7 Taoist Masters

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pp. 127-133 -- 22.

pp. 127-128 food for, and magical departure of, Ma Tan-yan

p. 127

C^>iu C^>an-c^>un "sat down on the cushion with his back to Ma Tan-yang but ... he could not banish the thoughts of getting food for Ma Tan-yang from his mind. His thoughts were so strong that they reached the ears of the earth god of the shrine. ... the earth god hurriedly visited a kindly old man who lived ... in a nearby valley ... in a dream ... . The old man woke up, roused his wife, and related the dream to her. The pious old woman believed strongly in gods and spirits ... . The couple found the shrine and presented the food to Ma Tan-yang ... . ...

p. 128

As soon as Ma tan-yang left the shrine he used his magical powers to travel underground. Within a short time he had left the mountains of southwest China and arrived at the Kao mountains in Honan Province in central China. There he attained the Tao and left the earthly realm."

pp. 131-132 historical stories, told by a diviner, about famous lords destined to die of hunger

p.131

"In the time of the Warring States ..., the ruler of the kingdom of Chu was told that he would die of hunger. ... On the eighth day, the king discovered that a bird had laid several eggs in a nest that perched on the ceiling beams. ... The bird defended her nest furiously. ... The eggs fell to the floor, and ... they were eaten by a rat."

 

"a nobleman by the name of T>ang who lived in the Han dynasty ... met a fortune teller who told him that he would die of hunger. ... The emperor said to him, " ...

p. 132

I shall give you a piece of land on which a rich iron mine is located ... ." ... However, twelve years later the emperor died ..., and his son ascended to the throne. ... Swayed by his court advisors, the emperor order Lord T>ang arrested and thrown into prison. His adversaries bribed the prison guards, and T>ang was not given food".

pp. 132-133 witnessing, from atop a boulder, the omen of a peach

p. 132

C^>iu C^>an-c^>un "saw a deep gorge carved by a swift river. ... For nine days he sat on a boulder by the river ... . ...

p. 133

On the tenth day, a rainstorm ... produced a flash flood in the canyon. ... he saw a branch floating toward him ... a large red peach attached to the branch. ... Ch>iu Ch>ang-ch>un took this to be an omen from the gods".

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pp. 134-139 -- 23.

pp. 134, 137 robbers relinquish robbery on account of a wooden plaque

p. 134

C^>iu C^>an-c^>un "left the river gorge and walked east toward the mountains known as T>ai Shan. He ... found a mountain shrine ... . ... Chao Pi and his "brothers" were a gang of robbers who occasionally used the mountain shrine as a hideout. Chao Pi and his friends had become robbers after having been turned out of their homes by corrupt officials ... . ...

p. 137

But Ch>iu Ch>ang-ch>un ... brought forth the small wooden plaque and showed it to the bandits. Years ago when he had parted from Ma Tan-yang he had made the plaque and had inscribed it with words to remind him ... to be empty of desire ... . ... Chao Pi said, "... Master, we thank you for your advice. ..." He then stood up and said in an authoritative voice, "Brothers, we should stop being robbers ... from now on." The men nodded".

pp. 138-139 star-god lectureth concerning physiognomy

p. 138

"the Lord of the star T>ai-pai was alerted by the earth-god. The heavenly lord immediately assumed the form of an herb gathered and appeared under the tree where ... Ch>iu Ch>ang-ch>un was so busy fastening the chain around the branch and his neck ... . ...

p. 139

The herb gatherer ... said, "The lines of destiny written on your face are not true indicators of your destiny. For the true face is not your physical face by the face of your mind. And it is on the face of your mind that true destiny is written. {quoted at HCh} ... The major determinant of destiny is the heart. ... Those who could not escape death by starvation were people who had hoarded grain, pillaged storage houses, or refused to alleviate famine. ...""

HCh = http://www.meditationexpert.com/Articles/Change%20Fortune%20China.ppt

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pp. 140-146 Ė24.

p. 140 enlightenment = liberation from "monsters of the mind"

"The herb gatherer said, "... You liberated yourself from the monsters of the mind ... ." After saying these words, the herb gatherer disappeared. Ch>iu Ch>ang-ch>un looked around him and saw everything in a new light. The forest was ... in the sunlight, and the air was pure". {a typical description of enlightenment-experience}

pp. 140-141, 143-144 self-assigned task of carrying wayfarers across a ford in stream {similarly to St. Christopher}; ascension to heaven

p. 140

"Ch>iu Ch>ang-ch>un now left the forests of T>ai Shan and wandered south. ...

p. 141

Ch>iu Ch>ang-ch>un built a small shack by the ford of the river. Daily he carried people across. ... One day it was exceptionally stormy. ... He ... saw three men dressed like police captains. ...

