A Daoist encounters a fox spirit living in a temple and learns about its yearly escape during the suburban ritual. The fox spirit advises him to leave as well, foretelling the fall of the Ming Dynasty.
A certain Daoist from the Chaotian Temple was fond of practicing breathing exercises for health. There was an old man who temporarily lived in the temple and happened to have the same interest in this health practice. As a result, they became Daoist companions. The old man had been living in the temple for several years, but every year, when it was time for the suburban ritual to worship heaven and earth, he would leave the temple about ten days in advance and return after the ritual was over. The Daoist was quite puzzled by this and asked the old man why he did this. The old man said, “We are close friends, so I can tell you the truth. I am actually a fox spirit. When the day of the suburban ritual arrives, various deities and spirits will come to cleanse impurities, and I would have nowhere to hide, so I choose to leave on my own.” A year later, as the date for the suburban ritual approached, the old man left again, but this time he didn’t return to the temple for a long time. The Daoist was very concerned and puzzled. One day, the old man suddenly returned, and the Daoist asked him why he had returned so late. The old man replied, “I could hardly find you, Sir! Initially, I intended to hide far away, but I felt quite weary and, seeing a secluded drainage ditch, I decided to hide underneath a jar at the entrance. Unexpectedly, the God Wang Lingguan came to clean this place, and he immediately spotted me. He became angry and tried to whip me. I was scared and fled, with Lingguan God chasing closely behind. When I reached the bank of the Yellow River, it seemed like he was about to catch up, so in desperation, I sneaked into a toilet and crouched there. The deity found the place too dirty and left. I came out of there, covered in filth, and couldn’t appear in the human world anymore. So, I jumped into the water to cleanse myself. After nearly a hundred days, I finally rid myself of impurities. Today, I’ve come to bid you farewell and share a few words of advice: Sir, you should also leave this place and go into seclusion elsewhere, as a great calamity is approaching. This place is not a safe haven.” After saying this, the old man took his leave. The Daoist heeded the old man’s advice and relocated to another place. Not long after, the Jia-Shen Rebellion occurred, leading to the downfall of the Ming Dynasty.