The Golden Recipe for the Plague

A Chinese building on a river.

A royal chef, who returned to his home town after retiring from working for the emperor, had nothing to do all day, so he hired some people and opened a tavern. (Image: David Leo via Flickr)

Since ancient times, plagues have appeared when the morality of society was generally low. Every time, some people were exposed to the plague, but they did not get infected. How was this possible?

The royal prescription for the plague

A royal chef, who returned to his hometown after retiring from working for the emperor, had nothing to do all day, so he hired some people and opened a tavern.

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Later, a great plague broke out in the town, and it was only a hundred miles away from the capital. Many official medical specialists came to the town to give treatments. For a long time, the source of the disease was not identified, and medicines failed to treat it.

As the epidemic became more serious and people died one after another, everyone became frightened and panicked.

On observing this situation, the old royal chef closed his tavern, cut himself off from the outside world, and hid in his home all day. Although the house was carefully sealed up, the plague still penetrated through the walls and reached him. He began to grow weak, often convulsed, felt dizzy, vomited, and had blood in his stool.

A great plague broke out in the town, and it was only a hundred miles away from the capital.
A great plague broke out in the town, and it was only a hundred miles away from the capital. (Image: via Wikimedia Commons)

The royal chef felt that he did not have much time left. He closed off his own high-rise building overlooking the city. The hustling and bustling streets of the past were now deserted, while the plague-ridden dead bodies were lying everywhere in the streets.

The royal chef sighed tearfully: “Alas! What’s the use of fame and profit? Although I am a famous royal chef, I cannot resist the epidemic. When faced with this uncertainty, who can control their own destiny?”

The royal chef thought that he would probably die soon and that it would be no use to keep so much money, clothing, and food. It would be better to donate his possessions to help the infected poor people, helping them to have a better quality of life and feel good about themselves when meeting their ancestors after death. So he decided to give away all of his belongings. It was such a precious matter that he had such righteous thoughts.

Assisted by these thoughts, the royal chef felt his fearfulness of the epidemic disappear. A sense of righteousness filled his heart and he felt energized. Then he opened up the tavern, instructing his employees to cook porridge for the poor every day and send clothes to help those in need. For those dead bodies, he made the arrangements and buried them.

Upon seeing the royal chef’s good deeds, many rich people looked up to him and took him as a role model. They also thought that they would die eventually, and it was better to die in a more meaningful way. Everyone’s fears of the epidemic disappeared and the deserted street became lively again.

 He decided to give away all his belongings.
He decided to give away all of his belongings. (Image: via Worthpoint)

Later, people helped each other and became more polite and considerate. The city turned out to be more peaceful with little violence or bullying. A month later, the royal chef was surprised to find that his body gradually recovered and his complexion returned to its previous good health.

One night, in his sleep, the royal chef saw a Taoist flying toward him on a crane, saying: “Here are some precious heavenly pills. You are virtuous enough to deserve them. Take them to save the plague victims. Take them immediately!”

In the dream, the royal chef woke up as soon as he received them. Seeing a box of elixir in his hand, the royal chef rejoiced and kowtowed to thank the Taoist immediately. The next day, he dissolved some of the elixirs and prepared the antidote to the plague according to the prescription contained in the box. Amazingly, the patients recovered instantly after taking the medicine.

Afterward, the royal chef personally sent the elixir to the emperor. Soon, the epidemic that had raged for several months was resolved. After finding out about the elixir’s history, the emperor wrote “Golden prescription virtue” in his honor with devotion and respect for him.

According to Chinese folklore, when Heaven decides to send the plague to the human world, there will be five plague messengers dispatched from Heaven to carry out their duty. Where they go will suffer plagues.

There is a Chinese saying: There are gods three feet above one’s head; when one is thinking, all gods and evil spirits will know what that thought is.

Only by returning to morality and kindness one can escape the calamity and move toward the future.

Translated by Joseph Wu and edited by Helen

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