The Two Sages of Yuelu Monastery 岳麓寺二聖

In Hengyue there was the Yuelu Monastery, rebuilt and refurbished in brilliant gold and jade, its lustre dazzling everyone. A wandering Hu (northwestern) monk visited the temple, and addressed its abbot: “If, at the northeastern corner [214] a Tusita Bridge could be built over a small stream, once completed it would resemble the Western Heaven.” The following day the abbot brought together a multitude to discuss this transformation, and after some years it was complete.

The two sages of the temple gate then appeared to the abbot in a dream, saying: “This temple resembles the Western Heaven above, but now it falls short and the spirit of Mars is coming to burn and seize it. You should urgently take your multitude south to meet him by the ten li bridge.” On awaking, the abbot was terrified, and gathered his monks to go out front and wait. From dawn to evening, nobody came. When the sky darkened, they suddenly saw a priest, hair loose and unkempt around his temples, his clothes old and shabby, approaching them very slowly. The crowd of monks bowed as they saw him, leading him to the temple, making a great gathering with food and chanting, treating him with great honour, and begging him sorrowfully: “This temple has been built and repaired through the begging of alms; it is newly completed after more than a decade of hard work. If it should one day be reduced to a field of ashes, how could that not be regretted? We beg that the star lord would have a special mercy on us, and extend a brief pardon.” The priest was astonished, and said: “How could a poor cleric have such power?” The crowd of monks begged and supplicated over and over, so he asked: “Who was it that told you I was the spirit of Mars? If I could understand, perhaps this can be sorted out.” The abbot had no choice but to speak directly: “The two sages of the temple gate manifested in a dream.” The priest said: “You should make up several dozen widths of sticky paper and build them together to resemble the halls and chambers of this temple. Then burn it with lots of spirit money, so as to dispel this issue.”

The assembled monks did as he instructed, and burned it all. Just after the fifth watch (about dawn), the multitude escorted the priest out through the mountain gate, where he scolded the two sages: “Who taught you to shoot your mouths off like this? Who taught you to see the bone and not the flesh, the flesh and not the bone?” When they escorted him to the bridge of the previous day, cloud and mist arose on all sides, and the priest suddenly vanished. When the multitude returned to the mountain gate, the two sages collapsed into earth and dust, leaving only their wooden frames. When the abbot had them re-sculpted, within ten days they had fallen apart once more. To this day the temple’s mountain gate lacks its two guardian sages.

後2.213-14 (Tale 379):

岳麓寺二聖

衡岳有岳麓寺,重新修建,金碧輝煌,光彩爍人。有胡僧雲遊詣寺,與寺主言:「若於東北角 [214] 上小溪中造一座兜率橋,成則類西天矣。」寺主翌日集大衆題化,積年橋成。山門下二聖忽現夢於寺主云:「本寺類西天上界,今差火德星君來焚取,可急聚大衆南去十里溪橋邊迎之。」夢覺,寺主驚,遂集僧衆前去往候。自朝至晚,無往來者。天將昏,忽有一道人,鬢髮鬅鬙,身衣藍縷,徐徐然來。僧衆見之下拜,迎至寺,大作齋會,待之甚至,哀懇之曰:「此寺緣化修造,以十數年之辛勤方能圓就,若一旦為煨燼之場,寧不可惜!慾望星君特發慈悲,姑與原宥。」道人驚曰:「貧道安有此!」僧衆再三哀告不已,乃問曰:「誰與汝說我是火德星君,言若明白,當與料理。」寺主不得已,直云:「山門下二聖現夢。」道人云:「可打黏紙數十幅,一一綵繪本寺殿宇房廊樣式,多將紙錢前來燒化,庶可消禳。」僧衆如其教焚訖。五更初,衆送道人出山門下,乃指駡二聖云:「誰教汝饒舌,教汝骨不見肉,肉不見骨。」及送至昨日橋邊,雲霧四起,道人倏然不見。衆回山門,則二聖泥土皆落,隻有木胎。寺主再裝塑之,越旬日又落。至今本寺山門下無金剛二聖也。

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).

