Discard Water, Attract Sickness 棄水招疾

Great Master Zhifeng of Five Cloud Peak in Hangzhou was sitting one day, very tired, in the Samantabhadra Hall, when a deity appeared before him and spoke: “I am one of the guardian spirits. The master has committed a small offence, and I dare not [96] omit to report it.” Zhifeng said: “What have I done wrong?” The spirit replied: “The water used when an alms bowl is washed out is also the property of the donor. The master always discards it, and this is not correct. From this will come a minor illness.” When this speech was over it vanished. Afterwards Zhifeng did indeed suffer a sickness of the stomach. Thirteen years later he died.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.96 (Tale 163):

棄水招疾

杭州五雲山志逢大師,一日,閑坐於普賢殿中,俄一神於前曰:「吾護戒神也。師有小過,不 [96] 敢不告。」志逢曰:「吾有何過?」神曰:「且如滌缽水,亦施主物,師每棄之,非宜也。自此當有小病。」言訖遂隱。後志逢果患胃疾,十三年而卒。

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).

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Envy Harms Pregnancies 妒害胎孕

Wu Jieran came from Huangxi. His wife was fiercely jealous, and had had no children. His four concubines all became pregnant, and his wife, envious, dosed them with poison, leaving them infertile. The four concubines having married, their wombs were afflicted by the poison, and all were left without children. One evening, Wu saw a deity in his dream, who said: “Your wife has excessive envy in her heart. She has now harmed four concubines and left them childless. You have a son, and he too will therefore have a shortened life, and will preside over a lineage without descendants.” Afterwards Jieran did indeed have a son, but died that very day. The Wu lineage was then severed, alas.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.96 (Tale 164):

妒害胎孕

吳介然,黃溪人。妻妒悍,無子。有四妾皆孕,妻妒忌,投毒藥之,率皆不育。其四妾適人,胎宮為藥毒,亦皆無子。一夕,吳夢一神人曰:「爾妻妒心太過,今誤四妾無子。爾有一子,亦因而促壽,將亦主絕嗣。」後介然有一子,果天喪,吳家亦為之絕,哀哉!

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).

 

Instigating Lawsuits 教唆詞訟

The father of Wen Guangzan, from youth to old age, was tangled in successive lawsuits every single year. When he asked Master Tan Xiangshan about karmic causes, he replied: “Your father was a writer of suits and complaints in a previous life; this is the retribution ordered for him.” Guangzan implored him for salvation with a prayer session. The Master instructed him to make shackles by sticking paper to lengths of bamboo and ordered him to first imprison himself, and after three days express his repentance. Should those among the present generation who instigate lawsuits be forgiven so simply? This should be taken as a warning, and they should wake up to this truth.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.103 (Tale 177):

教唆詞訟

文光讚父,自少至老,每歲獄訟連緜。以宿因問曇相禪師,曰:「汝父前生本寫詞狀人,故令反受其報。」光讚懇求禳度。師教以紙黏竹簟為桎梏,令先自囚,三日後為懺悔。今之世有教唆興訟者,寧免乎此?姑錄為戒,宜猛省焉。

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).

Envy Drowns Sons and Grandsons 妒溺子孫

Li Zhengzou had a daughter-in-law from the Zhao family, who was extremely fierce. She had a son, but on reaching the age of seven he lacked intelligence and Li was extremely disappointed. His son had four concubines, all of whom became pregnant, and the old man said: “Even if I have ten grandchildren, educate them, do not drown them.” When Zhao heard this she became extremely resentful. Waiting until the old man and her husband left, Zhao called for the concubines and rebuked them, asking who had made them pregnant. The concubines said: “The old master.” Zhao said: “If you say that the master got you pregnant, you will be given a heavy flogging and married out to live among the distant wastes, going without money or clothing. If you say that it was a servant, you will then be spared a beating, you will be married out in a good place, and receive generous gifts.” The concubines were afraid and falsely identified this and that person among the servants. When the old man returned with her husbands, Zhao went straight up and reported this. The old man was unable to investigate, so took them at their word and dismissed them. The four servants were all reprimanded, and he urged the concubines to marry and give birth after, and then not to rear those children. The concubines followed these words, and drowned them. Not many years later, Li died early, and his grandsons also died young. When the lady Zhao died she went without inner and outer coffins, and was almost exposed in the grave. The Li household was affected by the lady Zhao’s jealousy to the point of childlessness, alas! An intelligent woman would never act in such a manner.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.101 (Tale 173):

