Story from Ancient China: The Flying Mountain

Lingyin Temple.

Lingyin Temple, northwest of present-day Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. (Image: Nuvisage via Dreamstime)

Once upon a time, it was said that there was a small flying mountain. Sometimes it flew toward the east, and sometimes toward the west. Yet wherever it stopped, many houses were smashed, and many people were killed.

The crazy monk

At that time, a monk was in Lingyin Temple northwest of present-day Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. He acted like a madman, so people called him the “crazy monk.” One day, the crazy monk predicted that the strange flying mountain would fly to the village at noon and stop in front of Lingyin Temple.

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He got up early that day and rushed into the village. He delivered the news door-to-door. He shouted: “Today, a mountain will fly to the village. Therefore, we should evacuate the village as soon as possible; otherwise, it will be too late!” He shouted until his mouth was dry and his lips were cracked, but no one believed him.

The ‘crazy monk’ from Lingyin Temple predicted that a mountain would fly to the village and stop in front of Lingyin Temple. (Image: via Flickr)

The crazy monk kidnaps a bride

The sun rose higher, and the noon hour was approaching. The monk became very anxious. At that moment, he suddenly heard the sound of music, and he ran toward the sound. He saw a wedding taking place, where many people were in attendance.

The crazy monk picked up the bride and carried her on his shoulder as he ran out of the village. The crazy monk kidnapped the bride! The whole town leaped into action. Every man and woman, young and old, chased after the monk.

Carrying the bride, the monk just hurried on. The villagers chased him a dozen kilometers but could not catch up with him. Finally, when the sun rose over their heads, the monk stopped. He put down the bride and sat down on the ground.

The villagers rushed to him and wanted to beat him up. But just at that moment, the sky turned dark. Then, the villagers heard a huge “bang” and saw the flying mountain fall on their village. The people then understood why the crazy monk kidnapped the bride — to save everyone’s life!

The villagers used hammers and chisels to carve 500 Buddha statues on the flying mountain that landed in front of Lingyin Temple to stop them from flying off again.
The villagers used hammers and chisels to carve 500 Buddha statues on the flying mountain that landed in front of Lingyin Temple to stop it from flying off again. (Image: Ruikang Xu via Dreamstime)

Villagers restrain the flying mountain

When the villagers were ready to leave, the monk spoke: “Don’t go; listen to me. The mountain was able to fly into our village; it will fly away from here too. If it flies somewhere else, it might kill others. So we should carve 500 stone Buddhas into the mountain. They can overpower the mountain and it will not fly away to hurt others.”

All the villagers acted immediately. Some of them used hammers, and some of them used chisels. They were busy all night. By morning, 500 stone Arhats were finished, but they realized the Buddhas had no eyes or eyebrows.

The monk said: “I know what to do; let me try!” Using his long fingernails, he scratched the statues’ faces. Soon after, the eyes and eyebrows of the 500-stone Arhats were all fixed.

Since then, this small flying mountain has no longer flown elsewhere, but has always remained in front of Lingyin Temple, and other people were spared from “the flying mountain.”

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