During the Dali Period of the Tang Dynasty, Emperor Daizong had a vivid dream. In the dream a man told him, There is an emperors altar situated on Taihua Mountain. If you can find it and conduct a worship ceremony there, you will receive great blessings. The Emperor immediately sent one of his officials with the surname Wei to the Taihua Mountain in search of the altar.
When Mr. Wei reached the base of the mountain, the governor had arranged a reception for him. A hotel had been reserved and a big banquet was waiting. The governor also ordered all of the guests in the hotel to leave. An old man told the hotel manager, Mr. Wei will be gone after his meal. I am old and sick and can hardly walk. Can I just stay in my room? I promise that I will not leave it. The manager agreed to the old man's requests. Soon Wei arrived at the hotel. Later that night Mr. Wei heard coughs coming from one of the rooms in the hotel. He asked, Who is there? He sent one of his men to take a look. The man returned and said, It is an old man. Mr. Wei summoned the old man and asked him about his family name. The old man replied, My surname is Wei.
Mr. Wei said, We have the same family name. We can probably figure out how our families are related. So he invited the old man to eat with him. The old man asked Mr. Wei his grandfathers and great grandfathers names. Mr. Wei told him. He also told the old man that his great grandfather believed in Taoism and did not seek worldly interests. During the Sui Dynasty, his great grandfather had gone to Taihua mountain to practise cultivation, but his whereabouts were unknown. The old man sighed with emotion and said, I am your great grandfather. My name is Wei Ji. I have two sons. You are a great grandson of my second son. I could never imagine that we would meet like this! Mr. Wei burst into tears and knelt down on the ground to kowtow to the old man. The old man stopped him and said, Your great grandmother is also still alive and two of your fathers great aunts are also living in the mountain. As it is the Hanshi festival I came down here to buy some cosmetics for them. I have a bag of dried poria (a Chinese herb). I am going to sell them and buy them some cosmetics. Mr. Wei said, The Emperor wanted me to look for an immortal altar in the mountain. The local government and the mountain villagers don't know where it is. Do you know about it? The old man said, To the southwest of the Middle Peak of the Lotus Mountain, there is an old altar. It might be the place you are seeking. It could be the immortal altar, but I am not really sure. That night the old man and Mr. Wei stayed together. The old man did not eat anything. He only drank a little wine and soup made of ginseng and poria.
The next day Mr. Wei left in search of the altar. The old man told him, I am going with you. Mr. Wei offered his horse to the old man. The old man said, You ride the horse. I have my stick and I will set off first. Even though Mr. Wei was riding a horse, the old man always managed to stay thirty steps ahead of the horse. At the base of the mountain the road became very bumpy and steep making it impossible for the horse to go any further. Mr. Wei got off the horse and walked into the mountain valley with the old man. They walked about one li (0.8 of a mile) and came to a house. There were three women there. The old man said to Mr. Wei, These are your great grandmothers and the great aunts of your father. With tears in his eyes Mr. Wei knelt down to kowtow to them . His grandmother was in her seventies or eighties. His fathers great aunts looked like they were in their forties. Their hair hung down loosely. They were very happy to see Mr. Wei. They said to him, How time flies! We now have a great grandson! They were excited about it for quite a while. Afterwards, Mr. Wei and the old man climbed up the mountain to look for the altar. The mountain was steep and Mr. Wei began to falter in his steps towards the top. The old man on the other hand, climbed very fast and he smiled at Mr. Wei. They came to the southwest part of the middle peak and found an altar there. Mr. Wei cleaned the altar and held a worship ceremony. He placed a sign at the altar and returned to the old mans stone house. Mr. Wei told his grandfather that he had to return home. He said, After I report to the Emperor in the capital city, I will ask for a leave and come back to visit you. The old man said to him, You should make every effort to assist the Emperor.
Mr. Wei went back to the capital and reported in detail what had happened in the mountain. The Emperor felt so surprised. He asked Mr. Wei to go back to the mountain with the Emperors invitation asking the old grandfather to help in the imperial court. When Mr. Wei returned to the mountain, he could not find his original route. After a few days of searching he gave up. Mr. Wei asked several old people living at the foot of the mountain about the old luminary. The old people said, When we were young, we would see the old man coming every two or three years. He always looked the same. But we do not know where he lives. Mr. Wei looked towards the mountains peak and cried sadly. He then returned to the capital city where he met the disappointed Emperor. He asked the official in charge of the history section to record this incident in great detail.
Chinese version available at http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2003/4/6/21087.html
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