妒溺子孫

李正奏子婦趙氏,極悍。得一子,至七歲不慧,李甚不滿。子有四妾皆孕,翁曰:「若有十孫,育之不溺。(「溺」原作「潛」據元刻本改。)」趙聞之憤甚。伺翁與夫俱出,趙呼妾責之,問其所孕。妾曰:「主人翁也。」趙曰:「爾謂主孕,必痛撻汝,遠嫁荒惡,行無資裝。若指為僕所有,仍免痛撻,汝(「汝」,元刻本作「且」。)適好處,厚有所贈。」妾懼而妄指為僕某人、某人所有。及翁與夫歸,趙直以告。翁不能察,遂信其說,屏之。四僕俱斥,且囑其妾,嫁後有子,毋育此子。妾從其言,溺之。不數年,李先亡,孫亦早喪,趙氏死無棺槨,幾至暴露。李氏一門,為趙氏妒孕而致絕嗣,哀哉!有識之婦,幸毋倣此可也。

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).

Seizing A Graveyard 占人陰地

In the yimao year of the Song Baoyou era (1255), in Ezhou there was a powerful family that seized someone else’s graveyard for their burial. When the day dawned to carry the coffin, they first ordered an agent to take a group of people ahead to the destination and sort out the lunch. They had just arrived when the agent was struck by lightning, and they buried his body before the new grave, with only his two feet exposed. The powerful family’s coffin was also split apart by a lightning strike when halfway there, and the body could not but be exposed. Some said that the agent must have made the suggestion, and therefore was punished first.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.102 (Tale 176):

占人陰地

宋寶祐乙卯,鄂州有勢家,強占他人陰地為墳。及舉柩之旦,先令牙人帶一行人,先往地頭營辦午食,才到,其牙人忽為雷所擊,仍倒埋其尸於新墳之前,止露兩足。勢家之柩,中途亦為雷劈開,未免暴露。或者謂此牙郎建其議,故先受其禍耳。

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).

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).

Squeezing the Souls of Dancers and Musicians 掩魂妓樂

In Nanhai Prefecture there was one surnamed Yang, who called himself a retired scholar, and once told people: “I have skill in magic.” The prefectural chief was keen on sorcery, and was delighted to hear of the retired scholar’s arrival. He never held a banquet or a tour without first summoning the gentleman. One day, because he had to wait on the prefectural chief, the latter was holding a feast in the prefectural hall, there was a great review of dancers and musicians, but the retired scholar was unable to take part. At that time a number of other guests were also unable to join the feast, so they spoke to the scholar: “The gentleman once claimed magical skill. Today the prefectural chief is holding a great feast and the gentleman is not invited; can a magical act move him?” The scholar laughed and said: “This is extremely easy. I can summon the prefectural chief for the gentleman to bring dancers and music and pour your drinks!” He therefore ordered the provision of wine, and had the various guests get into a circle and sit. After a little while, several dozen women emerged from an empty chamber in the western corridor, jewelled and clothed in lustre and brilliance. Each carried a musical instrument, and on his order they played and began to sing and dance. Some of the guests asked where they had come from, but they all just laughed without speaking. When midnight came, the gentleman addressed the dancers, saying: “You may return.” At this they all departed downwards through the empty room in the western corridor. The [86] guests looked at each other in astonished admiration, and suspected that they were some kind of spirits or goblins. Until the next day one after another passed around the rumour, saying that the prefectural chief held a feast last night, and all the musicians fell to the ground, their eyes blinking but unable to speak, as if they’d suffered strokes. A physician was hurriedly summoned to treat them, and said: “They are in good health, but their immortal souls are being squeezed; at midnight they will be able to rise, and will not require medicine.” Indeed, when midnight came, the musicians awoke as if from sleep, and all were able to rise and stand. When the prefectural chief questioned them, the musicians all said: “We suffered deceit and followed Scholar Yang’s respectful summons; why is he not at the Prefectural Chief’s banquet?” The throng of guests marvelled at this, and questioned Scholar Yang, but he just smiled and refused to answer. They then realized that the dancers’ souls had been squeezed by Scholar Yang.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.85-86 (Tale 148):

