The soldiers under Yue were tough and well-tested in combat, and so the moment the troops of Jin Wuzhu heard of their coming, they were terrified and fled at the mere sight of the oncoming force. In the battle at the garrison post of Zhuxian, the Jin soldiers suffered an especially great defeat, and that was when the fame and might of the army of Yue reached its peak. Yue Fei resolved to conquer the country of Jin right then and there, directly attacking Jin Wuzhu’s house and capturing all of those inside.
Because the army of Yue gained victory after victory, Jin Wuzhu was unable to take the onslaught of its military might. Hence he bribed Qin Kuai to try his best to broker peace in the imperial court and to think of a way to eliminate Yue Fei who was a thorn in his flesh. Qin Kuai falsely used the emperor’s order, and in the space of a day, issued twelve counterfeit gold tablets successively to Yue Fei to recall him back to the capital, and to halt the battle that he was waging with the Jin soldiers. Although “a general in the battlefield has the right to disregard the command of the ruler,” it was extremely unusual to receive twelve imperial gold tablets successively within a day. Moreover, Yue Fei did not know that the gold tablets were counterfeit and so he made haste to return to the capital.
Yue Fei had taken refuge in the Triple Jewel, and on his way back to the capital, he passed by Jiangtian Monastery on Gold Mountain and decided to visit his Master, Dhyana Master Dao Yue. When they met, he asked his Master, “Is it auspicious or not to return to the capital this time?” Dhyana Master Dao Yue dissuaded him from returning and told him that it would be best to leave the home-life under him. But Yue Fei felt that the country was then beset with many problems, so how could he wash his hands of the affairs of the country? Dhyana Master Dao Yue knew that he had made up his mind, and so he said no more to try and change his mind but gave him a verse:
The year’s end is not complete; beware of Heaven’s tears;
Two dots below the word ‘feng’ will harm one greatly.
Usually the 30th of the twelfth month is the last day of the year, but that year the twelfth month was a short one, and only had 29 days. The day after the 29th would be the New Year, and hence that was what was meant by ‘the year’s end is not complete’. It was a hint to Yue Fei that he was to be extremely careful on that day and beware of Heaven’s tears. Even Heaven would cry that day, so it was a sign that something ominous was about to happen. Adding two dots below the word ‘feng’ would make the word ‘qin’ and ‘will harm one greatly’ meant that he would be killed. This verse was a warning that returning to the capital was not a wise move, but Yue Fei did not understand what it was all about at that time. Furthermore, he felt that he had been single-minded in serving his country and had not committed any mistakes, so what was there to be afraid of? Hence he decided to return to find out what the matter was; this was a case of foolish loyalty.
Because Qin Kuai had forged the counterfeit gold tablets, he could not allow Yue Fei to have an audience with the emperor. He ordered his men to seize him and his following and throw them all into prison. It was then the 29th of the twelfth month, and with the charge of “No reason needed,” he muddle-headedly had Yue Fei beheaded at Fengbo Pavilion. This is a case of a deluded person killing a clear-minded person.
Before Yue Fei died, he let out a long sigh and exclaimed, “I regret not having listened to the words of Dhyana Master Dao Yue, and now I die in vain here, not having understood what had happened, and am no help to the country. It is really a case of ‘confused I come, confused I go, and I am covered in a blanket of confusion before I die’.”
After Yue Fei’s death, Qin Kuai asked the person who put Yue Fei to death ( not the official executioner, for Yue Fei was secretly killed), “Before Yue Fei died, what did he say?” That person replied, “Yue Fei said, ‘I regret not having listened to Dhyana Master Dao Yue’s advice, and so now I must be beheaded.” When Qin Kuai heard this, he thought, “That Dhyana Master Dao Yue is really something! How can he be allowed to live?” He immediately ordered He Li to capture Dhyana Master Dao Yue.
Even before He Li had reached Gold Mountain Monastery, Dhyana Master Dao Yue was already aware of his coming and said,
“I am now thirty-nine, and yet everyday there is trouble;
Not for any reason other than that I had said too much.
He Li is coming from the east but I am off to the West;
Were it not for the greatness of the Buddhadharma, wouldn’t I have fallen into his hands?”
“I am already thirty-nine years old, and yet day in day out there is trouble. There isn’t any special reason for it but just that I had spoken too much.” So it’s best not to talk. “He Li is coming from the east, but I am now going to the West. If it weren’t for the wonderful and inconceivable Buddhadharma, wouldn’t I have fallen into Qin Kuai’s hands?” After saying these words, Dhyana Master Dao Yue sat in lotus-posture and entered stillness. When He Li arrived at Gold Mountain Monastery and took a look, the Dhyana Master had already entered stillness and so he returned empty-handed to report to Qin Kuai.
Distinguished Warrior Yue was loyal and righteous all his life, and traveled ten thousand miles for the sake of his countrymen. Unfortunately his noble ambition was not fulfilled, and he was muddle-headedly put to death at Fengbo Pavilion. He was only thirty-nine years old when he died. The outcry over his death has not died down even now. Later the Song emperor Ningzong came to know that he was a loyal minister and had him buried in honor by the bank of West Lake in Hangzhou. He was posthumously conferred the title of ‘Distinguished Warrior and Duke of Hubei’.
Later, people, hating Qin Kuai for his treachery in killing the loyal and good, cast an iron statue of him and his wife kneeling before Yue Fei’s grave in repentance. The ancients have a couplet that expresses this aptly, “The mountains are fortunate to hold the bones of the loyal; the iron, though guiltless, was used to cast the statue of a treacherous minister.” The mountains are very fortunate in that they bury the body of a loyal minister, but the unfortunate iron, though it had not committed any crimes, is used to cast the image of a traitorous official, and has to endure the insults and censure of all people. Anyone who goes to Yue Fei’s tomb to pay his or her respect to him would inevitably give the iron statue of the kneeling Qin Kuai a kick. So the statue of Qin Hui is rusty all over, except for the buttocks, which are shiny because of the kicks aimed at that spot.
Although an iron figure is not afraid of kicks and does not feel pain, this shows the retribution that befalls a treacherous minister: even after death, his corpse is still flogged by people. This is a warning to people of the present and future generations to emulate Yue Fei’s loyalty and integrity and leave a lasting legacy that is honored generation after generation, and not to follow the traitorous behavior of Qin Kuai and be reviled for ten thousand years.
To be continued