Sacred Places in China

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  The Mandarin's Grave.

FIFTEEN li, or about five English miles, southeast of Kiukiang, near the foot of the Lu Mountains, and on the southwestern slope of the Oak Tree Hill, is the grave of the celebrated Chou Fu Tsz, called in Chinese Lien Chi Mu, Lienchi being the name of his birthplace. To foreigners this place has become a beautiful spot for an afternoon excursion; but to the more devout Chinese it is a sacred sanctuary. If beauty of scenery and balmy air can add anything to the peaceful repose of departed spirits when they see their "mortal coil" surrounded by such lavish gifts of nature, then Chou Fu Tsz can certainly have nothing to regret for having chosen this location. Sheltered from the northern winds, nestled in a little amphitheater-like valley, surrounded by huge trees of many centuries' growth, with the five thousand feet mountain peaks looming up into the clouds, and the Lotus Flower Peak near by, what more could immortal shades desire? Beautiful as it is by nature, the aesthetic taste of man has added much to its picturesque harmony.

Chou Fu Tsz was a native of Hunan, born in Lienchi in the Sung Dynasty in the year 1017 A.D. He was commonly known as Chou Tsz and spoken of as Lien Chi Sienseng, the gentleman from Lienchi. When he was but a child his father died, and his mother was so poor that she brought him to her brothers, whose family name was Chen. When his mother died, she was buried by the side of her brothers' graves. Forty-four years later these graves were destroyed by a flood, and Chou Fu Tsz removed his mother's remains to their present resting place. Two years after this he died, and was buried on the left side of his mother's grave.

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In the year 1488 a prefect of Kiukiang named Tung built an ancestral hall near by and endowed it with real estate property. Fourteen years later a Literary Chancellor named Shao Pao invited the members of the Chou family to worship at this hall.

Within the amphitheater a mound is raised. On top of this mound are the graves, apparently under one cover, shaped like a tortoise. In front of this tortoise-shaped cover five tablets are erected. The middle and largest one is dedicated to his mother, who received the posthumous title usually conferred upon native women of "Taichun." At the upper end of this tablet the two words Tao Ma are engraved (The Source of the Doctrine).

To his mother's left is a tablet containing an inscription written by Peng Yu-lin, the celebrated admiral of the Yangtze: "This is the grave of the Ancient Worthy Lien Chi Chou Tsz of the Sung Dynasty, who received posthumous honors and was named Yuen Kung."

To the left of this is another tablet containing an engraving of Chou Fu Tsz, without date or name of author. How near it resembles the worthy sage no one can tell.

The tablet to his mother's right is in honor of his two wives. His first wife was of the family Leo, the second of the family Chih. It is, however, worthy of mention that they were not his wives contemporaneously. It is believed that polygamy was less popular in those dark mediaeval days than it is now.

On the tablet to the extreme right a beautiful vine is artistically carved into the side and upper part of the stone. Under the vine a boy and girl are standing. They are called Chin Tung and Yu Nu, and are supposed to be the beings who serve as guides to departed spirits over the No-Alternative Bridge--in Purgatory--which all spirits must cross.

Back of the grave is a wall built in the  of a horseshoe, reaching round to the front. In this wall three stone

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tablets are set. The middle and larger one was erected by Peng Yu-lin, and contains the following inscription: "Southeast of Kinkiang, below the Lotus Flower Peak, is the grave of Lien Chi Sienseng. In the spring of the fifth year of Hsien Feng (1856 A.D.), I, with Li Se-ping, brought soldiers to Kiukiang. When we had time we came to this grave to worship. This place was Chou's own choice, and his mother's grave is in the middle. When he died he was buried to his mother's left, and his wives to her right. We found their graves badly dilapidated, so we bought stones and had them repaired. A government student, a corporal, and a descendant of the twenty-second generation of Chou's family managed the repairs. In one month the work was completed.

