PureInsight | November 22, 2021
[PureInsight.org] On the first day of Chinese New Year in 2018, I watched a Shen Yun performance. Throughout the exquisite performance, I was both touched and amazed. There was one program, "A Tale of Devotion," which left a vivid impression on me. On the next day after watching the performance, a magnificent chronicle of history was revealed before my eyes, a chronicle that fully reproduced heaven's arrangement for Xue Rengui and Wang Baochuan, (the protagonists featured in the aforementioned program). I was so amazed that I decided to write down the main part of this story.
1. Heaven's Arrangement
There is a saying: "A play in the human world is but heaven's arrangement." The dance piece, "A Tale of Devotion," was also arranged by heaven.
A long time ago, in a beautiful heaven with magnificent palaces, the immortals were discussing the creation of a unique play script for the human world, a script that would depict what loyalty is in marriage. After arranging every detail in the script, several divine beings were selected to perform this story.
Cultivators know that of every story from history, each has a script. In addition, the script is arranged by heaven. Moreover, there are divine beings who revise the original script after a lengthy period of time. They then revise it again after another long stretch of time. This revising cycle keeps repeating. Over the long course of history, however, divine beings have degenerated. The standards, mechanisms, and wisdom of all divine beings is on the decline. In this way, those divine beings of later ages have made things more complicated in the process of revising the script. Those revisions have gradually reversed the plot of the original script, and have even deviated from the aim of the original script.
Take the well-known story of “Liang and Zhu” (aka The Butterfly Lovers) as an example. In the Shen Yun program depicting this story, a young man named Liang Shanbo visits his “buddy” Zhu Yingtai. Liang had always considered Zhu a guy, as the latter had previously disguised herself as a young man so she could study in school. It was in this way that Liang and Zhu befriended each other. However, on this unannounced visit to Zhu's home, Liang discovers his “buddy” is a graceful young lady. When Zhu Yingtai's father sees Liang Shanbo, he sizes the young man up and is delighted, considering him to be a talented young man. From his daughter's expression, it is obvious she has a crush on Liang. He then decides to betroth his daughter to Liang. The story ends happily, which was per the original script. The prominent theme was: "The lovers finally get married."
Later, this love script was modified by some altered immortals to be completely different. Another man, Ma Wenhua was added, and it was changed into a tragic story of "the lovers cannot be together". Those immortals also arranged Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai became butterfly together at the end. To put it bluntly, they were arranged to be insects in the cycle of reincarnation. In addition, the immortals even tried to make it sound romantic: the butterfly lovers. This modification completely deviated from the original script's intent and became a failure.
Many well-known stories left over in history have been constantly revised by immortals. These immortals have modified the culture that the creator left to humankind in a completely different way, and it is not the same thing at all. The adapted story loses its original flavor, and destroys the deep connotation of the culture established by the creator.
The well-known story that “Devotion” is based upon, and which has been passed down through the ages, was similarly altered. Shen Yun Performing Arts brought the original, unaltered script for this story, which they named “Devotion,” to the stage in 2018. Compared with the scripts in circulation now, I realized that the original script is the best script; it depicts the authentic culture that was established by the Creator.
The original script for this story was created so as to tell people to be faithful in marriage. Of course, it also includes the themes of righteousness, sacrifice, forbearance, bearing of hardship, and abiding by promises, all of which demonstrate the fine qualities of human nature. These qualities are part of the spirit of the Chinese ethnicity. The mechanism of time imprints this story in human blood, memory and genes, and cannot be erased by any external factors.
2. Re-connecting Predestined Ties with the Embroidered Marriage Ball
It is said that marriage between a husband and wife is predestined by heaven, and it really indeed is so.
In 794 AD, the impoverished Xue family gave birth to a baby boy, named Xue Rengui. Two years later, the aristocratic Wang family household gave birth to a baby girl. She was named Wang Baochuan. Baochuan gradually grew up to be an elegant, kindhearted young lady. To her parents, she was a pearl in the palm. Heavenly immortals overseeing affairs in the human world paid close attention to the two as they grew up. When it was time, the pair was happily married, and their story later spread far and wide.
From the perspective of the heavens, their marriage was predetermined, and there are no accidents in the world.
When Baochuan was 16, her parents began to consider her marriage. A few years ago, a fortune-teller had read to Baochuan her horoscope. He announced that Baochuan's fate would be noble, and that she would surpass her mother's social status in the future. Upon hearing this, Baochuan's father was very happy, thinking: “Only the empress or duchess surpasses Baochuan's mother.” (Baochan's father was the highest administrative official at that time, so Baochuan's mother held very high social status).
Baochuan was very beautiful, so there was a steady stream of suitors. Sometimes Baochuan's maid, named Yuwen, would hide behind a screen to observe the suitors with Baochuan. Yuwen noticed that Baochuan had no feeling toward those young guys, talented as they may be. Baochuan even considered these guys a bit tacky.
One day Baochuan had a dream in which she was standing on a high platform, holding an embroidered marriage ball, before tossing it directly at one guy. (In ancient China, the young man who catches the embroidered ball will marry the young lady who tossed it). That guy she aimed at caught the embroidered marriage ball and looked up at her, Baochuan immediately fell in love with him at first sight. That guy looked magnificent, righteous and heroic. Baochuan felt his face was familiar, but could not remember who he was. While she was thinking she woke up from the dream.
