Today we will
discuss the Filial Son’s Grave, which stood in the way of a large
highway being built in Changchun, Manchuria. This is the story of
Mengxing [meng means “dream” and xing means “awaken”] Wang woke up from
his dream, but Mengyi Lee hasn’t woken up yet.
Mengxing Wang was born in Changchun, Jilin Province, during the Guangxu
reign period at the end of the Qing dynasty.
He was a born cultivator. To him, life seemed like a dream. Wealth,
honor, fame, and family all seemed like part of a dream. The question
was, when would one wake up from the dream? When his parents passed
away, he built a hut by their graveside and stayed there to observe the
practice of filial piety.
During that time, he abstained
from cooked food. He ate only raw food, in particular raw rice. He only
ate a handful of it each day. However much rice he took in one handful,
that was what he would use to sustain himself for the day. Did he buy
the rice himself and keep it stored up? No. If people gave him rice, he
would eat a handful of it. If no one sent him rice, he would go
without. When people found out that he ate only a handful of rice each
day, many people started bringing rice to him. However, he would eat
only the first handful of rice that he received. Any rice that people
sent him after that, he would not eat.
During that period, there was an
army commander named Cao Kun, whose position was equivalent to that of
a present-day batallion commander. He often went to pay his respects to
and converse with the Filial Son.
In time, the word spread that the
Filial Son had attained the Way and had great spiritual skill. Many
people considered him a Living Immortal, a Bodhisattva in the flesh,
and a great filial son, and they eagerly made offerings to him.
Although they made many offerings
to him, he still ate only one handful of rice a day. They also placed
coins and bank notes next to him, thinking that he might want them.
Since he was looked upon as a sage, a very rare person, people were
eager to make offerings. The money placed next to him probably grew to
a considerable sum.
In those days, Changchun was a
bustling city inhabited by people of many different nationalities.
Filial Son Wang received a great quantity of money offerings. Someone
even placed a basket next to him so that people could toss money into
it. Sometimes the paper money would be blown away by the wind, or other
people would come and help themselves to it. But Filial Son Wang didn’t
try to stop them. He let them take as much as they wished.
Some vagrants and evil-minded
people became envious and started saying, “How come he doesn’t pick up
all the money scattered about? Why does he let people help themselves
to it? He must have lots of money. If he were poor, he wouldn’t be so
careless about the money lying about. We ought to hold him up tonight
and force him to hand over his riches. If he refuses, we’ll kill him.”
So they banded together and went to rob him during the night.
The bandits approached the place
where he was sitting and demanded, “Hand over all the money and
valuables that people have given you. If you don’t cooperate, you’ll be
killed tonight. It’s your money or your life!”
Actually, Mengxing Wang hadn’t
taken any of the money that people had given him, not even a single
cent. How could he buy off these thugs who wanted his life? But when he
told them he had no money, they didn’t believe him. They said, “There’s
so much money lying around you and you don’t even want it. People come
and take it as they please. You must have another cache of valuables
hidden away somewhere.” The thugs would spare his life only if he paid
them off, but he told him, “I’ve got no money!”
“Fine, then we’ll kill you.” They
took out a knife and slit his throat. Then, seeing that he really had
no money, they left him to die.
The next day, the local constable
discovered Filial Son Wang gasping for breath and asked him, “Who did
this to you? There are American, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, and French
people in this place. When we say the nationality of the killers, nod
your head. For example, when we ask you if it was Americans, nod your
head if it was and shake your head if it wasn’t.” They used this method
because he was unable to talk by then.
They asked him, “Was it the
Americans?” He shook his head.
“Was it the British?” He shook his head.
“Was it the Japanese?” Again, he shook his head.
“Was it the Russians?” He shook his head.
“Did the French do it?” He shook his head.
“Did the Chinese do it?” He shook his head.
No matter what nationality they said, he shook his head.
“Then it must be Heaven who wants
you to die!” said the constable. Filial Son Wang finally nodded
affirmatively. “Well, if Heaven has doomed you to die, we can’t punish
Heaven for taking your life. There’s nothing we can do.” And so Filial
Son Wang died there, right beside his mother’s grave.
Later, when the Japanese occupied
Manchuria and set up the puppet state of Manchukuo with its capital at
Changchun (renamed Xinjing, “New Capital”), they began constructing the
Datong Highway. It was to be the broadest and the best highway in
Changchun. But when the construction reached the Filial Son’s Grave,
the grave was right in the middle of the highway’s path. The workers
decided to move the grave to another location. However, whoever tried
to dig up the grave either passed out, was injured in the process, or
suffered some other sort of accident. When they saw that relocating the
grave was proving to be troublesome, they reported the situation to
Japan. The leaders in Japan didn’t believe it could be that difficult,
and ordered that the grave be blasted. They dropped bombs on it from
the air, but the bombs didn’t go off. Then they had Kang De (the former
Qing Emperor Xuantong) issue an imperial decree to move the grave.
