PureInsight | September 1, 2003
[PureInsight.org] In the Tang dynasty there was a man named Ma Zhou. Both his parents died when he was very young, so he lived in poverty. Ma Zhou was a serious scholar of classical Chinese work, but because he did not know how to manage his home and career, the villagers looked down on him. After taking a job as a substitute teacher, he began drinking and was drunk every day. His boss grew very angry, and scolded him repeatedly.
Angry and disgruntled, he traveled south to the cities of Cao and Dian. After his arrival, he became drunk, insulted the mayor and was scolded again. Traveling westward he arrived at the Xinfeng region. He found a hotel to stay at, but the owner only served wine and food to the rich business customers and did not bother to serve Ma Zhou. Ma Zhou then ordered the server to get him a huge pot of wine and began to serve himself. When he finished drinking, he took off his shoes and used his leftover wine to wash his feet. The owner was shocked by his actions.
After arriving in the city of Jing, he stayed at a pie shop. The owner of this shop was a quiet and peaceful woman. After a few days he decided to find employment as an advisor to someone important. The owner of the pie shop suggested that he work in the house of a general called Chang He. When the woman first became the pie shop owner, many famous fortunetellers like Li Chunfeng and Yuan Tianggang all became acquainted with her. They were all very shocked when they met her and secretly discussed her, "This woman's features indicate she should have much wealth and prosperity, how can she be here selling pies?" Ma Zhou eventually married this pie shop owner.
After some time, the emperor commanded that all officers from level five and up must write reports detailing their ideas on how to govern the country. Ma Zhou went beyond the norm and wrote a twenty-topic report that talked about how certain rules that would benefit the county but conformed to the customs of those times could be implemented. He submitted it to Chang He who then passed it on to the emperor. The report suggested that the streets should have drums to sound alarms, and that all officials should dress in corresponding colored clothing. These requests were the same as what the emperor was thinking.
The Tang emperor was very amazed, so he asked how Chang He could have thought about these things. Chang He answered, "These were all reported to me by Ma Zhou, one of my advisors." The Tang emperor then called in Ma Zhou, and ordered him to be interviewed by other officials. He was appointed to a research position, supervising the writing of the history of the dynasty. The Emperor was very pleased with Chang He for introducing him to Ma Zhou and awarded Chang He with 100 rolls of silk. Ma Zhou was promoted twice afterwards. Ma Zhou was very intelligent and fast. He used oration and his writings to communicate and do his work. He would reach his goal every time.
Another fortuneteller, Ling Wenben said after meeting Ma Zhou, "After meeting Ma Zhou I felt that he could make people forget their own stress and tiredness. Ma Zhou's shoulders arch up like an old eagle and his face is full of redness. Such a person will rise very quickly. The only problem is that it will not be sustained." After a few years, Ma Zhou was promoted again, and the pie shop owner was now the wife of a very high-ranking official. Afterwards he was promoted again. Subsequently, within a short period of time, he acquired diabetes and died at the age of 48. After his death, in order to commemorate him, the emperor posthumously elevated him to the rank of duke.
Reference: Book of Predetermined Lives
Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2003/7/31/22719.html