Still, the man's handsome face and piercing eyes remained clearly visible before her. Flustered, Baochuan hurriedly held up a silk handkerchief over her eyes, but through the silk handkerchief, she could still see the man's face. Baochuan hurriedly covered her face with the bed quilt, but it too could not block that man's face. His eyes were so shiny, as if he could directly see Baochuan's heart. At this time, Baochuan's maid laughed, "Miss, how are you to breathe?"
Even after getting out of bed that familiar face remained before her eyes. Baochuan told her maid, Yuwen, about it. Yuwen smiled and said, "Maybe that's your husband?" Baochuan was shy to hear that and pretended to hit Yuwen playfully. Yuwen dodged and suggested, “Miss, how about we go to the temple to ask about your marriage?" Baochuan nodded.
Baochuan told her mother that she saw an immortal in her dream, and wanted to go to the temple to worship the divine. Her mother agreed. In the temple, Baochuan bowed respectfully to the buddha and deities, before making her request. Per custom, she then stood up to draw a fortune stick from a long cylindrical bamboo tube containing dozens of sticks, to see the answer to her request. The fortune stick she drew read: "Marriage is coming, one waits in a cave dwelling, keeping pure and unstained from the world, for 18 years, busy in the military, a noble husband and a glorious wife.”
Just as Baochuan was pondering over the fortune stick she held in hand, the temple abbot, Master Kongjue, approached. Smiling, he put his palms together in heshi, a Buddhist salute, and said, "Your wedding is coming, don't hesitate." Baochuan bowed to the abbot and said, "Master, please give me some guidance." Master Kongjue said, "The embroidered marriage ball appeared in your dream. What follows is marriage. In fact, that was no dream. Keep pure and unstained. Stay in the cold cave to await his return home. You have a predestined relationship with the man in the dream, do not miss it. Come back here 10 years later, I will have something to tell you. I hope you can frequently read Buddhist scriptures so as to accumulate virtue for the future." After speaking, Master Kongjue turned and left.
On the next morning, Baochuan greeted her father and told him, "I dreamed of throwing an embroidered marriage ball from a tall platform. My predestined one is bound to catch it. I hope you grant me my wish to throw the embroidered marriage ball to get my husband." Baochuan's father agreed to his daughter's request. The big day came, and the tall platform was all set up. Baochuan's father asked his servants to watch each crossing. Only talented young men wearing clean clothes could approach. The servants were instructed to drive away anyone that looked poor.
3. Meeting and Parting
On the day Baochuan was to throw her embroidered ball, Rengui had gone to the city to deal with some matters. While he was hurriedly walking on the road with his head down, he suddenly felt an object had been thrown toward him. He instinctively grabbed the object without thinking. Rengui then looked up to see a beautiful, noble girl standing atop the high platform before him, looking at him with a smile. Rengui didn't understand what was going on, but felt weird: there were only a few people on the street before, how come so many people had suddenly appeared? After people started pushing him to the front, Rengui suddenly realized what he caught was the embroidered ball thrown by Mr. Wang's daughter. He stood, dumbfounded. He thought: This is one really big misunderstanding. It is already difficult living alone, how can I be responsible to this young lady? He kept waving his hand in refusal, but was still involuntarily taken to Mr. Wang.
Mr. Wang was very annoyed by the incident. Thinking to himself, he cursed at his servants for failing to guard the corners, and letting this impoverished-looking guy catch the embroidered ball. He just wanted to give Rengui some money in exchange that he would leave his daughter and continue on his way.
Baochuan saw that the guy who caught her embroidered ball was exactly the one she saw in her dream. Although he wore cheap clothes, he had the look of a hero. She was very pleased at heart. Then she saw her father's face... Baochuan hurriedly told him, “Dad, everyone in the city knows I threw the embroidered ball to pick my husband. Today, before everyone's eyes, the embroidered ball was caught by Rengui. It is likely heaven's will. Now if you regret, people will laugh at me for looking down on the poor, and loving only rich men. It is not good for your reputation. I am not afraid of living in poverty. I am willing to marry Mr. Xue, hopefully you can fulfill my wish.”
Mr. Wang was annoyed that his normally very well-behaved daughter insisted in her decision. Moreover, Rengui had waved his hands repeatedly to refuse Mr. Wang's money, as he did not want to accept undeserved wealth. Mr. Wang thought that this impoverished young man would not accept the money because he fancied his daughter. She is obviously out of his league, he thought. Mr. Wang then turned angrily to ask his daughter to choose between her parents and marriage. Baochuan tearfully chose Rengui. Fuming, Mr. Wang announced on the spot that he did not have such a daughter, severing his relationship with Baochuan there and then. The situation turned sour. Mrs. Wang could not persuade her husband or her daughter, she burst into tears.
Rengui felt the whole experience was so unreal, as though he were in a trance, or in a dream. Rengui and Baochuan left the residence from the small door, because the infuriated Mr. Wang told them to exit from the small door, so as not to embarrass Mr. Wang's family. He also told the housekeeper to take back the golden hair accessories on his daughter's head and her ancestral jade bracelet.
