Seizing Somebody’s Garden 占人園地

Minister Zhao of Jiangxi had a garden next to that of Academician Chang, and despite numerous schemes to take it, had never succeeded. One day, Chang composed a poem on a deed making it over to him. The poem read:

All the heavens and earth are my pavilion,

Artifice and cunning may never become truth.

What use ‘inverting rain and flipping clouds’?

Cool breeze and bright moon care little for people.

We may go to Orchid Pavilion, but this is not the Jin,

The Peach Grotto Immortal laughs at Qin,

The garden is host and the self guest,

Ask: how many years may the self remain?

When Zhao received this poem, he did not dare accept the garden and returned it.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.105 (Tale 182):

占人園地

江西趙尚書,與常省元園相近,百計取之而不可得。一日,常作詩書契送之,詩曰:「乾坤到處是吾亭,機械從來未必真。覆雨翻雲成底事,清風明月冷看人。蘭亭禊事今非晉,桃洞神仙也笑秦。園是主人身是客,問君還有幾年身?」趙得詩,不敢受園以還之。

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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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).

Repentance for Killing Eels 殺鱔悔悟

Long ago a person named Wang something had an eating house and was a very skilled cook, specialising in killing eels. A Buddhist priest arrived at the restaurant and bought a bowl of eel for ten copper cash. When it arrived, he pressed his hands together and prostrated himself in greeting, and did not eat but left instead. This happened for several days. Shopkeeper Wang thought this strange and questioned him, at which the priest said: “You have mastered the preparation of eel but not yet attained the way, and therefore I do not eat. I will come again tomorrow; if you can sell a bowl of perfectly straight eel, I will repay double your money without hesitation.” Wang so-and-so said: “How can one make it straight?” The priest said: “You need to hold the eel with your hands, [99] right up until the stock boils, and then you can make them straight.” Wang laughed and said: “Won’t that hurt my hands?” The priest said: “Your two hands will know pain; what of the tens of thousands of eels’ lives?” Wang so-and-so then achieved a sudden enlightenment, abandoning his livelihood and never again opening his shop. Restricting himself to a vegetarian diet and chanting the name of the Buddha, he lived little more than a month before passing away.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.98-99 (tale 168):

殺鱔悔悟

昔有食店王某,善於庖饌,專殺鱔魚。有一道人至店,以銅錢十文買鱔一碗。及至,則合掌頂禮,不食而去。如是數日。王店怪而問之,道人曰:「你修事鱔魚尚未得法,所以不食。我明日再來,你賣一碗條直鱔魚,倍還你錢不妨。」王某曰:「何策得其條直?」道人曰:「你須以手握鱔, [99] 致之沸湯,即能條直。」王笑曰:「如手痛何?」道人曰:「爾雙手知痛,況鱔魚數萬命乎?」王某即頓悟,捨業不復開店,持素念佛,不逾月而亡。

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 Slaughterer of Oxen Changes His Work 屠牛改業

In Shuinan, in Longquan County, there was a Zhao Taibao, who was accustomed to slaughtering oxen to gather profit in the market. He once bought three oxen, one of which was already boiled. One night, before dawn had broken, he had a nightmare, and, making a bellowing sound, passed a full day unable to awake; desperately calling out, a physician used medicine to relieve his distress and he finally awoke the following dawn. His family questioned him as to the cause, and he replied: “I happened to see one of my oxen suddenly speak with a human voice, its speeches being ‘I am your father’ and ‘I am your grandfather.’ Before long, the two oxen both took on human form, and I looked hard at them and they were indeed my grandfather and father.” He cried out piteously and earnestly, frightened and newly enlightened, and then handed over generous rent for the two oxen, feeding them with water and hay. From then on he changed his work and never slaughtered another ox.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.96 (Tale 165):

屠牛改業

龍泉邑之水南,有趙太保,居嘗屠牛以網市利。嘗買三牛,已烹其一。一夕,天未明,忽魘,作聲哮吼,經一日不醒,急呼醫者用藥救療,迄旦方醒。家人詢問其故,答曰:「適見所有之牛忽作人語,其一曰:『我爾父也。』其一曰:『我爾祖也。』須臾,二牛皆人形,熟視之,則真吾祖與父也。」哀號懇切,驚駭而覺,即以二牛付之莊佃,飽以水草。自後改業,不復宰牛。

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).