掩魂妓樂

南海郡有楊氏,以居士自號,嘗謂人曰:「我有奇術。」郡太守好奇術,聞居士來,甚喜。每宴遊未嘗不首召居士。一日因須侍太守,太守會宴於郡齋,大閱妓樂,而居士不得預。時有數客亦皆不得預宴,因謂居士曰:「先生嘗自負有奇術,今日太守大宴,先生不得預,設一術以動之乎?」居士笑曰:「甚易耳。君試觀之,我能為君召太守處妓樂至此佐酒乎!」因命具酒,使諸客環列而坐。少頃,俄有數十婦人自西廊空室而出,裝飾華煥,各攜樂器而至,乃命奏樂,且歌且舞。客或訊其所自,皆笑而不言。至夜分,居士謂諸妓曰:「可歸矣。」於是皆入西廊下空室中去。諸 [86] 客相顧駭歎,皆疑其鬼物妖惑。至明日鬨傳曰:太守昨夕宴會,諸妓樂並皆仆地,瞬目不能言,以為卒中,急召醫人診候,醫曰:「無恙,但為人掩魂,夜分各能起,不必服藥。」果至中宵,諸妓如睡之醒,皆能起立。太守質問,諸妓皆云:「適蒙楊居士召祗應,須(「須」,疑為「頃」之誤。)緣何卻在太守筵中?」衆客為怪,詰之楊居士,居士笑而不答,方知諸妓為楊居士掩魂矣。

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).

A parallel tale is found in the tenth-century collection Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Era of Great Harmony), and as usual this is substantially more detailed than our Huhai version:

Retired Scholar Yang 楊居士

In Hainan Prefecture there was a Scholar Yang. His given name has been forgotten. He referred to himself as Retired Scholar Yang, and often wandered around the various Nanhai prefectures, frequently lodging as a guest with other people, and it is not known where he stopped. He told people: “I have strange talents; you people are mediocre, and could never achieve such knowledge.” Afterwards he often visited the prefecture, meeting the prefectural chief, who was very inquisitive. On hearing that the scholar had arrived, he was delighted and rewarded him generously, ordering that he be brought drink. He never held a banquet without summoning the scholar, and the scholar became very conceited. One day, drunk, he offended the prefectural chief in a way the chief could not tolerate.

Later, there was a feast in the prefectural chamber, with a review of musicians and performers, but the scholar was not invited. There were several other guests who had not received summons from the prefectural chief, and they therefore spoke to the scholar: “The gentleman was once conceited about his hocus-pocus; your humble servant looked up to you for advice but you had no time for me. Meeting you one day like this is truly fortunate. Nonetheless, today we hear that the prefectural chief is holding a banquet in the prefectural chamber, but the gentleman has not been invited to join it. If the gentleman cannot change this through an act of magic, then he must not possess such strange arts.” The scholar laughed and said: “This is just the least of my skill. You gentlemen should watch me, and I will summon his dancers for you; we should bring out some drinks.” They all said they wished this to happen, so the scholar ordered that wine be brought and directed the guests to set out their mats in a circle and sit.