Rengui looked at the pretty young lady who was following him, and from time to time she wiped away her tears with a silk handkerchief. Suddenly, his consciousness returned in full, and he became calm. "It won't be too late if you return home now, your father will forgive you,” he told Baochuan, “I am alone and impoverished. If you stay with me, you will not be able to bear the suffering." Taken aback, Baochuan said firmly, "I have made up my mind, and I will not change my decision. Did you just say that because you dislike me, and don't want to be with me?" Rengui hurriedly waved his hand to show that was not his meaning.
The situation proved way beyond Baochuan's expectation. Although Baochuan was bewildered, her mind became even firmer. When Baochuan passed by Liuji pawnshop, she pawned her earrings in exchange for some money to live off. Then, Baochuan followed Rengui to his home—a cave dwelling. This was when she suddenly remembered the words on the fortune stick: "One waits in a cave dwelling" and “keeping pure and unstained from the world.” She realized that this was to be her path in life.
Rengui did not stay in his cave dwelling that night, (for they had yet to marry). The next day, his good friends and curious neighbors helped them to hold a simple wedding, and then they were finally married. At this point, Rengui still had the feeling of being in a trance, but he knew his wife had chosen him sincerely. For some time, Rengui had mixed feelings, both joy and sorrow. Joy, because his wife had entrusted the rest of her life to him without hesitation. Sorrow, because he felt uneasy that his wife would suffer, living with him in poverty. At that moment, strong faith and the sense of manly responsibility arose in his heart.
After some time, Rengui thought of going out to earn a name for himself. This idea grew stronger by the day. Three months after their marriage, Rengui told his wife his thoughts, which he wanted to go out to be successful. Although Baochuan was reluctant, she still supported her husband's decision.
A few days later, Rengui left home in the morning. The two were reluctant to leave one another. Baochuan followed Rengui on the road for a while to send him off. Rengui had tears in his eyes, and Baochuan's clothes were wet because of her tears. Who knows this separation would last 18 years. All they could do from then on was to miss each other in the future.
4. The Food-Distribution Immortals, an Elderly Female Beggar and Guardian Immortals
In ancient times, a woman without a husband by her side would suffer a lot more. On the one hand, the pain of separation and of missing her husband is one kind of suffering. However, being without food is another kind of suffering. Everything needs to be prepared by the woman herself, whether food or other things like collecting and chopping firewood for heating. Fortunately, Baochuan was adept at embroidery, and she was able earn some rations for herself with her skill. Most of the time, however, she ate wild vegetables.
In Shen Yun's program, Baochuan dug out wild vegetables to eat. This is how she survived for 18 years. But, how was she able to survive on just eating wild vegetables?
Before Baochuan reincarnated as a human, she was a fairy in heaven. Many guardian immortals watched over and protected her in the human world. She would have suffered from malnourishment if all she ate were wild vegetables for that long. Therefore, the heavenly immortals regularly sent grain to Baochuan. Their method of sending grain was to sprinkle the grain on the wild vegetables in another dimension. The wild vegetables that Baochuan dug up in different seasons all contained the nutrition of grain.
There are male immortals and female immortals responsible for food distribution. They both have a yellow bag of food hanging from their waists, each tied with red silk. This is a heavenly secret: the food-distribution immortals manage the entire world's food supply, from commercial warehouses to small private grain storages. How much food a person can get is determined by them, and is based on that person's virtue. How much crops can be harvested in any given year in the human world is also decided by heaven.
In the eighth grueling year of life in the cold cave dwelling, Baochuan met an elderly female beggar who looked skinny under her ragged clothes. She knocked on her cave door to ask for water. Baochuan saw that she was poor and walking was difficult for her. Therefore, she let her inside. But after the beggar entered the cave dwelling and drank a bowl of hot water, she couldn't get up properly and had difficulty breathing. Baochuan then brought her to the bed and began to take care of her carefully. Two days later, the beggar's physical health improved. She appreciated Baochuan for taking care of her and insisted on taking Baochuan as her daughter. Baochuan agreed. Seven or eight days later, Baochuan had run out of food in her cave dwelling. The beggar wanted to go out to beg for food, but Baochuan stopped her. Baochuan requested a nearby merchant to give her rice, promising the seller she will pay back later. She also dug up some vegetables, carried water back to the cave, and tried her best to take care of the beggar. The beggar's health gradually improved, but Baochuan became thinner.
A month later, the beggar told Baochuan, "My daughter, I am leaving now, I can't always rely on you. I have a patchwork bag. There is one coin inside, you take it. I have a rice bowl that I use to beg for food, you can fill it with rice. This bowl is a treasure bowl. My daughter, don’t forget what I told you." "I'm leaving. Do not cry. Crying is too exhausting, and it makes your relatives feel uneasy." Then the beggar left. Baochuan missed the beggar after she left. Holding her tears back was not easy. Later, Baochuan poured what little rice she had left into that bowl, which merely covered the bowl base. The next day, however, she found that there was half a bowl of rice. She was very surprised, then she recalled what the beggar said, "This bowl is a treasure bowl." Baochuan was curious and looked at the bowl, but nothing about it changed before her eyes. Still, whenever she carried water back, or dug up vegetables, she would find that the rice inside the bowl increased.
