The Wisdom of Emperor Sung

Emperor Sung knew the jaws he was passing between when he assumed the throne. When Sung fought for power, he relied on his warrior friends to take over the enemy’s lands and cities. But he never undermined the dangerous of hi friends.

His “friends” in the army would chew him up like meat, and if he somehow survived, his “friends” in the government would have him for supper. Emperor Sung would have no truck with “friends” — he bribed his fellow generals with splendid estates and kept them far away. This was a much better way to emasculate them than killing them, which would only have led other generals to seek vengeance. And Sung would have nothing to do with “friendly” ministers. More often than not, they would end up drinking his famous cup of poisoned wine.

Instead of relying on friends, Sung used his enemies, one after the other, transforming them into far more reliable subjects. While a friend expects more and more favors, and seethes with jealousy, these former enemies expected nothing and got everything. A man suddenly spared the guillotine is a grateful man indeed, and will go to the ends of the earth for the man who has pardoned him. In time, these former enemies became Sung’s most trusted friends.

The result, - Sung was finally able to break the pattern of coups, violence, and civil war — the Sung Dynasty ruled China for over three hundred years. The Emperor’s wicked wisdom saved China.

Reference: THE 48 LAWS OF POWER by Robert Greene