"That we have had such men as Chou is proof that the doctrine of the ancient Sages still flourishes. If after Confucius and Mencius no other holy men had come, the people under heaven would have followed after temporal honors and riches, and have become idlers like Buddhist priests, none searching the Doctrine of the Ancient Worthies. During the two turbulent periods (from 420 to 554 A.D.) when six dynasties rose and fell (and from 907 to 960) when five dynasties followed in rapid succession, the calamities of the people were great. All because the people of those times did not know or follow the Doctrine of the Ancients. But at last a holy man was born in Hunan--Chou Fu Tsz came. Having no one to instruct him, he devoted himself to private study and meditation, and then wrote the Ting Shu, a calendar advising the people how to do and act according to the Doctrine of the Ancients. Then the people began to understand the teaching of Confucius and Mencius. His instruction was profoundly deep, and also practical for the moral improvement of the people. As he understood the doctrine, others also were kept from error. The teaching in the Kingdom was corrected, the Government again began to flourish, and the evil in the land ceased to prevail. If all would practice the doctrine of benevolence

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and righteousness as Chou did, applying it to their person, virtue would be secured, and in the affairs of life peace assured, and there would be culture among the officials and prosperity among the people. To save from calamity is as if saving from disease. If the constitution is sound and healthy the evil influences of disease can not come upon man. Thus Chou's doctrine was more and more appreciated, as he influenced his times by thinking of and teaching refinement."

On the tablet to the left of this is the following inscription in bold characters: "The Grave of the Nankang Prefect Lien Chi Sienseng. Erected first year of Chia Ching (1522 A.D.) by Kao Yao-ching, Prefect of Nank'angfu."

But the tablet to the right attracts the attention of the visitor above everything else to be seen here. It is called the "T'ai Kih Tao" (the Chart of the Absolute). This inscription is intended to set forth in picture and word the cosmogony of Chou Fu Tsz. A satisfactory translation of this inscription is not an easy task. As very few of the native scholars know anything of the philosophy it purports to advance, a foreigner is sometimes obliged to resort to conjecture, hence we can not claim this to be more than a free translation: "From the U-kih the Infinite to the T'ai kih the Absolute. The Absolute moved and brought forth light, the male principle. Again it moved with greater rapidity and then stood quiet, which brought forth darkness, the female principle. Then the Absolute again moved and the movement and repose were denominated 'Yang' (light) and 'Ying' (darkness). In the Eight Diagrams the symbol of light, or positive principle, consists of a single line, thus --. The symbol of darkness; negative principle consists of a broken line, thus - -. Then light united with darkness and brought forth the five elements: fire, water, earth, metal, and wood. The five vapors--rain, sunshine, heat, cold, and wind--appeared and kept in harmony with the seasons. These elements contained darkness and light caused by the Absolute; and the Absolute

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also contained the five vapors. The Infinite united in deepest mystery with the five elements and the five vapors, and they firmly congealed.

"The Way of Heaven caused the male principle. The Way of Earth caused the female principle. These two acted upon each other and produced the innumerable living creatures. But man endowed by the grace of heaven, the most sagacious, has received a body that contains the functions of five senses and wisdom that enables him to distinguish good from evil. The holy man controls all these in himself and can not be easily disturbed, thus establishing a perfect man. Hence the virtue of the holy man is as great as heaven and earth, and his wisdom as clear as the sun and moon; and as the seasons are regular in their succession, so there is order in all that he does. He knows as if by intuition how to conform his actions so as to obtain the good and avoid the evil. He practices the doctrines in all benevolence and righteousness. As it has been said, if one gives thought to his beginning and end, he can know of life and death. Thus the Doctrine of the Changes is perfect above all other doctrines."