Soon, a famine broke out in the area. A large number of locusts ate the crops, and more people became beggars. Baochuan discovered that the rice in the treasure bowl became a full bowl of rice the next day. Everyday she left a little rice in the bowl, made congee (rice porridge) with wild vegetables and added some salt. Whenever anyone came to her begging for food, she ladled out some congee to give him or her. Those who got a bowl of congee left gratefully. Baochuan turned around to find that there was no shortage of congee. Baochuan used this way to help many people. Those beggars were all very grateful toward Baochuan. More than one beggar told Baochuan that an elderly female beggar had told them: Mrs. Xue has wild vegetable porridge.
Baochuan also found that when she gave a beggar one coin, within a quarter of an hour, another coin appeared in the bag. Baochuan realized this was a treasure bag. Once, Baochuan went to town to buy salt. She put her hand in the bag to pull out a coin, then another, and another. All up, she pulled out eight coins from the bag. She realized however much money she could spend was predestined.
Baochuan guessed the elderly female beggar she met was not an ordinary person, but an immortal.
She then bowed toward the statue of an immortal she had, expressing her gratitude for being blessed and looked after.
One day, Baochuan's parents came, wanting to take her home. Her father sneered upon seeing a single coin in the cloth bag. Her mother teared up seeing Baochuan dressed in rough clothes, with only a little congee in the pot. "How can my daughter suffer such hardship?” Exclaimed her mother. “Go home with me. Don't live in this cave any longer." Then her father said, "Promise me you'll stop thinking about Xue Rengui, and don't maintain any relationship with those beggars. In this famine, you even eat beggars' food. You are a harassment to the whole Wang family. Come home with me. I will choose another husband for you; you will have a grand wedding. It's better than marrying this poor guy a thousand times." Baochuan refused her parents pleas, saying, "I can't marry again. I promised my husband I'd be loyal, and that I'd wait for his return." Her father was furious and pointed at her yelling, "I've asked around. That guy has enlisted in the army. Nobody knows if he is still alive. If you keep waiting like this without any food, one day a beggar might tell me to come collect your dead body! You must go home today!” Baochuan looked at her furious father and shook her head again and again. Fuming, Mr. Wang dragged his wife and left angrily.
After her parents left, Baochuan cried painfully. She did not want to annoy her father, nor cause her mother such grief. She also became worried about her husband's safety. She sobbed uncontrollably as she thought about all this. After a while, she finally remembered her beggar-mom's words, and stopped crying. Not long after that, a beggar visited Baochuan, "Ms. Xue, I begged for some rice to give to you. Don't cry, you are a good person." In the evening, a few more beggars came. Their hair seemed to be drenched, but their expression was very excited. They said, "We did some work for a family without any pay. We only asked them for a bolt of cloth, we want to give it to you." Speechless, Baochuan could only look at them, quite touched by their generosity. She could only express her appreciation by giving them congee to eat. One young beggar said, "I heard a beggar talking about you, Mrs. Xue, saying that when you said goodbye to your husband, you said you'd wait for his return. That beggar was lying under a table in a small temple. He was so touched that he almost cried. The beggar said that Ms. Xue is a good person." In those most arduous of years, the beggars consoled Baochuan when she was upset, providing her mental support.
During those 18 years living alone in the cave dwelling, Baochuan's guardian-immortals helped her to deal with many troubles. Once, a man on horseback rode toward Baochuan while she was walking on the road: "Sleep with me tonight. You will not need be concerned anymore about food and life. You can also be my concubine if you want to." Baochuan ignored him and kept walking. That man, who was from town, was upset and rode forward to grab Baochuan's arm. A guardian-immortal compelled Baochuan to start running, while another guardian-immortal instructed a little beggar to shoot the horse with a slingshot. In pain, the horse began to wildly gallop away. The man was thrown off the horse, but his feet remained in the stirrups. The horse kept galloping, dragging him all the while. Finally, the people who patrolled the town managed to stop the horse. The wicked young man stayed in bed for half a month, but did not get better. There was also a bad guy who intended to sexually violate Baochuan at midnight, but he encountered a mysterious "ghost wall," which caused him to walk around and around in one place, not knowing how to find his way out. He never reached Baochuan's cave. All these kinds of troubles were all resolved by the guardian immortals. There were also ill-minded men who would stop Baochuan and try to flirt with her, and she could not get rid of them. Suddenly, they would experience physical pain and quickly leave. Good people are blessed by gods. Should the heavens arrange a positive story to play out in the world, then bad incidents that are outside of gods' arrangements will not be allowed to occur.
Once, a fairy who was acquainted with Baochuan in the heavens wanted to help her. Baochuan thus found a purse one day in the area where she was digging for wild vegetables. Baochuan ignored it and kept digging for vegetables. After digging a circle of land, she came back to find a little mouse using its hands to open up the purse, revealing silver inside. Baochuan merely took a glance, then turned and left. Another heavenly fairy smiled at the fairy who planted the purse: "You're testing Baochuan!" The fairy smiled and shook her head, saying, "In future, when Baochuan returns to the fairy world. I will tell her about the purse."
