The Wonder Power of Filial Piety

Painting with scenes from The Twenty-four Cases of Filial Piety. Kano Motonobu, 1550 (part) (Public Domain)

Filial piety was considered one of the fundamentals for the virtue of kindness in ancient times. Here is a folklore story, which tells of the incredible wonder that it could bring.

A beggar by the name of Guo lived in Huofu city of the Wanzai county during the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368 A.D.) His left palm and two feet were grown the opposite way round to normal. He could only pivot on his right hand to drag his body forward. People called him “Dragging Guo”.

Dragging Guo’s mother was old and suffered from gout. His brother too was a sick man. Guo begged on the street on the first and fifteenth day of each month. People knew of the situation of his family and were willing to give him food and items. Guo managed to sustain the living of the three of them for 18 years without a complaint.

In a winter day in 1296, Guo met a Taoist priest on the street. Seeing that despite Guo’s own harsh life he was still willing to take care of his mother and brother, the priest gave him five pills, “Take the pills and your chronic ailments will be healed instantly.” He told Guo.

Guo did as instructed. He swallowed all the pills and his back to front limbs turned back to the normal position as they should in just an instance.

The amazing recovery made Guo a normal person. He had no excuse to beg anymore and neither did the people in town give him food any longer. Making a living for three mouths became a big problem for Guo. At this lowest point in his life, he met the priest again. Bowing respectfully to thank him, Guo asked, “Thank you so much for healing me. But I was too foolhardy to take all the pills by myself without thinking about my mother. She is still sick in bed. What should I do now?”

The priest gave him another five pills. He told him his mother’s sickness would be healed by taking two. A rich man who had the same illness as Guo’s mother knew of the remaining three pills.

The rich man said to Guo, “I heard that you have three miracle pills. I will buy them with a silver ingot (worth 50 taels). What do you think?” Guo did not want the money. Instead he asked the rich man to provide for his family of three for life should the rich man really recover from his illness after taking the pills. The man agreed.

Upon taking the pills, the rich man was healed instantly. He kept his promise to provide for Guo’s family for the rest of their lives.

Their story spread around and people were amazed by Guo’s filial piety which touched the immortal who in return bestowed blessings on him. Even a beggar like Guo can respect his parent and love his brother in such a way. As normal folks, we too can help others and accumulate good karma in our own way.

一念孝悌 感召仙家賜藥 醫好宿疾










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