The Doctrine of the Changes referred to in this inscription is the "I King" (Canon of Changes), containing a fanciful system of divination from the combination of diagrams, mysterious in the extreme, called the Eight Diagrams. That this book was extant as far back as history can lead us, there can be no doubt. In the Confucian Analects VII, 14, Confucius says: "If some years were added to my life I would give fifty to the study of the 'I' (Canon of Changes), and might then escape falling into a great error." Such was the faith of the great Sage in the Doctrine of Changes. Hearing of a man here in Kiukiang who is reported to understand the mysteries of the "I," I sent word to him for a little explanation of the Chart of the Absolute, and he replied, "If the gentleman who desires this information is willing to spend a lifetime in studying the 'I,' then he will understand it." As

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the prime of my days is passed, I will not try to master this mysterious monument of antiquity.

Approaching the grave from the entrance, there are two tablets standing below the mound, one to the right and the other to the left. The one to the right is a small moss-covered slab containing the following inscription:

"Chou Fu Tsz deduced his philosophy from the Eight Diagrams, which the Emperor Fu Hsi discovered on the back of a tortoise. The philosopher I Loh is said to have perfected this doctrine. The hills are bare, and man is dead. So the stream vainly flows. For whom is the grass over the grave so beautiful? In the evening it spreads over the ground, and the chilly air makes us sad. (Signed) Li Pa-yang, Prefect of Kiukiang, 1573 A.D." The Emperor Fu Hsi mentioned in this inscription is supposed to have lived 2838 B.C., being the first of the Five Legendary Emperors. He is claimed to have been of miraculous birth, a native of Shan si.

To the left stands a larger tablet, erected by Peng Yu-lin, Admiral of the Yangtze, with this inscription:

"Lienchi Chou Tsz is our Hunan, Taochou man. His grave is below the Oak Tree Hill. In the seventh year of Kwang Hsu (1882), when I was Admiral of the Yangtze, I came to Kiukiang with the Chentai and magistrate of Hu-kou, and we worshiped at the grave. When I saw that our previous repairs were not substantial, I gave money and ordered the Chentai to repair it and build the horseshoe-shaped wall back of the grave, and make a broader entrance. I examined the historic annals of the Sung Dynasty, and found that Chou Fu Tsz's mother's grave, originally at Renchou in Hunan, had been destroyed by a flood, and Chou Fu Tsz had begged the Prefect of Nank'ang to have his mother's grave removed to this place. After this he himself became Prefect of Nankang, and built a home at Lien hwa fung. Two years later he died and was buried to his mother's left. His wives

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are to her right. This can be seen in the official annals of K'anghsi.

"During the Sung Dynasty this place was called Tehhwa Village, with an altar called the Clear Water Shrine. In the year 1215, eighth year of the Emperor Chia Ting of the Southern Sung Dynasty, a minister of state named Wei Liao-wang, passed here and worshiped. When he arrived at the palace in Peking he begged of the Emperor to grant Chou posthumous honors. This was done, and Chou received the name Yuen Kung. In the Ming Dynasty, during the reign of Hung Chih (1490 A.D.), the Prefect of Kiukiang built an ancestral hall near the grave, and named it Yuen Kung Chou Siensing. So I now write with due honors: `The Ancient Worthy Yuen Kung Lienchi Chou Fu Tsz Mu.' This is in accord with ancient propriety. But to repair his grave and worship him is of no benefit to any one, if he does not receive his doctrine. If all who pass here will honor him and follow his example, then his teaching will not have been in vain.

"Now, since the work of repairs is completed, I write these words of commendation, that the chief points of his life may be held in remembrance. All who have aided in these repairs shall have their names inscribed on the opposite of this tablet.

"Done in the tenth year, third moon of Kwang Hsu (April, 1885). Peng Yu-lin."

About two miles northwest of the grave there was a school. Lienchi Chou Fu Tsz loving the sight of the mountains and the fresh water, had a home here. In the year 1850 there was a great flood in the Yangtze Valley, and this home perished, and with it the last material remembrance of this noted man disappeared; but his name will be held in high esteem by his countrymen for ages to come.

The classic pilgrim who desires to visit this shrine will find it on his way to Kuling, five li from Shihlipu, turning to the left at this village.

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Sacred Places in China

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