A Taoist Talks About Destiny 神奇道人论命理
A Taoist Talks About Destiny
In the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1912 AD), Ji Xiaolan (1724 – 1805 AD), a renowned scholar, wrote Yuweicaotang Notes, in which he talked about a mysterious Taoist's talk on destiny. It was very profound and practical. It is beneficial to read even today. Below is the translation of the main part of the story.
Ming Sheng was the county magistrate of Xian County. One day he was working on a lawsuit. He wanted to redress the injustice and rectify an incorrect judgment, but was afraid his superiors would disapprove; therefore, he was very hesitant. One of his subordinates, Men Dou, had a friend with supernormal abilities, so Ming Sheng asked him to check with the friend.
The friend said very seriously, "As the head of a county, one should only be concerned with the people’s injustices rather than considering higher officials' potential decisions. Did the magistrate forget the story told Li Wei?" Li Wei (1687 – 1738 AD) was a prominent official during Emperor Yongzheng’s reign.
When Men Dou returned with the message, Ming Sheng was very surprised since Li Wei did tell him a story a long time ago. But how could his subordinate's friend know about this? It was really mystical. Nonetheless, Ming Sheng now knew how to handle the lawsuit.
Before Li Wei became a high-ranking officer, he once took a boat to cross a river. On the boat, there was a Taoist. In order to save some money, a passenger argued with the boat owner. The Taoist sighed, "For a person who will be drowned soon, he still argues with others over such insignificant things. It is really not worth it!"
Li Wei heard this, but did not understand what the Taoist meant. After a while, a strong wind started to blow on the river. That passenger could not stand still on the boat, fell into the water and drowned. Li Wei now felt that the Taoist had miraculous powers. At that moment, the wind became stronger and stronger, and the boat almost turned over. The Taoist started to walk in the boat in the arrangement of Polaris and other stars, and recited verses. The wind soon stopped, and the people on the boat survived. Li Wei thanked the Taoist repeatedly for saving the people's lives. The Taoist said, "That person was doomed to drown, and there was nothing I could do. But you have a great future, and despite today's tribulation, it was your destiny to be saved. It is something I had to do, so you do not need to thank me."
Li Wei was very grateful and enlightened upon hearing this. He thanked the Taoist again and said, "It is very beneficial to hear your teachings. From now on, I will remain humble to fulfill my destiny."
The Taoist said, "Not necessarily. For one's personal interest such as fame and fortune, we should remain humble and abide by our destiny. Otherwise, people will fight with each other, which will cause karma. One example is Qin Hui, who had the most notorious reputation for framing and killing the innocent general Yue Fei.). Another example is Li Linfu who was known for his treachery in removing potential political challengers. Had they remained humble, they would have still become prime ministers, because that was their destiny. However, in order to achieve personal gain, they tried all means to frame and kill other innocent people. Doing that did not lead to a higher rank, but instead brought karma to them."
"On the other hand, as to the lives of citizens, we cannot just remain ignorant and let it be. As a person in charge, one has to fulfill our responsibilities to reduce peoples' pain and suffering. Zhu Geliang once said, 'I will exhaust myself [for the nation], till I die.' It also refers to this. Whether the actions taken are successful or not is beyond the control of the instigator. The reason a nation has various levels of officials is to improve people's lives, and make the nation stronger. Were the officials to not take initiatives to care about the people, but instead passively waited for orders from higher officials, what would be the use of these officials? These are truths which I hope you can fully understand."
With these words, the Taoist went down to the boat and soon disappeared.