the Three States Period, before Emperor Wei Ming died, he
appointed Cao Shuan as the regent to assist his eight-year
old crown prince govern the country. But Cao Shuan had more
ambitious plans. After Wei Ming died, Cao Shuan tried to seize
power for himself, by suggesting that the child emperor be
dethroned and that Sih Ma Yi be appointed prime minister.
Cao Shuan hoped that by promoting Sih Ma Yi from a general
to a prime minister, Sih Ma Yi would have to cede military
command of the army. This way, Cao Shuan could then appoint
his own man as general and seize control of the military.
Sih Ma Yi knew that he was too weak to confront Cao Shuan
at the moment, so he pretended to be ill and took a sick leave
in order to thwart Cao Shuan's scheme.
ˇ@ˇ@When Cao Shuan heard the news
that Sih Ma Yi was sick, he was not convinced that Sih Ma
Yi was really sick. So he sent Li Sheng to visit Sih Ma Yi
in order to verify the story. When Li Sheng visited Sih Ma
Yi, he saw that Sih Ma Yi was a haggard man who needed a maid
to steady him as he walked out to receive Li Sheng in the
living room. Li Sheng told Sih Ma Yi, "I was appointed an
official in Jing province. I am on my way there to serve my
term. Today I came to pay my respects by saying farewell to
you." Sih Ma Yi said with a faint voice, "Bing province is
very close to the border with barbarians. You must be very
careful." To this Li Sheng replied, "I said Jing province,
not Bing province." Sih Ma Yi then said, "Oh, so you have
been to Bing province tooˇK" Li Sheng thought that Sih Ma Yi
was seriously ill. At this time the maid took the medicine
tray into the living room to feed Sih Ma Yi his medicine.
Sih Ma Yi slobbered medicine all over his mouth and his clothes
while taking the medicine. There was none his past glory and
ˇ@ˇ@Upon returning, Li Sheng reported to Cao Shuan what he saw
during the visit. He said, "I think Sih Ma Yi is finished.
I believe his days are numbered. There is no need to worry."
Cao Shuan laughed out loud and paid no attention to Sih Ma
Yi from that day on.
ˇ@ˇ@The next spring, while Cao Shuan left the capital for ancestor
worship, Sih Ma Yi launched a coup d'etat and disclosed the
crimes by Cao Shuan and his gangs. He also accused them of
treason and executed all of them. This was how Sih Ma Yi won
back the political power of Wei.
Strategy 27 : Feign Madness, But Keep Your Balance
ˇ@ˇ@ Hide behind the cover of madness and do nothing threatening.
This disarms your enemy and makes yourself less of a target.
Then just wait for the right moment to strike back.