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The Strangeness of the Jiuzhen Temple Spring 九真廟泉異

Behind the Jiuzhen Temple, within Sanwu Village, in Xiangxiang, in Tanzhou, there was a large well, its spring extremely deep and clear. It had long been a marvel, and people who looked at the spring had to bring paper money and throw it in the well; when the notes reached the spring they would sink. In the Yuanzhen era (1295-97), the autumn of the jiwei year,[1] there were seven travelling traders who, passing, went to look and joked: “It is said this spring is most magical; when people throw in spirit money it sinks straight to the bottom; nobody has ever seen paper notes float back up again.” The crowd thereupon saw a Zhiyuan paper note and some yellow and white spirit money notes rise to the surface and before long sink once more. The merchants became very alarmed, buying paper money and throwing it in, kowtowing and then departing. This spring is like that because it has spirit administrators. Nonetheless, despite being strange, this spring can truly be called greedy!

[1] This should be 56th year of the cycle, and therefore either 1259 or 1329. This may be an error or deliberate fudging.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.212 (Tale 377):

九真廟泉異

潭之湘鄉三五里間九真廟,背有一巨井,其泉極浚洌。素異者,人有觀泉,必須具楮財投井,楮財到泉即沉。元貞己未秋,有行商七人徑往一觀,戲曰:「聞此泉最靈異,人皆以紙錢投之,直沉於底,未嘗見泉中有紙錢浮將出來。」衆因而(「因而」,明刻本作「目」。)看見有至元鈔一踏、黃白紙錢數片,浮出水面,須臾復沒。衆商遂駭,亦置楮財投之,叩首而去。蓋泉有神司之故爾。雖然,此泉雖異,亦可謂之貪泉也夫!

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).

Shigong Assists A Scholar 石公待士

The Xindu Shigong Temple of Anren County, in Hengzhou, was devoted to the White Serpent. In autumn, the gengyin year of the Zhiyuan era (1340?), a scholar going to a hostel was delayed, and lodged below the Shigong hall, and therefore prayed to the spirit: “Being in difficulties on the road, I hope the deity will show the way.” The spirit granted him a dream, and said: “In Hubei there is a great merchant, presently seen within this county town. His feet are terribly afflicted by sores, and he has expended five hundred thousand on seeking physicians. The physicians, however, have exhausted their skills to no effect; you will go and give him treatment.” The scholar said: “Your servant has never had skill in medicine; how can this be done?” The deity replied: “This merchant once boarded a boat before my temple and peed towards my shrine. I became angry at him and sent a small demon to prick his shins with a nail, leading to this. You should take ash from my incense burner and rub his sores. They will then be healed. If a reward is given, you may take it all as travel expenses, looking to the future and keeping my words secret. If not, what you gain will all be lost, and my offerings will lose their magnificence.” The scholar waited for the dawn and then went to the place directed, using things as directed. The great merchant’s sores then healed, and the scholar was rewarded as predicted. Due to all this the merchant declared him a lifelong friend. One day he asked about how the medicine had been obtained, and the scholar candidly explained the cause. The merchant was resentful, so made obeisances at the town god temple and paid for ten feasts at the Water and Land Festival, in order to bring a case against Shigong. At the fourth feast, Shigong appeared again to the scholar in a dream, saying: “At first, sympathizing with your hardship, means were provided for your salvation. Having been warned not to share secrets, you have now spoken of them. I am facing disaster, and everything you have gained will also be lost.” When the fifth feast was being prepared, lightning burst over the temple and burned it, and the scholar too fell ill and died.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.217 (Tale 385):

石公待士

衡州安仁縣新渡石公廟素靈。至元庚寅秋,有士人趁旅邸不及,寓宿於石公祠下,遂禱於神云:「旅中困乏,冀神指迷。」神予之夢曰:「湖北有巨商,見在本縣城中,足瘡苦甚,已出五百千求醫。而醫者盡其伎不能效,汝往與醫。」士人云:「某素不善醫,奈何?」神曰:「此商嘗乘船在吾廟前對吾廟尿,吾怒之,令小鬼以釘刺其脛,故爾。汝以我殿上香鑪灰與擦其瘡,即愈。若如所酬,儘可為旅費,卻望隱吾言,不然汝所得隨喪,而吾之香火亦不隆矣。」士人俟天明前往彼處,如其言用之,巨商之瘡隨愈,而士人所得如數。巨商因此與士人為刎頸交。一日叩其得醫藥之因,士人遂直言其所以。巨商不平,遂於城隍廟拜設水陸齋十筵,以訟石公。至四筵,石公又託夢與士人言:「當初憫汝之貧,故以見告而周急。已嘗戒祝毋泄,今又言之,我亦遭禍,而汝所得亦喪。」設齋至第五筵,雷轟其廟而焚之,士人亦病喪焉。

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).

