May 2, 2006 at 10:16 am #13506
A Cultivation Story Cypress Leaves
The Taoist Master Cypress Leaves’ real name was Tian Luan, and he lived in the ancient city of Chang’an. His family had a history of holding official posts that went back for generations, and was very rich when he was born. However, five or six of his brothers all died early at the age of no more than thirty. When he turned 25, his mother became very worried about his health. He was very afraid too.
Tian Luan was told that the Taoist people owned magic skills that saved them from aging and dying. He then went to Hua Moutain with a sincere heart, asking about and searching for Taoist Masters. One day he arrived at an area tens of miles away from the foot of the mountain and met a Taoist priest coming down from the mountain. Tian Luan went over and greeted him with respect, asking him about secrets of a long life. The priest pointed to a cypress tree and said, “This is an elixir! It is not necessary to go anywhere further and deeper. Just ask yourself how strong your will is.”
Tian Luan asked for the ingredients. The priest said, “Keep taking the cypress leaves without interruption and you will make it.” Tian Luan then dried the leaves in the sun, ground them into powder and took them. Gradually he began to eat less and less meat or fish. He took it very seriously and approached with single-mindedness. After sixty to seventy days, he felt no special effects, but merely felt agitated and hot. But he kept eating the powder without ceasing. Two years later, he began to run a headache and fever, and sores appeared everywhere around his body. His mother cried and said, “These leaves’ purpose was for long life at the beginning but now they are putting his life in danger.” Nevertheless, Tian Luan didn’t give up. Seven or eight years later, he found the fever much more serious, accompanied with a strong burning sensation, and no one was able to approach him. People could smell the odor of cypress leaves coming out of his body. His sores even began to fester. A kind of yellow liquid flowed out of them and turned glue-like in texture after it dried. His mother believed he was dying like his brothers. Suddenly one day, Tian Luan said, “I feel better today. I want to take a bath.” He asked people to put a big basin of water in his room. They carried and put him into the big basin. He had seldom slept after getting the disease. Just then, he suddenly wanted to. He asked people around to leave the room and close the door and not to make any noises that would wake him up. He fell asleep in the basin. Three days later, he woke up and called for people to lift him up. His sores had all disappeared and he was in high spirits with clean and clear skin. His eyebrows and beard had turned black with a trace of green. He also found himself with perfect eyesight and hearing. He said, “I had a dream while sleeping. Pairs of Taoist priests, carrying banners and whisks, led me to visit Shangqing (the Taoist heaven), where I saw all of the celestial beings from ancient times. All of them said to each other, ‘Taoist Master Cypress Leaves has come.’ They taught me celestial skills, carved my name with golden characters onto a jade tablet, and stored it up in Shangqing. They said, ‘You need to stay in the human world for cultivation for now. We’ll bring you here later when there is a vacancy.” They then brought me back.”
After that, Tian Luan no longer ate food, but didn’t feel hungry. He lived in seclusion in the city of Songyang. During the Zhengyuan period, he was already one hundred and twenty-three years old, and still looked very young. Suddenly one day, he talked to his disciples and then suddenly died without an obvious cause. His face remained the same. It might be the phenomenon of “Corpse-Extrication”. When he passed away, there was unusually sweet smell lingering around his room and music coming from the sky. It was said he had gone to visit Qingdu for an appointment among the celestial beings.
Eating cypress leaves in itself doesn’t work for long life. But Tian Luan was firm and never gave up, which reflected his strong will and desire to cultivate. So the celestial beings, after he passed their test, purified his body and taught him celestial skills.
(Story from Tai Ping Guang Ji)
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