Myths and Legends of China
Restraints on Freedom
Sun went to look for his uncle. Hearing this, many Buddhist priests surrounded him, hoping to be recognized as his lost relative. After a while he smiled. They asked him the reason. He said: “Why do you make no progress? Life is not meant for idleness.” They said: “We cannot do anything. We are terribly oppressed.”
Buddhists As Slaves in Slow-cart Country
Immortal for Suffering
They replied: “A great number have died. At one time we numbered more than two thousand. But through deaths and suicides there now remain only about five hundred. And we who remain cannot die. Ropes cannot strangle us, swords cannot cut us; if we plunge into the river we cannot sink; poison does not kill us.” Sun said: “Then you are fortunate, for you are all Immortals.” “Alas!” said they, “we are immortal only for suffering. We get poor food. We have only sand to sleep on. But in the night hours spirits appear to us and tell us not to kill ourselves, for an Arhat will come from the East to deliver us. With him there Page 355is a disciple, the Great Holy One, the Equal of Heaven, most powerful and tender-hearted. He will put an end to these Taoists and have pity on us Buddhists.”
The Saviour of the Buddhists
Inwardly Sun was glad that his fame had gone abroad. Returning to the city, he met the two chief Taoists. They asked him if he had found his relative. “Yes,” he replied, “they are all my relatives!” They smiled and said: “How is it that you have so many relatives?” Sun said: “One hundred are my father’s relatives, one hundred my mother’s relatives, and the remainder my adopted relatives. If you will let all these priests depart with me, then I will enter the city with you; otherwise I will not enter.” “You must be mad to speak to us in this way. The priests were given us by the King. If you had asked for a few only, we might have consented, but your request is altogether unreasonable.” Sun then asked them three times if they would liberate the priests. When they finally refused, he grew very angry, took his magic spear from his ear and brandished it in the air, when all their heads fell off and rolled on the ground.