Hua Yue Serves As King Yama 華岳為閻王

In Luling lived an Ouyang Sheng, who enjoyed joking and teasing his entire life. On seeing that rice sold by a family was coarse and damp, he composed a poem:

‘If in the world one sold the Thunder-God,

The buyer of a Thunder-God would strike them down.’

Falling ill one day, he was escorted to the nether world, and saw the list of those released; it named Huang Niushi, Ouyang Deyu, Yi Li and Ouyang Sanying. When he had finished watching, he was taken to a hall, and asked those around him: “Who is prince of the gate?” They said: “It is now Xi, the worldly son of Hua Yue.”[1] He presently saw a person, robed in purple and belted in gold, seated over the hall, who asked: “You spoke extravagantly in life, once saying the sentence ‘The buyer of a Thunder-God would strike them down’; the Thunderer thus raised a lawsuit in heaven; how can you buy thunder?” Ou[yang] answered: “The Great Prince’s own ‘Record of a Southern Expedition to the Blue-Green Mountains’ also has the sentence ‘Lightning does not smite the emperor-deceiving traitor’, and this was exactly my meaning.” Hua laughed and said: “Free to return! Free to return!” Ou then revived, writing in secret to one called Two Ou, and told the villagers: “Our district will definitely have good news this autumn.” He entrusted the sealed slip of paper to the multitude until the examination results were announced. Afterwards, both men were indeed examination champions.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.211 (Tale 375):

華岳為閻王

廬陵有歐陽生者,平生喜作謔詞,見糶米之家米粗且溼,作詩云:「世間若有雷公賣,買個雷公打殺他。」一日病,被追至冥府,見陰司放解榜,有黃牛石、歐陽德遇、義歷、歐陽三英名字。看畢,至一殿宇,問左右曰:「閭王為誰?」曰:「即世間華岳子西也。」忽見一人紫袍金帶坐殿上,問云:「汝在生有口過,嘗有『買箇雷公打殺他』之句,雷乃奉行天之威令,豈汝能買乎?」歐答云:「大王《翠微南征集》亦有『雷霆不劈欺君賊』之句,即此意也。」華笑曰:「放還!放還!」歐遂蘇,密書二歐名字告之鄉人云:「吾鄉今秋定有好事。」對衆封記片紙,俟揭榜日開。後二人果領薦。

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).

[1] This is Hua Yue 華岳, courtesy name Zixi 子西 (13th century, dates unknown), also known as Cuiwei 翠微. His biography is found at Songshi 455.113375-78.

Wenshan Becomes An Immortal 文山為神

Guo Yuanyi came from Luling. He once followed Wenshan Tianxiang[1] on his travels, and also performed dedicated service among the troops. In the bingshen year of the Yuanzhen era (1296), while living at home he fell ill and died, but a slight warmth was retained in his heart and chest, and, during the time he was laid out in his home before he could be buried, he revived, and said: “A person in a yellow turban escorted me to a place like a government office. There was someone dressed like a prince in gold and purple, seated raised above the hall. Your servant whispered a question to the officials on guard: ‘Who is this official presiding over the hall?’ They answered: ‘This is Prime Minister Wen.’ Your servant was secretly pleased: ‘Being long acquainted with the prime minister, he must offer the protection of a close relationship.’ I therefore mounted the dais and made a bow to one side, and Duke Wen said: ‘In our friendship how can I not provide you with protection? Nonetheless, your number is up; what can be done? You may return to wrap up your plans and domestic affairs, and then come.’” Guo, having spoken in this way, said his goodbyes to his family, settled all of his outstanding business, and then died.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.210 (Tale 374):

文山為神

郭元益,廬陵人。嘗從文山天祥遊,亦曾馳驅兵間。元貞丙申,居家抱病而死,但心胸間微暖,未殮,經宿還魂,云:「有黃巾人追至一所,若公府,見一金紫如王者狀,坐於殿上。某私問吏卒云:『殿上官何人?』答曰:『即文丞相也。』某私喜曰:『與丞相有舊,必蒙周庇。』因上殿,方一揖間,文公曰:『朋友間吾豈不能回護汝,但數至此,奈何!汝可回去區畫家事即來。』」郭如其言,與家人敍別,分付了當方死。

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).

[1] This is Wen Tianxiang 文天祥 (1236-83), courtesy name Songduan 宋端, also known as Wenshan 文山, who passed the civil examinations in 1256, and became famous for his resistance to Mongol rule, his eventual execution and his writing. His biography is found at Songshi 418.12533-40. See also the brief introduction here: http://www.chinaknowledge.de/History/Song/personswentianxiang.html