5. Bestowing Virtue upon Another: A Cultivator's Ultimate Realm
During those 18 years, Baochuan sometimes dreamed of Rengui dressed in a white robe, donning bright silver armor, and clasping a bright silver spear, just like a heavenly general. Sometimes she dreamed that Rengui was in danger. Upon waking, Baochuan would hurriedly read out Buddhist scriptures and prayed to the Buddha to bless Rengui through the difficulties. During that period, Baochuan twice transferred some of her virtue to Rengui.
The first time was in the sixth year after the separation. Baochuan dreamed that Rengui could not get out of bed owing to serious illness. When she woke up, she kneeled down, worshipped the heavens and prayed for Rengui's safety. As she was willing to take Rengui's illness for him, she gave him her virtue. Very soon after, Baochuan fell ill, then recovered half a month later. During that time, she was taken care of by a 10-year-old beggar girl named Xiaoping. After recovering from the illness, Baochuan kept Xiaoping by her side. She sewed clothes for her and taught her how to embroider. After half a year, she introduced Xiaoping to Yuwen, Baochuan's former maid. Yuwen had since become the manager of the "Golden Capital Embroidery Workshop” in town, and was able to provide Xiaoping a job.
On another occasion, which occurred after 11 years of separation, Baochuan dreamed that Rengui kept hacking and killing people in battle. His white robe was stained with blood. Baochuan was frightened upon waking up. She suddenly recalled what the temple's abbot had told her the prior year that Rengui would have a big catastrophe the following year. He told her to frequently chant Buddhist scriptures and pray for her husband. Baochuan thought she was diligent in reading the scriptures, but if her husband were to be caught up in a catastrophe, the virtue accumulated by her chanting would not be enough to help her husband through this calamity. What should be done? Thinking of this, Baochuan panicked. She quickly dropped to her knees to worship the immortals. She expressed her willingness to give away her virtue to Rengui to ensure his safety and victory in battle.
Seeing Baochuan so selflessly give away her virtue caused the immortals in the heavens to sigh in admiration. The immortals felt that this script was not created in vain, and Baochuan performed it very well. Some immortals let out a sigh, thinking that human life is really like cultivation! Baochuan had been actively cultivating herself all this time. Since the first time she dreamed about Rengui, Baochuan took the initiative to go to the temple, draw a fortune stick, and threw the embroidered ball and married Rengui, stayed in the cave dwelling by herself, endured extreme poverty, and after all this, what she prayed for was but her husband's safety. Not for herself. She is truly the best candidate for this role and story, all the immortals agreed.
After giving away her virtue a second time, Baochuan no longer used the coin from the bag, nor the rice from the treasure bowl on herself. One day, when she was taking a nap, she fell in a trance and heard a soft voice saying: "Mrs. Xue doesn't use my money, what can I do?" Another deeper voice said, "Ah! Mrs. Xue does not eat my rice. The price of rice outside is going rise again. What can I do?” For a moment, the two voices sighed. Then the soft voice said, “It seems I can only tell our master, and let master persuade her.”
At night, Baochuan dreamed of her beggar-mom, who told her, "My daughter, the bag and the rice bowl I gave you was to help you through harsh times. Do not refuse them. I am the heavenly immortal who watches over all the beggars in the human world. Those who accept your rice and coins will establish a predestined relationship with you for the Dharma-ending period. You can use the money and food on yourself, don't let yourself suffer." Baochuan thanked her beggar mom in the dream, and then woke up feeling surprised. In the morning, she looked at the cloth bag containing the coin, and the bowl, thinking, "The voices I heard at noon yesterday was probably from you two. You reported my situation to heaven, sorry to bring you trouble." While speaking, Baochuan saw the bag's opening shrink, then a deep voice emanating from the rice bowl said, "Mrs. Xue, it's okay. There's no need to be so polite."
One day, Baochuan asked the bag and rice bowl, "Everything has a spirit. What are your true appearances? I want to see." Once Baochuan had said these words, a soft voice replied, "Mrs. Xue, don’t be surprised!" Immediately the spirits of both bag and bowl appeared in front of her. One was a slender woman donning patchwork clothes; the other, a strong man with thick lips. The woman told Baochuan, "I create gold if gold is put in me, create silver if silver is put in me, or treasure if what's put is treasure. However, I can only create coins for you due to heaven's mandate." The man said nothing, but pouted his lips. Then, he started to gradually open his mouth. He opened his mouth as large as the bowl, and Baochuan thought she saw a bowl before her. His mouth then kept opening and enlarging, as large as a pot. At this moment, Baochuan thought she saw a pot. Then, his mouth continued to enlarge, to be as large as a vat. Baochuan, shocked, thought she was looking at a vat for a moment. She was relieved after he began to slowly close his mouth.
6. Rengui and Soldier
Rengui joined the army after leaving home. He had been a soldier from the very beginning, fought bravely all the while, and eventually becoming a general. In the sixth year of Rengui's military career, an epidemic broke out in the army. Rengui contracted the virus and could not get out of bed. In a daze, he saw Baochuan, who told him that she was willing to bear his karma for him. Soon, Rengui recovered from the virus. He was horrified. On the one hand, he felt it all very real; but on the other hand, he worried about whether Baochuan would be able to survive the tribulation, because many people in the army had died in the epidemic. His love for his wife causes him to think and worry about her all the time following that dream, which made him uneasy. After half a month, Rengui was healthier, he was able to ride to a temple to pray for his wife's safety and draw a fortune stick. Only after he drew an auspicious fortune stick did he feel more at ease. Since then, whenever Rengui passed any temple, he would go in to worship, and ask if Baochuan is safe.
