An Ancient Story of Sacred Music

PureInsight | August 25, 2003

[] Lu Xiangjun was a businessman who lived around Lake Dongting. He often sold fish and shrimp from Lake Dongting to the cities in Jiangxi. He only kept one tenth of the gross sale as his profit. If he had money left after taking his own share, he would help his poor relatives and friends. If there were still a surplus, he would give the money to the poor.

Lu Xiangjun was a good flute player. Whenever he came across a lovely spot with a scenic view of the lake, he would paddle his boat over to anchor and play his flute. One night in mid spring, under the moon, Lu Xiangjun paddled over to Jun Hill by himself to relax and have a few drinks. After each cup, he played his flute. Suddenly he saw a fishing boat approaching on the mist-covered water. As the boat came closer, he saw an old man with white hair and bushy eyebrows steering the boat. The old man’s aura seemed out of the ordinary.

Lu put down his flute and stood up to greet him. The old man tied up to Lu’s boat and came on board. After the conventional greetings, the old man said, “I heard your flute. It was loud and clear. Your music is extraordinary too, so I came over to meet you.”

Awestruck, Lu Xiangjun said nothing. After sharing a few drinks, the old man said, “When I was a child, I learned to play the flute. Can I teach you?”

Lu Xiangjun was eager to learn, so he stood up to pay respect to the old man and replied, “I would like to be your last student.”

The old man took out three flutes from his sleeves. The biggest one required both arms to hold it. The second flute was the usual size, and the third was as thin as a brush pen. Lu Xiangjun paid his respects to the old man again and asked him to play.

The old man said, “I cannot play the biggest flute. I cannot play the second either. I can play the smallest one for you, but I am not sure whether I can finish even one song.”

Lu Xiangjun replied, “I would like to know more about the two flutes that you cannot play.”

The old man said, “The biggest one used to be in Heaven where it was played for gods and goddesses. If I play it in the human world, human beings and the ground will disappear. The sun and the moon will lose their light. Five planets -- Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars and Saturn -- will shift. Mountains will collapse. I won’t even mention the other calamities that would result.

The second one is for the deities in the caves in Penglai, in the Yegu Islands, and in the Immortal Mountains, as well as Queen Mother Wang in the Kulun Mountains. If I play this flute in the human world, stones and sand will fly about in the sky. Flying birds will fall to the ground. Animals’ heads will crack, their inner organs will be disturbed, and all young lives will be shocked to death. Human beings will not have a chance. I won’t even mention the other results.

I play the smallest one to entertain my friends. Everything and all sentient beings in the world can listen to it, but as soon as I play it, they will become disturbed. Therefore, I am not sure if I can finish even one song.”

After these words, he took out the third flute and played three notes. Suddenly there was a gale on the lake that stirred up violent waves that threw fish and turtles out of the water. Lu Xiangjun and his servants were scared. After five or six notes, birds and animals on Jun Hill cried and howled, and the moon waned. The boats on the lake swayed so much that the people in them panicked.

The old man immediately stopped playing. After drinking several more cups of liquor, he recited a poem: “The old man of the lake reads the books of Huang Di and Laoz. Sitting on green grass, he holds wisteria in his hand. In spring, no one knows how deep the lake is. When the sun sets, no one remembers Baling Roads [now in Hunan province, China].”

The old man had a few more drinks and told Lu Xiangjun, “Next fall, I will meet you here again.” Then he rowed away and disappeared on the lake.

The next fall, Lu Xiangjun arrived early to wait for the old man at the foot of Jun Hill, but he never showed up again.

Reference: A Comprehensive Record of Extraordinary Events (Bo Yishi)

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