Fǎ Zhèng appellative Xiàozhí was a Fúfēng Méi man. His grandfather [Fǎ] Zhēn had pure integrity and high reputation. (1)
- (1) Sānfǔ Juélùzhù “Three Adjutants Daily Records Annotations” states: [Fǎ] Zhēn appellation Gāoqīng, when young understood the Five Classics, and also knew divination, studied without a permanent teacher, and had reputation for high ability. Once he wore plain headscarf to meet the Administrator of Fūféng. The Administrator said: “Though [Lǔ] Āi-gōng was not worthy yet he had for a subject Zhòngní [Confucius]. Liǔ Xiàhuì did not leave the country of his parents. I wish to borrow you as a Merit Officer, how about it?” [Fǎ] Zhēn said: “Because from you wise governor I have met with treatment with courtesy, therefore I have always come to pay respects. But if you wish to make me an official to send me as envoy, I will then be north of the northernmost mountains and south of the southernmost mountains.” The Administrator of Fúfēng therefore did not dare take him as an official. Previously, [Fǎ] Zhēn had not yet been capped, his father was at Nán-jùn, he walked to visit his father. He wished to go, but his father kept him there to stay for the New Year, and had him watch how the officials gathered together. The gathered were several hundred people, and [Fǎ] Zhēn through a window watched them talk with his father. When it was finished, he asked [Fǎ] Zhēn: “Who there was worthy?” [Fǎ] Zhēn said: “Official Hú Guǎng has ability to be among the Excellency and Ministers.” Later [Hú] Guǎng indeed held rank in the Nine Ministers and Three Excellencies, and the generation admired [Fǎ] Zhen’s understanding of people. From beginning to end he was recruited, but always he did not accept, and his friends Guō Zhèng and others praised him, calling him Mister Xuándé “Mysterious Virtue.” Aged eighty-nine years, Zhōngpíng fifth year , he died.
- Zhèng’s father Yǎn appellation Jìmóu, was an official to the Excellency over the Masses, and Left Supervisor to the Minister of Justice.
At Jiàn’ān’s beginning  the realm Under Heaven was in famine and desoluation, Zhèng with Mèng Dá of the same commandery together entered Shǔ to join Liú Zhāng, for a long time was Magistrate of Xīndū, and afterward was summoned to serve as Military Commentator Colonel. Since he was not well appointed, and also was by other refugees and guests from the same province and village slandered as without moral conduct, his ambitions were suppressed.
Yìzhōu Aide-de-Camp Zhāng Sōng with Zhèng were friendly with each other, speculated that [Liú] Zhāng was too lacking to be successful, and often secretly sighed. [Zhāng] Sōng at Jīngzhōu met Excellency Cáo and returned, and urged [Liú] Zhāng to cut off with Excellency Cáo and instead ally with Xiānzhǔ [Liú Bèi]. [Liú] Zhāng said: “Who can be sent as envoy?” [Zhāng] Sōng then recommended Zhèng, Zhèng declined, but could not but go. When Zhèng returned, he said to [Zhāng] Sōng that Xiānzhǔ had heroism and planning, they conspired to join him, hoping to together invite him, but did not yet have an opportunity. Later because [Liú] Zhāng heard Excellency Cáo wished to send Generals to campaign against Zhāng Lǔ had a terrified heart, and [Zhāng] Sōng therefore persuaded [Liú] Zhāng that they should welcome Xiānzhǔ, to employ him to suppress [Zhāng] Lǔ, and again order Zhèng to send the message.
After Zhèng announced the message, he secretly suggested to Xiānzhǔ: “With your outstanding talent wise General, taking advantage of Governor Liú [Zhāng]’s weakness, and Zhāng Sōng, the province’s trusted aide, to respond from the inside, therefore capitalizing on Yìzhōu’s prosperity, and the abundant land’s rugged geography, with this you can achieve your enterprise, as easily as turning a hand.” Xiānzhǔ agreed with this, going up the Jiāng west, and with [Liú] Zhāng met at Fú. They went north to Jiāméng, then returned south to capture [Liú] Zhāng.
Zhèng Dù said to [Liú] Zhāng (1): “General of the Left leads county armies to attack us, his troops are not even ten thousand, and the people are not attached to him, the grain in the fields is their supplies, and they have no heavy supply wagons. Of the plans for this none are better than to completely evacuate Bāxī and Zǐtóng’s people within the Fú river’s west, burn all of their granaries and fields, use high walls and deep moats, and hold position to resist them. When they arrive and seek battle, do not respond, and eventually they will lose their supplies, and without passing a hundred days they will inevitably flee. When they flee and we strike them, then they can certainly be taken.”
