September 21, 1999, is forever etched in the memories of the residents of Taiwan. At 1:47 am, as people slept in their beds, they were suddenly awakened by a loud rumbling sound “similar to noises produced on construction sites,” quickly followed by buildings shaking and objects crashing. It was a major earthquake.
The ‘921’ earthquake
The “921” earthquake, as it has come to be called, measured an incredible 7.3 on the Richter scale and reached a depth of nearly 5 miles (8 km). As the Chelongpu Fault dislocated, severe shaking, which lasted for 102 seconds, was felt by residents across the island.
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The devastating earthquake left more than 2,400 people dead and more than 11,000 injured, in the worst earthquake the island had experienced in over 100 years.
There were not only heavy casualties, but many roads and public facilities were damaged, and more than 50,000 homes were destroyed, resulting in hundreds of billions of dollars in damage. Buildings as far away as the island’s capital of Taipei even collapsed, more than 90 miles from the earthquake’s epicenter.
But amidst the death and destruction, some exceptional incidents also occurred.
Protected by Gods and Buddhas
Despite the destruction, some people remained safe and sound as their homes collapsed, protected by Gods and Buddhas. Mr. Zhong Yongxiang was one of them.
After three days of being trapped in the pile of twisted and deformed reinforced concrete that had been his apartment building, Mr. Zhong was found alive. As rescuers retrieved him, not only was he calm and in good physical condition, but he was even clean and tidy. After being rescued, Mr. Zhong shared his experience, leaving everyone amazed.
Before the earthquake, Mr. Zhong had a relative visit him from his hometown in mainland China. A few days later, as the relative said his thanks and prepared to leave, he casually said: “Your guest room is very cool and comfortable to sleep in. You should give it a try.”
Mr. Zhong forgot about the comment until one day when his wife went to visit their son in Taichung that he suddenly remembered. While he would have generally slept in the main bedroom, he decided to sleep in the guest room after recalling what his relative said.
That night, as he was sleeping quietly, it suddenly seemed the world turned upside down. His apartment building seemed to collapse on itself, and the walls of his room seemed to be squeezed together as if they were about to shatter.
People protecting him
In the next instant, he suddenly saw several people with golden bodies and bald heads supporting the wall that was about to collapse above his head. At the same time, several people also pressed on him as if protecting him.
He thought: “It’s the middle of the night; why are so many people in my room?” Then, as he came to his senses, he finally had the wherewithal to ask, “Who are you?” When he received no answer, he waved his hands about in the dark, but found no one.
As he reached out, he was startled to find that the wall near him was tilted and that he was in a small gap between the wall and the ground. A firm believer in Buddhism, Mr. Zhong immediately thought: “It must have been a Bodhisattva who saved me just now!” So he sat straight up in the small gap and prayed to Buddha.
Three days passed. If most people had been trapped in the rubble, those three days would have felt like years. But Mr. Zhong said: “I just recited the name of Buddha and Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. After that, I didn’t worry about where I was and only felt I would be rescued soon.” And he was right.
After being rescued, Mr. Zhong discovered that the building he lived in had collapsed entirely, all save one small corner of the guest bedroom where he had slept and where a small gap remained. Moreover, all the other rooms had crushed entirely together. So what can explain such a phenomenon?
It turned out that Mr. Zhong was a kind-hearted Chinese medical doctor with excellent skills and was known as the “National Treasure, Master of Acupuncture.” Thanks to his good deeds and virtue, Mr. Zhong planted seeds of blessing for himself, and as a result, he was cared for by Buddha during the great disaster.
When a person holds himself to a higher standard, thinks of others first, and keeps kindness in his heart, he will receive blessings too.