The Inscription on the Tablet at the Temple of Yuh Harn in City C
Su, Dong-Po (1036 A.D.-1101 A.D.)
If a man becomes the teacher of hundreds of generations and his words become the bible of the world, then he actually joins the forces of heaven and earth to improve the world and illuminates the future. His birth comes with a rich history of past lives. After he dies, his work remains immortal. Thus, Official S and Duke L were the patron gods protecting the wildlife of the mountains. After Prime Minister F died, he too became a star. Their stories, passed down from ancient times, contain great meanings.
Mencius said, " I am good at cultivating my great spirit." This spirit is contained in the ordinary things and exists throughout the universe. When suddenly encountering it, even a king will lose his power, a rich country will lose its wealth, a wise man will lose his wisdom, a brave man will lose his courage, and an orator will lose his eloquence. What force paralyzes them? There must exist something that can stand without relying on its shape, can run without relying on a
driving force, can exist before its birth, and will not disappear even after its death. Thus it becomes a star in the sky, becomes a mountain or a river on earth, becomes a god in the underworld, and is reincarnated to human form in the real world. This is natural, nothing unusual.
Since the Eastern Han dynasty, morality had deteriorated, literary writing had become flowery but empty, and pessimistic Daoism and Buddhism had become popular. Even the prosperity at the beginning of the T'ang dynasty and the effort of great Prime Ministers during this period could not reverse the deterioration. However, Yuh Harn, born of common people, alone ended the deterioration with his interesting literary essays. Then the whole nation followed him and returned to the right track. It has
remained on the right track for the past 300 years. His essays revived Chinese literature,
which had deteriorated during the previous eight dynasties. His moral principle saved China from drowning in pessimism. His loyalty to our country even led him to offend his emperor 1. His bravery exceeded
that of the Command-in-chief of
the Armed Forces 2. Did his work not join the forces of heaven and earth to improve the world, illuminate the future by teaching a nation to thrive, and leave a great, enduring legacy?
I have discussed the distinction between God's principles and human affairs. People attempt to achieve their goals by any means. However, God's principles cannot allow any falsehood.
A person's wisdom may deceive an emperor, but it cannot deceive a swine or fish. People's strength may conquer the world, but it cannot win the trust of common people. Consequently, Harn's sincerity could disperse the stormy clouds of Mountain H 3, but could not dispel the emperor's suspicion toward him. He could tame ferocious alligators 4, but could not stop the slander from the Prime Ministers H and L. He could gain the trust of people in City C and his temple could enjoy their offerings for a hundred generations, but he could not stay away from trouble in the emperor's court for a single day. This was because what Harn
could do was carry out God's principles and what he could not succeed at were human affairs.
Originally, people in City C did not pay any attention to education, so Mayor Harn appointed Mr. Jaw to be their teacher. From then on, the scholars in City C have been diligent in practicing literary writing and their moral beliefs. Harn's great influence even extended to common people. Since then, people there have become good citizens. Confucius said, " Education teaches people in power to love and makes common people good citizens." His words are true indeed. People in City C appreciate Harn's legacy and treat him like a god. Whenever they eat or drink, they present their offerings to Harn.
When there is a flood, drought, or a plague, they pray to him for an end of
sufferings. However, the old temple was located behind the mayor's office.
People felt inconvenienced when they entered or left the temple. The previous
mayor attempted to ask the government to build a new temple, but the plan was never realized. In 1090 A.D., Mr. Wang became the mayor of City C. His way of educating scholars and governing people followed Harn's
completely. People gladly accepted Harn's legacy. Then Wang
declared that those who would like to build a new temple for Harn could start anytime. People responded enthusiastically. They found a place seven miles south of the City C and built the new temple for Harn within a year. Some may say, " As a result of his demotion, Harn
left the capital and traveled ten thousands miles to City C. He stayed in City C for less than a year. If Harn had had sense after death, he certainly would not have missed City C." I say, " This is not true. Harn's spirit in the world, like water under ground, exists everywhere. Because the people in City C believed it so deeply and missed him so much, their
stirred hearts seemed to be able to communicate with Harn's spirit when they ignited incense to worship him. Like digging a well, after one finds water, he may say, 'All the water is here.' Can it be true?" In 1078 A.D., Harn was given the title of earl by edict of the Emperor of China. Therefore, the plaque of the temple says, "The temple of Earl Harn". The people in City C asked me to inscribe Harn's story on the tablet of the temple, so I wrote the following psalm for them to sing when they worship Harn:
" Harn used to ride a winged horse in the village of white clouds. He opened the gate of the river of heaven and revealed
heavenly beauty by writing down the greatest literary essays. The goddess of
weaving made a dress of colorful clouds for him. He rode the wind and flew to
see God. God ordered him to go down to the sinful earth to sweep away the
vulgarity in literature. He went to the east where the sun rises and to the west where the sun sets. Even a grass or a plant was induced to shine wherever he passed. He went after the greatest poets Lee and Duh and joined them to glide in the sky. The great writers C and H regarded Harn as their role model. They followed him with great effort: they ran, sweated and panted; their feet became numb. However, they finally found that Harn's greatness, like the shadows of sunset, was impossible to follow. Harn criticized the emperor's
Buddhist superstitions and asked him to visit City C, the rivers H and S, and the tomb of
great Emperor Shun. The god of fire led the way and the god of sea hid from him. Harn
tamed dragons and alligators as if they were sheep. However, God was sad about lacking talented people in heaven, so he sent a singing angel to ask Harn to return. Now we have presented beef, chicken, wine, lichees, and bananas as our offerings to Harn. We tearfully wish that he could stay with us a little longer. However, Harn, with his long hair trailing behind, disappeared in the distant prairie like a butterfly."
1 The emperor of China was a very superstitious Buddhist. He planned to send an envoy to India to acquire the bones of Buddha. Harn advised the
emperor to cancel the plan. The emperor was very angry and wanted to put Harn to death. Due to the help of many officials in the emperor's court, Harn avoided the death sentence and
was demoted to the mayor of City C.
2 A border commander, W, planned to rebel. Harn was ordered to go there to stop him. Harn
chided W severely with moral principles and finally persuaded him to end his plans for rebellion.
3 Once during the fall Harn visited Mount H. It was raining. Harn sincerely prayed for sunshine. Then the rain stopped.
4 When Harn first assumed the position of mayor of City C, alligators were a big problem for the city. Therefore, he wrote the essay "Offerings to the Alligators" and threw it into the river. Several days later the alligators moved west 300 miles. From then on, there was no alligator problem in