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Li Zongwu – The Father Of Thick Black Theory

Zong Wu’s Family Background

li zongwu thick black theoryDuring the years of the Southern Song Dynasty, in Guang Dong province, Jia Yin State, Chang Le county, a family named Li rose abruptly.


The leader of the family was Li Zi Min and his son was Li Shang Da, and together they created their family and established their business.


The power of the family rose continuously, having many children, and they became a famous clan.


After the passing of generation after generation, they reached the 10th generation and a man was born named Li Run Tang.


During the third year of the period of Emperor Yong Zheng (third emperor of the Qing dynasty) he came to Sichuan with his family.


At first they lived in Long Chang County’s Xiang Jia Qiao district and then moved to Fu Shun county’s Ziliujin district, and then registered the family there.


After Zhang Xianzong’s massacre, Sichuan became a large land with only a few people and the people from Hunan, Hubei and Guang Dong provinces all began moving there.


The reason that the Li family moved there may have been similar.


Thick Black Theory Li Zongwu statueAfter Li Run Tang moved there, the family became more and more prosperous and produced many more children.


After they had passed the eight generation, there appeared an intelligent star of academic thinking who studied but lacked reason, who loved to define other’s theories.


He was the founder of Thick Black Theory, Li Zong Wu.


He became famous since the dawn of the Republic of China.


Knowing his behavior and thinking in his life – he was not a phony person or a strange person but established his ideas for the purpose of universally shocking people.


His personal character was neither thick faced nor black hearted but he advocated Thick Black Theory and claimed to be the founder of Thick Black Theory.


What was the purpose of this kind of irony?


People don’t need to laugh or scold him.  They just need to deeply reflect upon him and his work.


Buddha didn’t need to enter hell.


Jesus didn’t need to be nailed to the cross.


But Buddha said: “If I don’t enter hell, who will?”.


Jesus said:  “The people who don’t carry a cross on their backs don’t deserve to be our disciples.”.


Where did that come from?


We have to reflect upon it too.


Li Zongwu hou hei xueThe educational, political and academic thinking of Mr. Li was all deeply earnest, but his thinking was a bit strange.


He often raised issues the ancestors didn’t raise and talked about things that closed minded people don’t talk about.


Therefore, normal scholars abused him and said his subject matter was bad.


Now, Mr. Li has become an ancestor and doesn’t need to fear those unenlightened remarks, but his behavior throughout his life has become a thing that people don’t understand.


His thoughts and speeches while living were ignored by most people.


In order to commemorate this dead ancestor, I present this biography of the founder of Thick Black Theory, in order to teach people how to evaluate his achievements and crimes.


Mr. Li Zong Wu was born on the fifth eyar of Emperor Kuang Xu on the thirteenth of the first month of the lunar year.


The two words “Zong Wu” were not his original name – they are the result of changing his names many times when he was young.


His temperament was very rude and unreasonable and he rarely depended on logic.


He called the people he met 人王 (human king).


His father combined “人王”’s two characters as:  “全” (complete) and added the word “世” which indicated his generation and named him “世全” (shi Quan).


As a baby, a fortune teller predicted that he would lack gold throughout his life, adding the gold radical to the name so it became “世铨” (Shi Quan).


Afterwards, his private school teacher said that his life lacked trees, not gold and he also disliked the name given to him by his father, so he changed his name to “世阶” and his nickname to “宗儒” (Zong Ru) which meant trustful and obedient to Confucius.


At the age of twenty five he experienced huge changes in thought and became very disillusioned with Confucianism and thought that obeying Confucius wasn’t as good as obeying himself, so he changed his name to “宗吾” (Zong Wu).


He often said: “The two words of Zong wu are a flag of independent thinking.”.


Then with the name Zong Wu and the nickname of Xing, there was nearly no one who knew about his true name, Shi Jie.


Zong Wu had seven brothers and two sisters and he was the sixth among his brothers.


His third brother died early and all the other six brothers established families so his father named their family “Liu Qian Tang” (Six Modest Halls).


Except for him, all of the other brothers were farmers.  Only his seventh brother opened a machine shop and had a small amount of business saavy.


Zong Wu believed in heredity and prenatal education and said that the reason he loved to stud was inborn because during the years when he was born his father stayed home and studied behind closed doors.


He also used Su Dong Po’s father and Su Dong Po as evidence.


He said that people said that Su Lao Quan (Su Dong Po’s father) started studying hard when he was twenty seven.  It’s verified that Su Lao Quan was born in the second year of Song Zheng Zong emperor at the time when his father was studying hard.


Throughout history, the person who started studying intensely at the age of twenty seven years old was only Lao Quan and he gave birth to two literary giants.


Studying hard at the age of forty, my Zong Wu’s father gave birth to a founder.


Dong Po was full of talent and his articles were open-minded.


Zi You had a peaceful character and loved the theory of Lao Zi and Huang Di and his explanation of Lao Zi is still a masterpiece to this day.


Zong Wu said that he was born in the final years of his father’s study, so his character was peaceful and calm and was fond of Lao Zi, similar to Zi you.


He said that it was a pity that he was born to a peasant family and had no access to study and that his strange thinking was like his father’s.


