An attack on Master Bao is thwarted

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artist Fan Zeng (b. 1938) on Unsplash

Master Bao and Ping stopped for the night at a small shelter in the forest. They had traveled from the village of Peng Lui in Qian zhong to the deep forest of Jiannan Province. After the great ox, Xi, was rubbed, fed, and bedded down for the night, Ping lit a small cooking fire, and the travelers enjoyed their evening rice with vegetables. After he had poured their tea, Student Ping stood, bowed deeply to the Monk, his hands clasped inside his capacious sleeves.

“Master, please enlighten this ignorant student. You never douse the fire with water, but sit up…


A tale of the Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE)

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Artist Fan Zeng (b. 1938) on Unsplash

Master Bao rode his great ox, Xi, along a trail that ran between two villages in the province of Hedong in the northern region of the Empire. His student, Ping, walked alongside.

“Master,” Ping said, “we were fortunate to find shelter in the village of Lanhi when the storm broke yesterday. If we had been on the road, we would have been soaked and cold. Because of our good luck, we were warm, dry, and well fed.”

“Yes,” the Monk replied. “Luck was with us yesterday.”

In the road ahead, two men were walking toward Master Bao and Ping. One…


Of course. Master Bao was observing. I believe, that theoretical philosophy works best on a full stomach. When the reality of life sets in, getting the next meal is no longer theoretical. Discussion of this nature works best over final coffee or tea.

Thanks, Rigopoula, for your wonderful insights.


“Master,” Ping said, “is life an illusion?”

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Artist Fan Zeng (b. 1938) on Unsplash

A tale of China during the Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE)

Master Bao rode his great ox, Xi, along a trail in the southern province of Lingnan. His student Ping walked alongside.

“This part of Lingnan is thought to be haunted by ghosts, Master,” Ping said. He kept sweeping his gaze of the deep forest quickly from one side of the road to the other.

Master Bao asked, “Do you not fear your head will become loose if you keep twisting it back and forth?”

“Master, I keep seeing strange creatures moving among the trees. And it is well known that…


“Who is this monk who does not bow to the Dragon Throne?”

A tale of China during the Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE)

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Artist Fan Zeng (b. 1938) on Unsplash

Master Bao rode his great ox, Xi, along a road paved with flat stones. His pupil, Ping, strode alongside.

“The ‘Summer Palace’ is in this province, Ping. If the Emperor and his family are in residence, we will be stopped by Imperial Guards before we reach the village of Hwe-Shin.”

“Perhaps we’ll get a glimpse of some of the people from the royal court,” Ping said.

“Perhaps,” the monk responded.

After about an hour, the travelers stopped at a well near the side of the rode. The well-tender bowed to…


“Demons are created in one’s mind, Student Ping.”

A Tale of China in the Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE)

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Autumn Colors on the Qiao and Hua Mountains by Zhao Mengfu (1295) in public domain

Master Bao rode his great ox, Xi, along a well-traveled road through He-dong Providence in the northern part of the Empire. His pupil, Ping, walked alongside.

Ping glanced up and saw a few white fluffy clouds floating serenely in an azure sky. Both sides of the road were flanked by waving tall green and yellow grasses.

“This is a most pleasant road, and a pleasant day,” Ping remarked. “It is neither too hot nor too cool.”

“Yes, Ping. And we can enjoy the present moment to its fullest. In a…


When to help and when to wait on the Will of Heaven

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Map of Chinese providences during the Tang Dynasty — Creative Commons on Ancient History Ency.

A story from the Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE)

Master Bao rode his great ox, Xi, along a road that ran through a burned over forest. His pupil, Ping, walked alongside.

“This providence of Jiannan has suffered a long drought, Ping. The trees became dry and a fire last year burned this large area. Many people and animals perished in the blaze.”

Ping sniffed, smelling charred wood. “Many trees and plants died, also.”

The monk smiled at his pupil’s awareness of all life, and the universality of suffering.


Real wealth is peace of mind

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Fan Zeng artist (b 1938) on Unsplash

A tale from the Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE)

Master Bao rode his great ox, Xi, along a high mountain road in the province of Han-Yung. His pupil Ping strode alongside.

“Soon, Ping, we will be in the village of Yuen Chi known for its twin lakes, and bountiful fields of grain.”

“With two lakes for fishing and fields of grain, the people of Yuen Chi must be very happy,” Ping said.

“Yes, Ping. There is plentiful food. When drought strikes the rest of the province, the water from the lakes is used to irrigate the fields. It is a very content village.”

“Will we be stopping at an…


Spiritual power cannot be taken. It can only be given away

A tale of the Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE)

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Photo of Master Bao and Xi by the author (it’s on my desk shelf)

Master Bao rode his ox, Xi, along a wide, well-traveled road in the kingdom of Hwang-Liu. His pupil, Ping, walked alongside.

“Soon, Ping, we will be in the city of Peng-ho, the capitol of this kingdom. Since this is the Fifth day of the Fifth Moon, the date of the annual Dragon Boat Festival, we may need to sleep in one of the huts that are provided for the farmers and merchants coming from all over Hwang-Liu. All the inns will be filled.”

Ping was smiling broadly. “I saw a Dragon Boat…


Desire is the nourishment that does not nourish

A story of the Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE)

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Art work by Fan Zeng (b. 1938) on Unsplash

On a warm spring day, Master Bao, a Daoist Monk, and his student Ping walked along the city streets of Jing Lai, in the province of Guannei, known for its “Willow and Flower” district.

Ping had been watching the elegant young women, dressed in colorful flowing robes, fanning themselves on the balconies of the Flower Halls.

“The Dao is the natural way of life, young Ping,” Master Bao said, with one eye on his student. “It is the natural flow of the Universe.”

“Yes, Master,” Ping replied, “But my whole body responds to the presence of these beautiful girls. I…

Tom Hanratty

www.thomashanratty.com Forensic Investigator, writer of mysteries, lover of words

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