p. 143

Ch>iu Ch>ang-ch>un ... said, "A head is what you need ... . Here, cut off my head. ..." {cf. Naga-arjunaís offering of his own head to be decapitated} ... a voice from Heaven boomed, "Ch>iu Ch>ang-ch>iu, do not kill yourself. ..." Ch>iu Ch>ang-ch>un looked up and saw a rainbow-colored cloud. On it sood the three captains whom he had carried across the river. They said to him, "Ch>iu Ch>ang-ch>un, we are the Lords of the Three Seasons and Keepers of the Heavenly, Earth, and Water Realms. ... the Lords of Heaven ... will replace your mortal body with an immortal body and your mortal spirit with an immortal spirit. In seven years you will ascend to the palace of the Empress of Heaven." Ch>iu Ch>ang-ch>un took

p. 144

a step and found that he was immediately transported to the palace of the Heavenly Lords. He bowed to the Lords of the Three Seasons and returned the sword to them."

pp. 144-146 temporary return to earth; visions

p. 144

"When Ch>iu Ch>ang-ch>un returned to the earthly realm he ... journeyed to the village where he had met the fortune-teller. ... The fortune-teller laughed and said, "Taoist master, ... your face had the characteristics that mark[ed] you as a man who would die of hunger, but now those features are gone from your face. As matter of fact, your fact now tells me that you are destined to become an immortal and that you will be given a large monastery to the emperor and your disciples will carry your teachings to the ends of the world." ...

p. 145

Ch>iu Ch>ang-ch>un left the fortune-tellerís mansion and took shelter that night in an abandoned shrine. While he was meditating, ... a shroud of fog enveloped him. ... the monsters of the mind returned to plague him. A ferocious tiger appeared in front of Ch>iu Ch>ang-ch>un and snarled. ... The tiger disappeared, and ... Ch>iu Ch>ang-ch>un saw the familiar figure of Ma Tan-yang walking along a mountain trail. ... The image of Ma Tan-yang disappeared, and in his place was a large crowd of people, men and women, young and old. They said to him, "Taoist master, you have carried us across the river ... . We have gathered together ... a sack of gold. Come get your reward ... ." ... The image of the crowd dissolved and a young girl stood in front of him. She was dressed in rags and her arms and legs were covered with bruises. ... The image of the girl disappeared and his sister-in-law appeared saying, "Your elder brother died ..., and your uncle ... has given us three daysí notice to leave. ..." At the same time, Ch>iu Ch>ang-ch>unís nephews and nieces appeared, tugging at his sleeves saying, "Uncle, please come home. Our father is dead. ..." ... The images of the children and his sister-in-law disappeared. Soon after that the fog lifted.

p. 146

... Ch>iu Ch>ang-ch>un suddenly heard a crack of thunder. He looked up to the sky and saw the gates of Heaven open. Two children appeared, mounted on the back of a stork. The stork flew to where Ch>iu Ch>ang-ch>un was sitting and the children invited him to ascend to the gates of Heaven with them."

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pp. 147-152 Ė 25.

p. 147 self-assigned task of rolling a boulder up a hill {cf. task of Sisyphos}

"The vision suddenly dissolved ... . ...

He found a small hill and built a grass hut at the bottom of the slope. Next to his hut he placed a large boulder. Whenever false visions appeared, he would push the boulder up the hill and roll it down {the same} slope. ... For three years Ch>iu Ch>ang-ch>un meditated and pushed the boulder up the hill when his mind was invaded by illusions."

pp. 147-148, 150-152 miserliness of village-landlord; calamity as retribution; shrine to Kuan-yin; Dragon Gate

p. 147

"a wealthy man by the name of Wang Yu:n ... was miserly and cruel. ... He loaned money at high interest rates, and many villagers were forced to sell their children when they could not repay on time. Knowing that their master controlled the livelihood of the village, Wang Yu:nís servants bullied

p. 148

the farmers and merchants. They looted stores and barns. ... They robbed defenseless old men and women."

p. 150

"Ch>iu Ch>ang-ch>un then took Ch>un-Hua ... and whispered to her, "If you see the eyes of the stone lions in front of the mansion turn red, then you must hurry to the shrine of Kuan-yin and stay there on the hill for about two hours. ..." ...

p. 151

When she saw that the eyes of the lions were red indeed, she hurried toward the shrine of Kuan-yin on the hill. ... As the two reached the shrine, ... the earth shook. ... they saw that the mansion of Wang Yu:n had disappeared from the face of the earth."

p. 152

"It was said that years later, when Ch>iu Ch>ang-ch>un was meditating in the caves of the Dragon Gate gorge, his spirit communicated with hers ... and gave her instructions to attain enlightenment. ... it was said that she finally attained the Tao and became an immortal."

 

"One day Ch>iu Ch>ang-ch>un received a vision telling him that a drought was threatening ... . ... Arriving at the governorís office, he announced that he would pay for rain. ... Ch>iu Ch>ang-ch>un ... petitioned the Jade Emperor to grant rain ... . Before the petition was finished, dark clouds appeared ..., and lightning was seen. Soon the rain fell; ... and people from the villages talked about an immortal who had the power to command the wind and the rain."

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Eva Wong (translatrix) : Seven Taoist Masters. Shambhala Publ, Boston, 1990.