In the eleventh year after leaving home, Rengui was embroiled a fierce battle. Just as he was struggling to kill the enemy, a long spear was suddenly thrust obliquely toward his side, but a soldier bravely blocked the spear for him. Immediately following the first strike, however, a second thrust of the enemy's spear pierced the soldier's left arm. Rengui yanked the soldier to his feet, before mounting his horse to rush at the enemy camp, urging his horse to gallop as fast as it could. Rengui's eyes were red, his mind a blank. He felt only his wife's figure drifting past his eyes. Wheresoever his wife's figure drifted to, he rushed there to kill the enemy to protect his wife. Rengui seemed to be in a state of madness. The frightened enemy was greatly intimidated by his ferocious spirit. Rengui's white robe became completely blood-stained in this fierce battle.
Rengui's main consciousness was a celestial general who had descended to the earth, and his assistant consciousness was a heavenly warrior entity. With the two combined, this man had the capability to exert great power. Firstly, Rengui's mission was to safeguard the Tang Dynasty's territory. Secondly, the assistant consciousness knew that Baochuan was once a heavenly fairy, so that the virtue she transferred had enhanced Rengui’s inborn fighting power. Thirdly, the assistant consciousness knew its mission was to protect the main consciousness, and aid the main consciousness to achieve prestige and social status, so it spared no effort to play its role.
After the war, Rengui promoted the soldier, Naiyan, who put himself on the line to save his life. He was Rengui's best friend, akin to a brother. They called each other “brother” in private. After the fierce battle, Rengui was promoted and became famous.
It's said that people speak truthfully after drinking. Rengui drank with Naiyan a few times, and would open up about Baochuan when he was drunk. He recalled one occasion when his wife had cooked for him, she had been in a rush and sweat profusely in the process. She accidentally burned the savory pancakes she was frying, but she gave the good, unburned ones to him. She kept the burned ones for herself, which she ate secretly. Rengui felt bad upon finding out. On another occasion, he was walking home and overheard a grinder saying, "Someone requested her knife be sharpened, but not too sharp. It's kind of funny." Upon arriving home, he realized that the “someone” who the grinder referred to was his wife. He held his wife's hands to take a look, and he saw scars. When they just got married, Baochuan's hands were white and tender, but they gradually became rough. The beaded jewels on her head in those days were sold to the pawnshop, one after another. Everything they used for their daily necessities, including rice and food, were all prepared by Baochuan. When Rengui departed, the money he brought with him was also prepared by Baochuan, and she still thought it was not enough.
Rengui continued, telling Naiyan that since the day he met his wife, she has been kind and loyal to him. She allowed him to experience the concept of a home. Baochuan is noble and elegant, beautiful and virtuous. She bought things for their household. Among which, she bought food and cloth, and made clothes for him, all of which were a good fit. Rengui saw and appreciated everything his wife had done for their home, and felt very touched. Touched as he may have been, he always felt uneasy in his heart at the same time. He wanted to take on the responsibility of a man, and utilize his talents and abilities to allow his wife to live well. Otherwise, he would not be able to live up to his wife's grace. When parting, Baochuan promised, "I won't see any other men, but will just wait for your return home!" In response, Rengui said, "I will return with glory and wealth, surpassing the glory of your family, allowing you to enjoy life!" Rengui teared up while speaking.
After hearing Rengui talk about his wife, Naiyan thought that for such a woman to have relinquished her entire wealth and noble status, just so she could be with the general when he was impoverished—is truly an amazing woman. As a soldier, Naiyan knows that military merit is achieved with blood and life. The general fought so desperately in battle in order to give his wife a good life. The general's wife is worthy of all that the general has done for her. Naiyan hoped that he could marry a woman like the general's wife in the future.
7. Fulfilling the Promise, and Joyful Reunion
During the eighteenth year since parting, Baochuan dreamed of her beggar-mom, she said, "My daughter, I gave you that bag and bowl according to heaven's arrangement. They stayed by your side for nine years. They have completed their mission; it is time for them to return to heaven. You can say goodbye to them tomorrow!" The next morning, after eating, the bag and bowl appeared in their true forms. They knelt before Baochuan and said, “We are going back, and farewell to you, Mrs. Xue." Baochuan was on the verge of tears. They kept kneeling on the ground and said, "We'll now accompany you on your way out to dig vegetables." Baochuan did not say a word. She took her bamboo basket by extending her forearm under the handle to lift, grabbed a shovel, and walked outside. The two treasures in human appearance stood up and bowed to Baochuan. Baochuan walked out, not daring to turn her head back. She was afraid that when she turned her head, she would cry upon seeing that the two treasures had disappeared. Coincidentally, a magpie, (a symbol of happiness), appeared, following Baochuan from time to time along the way. Baochuan thought, "Returning to heaven is a happy thing. Why do I want to cry? I really am too emotional."
