Last week I was extolling the terrific writing and the beautiful presentation of Tales from the Tao: The Wisdom of the Taoist Masters, written by Solala Towler. This week I wanted to briefly retell a story from the book because it really captured my imagination.
Once, long ago, a young man named Wang Chou and a young woman named Ch'ien Niang fell in love. They could not marry, however, because Ch'ien Niang's parents frowned on their pairing and decided to promise her to a servant. Heartbroken, Wang Chou ran away to escape his pain, but soon found that Ch'ien Niang followed him. They travelled and finally settled in a far-off land, where they married, found employment, and started a family.
Years later, they felt guilty over how they had left their families, and decided to go back and try to make amends. Fearful of her parents' reactions, Ch'ien Niang sent Wang Chou to their house first to talk to them and try to smooth things over. After listening to Wang Chou, Ch'ien Niang's parents sat there, puzzled. Then, they showed him to a back room, where their daughter, Ch'ien Niang, lay very sick, as she had for many years. Wang Chou led her parents to his wife, and the ill Ch'ien Niang followed them. Once the two Ch'ien Niangs saw each other, they fell into each other's arms, weeping and, miraculously, melting into each other until they became one person. Everyone was astounded, especially after they realized this one daughter was wearing two sets of clothing!
It made my imagine run: Was this a story of parallel realities? Of Twin Souls and living in the contradictions of the spiritual and physical planes? Was it about the purpose of suffering in spiritual growth? I don't know. I just enjoyed the story, and think you would find the other stories in this book equally enjoyable.