Despite all of this, the grave remained untouched in its original
place, in the path of the new highway. No one was able to dig it up.
Finally they heard a voice coming from inside the grave. The voice said,
I spent many years on the cushion,
sitting in meditation—
Cultivating my body, nurturing my nature, and guarding my
It is not yet time for my mother’s bones to be moved.
Only by heaven’s decree can my grave be relocated.
I spent many years on the cushion,
sitting in meditation— / Cultivating my body, nurturing my nature, and
guarding my true source. Mengxing Wang was talking about himself. He
said he had spent many years meditating, “nurturing the ground of the
mind and fostering the sky of the nature,” that is, not getting angry
and not losing his temper. He protected what was true in himself. It is
not yet time for my mother’s bones to be moved.
The time has not come to move her body. Only
by heaven’s decree can my grave be relocated. My grave can be moved
only if heaven wills it. Not just anyone can decide to move it.
Therefore, the grave was not moved from the middle of the highway. It
still stands there now, all by itself.
Just about everyone in Manchuria
knows about the Filial Son’s Grave. It’s a very efficacious place to
pray, and people travel long distances to go and light incense there. I
myself have visited the grave, and I also stayed overnight at that old
Taoist cultivator’s temple.
A verse in praise says:
Wake up! Wake up!
Fame and profit are but bubbles and shadows.
He gave the utmost importance
To the filial act of guarding his parent’s
Tattered rags, raw rice, and plain water
Were enough to sustain his life.
When thugs came to rob his money,
He remained fearless even to his death.
Wake up! Wake up! / Fame and profit are but
bubbles and shadows. Mengxing Wang really woke up from his
dream. How do we know? By the fact that he had no desire for fame or
benefit. He saw that fame and profit were as ephemeral as bubbles and
He gave the utmost
importance / To the filial act of guarding his parent’s grave.
He felt that living by his mother’s graveside in observance of filial
piety was extremely imporant. He was absolutely determined to carry out
his vow to do this.
Tattered rags, raw rice,
and plain water / were enough to sustain his life. He ate raw
rice, wore tattered clothes, and drank a bit of water. That was all he
needed to sustain himself.
When thugs came to rob his
money, he remained fearless even to his death. He felt no
fear even when he died.
Another verse says:
With great vows, great filiality, and a great
Single-mindedly he stayed by the grave, never
Under the stars and moon, he kept his kind
Unconcerned about his own life and death, he
remained by the grave.
When the Japanese tyrants tried to move his
grave, he stood firm and strong.
The heavenly spirits protected him and people
called it a miracle.
Everyone knows that, in the middle of the
Lies the grave of an exceptional man of
With great vows, great filiality, and a great
Bodhi resolve. Mengxing Wang was a person with lofty
aspirations, tremendous filial piety, and a great resolve for Bodhi. Single-mindedly
he stayed by the grave, never leaving it. He wholeheartedly
practiced filial piety by his mother’s grave, not taking so much as a
single step away from it.
Under the stars and moon,
he kept his kind mother company. Day and night, he remained
by the grave, undaunted by the elements. Extreme cold, extreme heat,
strong winds, or frost did not deter him. Unconcerned about
his own life and death, he remained by the grave. Death
didn’t intimidate him. He was determined to fulfill his filial duties
even if he had to die.
When the Japanese tyrants
tried to move his grave, he stood firm and strong. He was
unmoving, like a mountain. The heavenly spirits protected him
and people called it a miracle. The spirits came to guard him,
and the people of the world thought it was a miracle.
Everyone knows that, in
the middle of the Changchun highway, / Lies the grave of an exceptional
man of virtue. The people of Manchuria all know that that
virtuous man, the greatly filial Mengxing Wang, was a very exceptional
individual. It is extremely rare to find a person in the world with
such great vows, such great filial piety, and such a great Bodhi
Celebrations in May
April 28 - May 22 (lunar 3/11 -
4/6) Ten Thousand Buddhas Jewelled Repentance (Boundaries will
be purified on the evening of April 27)
May 2 (lunar 3/15) Great Master Chang Zh Leaving Home Day
May 3 (lunar 3/16) Venerable Master Hsuan Hua Birthday
May 4 (lunar 3/17) Great Master Chang Ren Birthday
May 19 (lunar 4/3) Sunday Celebration of Shakyamuni Buddha
May 20 (lunar 4/4) Manjushri Bodhisattva Birthday
May 24 (lunar 4/8) Shakyamuni Buddha Birthday (actual day)
May 26 (lunar 4/10 Cherishing Youth Day
May 31 (lunar 4/15) Tally-taking for Sangha Summer Retreat
For more information, contact the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas or the
nearest branch of Dharma Realm Buddhist Association.