Follow Wang Seven's journey as he encounters a Daoist on Laboring Mountain, learns magic, and faces unexpected challenges.
In this county, there was a scholar surnamed Wang, seventh in birth order, and he was a descendant of a prestigious family from the past. From a young age, he admired the Daoist arts and had heard that there were many immortals on Mount Lao, so he prepared his belongings and set out to seek the Dao and learn from the immortals. One day, he reached the summit of Mount Lao and saw a secluded Daoist temple. Inside, there was a Daoist priest sitting upright on a mat, with white hair flowing down his neck, and his demeanor was both refreshing and extraordinary. Wang approached him, inquired, and engaged in conversation. He found the words of the Daoist priest to be profound and mysterious, so he requested to become the priest’s disciple. The Daoist priest replied, “I’m afraid you are delicate and accustomed to comfort, unable to endure hardship.” Wang replied, “I can endure hardship.” The Daoist priest had many disciples, and by evening, they had all gathered. After paying respects to each one, Wang stayed in the Daoist temple. The next day, just before dawn, the Daoist priest called Wang and handed him an axe, instructing him to join the others in chopping wood. Wang Seven followed the instructions carefully. After more than a month had passed, Wang’s hands and feet were covered with thick calluses, and he could no longer bear such laborious toil. He secretly began to entertain thoughts of returning home.
One evening, Wang returned from collecting firewood and saw two guests sitting with his master, drinking wine. It was already dark, and no lamps or candles had been lit yet. The master cut out a round piece of paper resembling a mirror and pasted it on the wall. In a moment, the paper transformed into a bright moon, illuminating the entire room, making even the finest details visible. The disciples all followed orders, bustling around to serve. One of the guests said, “On such a beautiful night, we should all enjoy it together.” So, he picked up the wine jug from the table, poured wine into cups for the disciples, and instructed them to drink until they were drunk. Wang thought to himself, “With seven or eight people, how can one jug of wine be enough for all?” At this moment, everyone found their own cups and containers and rushed to pour and drink, fearing that the wine jug would run empty. However, no matter how much they poured from it, the wine in the jug did not seem to diminish at all. Wang Seven was quite surprised. After a while, one of the guests said, “Although we are grateful for the moonlight you’ve given us, drinking wine in such silence is a bit lonely. Why not summon Chang’e?” He then tossed a pair of chopsticks into the moon, and immediately, a beautiful woman emerged from the moonlight. She was initially less than a foot tall but grew to the height of an ordinary person when she landed on the ground. She had a slender waist and a graceful neck and began to dance the “Feathered Robe and Transcendent Dance.” After finishing the dance, she sang a song: “Gracefully dancing! Please come back quickly! Why did you confine me in the Guanghan Palace?” Her singing was clear and melodious, sounding like the playing of flutes and pipes. After singing, Chang’e floated up and landed on the table, leaving everyone in amazement. Suddenly, she transformed back into chopsticks. The Daoist priest and the guests burst into laughter together. Another guest said, “Tonight has been the most joyful, but I can no longer drink. Can we have the farewell feast in the Moon Palace?” After saying this, the three of them, along with the banquet, slowly flew into the moon. Everyone watched as the three of them sat in the Moon Palace, their beards and eyebrows clearly visible, as if their images were reflected in a mirror. After a while, the moon gradually dimmed. The disciples lit candles, only to see the Daoist priest sitting alone in the room, and the guests had all vanished. The dishes and fruits on the table remained, and looking at the moon on the wall, it was nothing but a round piece of paper, just like a mirror. The Daoist priest asked, “Have you all had enough to drink?” Everyone replied in unison, “We have.” “If you’ve had enough, then go to sleep early and don’t delay collecting firewood tomorrow,” the Daoist priest instructed. Everyone agreed and began to withdraw. Wang Seven was secretly delighted and envious, and he abandoned the idea of returning home.
Another month passed, and Wang Seven could no longer endure the hardships, yet the Daoist had not taught him a single spell. Wang Seven no longer wanted to wait and took his leave from the Daoist, saying, “As a disciple, I came from hundreds of miles away to learn the Daoist arts from you. Even if I cannot learn the secret of immortality, if I could just learn a small spell, it would satisfy my quest for knowledge. It’s been two or three months now, and every day, I do nothing but chop wood in the morning and return in the evening. I’ve never endured such hardship at home.” The Daoist smiled and said, “I already thought you couldn’t endure hardship, and now it seems to be the case. I’ll send you back tomorrow morning.” Wang Seven said, “After working here for so many days, please, Master, teach me a little something. That way, my visit won’t have been in vain.” The Daoist asked, “What kind of spell do you want to learn?” Wang replied, “I’ve seen you walk through walls without any hindrance. If I could learn that spell, I’d be content.” The Daoist agreed with a smile. So, he taught Wang a chant and instructed him to say it himself. After reciting the incantation, he called out, “Go in!” Wang faced the wall but hesitated to go in. The Daoist said, “Try taking a step forward.” Wang slowly moved forward and reached the wall, but he was blocked. The Daoist said, “Bow your head and go in quickly, don’t hesitate!” Wang indeed took a few steps back from the wall and then rushed forward. When he reached the wall, it felt like there was nothing there. When he turned around to look, he was indeed outside the wall. Wang Seven was greatly surprised and went back to thank his master. The Daoist said, “After you return, lead a virtuous life, or else the spells won’t work.” Then, he provided him with travel expenses and sent him on his way back home.
Upon returning home, Wang Seven boasted about meeting an immortal and learning magic, claiming that even sturdy walls couldn’t stop him. His wife didn’t believe him. So, Wang Seven imitated the actions of that day, stood a few feet away from the wall, and ran towards it. Unexpectedly, he collided with the solid wall and fell to the ground with a thud. His wife helped him up and saw a large bump on his forehead, resembling a chicken egg. She mocked him, and Wang Seven felt both embarrassed and infuriated, cursing the old Daoist for not being a good person.
The chronicler of strange tales said: People who heard about this incident couldn’t help but burst into laughter, but little did they know that there are indeed many individuals like Wang Seven in the world. Nowadays, there are some vulgar and uncouth people who are fond of harmful things, much like viruses, yet they fear medicinal remedies for their illnesses and injuries. As a result, a group of flatterers offers them methods to display power and indulge in violence, catering to their desires. They even deceive them by saying, “With mastery of these techniques, you can dominate the world without any hindrance.” Initially, these methods may yield some minor results, leading them to believe they can do as they please in the world. Such individuals will not stop until they collide headfirst with a solid wall, leaving them battered and bleeding.