He next ordered a boy to close up a small chamber in the western wing. He left the door closed for a while before opening it, at which three or four beautiful people came down, decked out with a gorgeous magnificence, and came towards them bearing instruments. The scholar said: “How is your servant’s art now?” The guests all marveled at this and could not work out what was happening. He told them to sit down and indicated that the music be started. Some of the guests questioned him about his art, but he just smiled and would not answer. Eventually it grew dark and midnight came, at which the scholar told all the musicians: “You should now return.” At this they all rose and returned down through the empty western chamber. The guests looked at one another and exclaimed in admiration, but still suspected that it was a matter of demonic conjuring.

The next day, a clerk in the prefecture said: “The prefectural chief held a feast last night in the prefectural offices. [469] When the musicians were seated and arranged, they suddenly fell to the ground without explanation. In a moment, a violent storm arose, blowing away their instruments and disappearing. When midnight came, the players all awoke, and their instruments returned to their former places. When the prefectural chief questioned the musicians, they all said that it had gone dark and they had been unable to see anything. In the end they could not work out what had caused it, and the guests were all greatly shocked and therefore everyone talked about the matter. Someone told the prefectural chief, who gasped with astonishment and sent for him. He did not dare stay in the prefecture. This all took place at the beginning of the Kaicheng era (836-41 CE). This was taken from Xuanshi zhi 宣室志.[1]

楊居士

海南(明鈔本海南作南海。)郡有楊居士。亡其名。以居士自目。往往遊南海枝郡。常寄食於人。亦不知其所止。謂人曰。我有奇術。汝輩庸人。固不得而識矣。後常至郡。會太守好奇者。聞居士來。甚喜。且厚其禮。命飲之。每宴遊。未嘗不首召居士。居士亦以此自負。一日使酒忤太守。太守不能容。後又會宴於郡室。閱妓樂。而居士不得預。時有數客。亦不在太守召中。因謂居士曰。先生嘗自負有奇術。某向者仰望之不暇。一日遇先生於此。誠幸矣。雖然。今聞太守大宴客於郡齋。而先生不得預其間。即不能設一奇術以動之乎。必先生果無奇術耶。居士笑曰。此末術耳。君試觀我。我為君召其妓。可以佐酒。皆曰。願為之。居士因命具酒。使諸客環席而坐。又命小童閉西廡空室。久之乃啟之。有三四美人自廡下來。裝飾華煥。擕樂而至。居士曰。某之術何如。諸客人大異之。殆不可測。乃命列坐。奏樂且歌。客或訊其術。居士但笑而不答。時昏晦。至夜分。居士謂諸妓曰。可歸矣。于是皆起。入西廡下空室中。客相目駭歎。然尚疑其鬼物妖惑。明日。有郡中吏曰。太守昨夕宴郡閤。 [469] 妓樂列坐。無何皆仆地。瞬息暴風起。飄其樂器而去。迨至夜分。諸妓方寤。樂器亦歸于舊所。太守質問衆妓。皆云黑無所見。竟不窮其由。諸客皆大驚。因盡以事對。或告於太守。太守歎異。即謝而遣之。不敢留于郡中。時開成初也。出《宣室志》

Li Fang 李昉, et al., Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Era of Great Harmony), 10 vols (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1961), ii, 75.468-69

[1] This is a ten-juan collection by Zhang Du 張讀, who passed his civil service examination in 852 CE. See Zhang Du 張讀, Xuanshi zhi 宣室志 (Stories from the Chamber of Dissemination), in Du yi zhi, Xuanshi Zhi 獨異志,宣室志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories, Stories from the Chamber of Dissemination), edited by Zhang Yongqin 张永钦 and Hou Zhiming 侯志明 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1983); Fletcher Coleman, ‘On the Role of Religion in Tang Tales: An Introduction to Zhang Du’s Xuanshi zhi’ (2013), Asian Languages & Civilizations Graduate Theses & Dissertations, 9 (https://scholar.colorado.edu/asia_gradetds/9, accessed 23/04/18).