In fact, for many generations of his family, the character was a bit special.


First, we’ll look at his great grandfather and analyze his lineage.


Zong Wu’s grandfather, named Qiu Fang was abnormally solemn.


Although he was just the manager of a dye shop, he was dignified and there was no one who didn’t revere him.


All of his relatives and offspring, when wearing disorderly hats and clothes or those who were drunk would suddenly hold their breath and hold back their face when passing his gate and be afraid to pass through.


But, although he had a strict face he was still benevolent and had a gentle manner.


He never did a shameful deed in his life and enjoyed a long life of seventy years.


Before facing death, his family held a towel to clean his face.  His hat was a little bit askew, and he fixed it himself and then finished his life.


Zong Wu’s grandfather, named Yue Shan was a peasant his whole live, selling some snacks.


In his leisure time he traded in candles and straw sandals and walked down the road shouting and selling these things.


His figure was tall and big but his nature was plain and simple.


While doing work on the streets, if someone started talking to them he just replied by standing and didn’t even know to put down what he was carrying on his shoulders.


When he met some crafty people, they would make fun of him and purposely chat with him for a long time.


In those cases he would shift his load from his right shoulder to his left shoulder, and then back from his left shoulder to his right shoulder, causing all the people on the street to laugh so hard that they had to hold their own bellies.


He slept after dinner and when his family went to bed he had already woken up and wouldn’t go to bed again.


When he was sleeping deeply, he wouldn’t wake up even if you shouted loudly, but if you yelled “robbers are coming!” he would quickly wake up and be frightened.


After his evening sleep, he sorted the vegetables he would sell the next day and would carry a pole and go to the vegetable fields after he had finished.


The vegetable field was close to the main road, so thieves often stole things and would walk through it, but were stopped by him and would return things to the owners, so the thieves were afraid of him very much and would walk along other roads.


In his home, they wouldn’t eat meat on normal days, but at the end of the year he would cut a huge amount of meat with the plan of pickling it.


He held the knife and cut about half of the meat and told his wife to dig up radishes to make soup and urgently told his wife: “Leave the big one to sell and the small one to grow.”.


His wife searched for some vegetables around the fields and when she couldn’t find one, he would reluctantly allow her to dig up some that were growing to cook.


When the soup was hot he held the ladle himself and ladeled the soup into the bowl.


His wife asked: “What are you doing?”.


He replied: “I want to divide the soup for the family and workers but it is unfortunate that it can’t be fair and equal!”.


Not too long after that, he died.


His wife cut the meat and offered it in front of his coffin and cried bitterly that her tears were more valuable than the meat.


Because of her constant sadness, his wife collected the shoulder pole he had used and said: “If the next generation becomes famous, use a think red piece of silk to wrap up the pole and hang it from the beam of the main hall and commemorate him forever!”.


In fact, his offspring maintained the pole until the ninth year of the Republic Of China, but it was destroyed by a thief.


His wife, Mrs. Zheng was a daughter from a rich family in Gao Shan Zhai district and after marriage she worked with her husband the whole year, carrying water on her shoulder and shoveling manure.


She never needed to be consoled and she never blamed her husband.


On the way back home, she often saw the food left by the cats and dogs and secretly thought about how their family could get those kinds of leftovers.


When Zong Wu was young, his parents told him about this many times and said: “The ancestor was poor at this time and tried like this and the difficulty to eat reached this point.  We should not forget it.”.


Zong Wu’s father was named Gao Ren and his nickname was Jin An.


He originally was studying business, but after his father died he became a peasant and worked together with his wife.


The amount of work he did each day was equal to that of his parents.


He often took the shoulder pole his father left to warn him and gradually his property and resources became abundant and was able to purchase land.


Unfortunately, at the age of forty he became ill because of working so hard and the doctor warned him to stop his business immediately and rest at home or he would die.


Then, all of the house work went to his wife while she took care of him.


After three years, he recovered.


He only had a chance to study during the years of his recovery and he started reading from Romance Of The Three Kingdoms and many novels of various countries and then read The Four Books and later realized that “books are the affairs of life and life is the affairs of books.”.


Later, he only read three books and didn’t read any others.


Which books did he read?


The first was The Wide Instruction Of Imperial Edict.  This book was published by Emperor Qian Lou of the Qing Dynasty and contained the appendix of Zhu Bo Lu’s maxims to manage a home.


The second was The Highlight Of An Injured Heart and he only read one chapter which contained the sayings of Sima Guang and Tang Yi Xiu, and he referred to the book as “the maxim book”.


The third book was the memorial of the Emperor by Yang Ji Sheng which told about the ten shameful and five good things of Yan Song and contained a testament which was written before the battle of Mt. Jiao.


Besides those, there was an annotation about the Three Character Classics but I believe that he didn’t read it very often.


Among those three books, he always held the first two in his hands.


A few days before he died, he read them and couldn’t bear to put them down.


He always said: “What are you doing by reading many books?  Just choose the chapter you like in every book and memorize it completely and follow it.  The other chapters that you’re not very fond of aren’t necessary to read.”.


