The earthly nature of the fallen is lost, and the company of immortals is not helpful

Zheng Youxuan, a native of Xingyang, came from a famous family and lived in Chang’an. He grew up with the son of his neighbor, the Luchu family, and studied with them. He was so proud that he used to tease and taunt the son of the Luqiu family because of the prestige of his own family and the poverty of the Luqiu family: “You are not one of my kind, yet you studied with me under the Shi family. Luchu Zi looked ashamed. A few years later, Luchu Zi died of illness.

After ten years, Zheng Youxuan was successful in the examination of Mingjing and was transferred to Tangan County as a counsellor. He was appointed by the governor of the county to act as a lieutenant of Tang Xing County. There was a Qiusheng in the same house, the son of a big merchant, who was just 20 years old and had a fortune of tens of thousands of dollars. He met with Wuxuan every day, gave him a lot of money and belongings, and often went out with Wuxuan to travel and attend parties.

Since Qiusheng was only a merchant’s son, Zheng Wuxuan never treated him with courtesy. One time, Wuxuan set up a banquet to gather high friends, but did not invite Qiusheng. When the banquet was almost over, someone said to Wuxuan, “Qiusheng lives with you and often attends banquets together, but Qiusheng is not invited.

Feeling ashamed, Wuxuan went to summon Qiusheng. When Qiusheng arrived, Wuxuan poured wine for him in a large cup, but he excused himself and insisted that he could not drink it all. He scolded him, “You are just a citizen of the city, you know only cones and swords, why do you overstep your bounds and live in a government house? You should feel honored that I am in your company, and how dare you resign from the wine?” Qiusheng was so ashamed that he bowed his head and withdrew. When he returned, he immediately resigned from his official position, closed his door and did not interact with others, and died of illness a few months later.

The next year, Zheng Youxuan was dismissed from his official position and lived in a Buddhist temple in Mengyang County. Zheng Youxuan was always fond of the Tao of Huanglao. At that time, a Taoist priest named Wu, who was famous for his Taoist art, lived in Mount Shumen. He admired him and went to see him, hoping to be his disciple. Taoist priest Wu said, “Since you admire the gods, you should live in the mountains and forests, not in the mundane world.” Wuxuan happily thanked him and said, “Sir, you are really a man of the Way, I would like to be your disciple. The Taoist priest agreed and kept him. Fifteen years later, Wuxuan’s ambition for monasticism gradually slackened. Taoist priest Wu said, “Since you are not able to strengthen your monastic spirit, it is futile to live in the mountains and forests.” He said, “Since you are not determined to practice monasticism, it is futile to live in the mountains.

Later, when he was staying at a hotel in Baocheng, he met a young boy in his teens with a beautiful face. When he spoke with the boy, he was so wise and eloquent that he thought he could not match him.

The child said to Wuxuan, “We are old friends, do you remember me?” Wuxuan said, “No, I don’t.” He said, “I was born in the family of the Luchu clan and lived in Chang’an, studying with you. Later, I became the son of an enemy and lived with you in the same house. You received many gifts from me, but you never treated me with courtesy, and called me a man of the city. Why are you so proud as to go so far?”

Wuxuan was astonished, so he made two obeisances and apologized, saying, “This is really my sin. Yet you are not a saint, how can you know about the three lives?” The child said, “I am a Tai Qing true being. God thought that you had the energy of the Way and sent me down to earth to be your friend, and to teach you the secret of true immortality, but because of your proud nature, you could not attain the Way. Alas, it is sad!” After the words, the child suddenly disappeared.

When he realized what had happened, he was so ashamed and resented himself that he died of sorrow.

(Source: Xuan Bao Zhi)