Xiānzhǔ heard and feared this, and asked Zhèng. Zhèng said: “To the end it will not be used, there is nothing to worry about.” [Liú] Zhāng indeed was as Zhèng said, saying to his subordinates: “I have heard of fighting the enemy in order to calm the people, but never of disrupting the people the avoid the enemy.” Therefore he dismissed [Zhèng] Dù and did not use his plan.
When the army besieged Luòchéng, Zhèng wrote to [Liú] Zhāng: “I by nature lack skill, completed the alliance arrangements but came to disobey you, and fear your attendants will not understand the true reasons, and will certainly place all the blame on me, but I can be disgraced to my end, and in disgrace carry on my duties, and therefore debase myself out here, and do not dare turn from my path. I feared your holiness will hear filth and evil in these sounds, and therefore in the meantime did not send letter or alarm, but thinking back to how I was treated, looking ahead I think this is not to late. Therefore from beginning to end I reveal my innermost thoughts, from the earliest all the way to the latest, I truly did not hide any emotions, and though sometimes I did not do my utmost, yet I never had any secret plans, only my good faith was not recognized, and so it came to this and that is all. Now that state’s affairs are already critical, disaster coming quickly, and though I am serving outside, and my words easy to be greatly hated, yet I have something I wish to share, to use my remaining loyalty. Wise General, your true heart, I know well, and truly it is not wanting to lose the General of the Left’s good relations, but that it ended like this, is because your attendants do not understand the way to follow and serve heroes, saying that one can violate faith and blacken vows, and instead respond to the situation, as the sun and moon shift, hurriedly seeking to please your ears and eyes, and therefore flatter and fawn, and so do not plan long term with thorough calculations for the state. The incident has already happened, and also they do not judge strength and weakness, believing the General of the Left’s army is far from home with no provisions or grain stored, and wish to mostly hold back many and rarely strike, and pass the days locked together. But in fact coming from the pass to here, all in the way has been defeated, all the separate strongholds and division garrisons have themselves withered and fallen. Though below Luò there are ten thousand troops, they are all beaten soldiers, Generals of defeated armies, and if you wish to fight a decisive battle, then your troops and generals in their strength are truly no match. All your planners plan to outlast our provisions, but now these strongholds are already taken, and grain and rice is already gathered, while your territory Wise General is daily lost, the common people daily suffer, so your enemies then increase, and your supporters grow distant and few. I humbly have considered all this, and say you will certainly be finished first, and so should not again believe in outlasting us. You can in vain defend against us, but cannot last against us. Now Zhāng [Fēi] Yìdé’s army of tens of thousands, has already settled Bādōng, entered Qiánwèi’s borders, with divisions pacifying Zīzhōng and Déyáng as they invade by three distant roads, and how can you resist this? Currently your planners, Wise General, are certainly saying that this army is far from home without provisions, their food supply lines falling short, their troops few without followers. Now Jīngzhōu’s roads are connected, incoming armies increase tenfold, and moreover [General of] Chariots and Cavalry Sūn [Quán] sends his younger brother with Lǐ Yì, Gān Níng, and others to follow after. If you wish to compare with this master’s power, then in considering the one with greater territory, now this side has Bādōng, Guǎnghàn, Qiánwèi, so over half has already been settled, while the one commandery of Bāxī is also not what you Wise General can hold. So it can be judged that Yìzhōu relies only on Shǔ [commandery], but Shǔ is already defeated and ruined; two thirds are lost, officials and people are destitute, and those thinking of rebelling against you are eight out of ten households; if the enemy is distant then the common people cannot endure your conscription, if the enemy is near then in one morning we will have changed who is the master. Guǎnghàn’s various counties are a clear example. Also Yúfù and Guāntóu are truly the gateways deciding Yìzhōu’s success or ruin, and now the two gates are both open, your strongest cities are all fallen, your various armies all broken, your soldiers and Generals all used up, while your enemy by several roads advance, already enter into the province’s heart and guts, while you sit and defend [Chéng]dū and Luò, and whether you succeed or perish can already clearly be seen. This is only the big picture, of what is happening outside and that is all, the rest is confused and difficult to speak of completely. If someone as lowly as me can yet know this situation cannot be turned into success, all the more for the wise strategic thinkers in your attendants Wise General, how can they not see this situation? From dawn to discuss they cheat your favor, seeking good appearances to flatter, not thinking of the long term plan, none able to devote all their hearts to present a good strategy and that is all. If the situation comes to the utmost urgency, then each will save their own lives, seek to rescue their own families, change their allegiances back and forth, and will be different from their present plans, and not go with you Wise General to death and disaster, but your honored household would yet receive what they fear. Though I have already been slandered as disloyal, yet my heart says to myself that I do not turn back against your holiness’s virtue. Only when looking back to my separate mission, I am truly grieved. The General of the Left from when he first came, his old heart has regretted leaving, and truly he has no unkind intentions. I humbly believe you can change your plans, in order to save your honored household.”
