RE: Shang-Hsa

From: Sandy Petersen (
Date: Wed 28 Jan 1998 - 22:47:24 EET

It's obviously time to reprint my tale of Shang-Hsa.

When Shang-Hsa took office, he proclaimed, "All mankind is unhappy and
wrought with cares. All mankind is beset with toil, poverty, sorrow,
death. These are the Four Pains of life.
"The poor toil to please the rich. The rich toil to avoid having
to toil.
"The poor wish they had more, so they dwell in poverty. The rich
can always see a richer, so they, too, dwell in poverty.
"The poor are sorrowful, because they have naught. The rich are
sorrowful, because they fear losing what they have.
"The poor grieve for the death of those they love. The rich are
no different.
"I alone know how to save all mankind from the Four Pains and
now can enact this power. Always we have rejected and despised the
temptations of the Flesh [i.e., the Beasts] and of Ignorance [i.e., the
KoI, at the time still troll-ruled]. And all previous emperors were
right to do so, for the Flesh and Ignorance are bad, singly. But I have
seen beyond the Two Temptations, and know how they can be merged into a
harmonious whole. Consider the Four Pains.
"Toil: the beasts do not toil, because they seek only pleasure.
The ignorant do not strive to please others, because they do not know
that harm will come of their idleness. Thus, they are happy.
"Poverty: the beasts see only what they have, and do not know
they are poor. The ignorant do not lust for more, because they know not
it can exist. Thus, they are happy.
"Sorrow: the beasts simply use what is at hand, seeking no more.
The ignorant need nothing more, because they have all they can possibly
use anyway. [The implication is that a man from the KoI could not use,
say, a plow, because it requires skill and wisdom to do so. So he is
happy with his little gardening trowel, laboring away on a skimpy crop.]
Thus, they are happy.
"Grief: the beasts do not grieve for the death of loved ones,
because they forget them at once. The ignorant do not fear their own
death, for they do not know it will happen. Thus, they are happy."
        After this famous speech, Shang-Hsa began his program. First, he
burned the books. This sent all mankind a vast step towards ignorance
and lack of knowledge. Then he slew the rulers of the people [the First
Age equivalents of Mandarins & Exarchs.], for they led the common folk
in the paths of wisdom. Then he destroyed all the calendars, lest folk
use them to look ahead.
        Yet was Shang-Hsa discontent. The land was unhappy. Famine and
plague ravaged it. The armies of Ignorance and the beasts invaded and
were not driven back. [This is widely recorded as having upset
Shang-Hsa. He had believed that by emulating the Beasts and Ignorance,
he would reach harmonious balance with them, and they might even join
his happy empire as a first step towards blanketing the world.] He
realized that the Two Temptations were insufficient for happiness, and
that he would need to uncover a Third Temptation. So he meditated, and
commanded all the world [i.e., Kralorela] to pray with him.
        At the Sunstop, his prayer was answered. He was enlightened, and
Passed On. [And became Yanoor.]


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