A Magic Monk Boils The Seas 幻僧煮海

Heavenly Master Ye, whose taboo name was Fashan, was descended from a family dedicated to Daoism, all of whom practiced secret arts of hidden merit and helping people, subduing demons by summoning practices to save people and things. Initially the master lived for several years to the east of Mount Tiantai, below Siming, but it happened that on the first day of the fifth moon an elderly man came to him, weeping and wailing and asking for relief from an illness. The master received and questioned him, and he said: “Your humble visitor is the dragon of the eastern sea; the Heavenly Emperor decreed that the holder of the treasure of the eight seas should change their role every thousand years, and those without fault would rise up to the level of immortals. Your humble servant was already 970 years old, and only the tiniest step from success. There was a Brahman who, flaunting his magical skills, lived atop a mountain peak amid the sea, and made incantations without pause whether day or night, amassing over thirty years. As his power neared completion, the seawater turned into clouds, rising to cover half the heavens, and by the fifth day of the fifth moon, the ocean was almost used up! Gathering the treasure of the heavenly garrisons of the sea, the Heavenly Emperor decreed that the spiritual beings must be taken by the magic monk, and so to this day we beg that you come to our rescue with the imperial seal.” When the master flew to rescue them with the imperial order, the waters of the eastern sea were as they had been, and the northern monk was left ashamed of his inferiority and gasping in admiration; he plunged into the ocean and died. The next day the imperial carriage came with rare treasures in recompense, but the master declined these and would not accept anything. Moreover, he said that, among the woods and the wilds, in those places of contemplation and discipline, it was not only such precious treasures that were not thought valuable, but other things also were not to be taken. He therefore addressed the dragon: “On top of this stone cliff, so far from water, I would request only a clear spring of water as a kindness.” That night he heard the sound of wind and rain. When dawn came, running around the four sides of the mountain chamber there grew up a stone channel, with spring water cascading along it, unending even in winter; this is now known as the Heavenly Master Channel.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.90 (Tale 154):

幻僧煮海

葉天師諱法善,家世好修道,皆以陰功密行及劾召之術救物濟人。初師居四明之下天台之東數年,忽於五月一日,有老叟詣問,號泣求救,謂其有疾也。師引而問之,曰:「某東海龍也,大帝有敕,主八海之寶,一千年一更其任,無過者起證仙品。某已九百七十年,微績垂成。有婆羅門逞其幻法,住於海峰,晝夜禁咒,積三十年,其法將成,海水如雲,起在半天,五月五日,海將竭矣!統天鎮海之寶,上帝制靈之物,必為幻僧取,至日乞以丹符相救。」至期,師敕符飛往救,東海水仍舊,胡僧愧歎,赴海而死。明日龍輦寶貨珍奇來謝報,師卻之不受,且曰:林野之中,棲神之所,非惟珠璣寶貨不以為意,而他物皆一無所取。因謂龍曰:「此崖石之上,去水且遠,但致一清泉即為惠也。」是夕聞風雨之聲。及明,繞山齋四面,成一道石渠,泉水流注,經冬不竭,是今謂之天師渠。

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).

Author: Geoff Humble

Hobby translator of mosty 14th century Chinese texts. Enjoys strange tales. Image is my doodle based on an element within this work: http://archive.asia.si.edu/collections/edan/object.php?q=fsg_F1938.4

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