Persistence and Obtaining the Tao

Lu Zhitong

PureInsight | April 30, 2007

[] It was quite
difficult for people in ancient times to obtain the Tao. Without a
persevering mind people would fail. No matter how many years they had
cultivated, if they failed one small test, all their efforts were in
vain. Thus, they lost the opportunity to obtain the Tao.

A renowned Tang Dynasty poet, Wei Yingwu, was a man who endeavored to
obtain the Tao. His poems are simple and elegant. He told two stories
through poetry about a couple of cultivators learning to be divine
beings, as quoted below:

Learning to be a Divine Being

Wei Yingwu

Once there was a Taoist

Learning to be a divine being.

Tested for his sincerity

By an official from heaven.

A huge boulder was hung by a hair,

Lying under it for thirteen years.

With a steady mind, forgetting life and death,

He passes the test with ease.

Jade Emperor from heaven put him

In a group of divine beings.

Clouds moving slowly up and up,

Leaving a few words for his disciples,

Cultivate diligently without slacking off.

The analogy for this poem is this: A Taoist tried to cultivate to
become a divine being. The Jade Emperor heard about it and sent an
official down from heaven to test him. The official found that the
Taoist's mind was indeed quite firm. The official used a hair by which
to hang a thousand pound boulder and told him to lie under it for
thirteen years. The Taoist let go of consideration for life and death
and passed the test by lying under the boulder. When he passed the
test, the Jade Emperor permitted him to join the divine beings in
heaven. The Taoist then ascended slowly with the clouds and merely left
words for his disciples to cultivate diligently without slacking off.


Digging a well in a huge rock,

Too lazy to finish the task.

Three brothers found a divine scripture,

Studying in the mountain.

Under a straw roof,

Or by high steep cliffs and a deep canyon.

A deity turned into a white deer,

playing joyfully with two younger brothers.

The older brother remained firm,

Reading the scripture seven more times.

He obtained Tao becoming a divine being.

Two younger brothers cried out to heaven,

One ounce of negligence,

Thousands of years of waiting.

The second poem tells a different story: It is extremely difficult to
obtain water by digging a well in rock, and a lazy mind stops one from
being steadfast. The three brothers mentioned in the poem found a
divine scripture and stayed in the mountain where they built a
straw-roofed hut. They studied by the high steep cliff and a deep
canyon. After many years, a deity masquerading as a deer arrived to
test their diligence. Two younger brothers joyfully went to play with
the deer, but the older brother was not moved. The older brother
continued to study without stopping. He read the scripture only seven
more times than the other brothers. The older brother became a divine
being for his perseverance. Two younger brothers cried regretfully out
to heaven.

Cultivation is serious. If you are short by only a tiny bit, you will
lose the opportunity that comes only once in tens of thousands of years.

These two stories are good examples and serve as reminders for us
cultivators. Since we have already obtained the Fa, we should study
diligently without slacking off. Let's not squander such a rare

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