministers at the time carried a long, flat tablet called an wuban, which was used to transcribe notes and orders during meetings with the Emperor. The wuban was typically hung around the minister’s belt, but this made it look like the tobacco pouches that villagers carried.
Zhang thought that this didn’t look very respectable, so he had a neat pouch made to hold his wuban. Whenever he went to meet the Emperor, Zhang would have his servant carry the pouch with the wuban behind him, so that Zhang could walk respectably without worrying about extraneous things around his waist.
These protective pouches eventually became very popular, sparking a fashion trend during that time.
Zhang’s Charisma Impresses Emperor Xuanzong
Zhang was particularly favoured by Emperor Xuanzong, who liked Zhang for his respectable demeanour, as well as for his energy and charisma. He would say to those around him, “Whenever I see Chancellor Zhang, my mind and spirit feel rejuvenated and energised.”
Later, when his ministers recommended candidates for the position of court official, Emperor Xuanzong would ask, “Is this candidate’s demeanour like Zhang Jiuling’s?” Clearly, Emperor Xuanzong considered Zhang the model standard for his choice of court officials.
But what truly impressed Emperor Xuanzong the most was Zhang’s shrewd foresight and his honest, forthright character.
Early in the Kaiyuan Era, a military general An Lushan was sent to the Emperor for failing to obey orders. Zhang advised Emperor Xuanzong to execute An as Tang military law, as he also suspected that An had the temperament to commit treason.
But Emperor Xuanzong decided to spare the general’s life and keep him in the army.
True to Zhang’s prediction, An Lushan later betrayed Emperor Xuanzong by initiating the An Lushan Rebellion, a series of catastrophic events that marked the beginning of the Tang Dynasty’s decline.
The Emperor wept bitter tears for having disregarded Zhang’s advice, and sent his men to Qujiang to commemorate Zhang. From then on, Zhang has been referred to as “Qujiang Gong”, meaning the most respectable person in Qujiang.
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