The Primordial Spirit is Immortal: The Story Behind the Poem of Zhou Hongmo's "Life and Death", Minister of Rites of the Ming Dynasty

De Hui

PureInsight | October 14, 2022

[] There was a high-ranking official in the Ming Dynasty named Zhou Hongmo (1421-1492 AD), courtesy name Yaobi, who was Minister of Rites of the Ming Dynasty, and was given the posthumous title of "Wen Ding" after his death. He is an honest official, cautious and conscientious, devoted himself to the best of his ability, and dares to speak out about current affairs. He edited the "Records of Emperor Yingzong" and "Records of Emperor Xianzong". He has a poem called "Life and Death": "Life and death of reincarnation are dark, deep and profound, and the previous life of a crane fairy was hazily emerged. Back then, he had a dream in Yangzhou. When he came back from the spirit way, he was surnamed Ding again." What does this poem mean? Behind it turned out to be a story of exploring past lives.

After Zhou Hongmo was born, he was very thin, and his father was very worried about this. A fortune-teller said to his father, "This son is the descendant of Ding Chushi in Yangzhou, who has done good deeds, and offered a thousand silver ingots to repair the Yuqing Palace. The heavenly emperor praised him to let him born into your family. In the future, he will show a great honor to your family. So you do not need to worry." It pointed out that Zhou Hongmo's previous life was Ding Chushi of Yangzhou. Later, another fortune-teller said that his previous family was in Yangzhou and was very wealthy. The two fortune-tellers did not know each other, but both pointed out that his previous life was in Yangzhou and rich. However, neither of them said the full name of his previous life. Zhou Hongmo only knew the surname of Ding in his previous life. When Zhou Hongmo went to Beijing to take the exam, he took a waterway and was moored by the Han River in Yangzhou. He had a dream at night. In the dream, someone said to him, "You have a bright future, and you will be doing highly important government affairs for life." Zhou Hongmo asked, "Who is you?" The man replied, “I am your previous life, named Youhe Shanren, and my surname is Ding. I lived in Weiyang (nickname of Yangzhou)!” Having said that, he floated away.

That year, Zhou Hongmo ranked second in the Imperial Examination, second only to the champion. Fifteen years later, Zhou Hongmo went to the Reading Department in the Nanjing Hanlin Academy to serve as an academician. After meeting Wang Shu, the Governor of Weiyang, he wanted to solve the mystery of his past life. So he wrote a letter to Wang Shu with the relevant events in detail. The poem "Life and Death" described above is attached.

Wang Shu was also very interested after seeing it, and immediately gathered all the local elderly people. According to the information provided by Zhou Hongmo: the surname Ding, the name is "Youhe Shanren", and the family was rich. An old man named Luo Wenjie provided clues and said, "The name of Youhe Shanren is Ding Henian, he is the father of my friend Ding Zongqi, and he is from Wuchang, Hubei. His brother has three jinshi. He has no intention to seek fame. He was famous for poetry. He lived in seclusion at the end of the Yuan Dynasty. It was said that he died in Chengdu, Sichuan during the Jianwen period of the Ming Dynasty (1399-1402 AD)."

Later, the information of Ding Henian was checked in detail. It turned out that he was a poet at the end of the Yuan Dynasty and the beginning of the Ming Dynasty. His hometown was Wuchang, Hubei province. Ding Henian's great-grandfather was in business and sponsored Kublai Khan, the first Emperor of the Yuan Dynasty. His great-grandfather was a wealthy man, and his family's descendants have been prosperous since then. Ding Henian's family has been an official of the Yuan Dynasty for four generations. Three of the four elder brothers were Jinshi. He was the youngest son of the family and had no intention of seeking fame. He had lived in seclusion in Yangzhou for a long time. After the demise of the Yuan Dynasty, he became even more obsessed with reading, writing poems, and studying traditional Chinese medicine. He made a living by teaching and practicing medicine and treating illnesses. He was wandering and wandering. With monks and Taoists as his friends, he founded the "Heniantang Pharmacy", a time-honored brand in Beijing's medical industry. There is "Ding Henian Collection" handed down. In addition, the "Heniantang Pharmacy" in Beijing continues to this day, and its introduction clearly states that it was founded by Ding Henian, a famous poet and medical health master at the end of the Yuan and the beginning of the Ming Dynasty.

After learning this information, Zhou Hongmo finally solved the puzzle in his heart, and it turned out that he was the reincarnation of Ding Henian. The credibility of this matter is very high. Many ancient books of the Ming Dynasty, such as "Ear Talk" and "Yongzhuang Sketches", have recorded this matter, and it is not an isolated proof. In addition, although Ding Henian was born in an aristocratic family in the Yuan Dynasty, after the fall of the Yuan Dynasty, he drifted away as a commoner for half his life. Zhou Hongmo was the second in the Imperial Examination of the Ming Dynasty and the Minister of Rites. Throughout the life of Ding Henian and Zhou Hongmo, they seem to be completely different: Ding Henian was as casual as a cloud and like a wild crane. Ding Henian had no intention of becoming an official, and wandered around for half his life; while Zhou Hongmo became an official, he exhausted his energy for the country and the people. However, to observe in a different time and space, it may be that God is constantly testing this life in the cycle of reincarnation, how he is when he is a common people, and how he is when he is an official. At the same time, it is also constantly to fulfill himself and enriching his life experience.

It can also be seen from this record that the real life of a person is the primordial spirit, and the primordial spirit will continue to reincarnate, and atheism is wrong. Some people may think that the primordial spirit is reincarnated, how could Zhou Hongmo dream of talking to his previous life when he was going for the exam? In fact, human life is extremely complex. There are the main souls, subordinate souls, three spirits, seven vigor, and many other life forms, so we cannot look at problems mechanically.

Book sources: "Ear Talk", "A Brief History of Shaobaogong Hong Mo", "Small Pieces in the Building", etc.

Note: There are some differences in ancient books about the time of Ding Henian's death. Some say that he died during the Jianwen period (1399-1402 AD), and some say that he died during the Yongle period (1403-1424 AD).


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