Ancient Cultivation Story: Lady Wang

After her father left with his brother, Lady Wang moved with her true mother, Ms. Liu, and her adopted mother, Ms. Pei, to the Guiyan Mountain of Hufuzhu in Yixing County of Changzhou, which was very near the Dongling Taoist temple. She refrained from eating meat and drinking alcohol. She was a great poet and musician. She practiced tranquility and advocated living without intent. When she grew up, she took a vow of celibacy.

She often read “Morality” in Chapter 39 of the Shangqing Dadong Real Scripture. A strange fragrance always permeated her room. Both of her mothers thought her an unusual girl and respected her very much. One day she caught a minor illness. Ms. Pei and Ms. Liu went to the Dongling Taoist temple to fast and pray for her. On the second day, she felt better and went with them to burn incense and pray. They didn’t return home until daybreak the following day. She sat on a stone to the right of the gate of the temple, and inscribed a poem, “When I stop to rest while playing with water and climbing the mountain, many Gods frequently come down to listen to my reciting of poems. I’m not attached to life in this world, as two cranes can be seen flying on the horizon.” That night Lady Wang suddenly passed away. When day broke, there were two cranes perched in a tree in her courtyard. Celestial music filled her bedroom, which was magically fragrant. People far and wide were so surprised that they went to her home to see what had happened.

One of her neighbours reported the event to the Hufu Town Magistrate, but by then the two cranes had flown away. The magistrate thought that the neighbor was lying so he jailed him. Ms. Pei and Ms. Liu thought the neighbour was treated unjustly, so they burned joss sticks and told Lady Wang, “If you have truly become a celestial being, please let the cranes come down again to eliminate this injustice. Don’t let him stay in jail.” Shortly thereafter, the two cranes returned to the courtyard. The neighbour was then released. Ten days later, the two cranes flew away. Lady Wang’s family was finally ready to bury her under the Guiyan Mountain. But when the coffin was lifted, it felt very light, and the magical fragrance wafted from it. When they opened the coffin, all they found were clothes and shoes.

(Excerpt from “Taiping Guangji”)

Chinese version available at

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