PureInsight | May 7, 2001
Teacher Li mention in the chapter "Reverse Cultivation and Energy Borrowing" of the book Zhuan Falun that, "Zhang Guolao, one of the eight deities, rode backward on his donkey. Few people know why he rode backward on his donkey. He discovered that going forward is moving backward, so he rode the donkey the other way around."
Zhang Guolao, also called Zhang Guo, is one of the eight deities in the Tao school. According to "Tang Shu" (The book of Tang Dynasty), Zhang Guolao was a real person who lived in Zhong Tiao Shan of Shanxi province. He himself claimed that he had mastered the Way to Reach Eternity. Emperor Tang Gaozong repeatedly invited him to come there but was always politely refused . Empress Wu Zetian also tried to get him to come to her. To escape this command, Zhang Guolao pretended to be dead in front of the temple. At that time, it was hot summer so his body soon began to decompose and smelled terrible. Empress Wu Zetian heard this, and had to give up her idea. But soon afterwards, someone saw him again in the mountain of Heng.
Emperor Tang Xuanzong invited him several times and asked to obtain the Way of Eternity. When he saw that Zhang Guolao looked so decrepit, he asked him, "You have already obtained the Tao, but why do you look so old, with little hair and few teeth?" Zhang Guolao answered, "To get to this old age, I didn't have any method to follow, so I have turned out to look like this. It is really very shameful. But if I pulled out my few hairs and my teeth, then couldn't I get new ones?" So, he did that right in front of the palace; he pulled out his few hairs and knocked out the teeth. The emperor was a little afraid and asked the attendants to take him away for a rest. After a little while, Zhang Guolao retuned to the palace, and was found to have a totally new look, with thick black hair and white teeth. All the high-ranking officials who were there prostrated themselves in front of him and asked for his mysterious method of recovering youthful vigor. Zhang Guolao refused.
One day, Emperor Tang Xuanzong went hunting and caught a big deer. This deer was a little different from the others. When the cook was ready to kill it, Zhang Guolao saw it and stopped him immediately. He said, "This is a deity deer and has lived for over a thousand years. When Emperor Han Wudi went hunting and captured the deer, I followed him and saw he released the deer soon afterwards." Emperor Tang Xuanzong asked, 'How can you tell that this is the deer that you saw? There are so many deer in the world and it has been so many years?' Zhang Guolao answered, "When Emperor Han Wudi released the deer, he tagged it under the left horn with a piece of bronze metal." So Emperor Tang Xuanzong asked someone to check and he found that there was a 2-inch long piece of bronze metal, but could barely recognize the words on it. Emperor Tang Xuanzong kept on asking, "When was the year that Emperor Han Wudi went hunting? How many years have been passed since then?" Zhang Guolao answered, "It has been 852 years since then." Emperor Tang Xuanzong asked his man to check that; he reported that it was completely accurate.
Zhang Guolao died soon after he returned to the mountains. Emperor Tang Xuanzong built him a Taoist Abbey called "Kou Xia Guan". Zhang Guolao had a weird habit: he always rode a white donkey backward, and could cover 10 thousand Li within one day. Of course this donkey was also a "deity donkey", of which it was said that he could be folded and put in the baggage whenever he was not being ridden.
Teacher Li mentioned in the chapter "Mind Intent" of the book Zhuan Falun, "The other day I mentioned that Zhang Guolao rode backward on a donkey, but people might not have understood what this meant. He discovered that going forward is moving backward, and that humankind has been moving further away from the characteristic of the universe. In the universe's course of evolution and especially after joining the big wave of the present commodity economy, many people have become very morally corrupt. And they are moving further away from Zhen-Shan-Ren, the characteristic of the universe. Those who drift along with the current of everyday people cannot realize the extent of humanity's moral corruption. Therefore, some people even consider everything to be good. Only those people whose xinxing has been upgraded through cultivation will realize, by looking back, that human moral values have decayed to this terrible extent."
Translated from http://zhengjian.org/sci/sci/home/newscontent.asp?ID=7136