The Story of Wang Yuanzhi

Liu Xinyu

PureInsight | December 23, 2002

The Taoist Wang Yuanzhi was from Langye. His father, Wang Tanxuan, was the prefectural governor of Yang Zhou province and his mother was the daughter of Ding Chao, the Deputy Minister of the Civic Ministry. His mother had a dream in which colorful clouds and a phoenix gathered around her, and then she was pregnant. She could hear that there were sounds in her stomach. The monk Bao Gao said to Wang Tanxuan, "After your son grows up, he'll be a famous deity."

Yuanzhi was very smart at a young age, and he read many books. He went to Mao Mountain (a mountain in China famous for its Taoist hermits and teachings), followed the Teacher Tao Hongjing, and received his teachings. When Sui Yang Di (Emperor Sui Yang) became King Jin and governed Yang Zhou, he built a Taoist temple and invited Yuanzhi to be the abbot of the temple. King Jin sent Wang Zixiang and Liu Guyan, to respectfully invite him. Yuanzhi decided to pay King Jin a visit. Yuanzhi made his hair and mustache become white in an instant, which frightened King Jin, who then sent him away. Then Yuanzhi restored his complexion.

Before Tang Gaozu (the first emperor of the Tang Dynasty) became emperor, Yuanzhi prophesied from signs that he would ascend the throne. During the Ruling of Wude, King Qin Li Shimin and his adviser Xuanling disguised themselves as peasants and paid Yuanzhi a visit. Yuanzhi said as he was receiving them, "One of you is a holy man, I think he's King Qin. Am I right?" Tang Taizong (King Qin Li Shimin) confessed. Yuanzhi said, "You'll be an emperor during peaceful times. I hope that you'll take care of yourself." When Tang Taizong became emperor, he wanted to make Yuanzhi a top official. Yuanzhi steadfastly refused and sought permission to return to the mountains.

During the ninth year of his rule of Zengguan, Tang Taizong built a temple for Yuanzhi at Run Zhou Mao Mountain. Fourteen people followed Yuanzhi and became his students. Tang Taizong personally wrote letters to him of encouragement. Later, Yuanzhi said to Panshi, one of his students, "I've seen the 'Deities' scroll of Deeds and Sins.' I hurt a child's lips when I was young, so I can't 'ascend in broad daylight' to be a Deity. Now I've been called to be the official of Shaoshi Mountain. I'll be leaving soon." The next day, he washed up, changed his clothes, burned incense and passed away. He was 126 years old when he passed away. His nickname became "Mr. Sheng Xuan (Ascent to Deity)."

Source: Record of Taipingguang

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