Click below for the other "Breaking the Vessel" posts.
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|[a] Yingzong r. 1064-1067|
|[b] The Comprehensive Mirror (fragments)|
|[d] Letter by Sima Guang|
|[e] Plum Blossoms|
|[f] Four social virtues|
|[h] Zhong Kui, alone and contemplative|
Sima Guang redoubled his teaching efforts, yet it was for naught. A year later, his influence was on the wane and his chief rival, Wang Anshi, was given the premiership over him. Sima Guang, whose entire career had been marked by enormous success in all spheres, suddenly found himself on the outside, unable to convince the new ruler of his teachings. He had used every argument he could muster, both publicly and privately, yet he had lost. Rapid reform was in the air, and Sima could only protest respectfully and step aside. Things had changed dramatically in the space of a year, and it was not his government anymore.
Monday (4/11)—Exile and Response
After a fortnight's break—and the development of many new "departments" on Round and Square—we will return to the rest of our story.
Sima Guang reluctantly left the center of power and began a life in self-imposed exile in the ancient capital city of Luoyang. The same situation that crushed his political dreams opened the opportunity to finish one of the world's greatest historical texts. Working with five assistants, the project would take the better part of two decades. All the while, Sima harbored a well-couched resentment that he channeled into the historical project. The Comprehensive Mirror can in some respects be seen as ten-thousand pages of "I told you so" aimed at his political opponents, in a book that leaders would read many hundreds of years after his time.