A True Story of Reincarnation: Even Bandits Have a Code of Conduct

Xiao Lian

PureInsight | October 3, 2005

[PureInsight.org] Today I would like to share a true story of mine in which I was a bandit before I started cultivation practice and reached Consummation.

The story occurred during the Northern Song Dynasty (960 –1127 A.D.) Because it constantly lost battles with the kingdom of Liao, the Northern Song Dynasty of China finally signed the Peace Treaty of Tanyuan with Liao. As a part of the treaty, the Northern Song agreed to pay a hefty amount of money to Liao every year. As a result, the Northern Song had to collect heavy taxes from its people, which caused the Chinese people to become poorer and poorer . The Song people who lived near the border between Song and Liao, especially, were in agony all year round. In comparison, the Liao kingdom reached its peak during this period of time.

At that time, I was reincarnated as a princess of the Liao Kingdom named Tianxing (天行). Princess Tianxing had a fierce and high-stung personality. Because she grew up in northern China, she had a very sturdy build. An old martial arts master taught Princess Tianxing martial arts from the time she was little. Before her master parted with her, he gave her a precious sword that could cut cold steel in half. The master told the princess that she must never kill any innocent being. When her master left her, she had just turned 20. In order to find her a husband, Princess Tianxing's father had gone through a great deal of pain. He found many candidates for her to choose from, but Princess Tianxing didn't want to marry any of them. The Princess also felt very moody over the subject of her marriage at times.

One day Princess Tianxing had a dream at night where a handsome literary man with a fair complexion chanted a poem to her, 'When will spring blossom and autumn moon end? How much luxury can one enjoy in his lifetime? Thousands of years flee quickly. When one has just attained career and fame, he is becoming old and dying. Where can one find eternity? Only through cultivation practice will a man become an immortal!'" She felt very close to the man instantly. When she was about to approach him and say hi, the literary man immediately disappeared. She was surprised and woke up from the dream.

After she woke up from the dream, she looked at her maids who were all asleep. The princess lit a lamp and checked out her beautiful face in the copper mirror. Although she did not have the willowy and languid build of a lady who was restricted to her bedchamber all day long, she was a very healthy-looking beauty. But for some reason, she felt nothing was real. Time flies by like the river. How could she retain her youth and beauty forever? The princess thought of the dream and started feeling melancholy. Besides, she had a lot of difficulty finding a man she loved. Suddenly a strong determination to leave the palace came forward. "I want to get out of here and find my destiny on my own." She decided that she must leave at once because she knew her father would never agree. She wrote a letter to her father. It says, "Tianxing will leave home tonight. Father, please forgive me for not saying goodbye first. I must travel alone to seek the righteous Buddha Fa. I shall free myself from countless reincarnations and forever keep myself from the filthy human realm. When I reach Consummation, I shall return and save my dear parents!"

After she finished writing the letter, Princess Tianxing wiped tears from her face. She mounted a horse and left the capital city with her precious sword. The next morning, the Princess' maids could not find her and reported it to His Majesty right away. After reading the letter, His Majesty wept for a very long time. It took the Empress a long time to comfort His Majesty. Finally he said optimistically, "Even if Tianxing stayed beside me, we would have to part after a few decades. If she can truly find the Buddha Fa that can break her free from the cycle of reincarnations, wouldn't that be even better? Since she was little, she hasn't been interested in secular conflicts for power. It is a good thing that she leaves the palace. She will lead a peaceful life. I am content as long as she is happy. She has an excellent command of the martial arts. No matter where she goes, no one will be able to take advantage of her." Nearly ten years after she left the palace, Princess Tianxing's parents both passed away.

After Tianxing left the capital city, she wandered about for nearly two weeks until one day she traveled to a tall mountain called Mount Daqing. She remembered that her father had once told her when they were chatting that there was a group of bandits up on Mount Daqing. According to her father, the leader of the bandit group was called Kong Xin. He was very good at the sword, but he was a dense man. Therefore, he failed to detect it when a spy from the Song Dynasty disguised himself as a bandit and entered his gang. The spy lured him to a place near Dunhuang and had him killed. Now the bandits had no leader.

While she was thinking about her dialogue with her father, several dozen bandits came down from the mountain. The leader was a large, burly man with red tan face. With a giant hammer in one hand, the burly man stood in her way and announced, "Gal, give me all the money you have and I will spare your life. Otherwise, I will smash you into pieces with my hammer."

"You wish! I will fight you if you dare!" Tianxing took out her precious sword and showed absolutely no fear. After a few exchanges of blades, Tianxing cut the man's giant hammer in half.

Tianxing got on her horse and was about to leave when the man made a fist with both hands in front his chest to salute Tianxing and then said, "Please stay. May I please discuss something with you?"

"You may speak directly."

"I was wondering if you have heard that we have no leader now. Now that I have seen your excellent command of the martial arts, I am confident that you are a woman of chivalry with a spirit of justice. Would you be willing to become our leader? We will swear to follow your orders." Since she had nowhere else to go, Tianxing agreed to become their leaders. From then on, Tianxing became the leader of the bandits.

During the next ten years, Tianxing and these bandits killed many corrupt government officials and depraved rich men. They upheld justice for a lot of people. However much one wishes to glorify the bandits, they did take a lot of lives, no matter what. The nearby civilians gave Tianxing a nickname --- Swordswoman with a precious sword. In her spare time, Tianxing often thought, "I left the palace to seek the Buddha Fa, but destiny led me to become a bandit! My goodness! When will I ever find the cultivation practice that I dream about day and night?!"

Two days later while Tianxing and the bandits were enjoying wine and meat, a low-level bandit on watch reported, "About six men are passing by the mountain. They look like either corrupt government officials or depraved rich men. Do we 'cut the deal' with them?"