- (1) Huà Yáng’s Guózhì states: [Zhèng] Dù was a Guǎnghàn man, and became a Provincial Advisor.
Nineteenth year, they advanced to besiege Chéngdū, [Liú] Zhāng’s Administrator of Shǔ-jùn Xǔ Jìng was about leave the city to surrender, the matter was discovered, and unsuccessful. [Liú] Zhāng because danger was so near therefore did not execute [Xǔ] Jìng. When [Liú] Zhāng bowed in submission, Xiānzhǔ because of this thought little of [Xǔ] Jìng and did not employ him. Zhèng said: “The world Under Heaven has those with empty reputation but no real ability, and Xǔ Jìng is one. But now your honor has newly begun a great enterprise, and cannot explain things to the realm’s people household by household, while [Xǔ] Jìng’s hollow reputation has spread across the Four Seas, and if you are disrespectful, the realm’s people will because of it say that your honor does not value the worthy. It is proper to be deeply respectful, to impress the distant and near, just as in the past the King of Yān treated Guō Wěi.” Xiānzhǔ therefore generously treated [Xǔ] Jìng. (1)
- (1) Sūn Shèng states: Respecting worthies and esteeming virtue is the important path of statecraft, honoring tombs and visiting gates were they standards of past rulers. Therefore one must take as example the outstanding and profound, of high righteousness dominating the age, and then afterward one can long overlook the Four Seas, and shake and rule over the multitudes. If it is not such a man, the way cannot be falsely followed. [Xǔ] Jìng in the household to his kinsman was not reverent, going out was appointed where he did not belong, in speaking of his faith he was quick to change his heart in facing danger, in discussing his intelligence he entered danger in his first action. How could he be given foremost favor in order to move others? If then the false and superficial are esteemed, unfairly taking this glory, then for truly upright and righteous men, with what courtesy are they to be treated with? Zhèng used a method to confuse matters, was of the air to violate the noble and esteemed, gave the example of Guō Wěi, wronging natural human relations.
- Your Servant Sōngzhī believes Guō Wěi was not worthy but for his ability in planning received favor, and moreover [Xǔ Jìng] Wénxiū’s reputation was already established, and the realm Under Heaven said he was outstanding and great, and though in his final years had blemishes, yet the matter was not obvious and clear. If he did not receive courtesy, how would it be explained to the confused far and near? Fǎ Zhèng in comparing [Xǔ] Jìng to [Guō] Wěi, was not inappropriate, but [Sūn] Shèng in making things difficult by citing honoring tombs and visiting gates, how pedantic! If that were the case, then even Yān Zhāo[-wáng] would also be wrong, how would it only be Old Liú [Bèi]? As for not reverent to his kinsman, the fault was with [Xǔ Shào] Zǐjiāng. From looking at the discussion of Jiǎng Jì, one can know it was not [Xǔ Jìng] Wénxiū’s fault. [Sūn] Shèng also ridiculed him as appointed where he did not belong, this was speaking of his service due to Dǒng Zhuó. When [Dǒng] Zhuó first gained controlled the government, he recruited all the worthy and talented, and those that received office and rank were all awe-inspiring like this. [Xǔ Jìng] Wénxiū was selected as an official before [Dǒng] Zhuó had arrived. Later he was promoted to Palace Deputy, and did not exceed this. If this is to be disparaged, then the sort as Xún Shuǎng and Chén Jǐ should all be rejected in their times.
Zhèng was appointed Administrator of Shǔ-Jùn and General Raising Martial Ability, outside governing the capital territory and inside serving as chief strategist. From the kindness of one meal to the evil of a glance, none did he not pay back, and without authority he killed those who harmed him, several people. Someone said to Zhūgě Liàng: “Fǎ Zhèng in Shǔ-jùn has too much control. General you should inform our lord [Liú Bèi] to restrain his power and fortune.” [Zhūgě] Liàng answered: “When our lord was at Gōng’ān, to the north he feared Lord Cáo’s power, to the east he feared Sūn Quán’s pressure. and nearby he feared Lady Sūn would cause rebellion right under his armpit. At that time, both advancing and retreating was blocked by wolves, but Fǎ Xiàozhí served as his assisting wings, allowing him to suddenly soar up high, so that he would never again be restrained. How can we forbid Fǎ Zhèng from doing as he wishes!”
