PureInsight | August 18, 2003
[Series Note: The ancient Chinese people believed in the theory that "man is an integral part of heaven." This theory implies that cosmic changes have their counterparts in the human world, foretelling bliss or turmoil on earth. It also means that man's life is determined by heaven. An invisible force controls and manipulates man's birth, aging, sickness, and death. Can man escape his fate? Please read this story and draw your own conclusion.]
[PureInsight.org] Yang Dingfu was a Jin Shi, or a successful candidate in the national civil service examination held at the imperial capital of China in ancient times. He was highly praised for his talents in writing poetry.
One year Yang Dingfu traveled with his friends to Mount Qin Chen in Sichuan Province. He along with fifty some people were on a boat crossing the Zao River. Half way across the Zao River, they suddenly came across a huge storm that pummeled the boat onto a giant rock. Within a blink of the eye, the boat sank and everyone on board drowned, except for Yang Dingfu. He felt that something had lifted him up and carried him to the shore. When he landed on the shore, he was completely worn out and couldn't climb out of the water.
An elderly man suddenly appeared. The elderly man extended his walking stick and helped Yang Dingfu climb up onto the shore. The elderly man smiled at Yang Dingfu and said, "You are supposed to be in salt, not in water." By the time Yang Dingfu had completely climbed onto the shore, the elderly man had disappeared into thin air. Later Yang Dingfu wrote a poem to commemorate this extraordinary experience.
Upon returning to his home in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, Yang Dingfu shared his experience with his bosom friends, but no one could interpret the meaning of "in salt." Later Yang Dingfu became an advisor to an important court official An Siqian, and assisted him in dealing with legal affairs related to the salt trade. One day Yang Dingfu suddenly died of a mysterious disease. It was a hot summer and Yang's body quickly developed a stench. To cover the smell, the coroners wrapped Yang's body in more than 100 kilograms of coarse salt and buried him on the outskirts of town. It was only then that the mystery of "in the salt" was solved.
Note: Yang Dingfu's commemorating poem was collected in Volume 760-13 in A Complete Collection of Poetry in the Tang Dynasty (or Quan Tang Shi in Chinese.)
Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2003/7/12/22475.html