Wei Boyang was from the State of Wu in ancient China. He was from an aristocratic family and loved to pursue the Tao - the Way.
He and three of his disciples went up into the mountains to make the elixir (dan). When it was ready, Wei wanted to test his disciples' hearts. He said, "The dan is ready and I'll give it to the dog. If the dog eats it and it can fly then we will eat it. If the dog dies, we cannot eat it." The dog ate it and died immediately.
Wei Boyang told the disciples, "What we were most afraid of was that we could not make the dan. Now we have made it and the dog died from it. This does not go according to the gods' will. If we take it, we will probably end up like the dog. What should we do?"
The disciples asked, "Master, would you take it?"
Wei Boyang said, "I gave up the secular world and went into the mountains. If I cannot cultivate successfully, it is an insult to me and I would rather die. If I don't die, this will be a testimonial to all of you."
Wei then put the dan in his mouth and died immediately.
The disciples looked at each other and sighed, "We have made the dan to gain longevity. Now if we take it, we will die. What should we do?"
One of the disciples said, "My master is extraordinary and he would not die like this." He, too, took the dan and died.
The other two disciples said, "We have made the dan because we want to live a long life. Since taking the dan will kill us, we can skip that and continue to live for a few more decades." Therefore, the two of them went down the mountain and started to prepare the funeral arrangements.
After two disciples left the mountain, Wei Boyang jumped up, took the dan out of his mouth, and put it into the mouths of his disciple and the dog. In a short while, the disciple and the dog revived. The disciple and Wei Boyang ascended to the sky.
On their way, they met a man who came to the mountain to cut wood. They told the man to relate the message to thank the other two disciples.
The other two disciples heard the news and forever held a heart of regret.
From A Biography of Immortals
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