He liked to read out loudly.


In The Wide Instruction Of Imperial Edict there is a sentence that says: “People don’t know to be obedient to their parents when they don’t understand their parents love for them.”.


There is another saying in The Highlight Of An Injured Heart that says: “The poor and low give birth to the hardworking and frugal.  The hardworking and frugal give birth to the rich and honorable.  The rich and honorable give birth to the proud and extravagant.  The proud and extravagant give birth to to the excessive and idle, and the excessive and idle give birth to the poor and low.”.


It’s true that the books he read were very few and he didn’t write a word in his life.


This is really rare.


When Zong Wu was about seven or eight years old, there was an emergency and his father told him to take an ink and pen, and when he got it, his father said that he didn’t want to write anymore.


Zong Wu said: “My strange thinking originated from my father.  My method of studying also came from him.


After his serious illness, Zong Wu’s father didn’t do any heavy work, and just occasionally pulled the leaves of sugar cane and spread ash when planting beans.


He loved to read in his free time though, and naturally whenever a worker came he carried his pipe with the books clasped under his arm and sat for a while to chat with the worker and read the books for some time.


He was an abnormal expert about farm tasks, and went out on to inspect the farming every morning.


He often said: “I sleep at home but I know all the conditions of the workers on the farm.”.


When a family member came back from the fields, he often asked: “Where have the workers reached?”.


If the relative wasn’t paying attention and answered incorrectly he would say: “Don’t talk nonsense!” with a smile.


He emphasized getting up early throughout his life, as he had read three maxims of managing the home which were related to getting up early.


Zhu Bo Lu said: “Get up at dawn.”.


Tang Yi Xiu said: “Get up early and sleep early.  Do house work vigorously.”.


Han Wei Gong said: “Get up early and manage the home and smoothen all your work, and stay happily at night.”.


Therefore, although he didn’t get up early like his father, he still got up when he heard the cry of the rooster and never broke this habit.


It was the same until the middle of winter.


There were no matches at that time, and every morning he got up and used the fire chain to strike the flint and ignite a fire and then start the fire with charcoal.


He would warm up wine to drink alone and chew tobacco and sit until morning.


Then, he would plan the work the workers should do and plan what he should do and plan everything properly.


So, all the house hold duties that he handled were in order.


The workers worked without wasting a moment of time.


He feared the workers getting up late and delaying the work so he shouted at them every morning but disliked doing it.


Because he liked to get up early and think, he didn’t have any failures in communicating with people throughout his life.


He often said: “When you negotiate with people, you have to think about why he came and how you have to deal with him, and you have to think in all directions.  When it happens, from whichever direction he comes, you will be able to deal with him.”.


After recovering from his illness, there was a neighbor who wanted to sell a house to him and he wanted to buy it but it was too expensive.


He told the seller that the price was too high and he couldn’t afford it and they became locked in a constant conflict with each other and blamed each other and didn’t let the matter go.


The neighbor blamed him for saying he wanted to buy the house but not buying it and threated to sue him.


He didn’t care about it.


The neighbor even dug his way out from his home and built a moat around his house, but he wouldn’t argue with him.


In the end that house was sold to him after many disputes but he still won in the end.


Zong Wu’s seventh brother Shi Beng was born in the period when his father was locked in constant strife with the neighbor.


As can be expected, his character and behavior was sharp and perceptive and after his parents and brother and sister in law died, he made all of the funeral arrangements alone, perfectly.


Shi Beng said: “If I have nothing to do, I will fall asleep.  If there is something to do, I feel very refreshed.  Fortunately, these years a few people died in my family.  It can be said that there is something to do.  If not, the days of my life would be difficult.”.


So, Zong Wu used this as proof of his idea of heredity and prenatal learning, and had a desire to do detailed research on the subject.


His father enjoyed a long life of sixty nine years.


By the time he died, the family had a relatively high standard of living.


Worshipping ancestors, the idea of native soil and the rallying spirit of Guang Dong people are very strong.


After the Li family came to Sichuan, they still commemorated the tombs of their ancestors and protected the people of the same ethnicity strongly.


They still sent people to Guang Dong to sweep the tombs and expressed greetings to people of the same ethnicity.


There was no ancestral hall in Sichuan.


When trying to establish an ancestral hall, it’s said that all the people who came from the other provinces to Sichuan were often bullied by the local people.


So, they all agreed that all the Li people from Guang Dong would establish an organization called “Bang Bang Organization”, and if people came to bully them they would fight together.


father of thick black theoryLater, people said the Bang Bang Organization was illegal and so they changed it and established an ancestral hall.


When marrying off a daughter, Guang Dong people in Sichuan have to choose a Guang Dong person for her to marry.


Sometimes there is an exception, but generally the local girl has to study Cantonese.


The communications between family and relatives have to be done in Cantonese or they will say that you are betraying your ancestors.


The Li family from Li Run Tang to Zong Wu was 8 generations, but nine of his brothers and sisters all married Guang Dong people.


Having this kind of strong nationalistic nature and the character and personality passed on from generation to generation – if we believe in genetics than generating Zong Wu with his strange thinking is not at all a surprising matter.

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