In China’s Yuan Dynasty (1271- 1368), two scholars with identical birthday/ hour had passed the Imperial Examination at the same time.  They were assigned to be city officials in the same day.  One was sent to Ezhou (鄂州) and the other to Huangzhou (黄州) City.

Within a short period of time, the Huangzhou official had passed.  The Ezhou official, his classmate, thinking that he was about to die, was very scared and had arranged his funeral in advanced.

The Ezchou official was still alive and well after seven days.  So he had visited the new tomb of his classmate in Huangzhou.

I was born in the same date and hour as yours.  Our birth places were the same.  Yet you had passed before me.  Even if I die now, I still die later than you by a few days.  Why?  If there are spirits and deities, please explain to me in my dream.”  Prayed the Ezchou official in front of the tomb.

The spirit of the deceased official had shown up the same day in the dream of Ezchou official.  He said,

You are frugal with all your activities and living expenses and will expect a longer life than me.  I had over-spent and enjoyed myself too much.  I have used up my allocated blessing and wealth prematurely, resulting in a shorter life.”lu_wealth

Chinese believes that everyone is born with a predestined amount of blessing and wealth called “lu” (祿).  When this predestined amount is consumed by the person, he will die regardless of his current age.  The term for this condition is “One dies when his blessing and wealth are exhausted” (祿盡人亡).

Hence, according to traditional Chinese, conspicuous consumption and extravagance are your speeding ticket to heaven or death.

This belief is in sharp contrast with some modern Chinese young people.  Some are called “Moonlight Tribe” (月光族).   It is not that they try to make more money by moonlighting.  “Moon” also means “month” and “light” also means “empty” in Chinese.  “Moonlight Tribe” refers to people who spend all their monthly income every month (hence empty pockets).  They probably have not yet exhausted their “predestined blessing and wealth” or simply making too little.

Ken Lai

© 2017 Ken Lai, all rights reserved.

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