In the eighteenth year, because of having earned outstanding military merit, Rengui became a Duke and returned to his hometown dressed in Duke attire. He owned a mansion and had groups of servants. Rengui was ready to reunite with his wife. At that moment, he was both nervous and excited. As his follower, Naiyan felt the moment solemn and sacred. He thought with excitement, “I didn't die on the battlefield. Finally, I live to see the day when the Duke and his wife meet. This life is not in vain!” He really wanted to see the woman who the Duke so dearly missed all the time.
One morning after breakfast, Baochuan heard the chirping sound of a magpie outside. She moved a stool outside, so she could mend clothes in the yard. After stitching for a while, she pounded her neck a little with her fist, got up and straightened her waist. Then, she looked up and saw a crowd of people walking in the distance with great momentum. Baochuan sat back down on the stool. Not long after, she heard a knock on the door. She opened the door suspiciously. First, she saw a general, but behind whom was—her husband. At that moment, Baochuan, feeling a flurry of emotion stirring inside of her, suddenly had so much to say, but could not utter a word. Rengui too, felt dumbfounded with emotion. There were so many things he wanted to say, but in the midst of heightened emotions, all those things felt like a big unintelligible mish-mash in his mind, causing a tightness in his throat, making him unable to talk. At this moment, Naiyan was the only one who could still speak. "The Duke has made great achievements,” said Naiyan, “He has returned home in fame. He comes to take the Duchess back home!" Rengui looked at his wife. There were tears in both their eyes. The couple, who had been so intimately connected with their hearts for the entire 18 years, knew that it did not matter that they did not know what to say. At that point in time, finally being able to reunite with each other was more important than anything. Rengui removed his shawl and tenderly put it on his wife, noticing that she had grown some white hair. Rengui held his wife's hand and said, "Let's go home!"
One day, Duchess Baochuan wanted to get some Shepherd's purse, which was growing in the mansion's yard, to make dumplings. Naiyan and the other servants watched from nearby. When Baochuan was digging for vegetables, Naiyan became drowsy in the warm sunshine, and staggered a few steps. When he looked at Baochuan, in a blink of an eye, he saw heavenly soldiers and generals on guard all around her. When he wanted to look more carefully, the scene disappeared. Naiyan was shocked, he remembered the sculpture of the guardian-immortal he saw in the temple outside the city, which looked exactly like the one he just saw.
At that moment, Naiyan recalled one time when the Duke, wearing normal civilian clothes, had visited the temple. The abbot, Master Kongjue, led the Duke into a quiet room inside. He invited the Duke to sit in quietude together. After a long time, the abbot asked the Duke, "What have you seen?" The Duke answered, "I saw clouds and a beautiful palace when I was in trance, and a voice that said: "The fairy is descending to the earth." The abbot smiled and said, "What you saw was a scene from heaven. You were originally a general who descended from the heaven. Now you have attained fame and social status, but your combative mentality is too strong, which will hinder your ascension to heaven. Your wife was a fairy who descended to the Earth, and has been cultivating hard for 18 years. She has already reached the Arhat realm, and will reach the Bodhisattva realm. I hope that you'll reduce your desires and cultivate, treat other people kindly, together with the Duchess, cultivate diligently, reach the Bodhisattva realm, and return to the immortal world." The Duke looked at the abbot respectfully, and made a sincere promise to do as the abbot said. The abbot also told him, "You know that in those 18 years, your wife has been dedicated to cultivation, praying for your safety, and had repeatedly sacrificed her own virtue to help you. You probably already felt it." The Duke nodded. Naiyan, who was listening, was shocked.
The abbot told Naiyan, "You'll marry this year and will have children next year." Naiyan became more shocked, bowing to thank the abbot, but still had a trace of doubt in his heart.
To this day, Naiyan personally saw the guardian-immortals appear around the Duchess, and fully believed that the Duchess was extraordinary, respecting her even more. He was also completely convinced by the abbot's words, feeling that the abbot Master Kongjue was really an amazing person who could tell a person's fate. He started to look forward to his marriage.
After Baochuan washed and chopped the vegetables she had picked, she started to make dumplings. Just as Rengui was eating Baochuan's dumplings and thinking that they did not taste so good, she joyfully told him, "I felt happy when I ate these dumplings in past years." Rengui was speechless upon hearing this, and just tried his best to finish the dumplings. He also gave Naiyan a bowl of dumplings. Although the dumplings tasted quite bitter, he was very happy inside.
Rengui also arranged Naiyan to build a "Hall of Grand Compassion," for adopted orphans. Naiyan knew the Duke's two secrets. One was that the Duke was heeding the abbot's advice, and frequently chanted Buddhist scriptures with the Duchess. Moreover, their bedroom has an inner and outer room. They sleep separately. The second: the Duke had been carefully keeping all the hair accessories and jade pendants that Baochuan used to wear. Liu Shaozhen, the owner of the Liu Pawnshop, really is righteous, and kept the things Baochuan had pawned in, until Rengui returned. Mr. Liu had brought these items to the mansion, saying he had some "exotic goods," and that the Duke would definitely like them. When the Duke saw the goods, he realized they were the Duchess' former things. Mr. Liu insisted on not charging any more than what he initially gave Baochuan when she pawned them in. He said he knew the well-known embroidered marriage ball story at that time. He intuitively felt that this matter would have a good ending, and he was willing to witness the miracle. Since then, the Duke told Naiyan to help with Mr. Liu's business.
