During the Warring States period, King Yan reformed the state policy and gave the throne to the son of the prime minister. The general city was not satisfied with the prince’s peace, so he set up troops to attack the son, and civil war broke out.
The state of Yan was in chaos, and the state of Qi took advantage of the weakness. King Xuan of Qi sent Kuang Zhang, a senior general, to attack Yan with 100000 troops. The people of Yan were dissatisfied with the civil war and were unwilling to make efforts to resist the Qi army. The situation of “soldiers do not fight and the city gate is not closed” appeared. Instead, the people of Yan in some places welcomed the Qi army by sending food and water. Kuang Zhang captured the capital of Yan in only fifty days. After the Qi army captured the state of Yan, it did not intend to withdraw. Kuang Zhang did not control the army. Soldiers bullied the people, and Yan people rose up one after another.
At this time, King Xuan of Qi asked Mencius, who was lobbying in the state of Qi, and asked, “what should I do if someone advised me not to annex the state of Yan and someone advised me to annex it?”
Mencius replied, “if you annex the state of Yan, the local people will be happy, so annex it. The ancients had this precedent, and King Wu of Zhou was. ”
“If you annex the state of Yan, the local people are not happy,” Mencius said, “then don’t annex it. The ancients also had precedents, such as King Wen of Zhou. ”
Mencius cited these two examples and pointed out: “when the Qi army invaded the state of Yan, the people of Yan sent rice and water to welcome it because the people of Yan wanted to get rid of the bitter days; Now, if the state of Qi further annexed the state of Yan, which brought the disaster of subjugation to the Yan people and plunged them into deep water, they will turn to look forward to other countries to rescue them!
The meaning of deep water and hot fire is that the disasters suffered by the people are getting deeper and deeper like water and hotter like fire. It is compared to the extreme suffering of people’s life.