Stories from Ancient China: Human Hearts Are as Clear as a Mirror

As the curtain is slowly drawn open for the 2008 New Year Spectacular, the magnificence and splendour of 5,000 years of Chinese culture reveals itself before our eyes. This culture has been created and left behind by divine beings and overseen by the Lord Supreme. One of the beautiful scenes in the Spectacular is from the Tang Dynasty, the pinnacle of Chinese culture. In the background, the Da Ming Palace is depicted from the time the Tang Dynasty was at its peak in the areas of literature and the martial arts.

Many Chinese are familiar with two proverbs related to Da Ming Palace: "Ming Jing Gao Xuan" ("As clear as a mirror hanging up high"), and "Zheng Da Guang Ming" ("Righteously and nobly"). The proverbs refer to the open and unbiased nature of all the issues resolved by the imperial court, always with righteousness and nobility, and unblemished, like a clear mirror that hangs high.

To the imperial court ministers, the proverbs served as constant reminders, and they were also the expectations of the people.

"Clear mirror hangs up high" was formerly termed "Qin mirror hangs up high." Why so? To understand the origin of the phrase, one has to look back to the Qin Dynasty. It was said that the Qin mirror was made from jade. It had been carefully kept by emperor Qin Shihuang in the Xianyang imperial court. The mirror had a special function. When one looked at the mirror from the front, it reflected the image upside down. If the person rubbed his hand over the chest, then the internal organs of the person could also be clearly seen. More interestingly, it could also distinguish the loyal from the disloyal ministers in the imperial court, as well as foretell the rise and fall of a state... indeed it was a state treasure. However, Emperor Qin used the mirror only to look at the ladies in the imperial court. Whenever he spotted some ambitious people, he treated them as traitors and had them killed. His son, Qin the Second, was worse. He killed innumerable people, but left behind Minister Zhao Gao, who finally betrayed him. So the great State of Qin, once respected and feared by the Tartars, finally collapsed during the rule of Qin the Second.

When Liu Bang, the first emperor of the Han Dynasty, won the war and took over the capital city Xianyang, Xiao, he advised the emperor to close down all the imperial courts, including Xianyang court and Ah Pang court, and not to remove any of the gold and treasure or take away any women, children or animals. But what he did take from the Qin palace were all the books and scrolls, and the acclaimed treasure of the state - the Qin mirror. When the Han Dynasty came to an end, all of the leaders scattered, and the whereabout of the Qin mirror was a mystery. The mirror resurfaced a few hundred years later, when Emperor Tang Tai Zong gave the order to rebuild the Yong An Court into a palace.

While excavating at the Yong An court site, the Qin mirror was unearthed. Accompanied by the two ministers, Fang Yuanling and Wei Zheng, Tai Zong personally visited the site. The following famous legend about the Qin mirror had since been handed down.

After hearing Fang Yuanling and Wei Zheng's discuss the importance of the Qin mirror, Tai Zong sighed and said, "What do I need this mirror for? I already have a mirror many thousand times better than this Qin mirror!" Wei Zheng blushed on hearing that. Unable to comprehend, Fang Yuanling asked, "Your majesty, where is this mirror of yours? Can we see it?" Patting Wei Zheng's shoulder, Tai Zhong said, "My beloved Minister Wei, you are my mirror!" After saying this, he laughed aloud.

In seriousness, Tai Zong said, "With a copper mirror, I can see my attire. Taking history as my mirror, I can see the rise and fall of history. Looking at my people, I understand one's loss and gain. My beloved Minister Wei, all the time you have been reminding me of loss and gain, and of the ups and downs in history. Are you not like a clear mirror to me, hanging up high? To commemorate our 'mirror' meeting today," Tai Zong continued, "I will rename this Yong An Court the Da Ming Palace." Everyone applauded. From then on, the name Da Ming Palace spread far and wide.

When the Da Ming Palace was finally completed, emperor Tai Zong designated the Qin mirror as the founding treasure of the palace. Henceforth, the Changan scholars claimed that the imperial Da Ming Palace on the dragon plain could be seen to illuminate the sky at night, as if the palace was sat in broad daylight. However, Tai Zong never moved into the Da Ming Palace to live. He stayed behind in the Tai Qi Palace, helped by Wei Zheng and other able ministers with his administration. For the first time in history "governing by virtue" was established, and that brought the Tang Dynasty acclaim, honour, and prosperity.

Several thousand years have gone by. The former glory of the Da Ming Palace has long been buried beneath the ground. But the legend of the "clear mirror" and how the Tang Dynasty was governed with virtue still remains in people's heart. It reflects the corruption of today's communist regime, and the notoriety and lawlessness of today's degenerating world.

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