One day, Baochuan told Naiyan, "When I was sick in the cold cave dwelling, I was fortunate that Xiaoping saved me. Xiaoping was a child who had a hard life. She lost her father at the age of 6 and her mother at the age of 8. Their house was occupied by her uncle. She dressed like a boy to wonder around and beg for two years. After I recovered from the illness, I taught her embroidery, bought clothes for her, and asked her to take a letter to visit the manager of the "Golden Capital” embroidery workshop, and got a job there. The workshop's manager is my former maid Yuwen, she has been taking good care of Xiaoping. Xiaoping is talented at embroidery, she also looks pretty, just 17 years old. You are 29 years old; it is time for you to get married. If you do not think it is a bad idea, I will be the matchmaker, and the Duke will fund your wedding. Do you think it's a good idea?" Grateful, Naiyan thanked the Duchess, and said he would go along with her arrangements.
Baochuan carefully prepared exquisite accessories and wedding gowns for Xiaoping, whom she felt was her own daughter that she was marrying off. One day, Baochuan, by chance, discovered the hair accessories she wore in the past. She remained calm. Rengui and Baochuan both decided to give these accessories to Xiaoping. Naiyan was rather moved when he learned about this. After they got married, Naiyan found that Xiaoping was a really good woman, virtuous and pretty. He felt so happy in his heart. In the second year, Xiaoping gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl. Naiyan went to the temple to worship devoutly.
In the end, Xue Rengui was 66 years old and Baochuan was 64 years old. The couple died without illness.
This was a true story. The 18-year-old Wang Baochuan and 20-year-old Xue Rengui met each other at the golden age of life. The following 18 years was their most important period in their lives. With 18 years of waiting and expectation, both husband and wife fulfilled their promises and created a legend and glory in their lives.
This matter had not been recorded in the annals of history because of human factors. One is because although this marriage was well known at that time, it was not blessed by Baochuan's parents. The second reason is that it involved beggars, which relates to the issue of hierarchy.
As depicted in "A Tale of Devotion," the script's main theme is grace, righteousness and loyalty. Baochuan believed in the will of heaven and obeyed instructions to marry Rengui, which can be described as "righteousness." Rengui was grateful to his wife for entrusting her life to him, allowing him to comprehend the meaning of home. His wife bore his illness and sacrificed her own virtue for him, which expressed how a married couple share both honor and disgrace together. Rengui believed that his wife had "graced" him, so he was determined to take up the responsibilities of a man so as to allow his wife to have a good life. When Rengui achieved prosperity and wealth, he returned to his hometown to reunite with his wife. He not only appreciated his wife for her "grace," but also expressed his "righteousness" as a husband. Responsibility and the keeping of promises are included in "righteousness."
During the time when Baochuan stayed in the cold cave dwelling, she said, "I promise I won't have an affair with any other man, but will just await your return home!" This expresses Baochuan's loyalty in marriage. When Rengui was serving in the military, his colleagues visited prostitutes, but Rengui never joined them. After becoming rich and successful, he did not forget his original home and was always loyal to his wife. Both of them adhered to a moral code in their hearts, making their marriage unbreakable. Moreover, as both husband and wife had the same heart, Rengui became Duke with Baochuan’s contribution.
In the revised script of later generations, the immortals of later ages arranged a princess of Xiliang county for Rengui. This adaptation was a failure, destroying the arrangement and main theme of the original script: grace, righteousness and loyalty. When I was a child, I heard that Rengui married the princess of Xiliang. I was very disappointed. I became angry when I heard Rengui even went back home to test Baochuan's loyalty. I did not want to keep listening to this story; I felt that this should not be the case. In fact, there were really no such plots in the original script.
The script carries a cultural mission, and all those who played a role served to spread this culture to the world, fulfilling destiny. Have you felt the traditional cultural connotations in the classic stories that have been passed down through the ages?
In this life, among the Falun Dafa practitioners around me, I have met Xue Rengui, my former maid Yuwen, my parents, Liu Shaozhen, and the abbot. Naiyan is my husband in this life, and Xiaoping is my daughter. Maybe because in that past life, Naiyan had the desire deeply buried in his heart: “I hope to marry a woman like the general's wife in the future”—the gods remembered his long-cherished wish and made his wish come true in this life. Our family had accompanied us through a long life, and even they were unknown in history, but they have a deep relationship with us.
People nowadays will think this "Tale of Devotion" is incredible, and they cannot understand the deeper content of this story. Influenced by the theory of evolution and atheism, people no longer believe in the existence of gods and Buddhas, not even talking about the guidance of destiny. Moreover, modern thought and modern behavior is leading people down a path of despair, people's thoughts are based on selfishness. In marriage, too many people neglect moral standards and do not want to be constrained by chastity. They only think about how to enjoy life and indulge their desires, thus creating karma in ignorance. How can they have a happy life when they keep creating karma?
Only by believing in gods, believing that the human world is connected to heaven, maintaining kindness in your heart, following the standards established by gods, and return to tradition, can people walk the right path and be protected by gods. Otherwise, humanity will face destruction and elimination.
Chinese version: http://big5.zhengjian.org/node/259654