Previously, Sūn Quán wed his younger sister to Xiānzhǔ. She was capable and fast with strong fierceness, resembled her elder brothers, was attended by over a hundred maidservants, all personally wielding sabers while standing in attendance. Every time Xiānzhǔ entered, his whole heart was always shivering in fear. [Zhūgě] Liàng also knew that Xiānzhǔ greatly loved and trusted Zhèng, and therefore spoke like this. (2)
- (2) Sūn Shèng states: Power and fortune to the inferior is the path to destroying families and harming the state. Punishments being undone due to favor is the origin of ruined government and confused judgment. How can someone for being an accomplished minister have utmost lack of restraint, for being a favorite infringe upon state power? Therefore though Diān Xié was diligent he did not escape the punishment for disobedience, though Yáng Gān was a relative, yet was killed for rebellious conduct. How was that because of lack of love? It was because it was the ruler’s law. Mister Zhūgě’s speech therefore fails in governance and authority.
Twenty-second year , Zhèng said to Xiānzhǔ: “Cáo Cāo in one moved subdued Zhāng Lǔ, settled Hànzhōng, but did not follow up on this momentum to plan to take Bā and Shǔ, and instead left Xiàhóu Yuān and Zhāng Hé to garrison and defend while personally hurriedly returning north; this is not because his wisdom is not farsighted or his strength insufficient, but certainly because the interior has a concern or pressure and that is all. Now considering [Xiàhóu] Yuān’s and [Zhāng] Hé’s ability and planning, they do not surpass those of our state’s Generals and commanders. If we raise armies to go suppress them, then we can certainly overcome them. The day we overcome them, we can expand agriculture and accumulate grain, look for gaps and openings, at best we can overthrow our enemy and restore the Ruling Household, at middling we can nibble away at Yōng and Liáng to expand our border territory, and at worst we can firmly defend strategic points, to plan for enduring long. This is what Heaven has given us, and the opportunity cannot be lost.” Xiānzhǔ liked this plan, and therefore led the various Generals to advance troops to Hànzhōng, and Zhèng also followed and went.
Twenty-fourth year  Xiānzhǔ from Yángpíng crossed south over the Miǎn river, followed the mountains to gradually advance, and at Dìngjūn and Xīngshì built camp. [Xiàhóu] Yuān led troops to contest the territory. Zhèng said: “[We] can strike.” Xiānzhǔ ordered Huáng Zhōng to climb high and beat drums and attack them, greatly defeating [Xiàhóu] Yuān’s army, taking the heads of [Xiàhóu] Yuān and others.
Excellency Cáo campaigned west, heard Zhèng’s strategy, and said: “I originally knew [Liú Bèi] Xuándé could not have planned this, and this must have been someone else’s teaching.” (1)
- (1) Your Servant Sōngzhī believes Shǔ and Hànzhōng are like lips and teeth. Ruler Liú’s wisdom, how can it not think of that? Supposing the plans were not yet enacted, then Zhèng only started it and that is all. One who listens to and uses excellent strategists to accomplish achievements is a master among hegemons, who can not be that way? Wèi Wǔ [Cáo Cāo] believed it was another’s teaching, how lowly! This was excess words of shame and disgrace, not proper words of true judgement.
 Xiānzhǔ was enthroned as King of Hànzhōng, and appointed Zhèng as Director of the Secretariat and General Protecting the Army. The next year he died, at the time aged forty-five years. Xiānzhu wept and sobbed for him for several days. Posthumous name Yì-hóu “Assisting Marquis.” His son Miǎo was bestowed with rank as Marquis Within the Passes, and his office reached Presenting Chariots Colonel and Administrator of Hànyáng.
Zhūgě Liàng and Zhèng, though their values were not the same, could admire each other’s righteousness. [Zhūgě] Liàng was always impressed with Zhèng’s wisdom and ability.
When Xiānzhǔ had just taken Imperial Title, and was about to campaign east against Sūn Quán to avenge the disgrace of Guān Yǔ, most of the officials remonstrated, but he would not listen to a single one. Zhāngwǔ second year , the main army was heavily defeated, and returned to station at Báidì. [Zhūgě] Liàng sighed and said: “if Fǎ Xiàozhí were still here, then he would have been able to hold back our ruler, and have him not go east, but even if we had gone east, then it certainly would not have been this much of a disaster.” (1)
- (1) Xiānzhǔ struggled with Lord Cáo, was in bad position, and should have retreated, but Xiānzhǔ was greatly furious and would not permit retreat, and none dared remonstrate him. Arrows came down like rain, and Zhèng therefore went in front of Xiānzhǔ. Xiānzhǔ said: “Xiàozhí, you need to avoid the arrows.” Zhèng said: “You wise lord are personally facing arrows and stones, so why not a petty man like me?” Xiānzhǔ therefore said: “Xiàozhí, you and I will go together.” Therefore they retreated.