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Souls Resting on the Sangsheng Stone

Luoyang Huilin Temple is the residence of Guanglu Minister Li Zheng of Tang Dynasty. When An Lushan captured Luoyang, Li Zheng stayed behind and sacrificed his life to defend the city. His son, Li Yuan, was well known for a flamboyant lifestyle in his early age for being addicted to music and frolicking lifestyle. After Li Zheng’s death, Li Yuan was filled with such grief and indignation that he swore to vegetarianism and that he would no longer engage in politics or marriage. He had spent over fifty years in Huilin Temple.

Yuanze was a monk in the temple who knew a lot about music. He was Li Yuan’s close friend. Li Yuan and Yuanze could talk with each other side by side for nearly a day, which others could not understand. One day, they were planning a trip to Qingcheng and Emei Mountain in Sichuan together. Li Yuan wanted to travel to Jingzhou and then go upstream, while Yuanze suggested that they go to Chang’an and take the valley road. Li Yuan was strongly opposed to going to Chang’an, so he said, “I am determined to leave behind the politics, so why do we go back to the capital city?” Yuanze became silent for a long time and said, “The destiny is actually out of one’s own choices.”

In the end, they took way to Jingzhou. When their boat reached Nanpu, they saw a pregnant woman taking water from the river. Yuanze stared at her and cried, “That’s why I do not want to take this way.” Li Yuan was surprised and asked him why. Yuanze told him, “This Woman’s family name is Wang, and I am designated to be her son. She has been pregnant for three years, and cannot give birth to the baby because I haven’t shown up. Now I see her and I cannot escape the fate. Please help me reincarnate into the world quickly by reading spells. Come to me on the third day when they give me a shower, and I will give you a smile as our secret code. On the Mid-autumn day in thirteen years’ time, we will see each other outside Tianzhu Temple in Hangzhou.” Li Yuan was sad and regretful, but he still prepared shower and clothes for Yuanze. At dusk, Yuanze passed away and the woman gave birth to a baby. On the third day, Li Yuan went to visit them. The baby smiled to Yuan as expected. Li Yuan told the woman the whole story and offered money to bury Yuanze at the foot of the mountain. He gave up the tour and returned home. He asked Yuanze’s student, and better understood that Yuanze’s destiny was decreed.

Thirteen years passed. Li Yuan went to the State of Wu to keep the appointment with Yuanze. When he reached the appointed place, beside the Gehong Stream he heard a boy knocking at the buffalo horn and singing, “Sansheng stone of pre-life, life, after-life, engraving the old spirits and souls; appreciate the moon and chant the wind, discuss no more about it. Lovers with regrets come to visit from afar, my figure changes but not feelings in my heart.” Li Yuan yelled and asked, “Is Yuanze all right?” The boy answered, “You really keep your promise and trust in Buddhism, but you cannot get rid of the secular world, so please keep a distance from me. Only by practicing diligently and maintaining the clearness, you can meet who you want to see.” He went on singing, “Things change greatly before and after death, to dig up the reasons may be heartbroken. After visiting all the mountains and streams in the states of Wu and Yue, back to my little boat in the mist and ripples of Qutang Gorge.” Then, the boy disappeared, without a trace.

Two years later, Li Deyu reported to the emperor that Li Yuan was the son of a loyalist, who abided by filial piety, and recommended him to be a senior official. Li Yuan refused to accept the offer and died in the temple at the age of eighty.

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