We often do things and conceal our thoughts, unaware that Heaven knows everything we think and do. In the Ming Dynasty, Dongyue Temple, Yanzhou Prefecture, Shandong, was well-known for the manifestation of deities. During the Hongzhi reign of Emperor Xiaozong, Gong Yuan, who was from Suzhou and a successful candidate in the highest imperial exam, served as the Prefect of Yanzhou.
Is seeing believing?
One night when he heard whipping sounds outside, Gong Yuan asked what was going on. One of his entourage who knew about it told him that it was how the Dongyue Temple’s deities made themselves known.
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But Gong Yuan wasn’t convinced and wanted to see it with his own eyes personally.
The following day, Gong Yuan visited the temple early in the morning. However, he didn’t find any divine sign or remnants of abnormal phenomena.
Is believing seeing?
Disappointed that he had not been able to see any appearance of the deities or even the slightest indication of phenomena that would validate their existence in the temple, Gong Yuan summoned the subordinate again, the one who had told him about the manifestation of the deities in the temple the night before.
The subordinate explained to Gong Yuan that only people with a sincere mind could see it. After hearing that, Gong Yuan went back.
The next day, after fasting, washing up, and getting dressed, Gong Yuan visited Dongyue Temple again. But this time, he went in the evening.
After he prayed for a long time in front of the temple, the temple door opened suddenly.
Five royal king-like figures dressed in robes and crowns came outside to greet him, guide him into the temple, and lead him to the guest seat.
At first, Gong Yuan refused to sit. Then, one of the five persons said: “You are an official of the human world, while we are the officials of the underworld. That’s why we can’t interact, but it’s okay that you have a seat.”
Later, one of them gave him a cup of tea, but Gong Yuan didn’t dare to drink it. Finally, one king said: “The tea is from a vegetarian feast, so it’s safe to drink it.”
Gong Yuan felt more at ease and realized that he was in the presence of deities. So he asked them: “I heard that there are ten kings in this temple. Where are the other five?”
One king replied: “They went to a vegetarian feast.”
Gong Yuan asked whether he could see how they passed judgment.
The five kings declined his request: “Due to strict regulations, you are not allowed to enter hell. But there is a small case, and you can take a look at it from the side!”
Later on, the judge held the trial.
The divine court case
Meanwhile, an underworld officer brought a monk to the court and hung him up above a floor of glowing charcoal.
A Dongyue Temple deity told Gong Yuan: “He is a local temple monk and has collected lots of money by fundraising and soliciting alms. However, he doesn’t spend it on temple renovation, but on drinking and eating meat instead. So he deserves such a punishment!”
Gong Yuan asked: “How can he be exempted?” They replied: “As long as he corrects himself from now on, deities can rescind his penalty.”
He left Dongyue Temple and ordered someone to seek the monk right away. After finding him, it turned out that the monk had a severe boil on his back and would die.
However, after Gong Yuan told that monk what happened at Dongyue Temple, the monk felt regretful and sincerely repented. He then renovated temples with all the money he collected.
In a short period of time, the monk recovered from his illness.
Gong Yuan’s conclusion
From this experience, Gong Yuan concluded that Heaven and earth always know what you think and do. Heaven is always watching your every word and move!
Translated by Joseph Wu