Previous Incarnations and Present Life: Gu Feixiong, A Tang Dynasty Poet Who Could Recall His Previous Life


PureInsight | June 2, 2003

Series note: People encounter and befriend one another because of predestined relationships. With that in mind, one cannot talk about predestined relationships without talking about reincarnation. In this series, we will introduce stories of incarnations from ancient Chinese historical books. Hopefully these stories will inspire us all to treat everyone we meet with kindness.

[] Gu Kuang had a son who died very young. To express his grief, Gu Kuang wrote a poem commemorating his son. The poem says, "An old man cried for his lost child from dawn until sunset; he cried 'til his eyes bled. His heart was broken; all traces his son had left in this world were gone. The old man was already in his 70s and he would leave the world soon."

Although Gu Kuang's son died, his soul still lingered around his house. Every time he heard his father's crying, he too suffered. He swore that if he was reincarnated as a human in his next life, he wanted to be the son of his father again.

One day the soul of Gu Kuang's son was brought before a heavenly official. This official, who looked like a county commissioner, decided that this soul would reincarnate into Gu's family again. Then the soul lost consciousness. After a while he came around and opened his eyes. He saw the household items from his old house and his old siblings; all his old relatives were standing around him. He felt sorry that he could not speak. He knew that he had been born again. Beyond that he could not remember.

On one occasion, when he was seven, his older brother beat him up when they were fooling around. Suddenly, he said, "I was your older brother. Why do you beat me up?" The whole family was shocked. Then he told them everything about his previous life, and every detail was exactly true. He still remembered the childhood names of his siblings. He went on to become a famous poet in the Tang Dynasty named Gu Feixiong.

Note: Gu Kuang (806 CE? a.k.a. Buwong) was born in Haiyan, Zhejiang province. In the era of Suzong in the Tang Dynasty, he obtained the title of "Jinshi" in a national exam. For a period of time he was a zhuzuo lang (a official rank) in the imperial court. He was demoted to the level of an official in charge of population management in Raozhou (now Linxi County, Inner Mongolia, China) because he offended the ruler by remonstrating with him with clever analogies. He then retreated to a hermitage in Maoshan Mountain and called himself "a man of leisure living near Huayang." He was skilled at poetry and Chinese painting.

Gu Feixiong was Gu Kuang's son. He published one collection of his poems during the Tang Dynasty. One of them is My feelings on the memorial day at Changan City. The poem says, "On the memorial day spectators are expelled from the Forbidden City. Flowers are everywhere in the suburbs and orioles are singing. Many people go for a walk in the countryside in spring and the sky becomes cloudless. "

Translated from

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