He later begot two sons; one was named Tian Ci—Bestowment of Heaven, and the other was Tian Qi—Inspiration of Heaven. These two sons were granted upon his request. But he did not ask for longevity as he did not want to live to an old age. Nevertheless he still lived up to seventy-four years and was not considered to be short-lived.
His entire life was quite unusual. He was able to alter his own destiny. This layman originally had great potential. He was skilled in medicine, mathematics, the fine arts (string instruments, chess, calligraphy and painting), music, irrigation works, military affairs and the like—he simply knew them all. He had achieved a lot. Later he could completely transform his own destiny. This is something we should emulate. This is a rough account of his entire life. He wrote
The Four Teachings that circulated in the country. The Four Teachings is the study of creating one’s own life, the method of correcting one’s faults, the way of accruing goodness, and the efficacy of of modesty. These four aspects are well explained in
The Four Teachings of Liao Fan. These Four Teachings were the family instruction he used to teach his two sons. The philosophical principles in it are worth studying.
A verse in praise says:
Imprudently believing in fate, he simply sat around submitting to Heaven’s will.
Ascending the mountains and frolicking in the waters, he enjoyed boundless bliss.
Fortunately he met Master Yun Gu and thus changed his course of action and made a fresh start.
He created a new life and was bestowed with a continuous lineage of offspring.
Imprudently believing in fate, he simply sat around submitting to Heaven’s will. Since he was confused by the incorrect theory of fate, he lost his own self-mastery. Therefore, he simply sat around submitting to the will of Heaven. He sat at a place waiting for Heaven to send him bread and steak, or since he was in China, maybe it was pork chops. He simply waited for all these, doing nothing.
Ascending the mountains and frolicking in the waters. He climbed up the mountains to take a look and enjoyed himself in the waters.
He enjoyed boundless bliss. He felt free and at ease, seeking nothing, coveting nothing! Being content with one’s lot, one is constantly joyful. In this sense he was doing well.
Fortunately he met Master Yun Gu and thus changed his course of action and made a fresh start. His life was totally transformed.
He created a new life, and was bestowed with a continuous lineage of offspring. His line of descendants was continuous and unbroken. His life was also quite long!
Another verse says:
Physiognomist Master Kong predicted that he would have neither longevity nor sons.
Having no affinity for an official career, he lived in the woods in seclusion.
Since his fate was predetermined, he was not covetous.
An eminent monk instructed him in the law of causation.
A virtuous sage taught him to keep a record on good and evil.
The Four Teachings was circulated to awaken those in muddled dreams.
He serves as an example for the people—every one of us should strive to improve ourselves.
Physiognomist Master Kong predicted that he would have neither longevity nor sons. He would not live to an old age, but would pass away on the 14th day of the 8th month during the period Chou (the period from 1 to 3 a.m.). Therefore, his life would not be very long. Neither would he have a son.
Having no affinity for an official career. He did not have much affinity for officialdom. Therefore,
he lived in the woods in seclusion.
Since his fate was predetermined, he was not covetous. He thought that one’s fate was predestined.
An eminent monk instructed him in the law of causation. The eminent monk of that time was Dhyana Master Yun Gu. He taught him about the law of cause and effect, which is, one reaps as one has sown. If one plants good causes one will receive good results; likewise, if one plants evil causes one will receive bad retributions. This is not fixed. The law of cause and effect is not fixed, in that it depends on what you do. There is the path of goodness and the path of evil. Each of us goes his own way—some cultivate goodness and some create evil.
A virtuous sage taught him to keep a record of good and evil. The record of good and evil refers to a record of merits and faults. Through the teaching and guidance of a great sage and worthy one, Yuan “corrected evil doings and reverted to good deeds”. Then he wrote, “If you plant good causes you will receive good results; likewise, if you plant evil causes you will receive bad retributions” as he was taught by a virtuous sage of that time.
The Four Teachings was circulated to awaken those in muddled dreams. People confused by
feng shui and fate hopefully could draw lessons from his experience, and no longer superstitiously believe in
feng shui and predestination like Yuan Liao Fan who had been bound by his fate during the first half of his life. One should be more proactive instead. His Four Teachings awakened people in the world who were caught up in muddled dreams.
He serves as an example for the people. Yuan Liao Fan was a role model for the people in the world.
Every one of us should strive to improve ourselves. Since we now understand this principle, we have to make an unremitting effort to improve ourselves. It is said, “One who was once in a farmhouse can later ascend to the Tathagata hall.” “All Buddhas are basically without differences in kind. Both men and women should strive to improve themselves.” Don’t simply say that men should strive to improve themselves. Now men and women have equal rights. Therefore, both men and women should strive for the better, or shall we say, everyone should strive for the better.