Liu Xiangshi: Legendary Fortune-Teller of Taiwan

Fortune teller in a painting.

A fortune teller in a painting in the Summer Palace long corridor. (Image: via Public Domain)

In Taiwan, there lived a legendary fortune-teller whose magical powers and skills for fortune-telling are still being talked about long after he passed away. He was Liu Denan, better known as Liu Xiangshi. He was from a very poor family.  When he was 10 years old, during the period of the War of Resistance against Japan, Japanese warplanes regularly bombed his local neighborhood. During those bombing raids, he and his friends often took refuge in the local bridge cave. 

On one such day, he found the body of a little girl not far from the bridge cave. The girl had been killed in the bombing. He took some straw mats and covered the little body, thinking that her family would come and claim her.  He waited until the next day, but no one came to claim the corpse. So he showed his kindness and helped to bury the corpse to let the girl rest in peace. 

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Liu Xiangshi met his Muse in a dream and received the ability to see everybody’s fate 

But then something strange happened. The little girl entrusted a dream to Liu Xiangshi, telling him that she was very grateful to him and she would use her life to repay him. Liu Xiangshi asked the girl how she could repay him. The girl asked him whether he wanted money or a name. Liu Xiangshi was from a very poor family, so he asked for money. The little girl told Liu Xiangshi that he would have to pay a price and she asked him if he was willing to pay that price. She told him that he would lose the ability to see things sometime in the future, but in the meantime, he would be able to see everybody’s fate. He agreed. 

Consequently, Liu Xiangshi’s eyesight became weaker and weaker for no apparent reason until finally, he went blind. At the same time, his level of fortune-telling was growing higher and higher. It is said that the little girl again entrusted more dreams to Liu Xiangshi and she continued to teach him for seven more days. He “attained the Tao” and began to help people by telling their fortune for free. His fortune-telling skills later became so accurate they caused a sensation throughout Taiwan. Subsequently, Liu Xiangshi lived on this reputation.

Japanese bombers flying.
When he was 10 years old, during the period of the War of Resistance against Japan, Japanese warplanes regularly bombed his local neighborhood. (Image: via Public Domain)

The only time he went out was at the invitation of Chiang Kai-shek. Chiang Kai-shek came to take him to Sun Moon Lake for a private consultation. He told Liu Xiangshi that recording was not allowed during the whole conversation, and no issues were allowed to be publicized.

Other than Chiang Kai-shek, there were other dignitaries present, including President Chiang Ching-kuo, Lee Teng-hui, Chen Shui-bian, Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, and former South Korean President Park Chung-hee, and so on. 

Advanced prophetic ability ‘from cradle to grave’ 

It is said that Chen Shui-bian was taken by his mother to find Liu Xiangshi for fortune-telling when he was 4 years old. At that time, Liu Xiangsi amazingly concluded that he would become the “President.”  The neighbors thought this was a big joke, but when Chen Shui-bian grew up, the prediction came true. 

At Liu Xiangshi’s fortune-telling sessions, he usually allowed guests to record the meetings. He would take the time to delve into the life of the person “from the cradle to the grave.” From birth, he would meticulously continue to explain clearly the affairs of each year, but when he turned off the recording, it meant that that was the year of death for this person. The person would know it well and would not enquire any further.

Lee Teng-hui went to see Liu Xiangshi at a time when he was still the “provincial chairman.” He asked Liu Xiangshi how his position in office would turn out. But Liu Xiangshi firmly replied: “Getting the top position but losing the son.” Lee Teng-hui is said to have been very anxious when he heard this prediction. Thinking about it, he reasoned that his only son was more important, and he asked if there is any way to resolve it and whether he could change his life. Liu Xiangshi answered him with the words: “Destiny is fixed.”

When Liu Xiangshi was in his eighties, he had already gained fame and fortune, and people who sought him out for fortune-telling still came in endless streams, and he did not refuse them. 

The only time Liu Xiangshi went out was at the invitation of Chiang Kai-shek.
The only time he went out was at the invitation of Chiang Kai-shek. (Image: via Public domain)

‘Humans cannot take the evil path’ 

After telling the fortunes of countless people, Liu Xiangshi said: “All kinds of people, all kinds of fate! Humans cannot take the evil path, so as not to sow evil fruits for oneself.” Liu Xiangshi also said: “Fortune-telling for others is to help people to avoid disaster in their life, however, if one chooses to take the evil path and cause trouble for himself, it is useless to seek fortune-telling to change his luck.” 

One day, one of Taiwan’s wealthiest businessmen came to visit Liu Xiangshi. At that time, Liu Xiangshi was already over 80 years old. While they were discussing things, Liu Xiangshi’s voice suddenly changed to that of the little girl. Everyone around him was shocked. 

Later on, in his dream, Liu Xiangshi dreamed of the little girl. She told Liu Xiangshi that their fate had come to an end and he would lose the ability to tell fortunes. Therefore, in the last two years of Liu Xiangshi’s life, he lost his fortune-telling skills. 

According to Liu Xiangshi’s eldest son, his father had seen the fortunes of more than 200,000 people for more than 70 years. 

An innate act of thoughtfulness and kindness made Liu Xiangshi’s life a living legend. Maybe this was also destined by God. Acts of kindness are their own reward. This is true wealth and no further reward is needed. When you always carry good thoughts in your heart, you can share in God’s blessings!

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