Previous Incarnations and Present Life: Meeting in the Mountains

Shi Ran, Ed.

PureInsight | September 15, 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 reincarnation selected from ancient Chinese books. Hopefully these stories will inspire us all to treat everyone we meet with kindness.]

[] Qingxi Mountain in Fuzhou, China is incomparably beautiful. As a young man, Yuan Zi lived in an area between Fuzhou and Cheng City, near Qingxi Mountain.

One sunny day, Yuan Zi took a leisurely stroll to Qingxi Mountain. After several miles, he found himself on a serene, yet dangerously steep and remote off-trail. There Yuan ran into a scholar who made a living by selling medical herbs. As Yuan Zi began to talk to the scholar, they realized they were kindred spirits. Yuan ended up staying overnight at the scholar's hut.

Yuan Zi asked the scholar, "There should be some immortals in a secluded area like this! Have you ever met one?" The scholar replied, "There are about five to six Taoists. They come here every two to three days. I do not know where they live. Although I know them very well, they keep their residence secret from me." Yuan Zi said, "I would like to meet them. Do you think it would be alright?" The scholar said, "They don't like strangers, but they do like drinking. If you can prepare one jug of good liquor and stay here and wait patiently, then perhaps you might have a chance to meet them." So, Yuan Zi returned with a jug of good liquor and waited for the immortals to arrive.

One evening after several days, the Taoists came. Among the five of them, some wore hats of deer hides, and some wore gauze hats. They each walked with walking sticks, and wore straw sandals. The scholar greeted them from far away. Laughing, they approached a brook. While they washed their feet, they continued to talk and laugh. The scholar immediately prepared a liquor feast. Soon they entered the hut. When they saw the liquor, they were very pleased. They asked the scholar, "How did you manage to get such good liquor?" After drinking several cups of liquor, the scholar said that a visitor had brought the liquor and that he would like very much to meet them. Thereupon, the scholar brought Yuan Zi out to meet the immortals.

The five Taoists suddenly lost the smiles on their faces. They immediately regretted that they had drunk this liquor, and all began to complain to the scholar, "You should not have brought a stranger to disturb us." The scholar said: "This man's sincerety is worth praising. Besides, he also cultivates in Taoism. It does not hurt to meet him." Finally the immortals eased their attitudes. When the immortals noticed Yuan Zi stood very respectfully, they then took turns engaging him in conversation. Finally they said to him, "Have a seat." After thanking them, Yuan then sat down.

After drinking for a while, everybody was in good spirits. The Taoists took a good look at Yuan Zi, and said to each other, "This man looks very much like the Buddhist monk that used to meditate at the west peak." Later, they added, "It's him indeed. Now that I begin to count, it has been 47 years since that monk passed away." They asked Yuan's age only to find that Yuan was exactly 47 years of age. The Taoists looked at each other, and said to Yuan, "Go seek a career at the government. You will have both good fortune and a good career in your life. You will attain both wealth and power."

Then, they bid farewell to the scholar. Yuan saluted them as a farewell gesture. The immortals crossed the mountain brook, and moved toward the summit. They grabbed onto some Chinese wisteria and leapt toward the summit gracefully as though they were flying, and quickly disappeared.

As the immortals had predicted, Yuan soon obtained the highest score at the imperial examination. He rose steadily in government, and eventually became Prime Minister as well as the military commissioner in Jiannandong, in the west of Sichuan Province.

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