Clinging to the Mortal World or Attaining the Dao?

July 27, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Posted in Asia, Life Lessons, Moments from History, Reflections, Stories from China | Leave a comment
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[] During the reign of Emperor Yang (560-618 A.D.) during the Sui Dynasty, three
close friends in cultivation Pei Chen, Wang Jingbo, and Li Fang traveled to Bailu Mountain to seek the Dao.  After more than ten years of cultivation and unimaginable hardships it seemed that they had
obtained little.  After a while, Li Fang died.

Wang Jingbo said to Pei Chen,

“We left our homes and gave up a worldly life of wealth and power to come here to seek the Dao.  In this remote forest we do not hear beautiful music and do not eat scrumptious delicacies. We have treated pleasure as a shameful thing, passing our lonely lives in poverty all for the sake of obtaining the Dao and becoming an immortal.  But even today paradise is no nearer in sight. If we continue our suffering here, death on this mountain is all that awaits us.  I intend to leave this mountain immediately and live luxuriously; I intend to seek wealth and status.  Why die in vain on this lonely mountain?!”

Pei Chen responded,

“From the beginning I have known that worldly wealth and status are temporal, they pass like the clouds.  Having seen through the illusion, how could I return to such a dreamland?” Pei Chen urged Wang Jingbo to remain on the mountain, but Wang would not listen and departed.

That year was the first year of Tang Dynasty emperor Taizong’s reign (627 A.D).  Wang Jingbo re-assumed his original official position and before long became a high ranking army official.  Another high-ranking general named Zhao gave his daughter in marriage to Wang Jingbo.  Within a few years he became the head of the imperial guard. Dressed in official red robes, he was an impressive sight.

On one occasion he was sent as an envoy to the region south of the Huai river.  He traveled by boat to Gaoyou. His fleet bore an insignia indicating great distinction.  When other boatmen spotted the insignia they quickly parted on the water allowing the official fleet to make passage.  Without notice a small fishing boat appeared in front of the fleet.  At first Wang Jingbo was upset, but when he looked closely he saw that the fisherman was the same man who had sought the Dao with him on the mountain – Pei Chen.  So he sent a boat to greet Pei Chen and invite him onboard the main ship.

Wang Jingbo greeted Pei Chen by saying,

“Old friend, at the time we parted, you had been diligently cultivating. What do you have to show
for it today?  You are nothing more than a fisherman floating on the river!  As I see it, cultivation is meaningless.  Life is harsh and short; we should enjoy its pleasures.  Why should I waste my life cultivating?   Although I am not yet of great status, I have far surpassed the mountain dwelling hermit I was, no?  You are as you were before, still willing to forget yourself in the mountains, I really can’t understand!  If you need anything, I would gladly provide it for you.”

Pei Chen responded,

“Though I am only a commoner, I long ago left my worries in the care of the wind.  How could I be like the sage Zhuang Zi describes, letting the corrupt and rotting rats interest me?  Each has his aspirations, why must you flaunt your reputation and wealth?  I have everything I need, what can you offer me?  On the east side of the Qingyuan building there is a cherry orchard. That is my home.  I invite you to be my guest in your spare time.”

About two weeks later, Wang Jingbo recalled Pei Chen’s words and headed to the cherry orchard to find him.  A doorman met him at the door and led him in.  At first the dwelling seemed bleak, but as they traveled further in the surroundings grew more and more beautiful.  They passed through a large gate, inside there were many buildings and lush greenery. This was not the home of a common man.  The landscape was of unparalleled beauty, extremely relaxing as if floating in a cloud.  At this point Wang Jingbo changed his
mind.  Being an official was meaningless; he felt lowly living amidst ordinary people.  Thinking of his colleagues he felt they too were as petty and meaningless as ants.

Before long a well-dressed, dignified gentleman stood before him.  Wang Jingbo hurriedly lowered his head in reverence. As he raised his head he saw to his surprise that the gentleman was Pei Chen.  Pei Chen said,

“You have been an official for a long time, your heart has grown selfish weighing you down, making your path difficult.”

Pei Chen led Wang Jingbo into the living room where all objects were from beyond the mortal world. Wang Jingbo had never tasted such delicious food as that which Pei Chen brought before him.

Pei Chen then spoke to his steward saying, “Wang Jingbo is a friend from the mountain, but because he didn’t persist in his determination to obtain the Dao, he left me on the mountain and returned to the city.  It has been more than 10 years; in that time he has achieved military rank. But he has become completely lost in worldly affairs and it would be unkind not to allow him female companionship.”

Pei Chen directed his steward to use his powers to bring Wang Jingbo’s wife Zhao Shi across thousands of miles to accompany him.

Shortly before dawn Pei Chen instructed his steward to send Zhao Shi back. “This hall is of the Ninth Heaven, mortals may not enter.  But Wang Jingbo and I sought the Dao together, it saddens me that he lost himself in the pleasures of the mortal world.  He thought he was being the smart one by leaving. In the end, his so-called smartness led him astray. From now on, he will go up and down in the bitter sea that is the human world life after life, and won’t ever see the shore. Therefore I deliberately invited him here today, hopefully to awaken him.”

Pei Chen addressed Wang Jingbo saying, “The path in the mortal world is long and arduous, one will have many matters to worry about, be sure to take care of yourself.” Wang Jingbo graciously thanked Pei Chen and bid him farewell.

Five days later Wang Jingbo finished his official business and was preparing to return to the capital.  Before
departing he stole off to find Pei Chen to say goodbye one last time.  But upon arriving at the cherry orchard he found only an untended garden of overgrown weeds.  With a heavy heart he headed back.

For millions of years man has searched amidst suffering for the meaning of life.  In truth our lives come originally from heavenly paradises. The goal and meaning of life is to return to the origin.  In returning to heaven as immortals, we return to our true home. Upon entering the human world one easily forgets the perfection of one’s true home.  Just as the mortal world deluded Wang Jingbo, he mistook this world for his true home.

Struggling to fulfill one’s desires, in the midst of the mortal world, one creates enormous karma, drifting aimlessly through the suffering of reincarnation.  Wealth and position are fleeting like the clouds, a pleasant evening and delicious banquet must end with the parting of friends.  When one forgets why one has come to this world and forgets one’s true home that is one’s greatest sadness and suffering.

Today, Falun Dafa has been taught in our world, compassionately saving sentient beings, offering a cultivation path to uplift lives and return to the origin.  Cultivators are most fortunate, admired by even the immortals.  Ten million years of reincarnation were all for this event to obtain Dafa.  To live at the time when the universe’s Dafa is taught is most fortunate.  But the opportunity will pass in a moment. To miss it would be the greatest regret.  This opportunity is fleeting; I hope you will not miss this one chance in eternity.

Author: Li Jian
Translated from:



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