Tianxing ordered, "Just do the usual. Why do you hesitate?"

After a while, the bandit reported to Tianxing again, "We have killed everyone except a literary man. He asked us not to kill him until he had said three things to our leader."

Tianxing said, "Who does he think he is to pull this stunt before his death? Bring him in. I want to see what he looks like."

Soon the man was brought in with ropes around him. Tianxing thought, "I seem to have seen him somewhere." But she didn't have time for any reflection. She glowered at the man and shouted, "I heard that you have something to say to me before we kill you. Speak quickly."

The literary man didn't look frightened at all. He told Tianxing, "I heard you are given the nickname 'Great swordswoman with a precious sword.' But now that I have met you, I know it was a fraud."

Tianxing felt very offended. She asked, "What do you mean?"

"A person with a true spirit of justice would never kill any innocent beings. You didn't ask who I am or what I do before you decided to kill me. Isn't that an act of random killing?"

Tianxing replied, "Okay. Let me ask you something. Why do you travel with those men?"

"My name is Li Pengfei. I come from Liadong. I have been studying since I was little. Later I met a master who taught me how to start cultivation practice. He asked me to go to Mount Jiuhua to find a Buddhist cultivator of lofty character in order to free myself from the cycle of reincarnations forever. On my way to Mount Jiuhua, I met these government officials and rich men, so we traveled together. Now it is my turn to ask you some questions. First, when will you stop killing beings? Secondly, do you feel the lack of freedom in the human realm? Thirdly, do you know the heavenly law that the gods will reward good deeds and punish bad deeds and the fact that gods and Buddhas are watching you everywhere?"

Tianxing was completely stunned by those words. Suddenly she remembered the dream she had about the literary man. She thought, "Could this man be the one in my dream?" She untied the man herself and ordered her followers to take him away.

That night she could hardly sleep. She kept thinking what she should do about her life, her marriage and her ideals. One thing that kept haunting her was that she had killed many beings in the past ten years as a leader of bandits. Once she started her cultivation practice, would her past killing be an obstacle? Besides, she had developed many undesirable characteristics as the leader of a group of bandits. Would she be able to remove these bad traits during her cultivation practice in this lifetime? She kept thinking about these issues and could not sleep.

On the following day, she confessed her concerns to Li Pengfei. Pengfei told her, "It will be okay as long as you start having kind thoughts and doing kind deeds. Buddha looks at only your heart. There is an ancient Chinese saying, 'It is greatest kindness of all to know your own mistakes and improve from the mistakes.' The Buddha Fa has the power to remove the acquired notions and bring you back to your true, pure self. Besides, you have forgotten about me. I will stay beside you. If you run into problems in your cultivation practice, we will exchange cultivation notes with each other and solve the problems together!"

Looking at Pengfei, a man enveloped with righteous spirit, Tianxing began to admire him. She thought, "It will be very pleasant to seek the Buddha Fa with this man. Besides, he is good at writing poetry. I will not be bored with him." She told Pengfei confidently, "From now on, if you fail to treat me well, you will have to answer to my precious sword!" Pengfei said, "I dare not to bully you. As long as you don't not make a fuss or throw a tantrum, I will be very thankful!" They chatted and laughed for a while. Then Tianxing summoned all the bandits and made arrangements for them. Then the two of them got married and left the mountain.

When they arrived at the foot of Mount Jiuhua, they started asking everyone they met about a Buddhist cultivator with lofty character. They kept asking from the foot to the top of the mountain, but no one knew the existence of such a cultivator. It was getting dark, so the stayed overnight at an abandoned Buddhist monastery on the top of the mountain. At dawn of the next day, the Buddha light began to shine on the top of the mountain. To this day, I still remember the moment like yesterday! The Buddha light descended from the sky in all the colors on the rainbow. The blissful light shone through the morning fog. It was such a sacred and beautiful scene. The Buddha's compassion truly shines on the entire world! They were immensely ecstatic to witness such a magnificent phenomenon.

Then something even more incredible occurred. In the Buddha light a giant Buddha appeared! He commanded grace and authority. With a golden lotus flower under his feet, the Buddha travels everywhere. He saves the sentient beings with his boundless compassion. He showed himself before genuine cultivators to give them a hint! The couple hurried to throw themselves in all fours and repeatedly kowtowed to the Buddha. The giant Buddha said only one thing to them, "Cultivate diligently and you shall attain the Righteous Fruit." Then the Buddha disappeared along with the Buddha light.

The couple embraced each other and burst into tears! Never had they expected to have such an incredible opportunity to meet a giant Buddha in person and witness such a sacred moment! They thought, "We must have accumulated virtue from numerous past reincarnations!" From then on, they lived on top the mountain and began their cultivation practice. When they lacked the Buddha Fa to guide their next level of cultivation practice, they would be given hints in their dreams to help them upgrade. After having cultivated for nearly 30 years, the couple was in the middle of the sitting meditation at noon when they suddenly heard the music of the Buddha Fa from the sky. Soon many transparent flowers fall from the sky. The flowers looked quite delightful. The two of them began to levitate. Their bodies became transparent and majestic. Then they saw the giant Buddha again who was smiling at them. Next a seat made of a lotus flower and a beautiful divine crane flew towards them. Tianxing got on the lotus flower and Pengfei got on the crane's back. They both ascended to the sky. Colorful clouds accompanied them to the sky. They had finally freed themselves from the cycle of reincarnations!

This is a new interpretation of an ancient Chinese saying, "Even bandits have a code of conduct." No matter what we have done in the past or how many bad things we have done in the past, we will be able to reach Consummation as long as we are diligent in our cultivation practice. My incarnation in this story is a fine illustration.

Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2005/9/18/33891.html

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