Stories of Deities: Missing The Opportunity

Edited by Zhu Yueming

PureInsight | February 16, 2004

[] The Ten Friends of Weiyang was a group of ten friends who were wealthy and content with their lots. They were not interested in pursuing government positions and not greedy about money. They liked to get together and talk about metaphysics and Taoism. The ten friends were like brothers. They took turns hosting dinner parties.

One day an old man showed up uninvited at the party. He wore rags and was painfully thin. The ten friends were in a good mood and they felt sorry for the old man. So the allowed him to remain and shared their feast with him. After the old man finished his dinner, he left.

A few days later, the old man appeared again. He told the ten friends, "I am a poor man. I feel honored because you allowed me to join your dinner party and nobody was rude to me. You have finished one round of hosting dinner parties already. Now it is my turn, and I will try my best to host one in order to show my respect for you. Let us set a date and I hope all of you can attend."

The ten friends agreed to attend the old man's dinner party. On the agreed date, the poor man came to get the ten friends early in the morning. He led them to an area east of the city, and the friends didn't feel they had walked a long time. When they arrived at the destination, they saw three leaning huts that appeared so unstable that it seemed that they would not survive a gust of wind . The old man invited them to go inside. A few filthy and ugly beggars in rags with uncombed long hair were inside the hut. When the old man entered the hut, the beggars stood up and waited for instructions from the old man. The old man told them to clean the hut, lay down firewood on the ground, and spread a straw mat. Then he asked the ten friends to sit down.

It was getting late and everyone started to get hungry. After quite a while, some of the beggars brought vinegar, salt and bamboo chop sticks to the guests. Then a few beggars carried a big board that was about 5 to 6 feet long and put it in the middle of the straw mat. The board was covered with a piece of oilcloth on top. The ten friends looked at each other and assumed that they would finally get some food to eat. The old man removed the cover. Things on the board were steaming and it took a while for the ten friends to see what was there. They were astounded by what they saw. The food was in the shape of a baby. The old man asked his guests to help themselves. However, the ten friends felt disgusted with him. Some pretended they were not hungry, others left in anger. Nobody wanted to eat the old man's food.

The old man then started to eat. After he finished he told those beggars to take his leftovers and finish them all. After all the food was eaten, the old man told the ten friends, "The stuff I ate a moment ago was actually ginseng that is more than 1,000 years old. It is very rare. I got it and wanted to share with you because you fellows treated me well. Humans who eat it will reach consummation and become deities. You guys did not eat it, and that was probably your destiny!" The ten friends were shocked and they deeply regretted what they did.

After a while, all the beggars were transformed into golden boys and jade girls. They held banners and umbrellas for the old man, and flew up to the sky with the old man. The ten friends tried everything they could to find the old man but they never saw him again.

Adapted from: An Account Of Meeting With Deities

Translated from:

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