THE LEGEND OF FIVE IMMORTALS
Please be advised that this text was written many years ago.
Nowadays the allocation inside the temple has slightly changed.
The Five Immortals Temple, located on top of the White Horse Mountain, is divided into front, back, east, and west sections. The front section enshrines Wang Ling Guan (considered to be the protector of Daoist Skills and Altars), the east and west are dedicated respectively to Cai Shen (God of Wealth), to the local mountain God, Li Shan Lao Mu, and Song Zi Niang Niang. Its back section is dedicated to The Five Immortals. They are called Wu Xian Ye by the people because they act on the tenets of Kindness, Righteousness, Truth, Wisdom and Faithfulness and they were known to punish evil and praise the kind, as well as benefit people and their environments. This temple was called Wu Xian Miao (Five Immortals Temple), because of the worshiping of The Five Immortals. Besides the eight stone tablets, there are two old cypress trees and two gigantic fir trees flanking both sides of the temple.
When talking about the cultivation merits of the Five Immortals, we need to start from the very beginning.
The end of the Yuan dynasty was a time of very disturbing years, when people‘s lives were very difficult. According to the legend, there were five candidates for the imperial examinations who were not able to participate at the traditional test that the country regularly held to select capable people for government official positions. Because of this, they formed a special relationship of brotherhood on the White House Mountain for they willed to find ways to harness their talent to serve the country. The five brothers with different family names were advised by Zhen Wu, thus decided to cultivate themselves and learn the Dao. They were determined to learn skills to help people.
The Big Brother (the First Immortal Brother). He was known for his kindness and gentleness. Also, because he was the eldest of the five brothers, he was called the Great Immortal – Da Xian Ye.
The Second Immortal Brother held exceptional martial arts skills. He enjoyed fighting evil enemies and bringing justice to the weak and kind ones.
The Third Immortal Brother. He was an expert of astronomy and geography, Yin and Yang and the eight trigrams. He was known to be good at divining horoscopes, predicting disasters and praying for good fortune.
The Fourth Immortal Brother. He had excellent healing skills. He often carried his precious medicine cabinet with him, traveling the world and curing the sick. He was revered as the god of healing.
The Fifth Immortal Brother. His expertise included various traditional Chinese skills like music, chess, calligraphy and painting among others. He was able to control and order insects and animals by music. He often educated children in poor families. He taught them to read, write, and paint.
The Five Brothers used their different skills to assist others and were deeply loved by everyone.
One day, the First Brother traveled to the bank of the Du river below the White Horse Mountain. He saw an old woodcutter letting go a rabbit which was trapped. He asked the old woodcutter: “Why do you let the rabbit go instead of taking it home for cooking and eating it?” The woodcutter said: “The rabbit was pregnant. It’s better to let it go.” The First Immortal was very happy and asked the firewood man: “Where do you live, and who lives with you?” The man said: “I live only with my mother on the bank of the Du river below the mountain. I make a living and take care of my old mother by cutting firewood.” First Immortal was moved by the firewood man’s kindness and respect for his mother. So, he decided to enlighten the firewood man. He used his immortal power to set a gold incense furnace on the bank of the Du river. There was a sentence carved on this gold incense furnace. The sentence goes “no exchange for gold, no exchange for silver, only for one thousand heads and one carrying pole”. The incense furnace emanated a nice fragrance every first and fifteenth of each month of the lunar calendar. This smell could be smelled miles away around the bank of the Du river and always surprised people living in the surrounding area. People from every direction were attracted to the furnace to burn incense and to bow and pray for protection and safety.
This precious gold furnace also attracted some greedy people who wanted to take it. However, the furnace stayed immoveable there as if it had grown into the earth. No one could take it, no matter how much they tried. Someone tried to dig it up with an iron stick but failed. One day, a guy took a big hammer and tried to break the furnace with the hammer. When the guy hit the furnace with the hammer, the hammer was flung away with a loud “Dong” sound, then it hit the guy’s foot and broke his bone. Blood came out the foot like water but the furnace was not even scratched.
One day the firewood man passed by the furnace. He walked around the furnace and looked at the sentence on it. But he could not understand it at all. He came home and thought about it all day. His mother found him with that wondering look and asked what it was about. He told his mother. His mother listened and said: “Don’t worry, my son. Your mother can help you.” The next morning, the man came to the furnace with his mother. The mother told his son to put some prayer paper on one side of his carrying pole and burn it in the furnace. Afterwards she told her son to bow his head one thousand times towards the furnace. The man did as he was told. Right after his one thousandth bows, the furnace turned into a gold ingot and dropped beside his foot. The man picked it up, took it to the market, sold it and bought rice seeds and oxen for tilling the land. He split all that he bought with people when he came back to his village. We can still see the mark of the incense furnace to this day. This place has been called “Seven Miles Fragrance” – Qi Li Xiang.
The second Immortal often fought and punished devils as well as helped kind people. His name alone scared the bad people around the area. People in the area lived peaceful lives. One day he heard people talk about a one thousand year old fox demon hurting people. This fox demon often made itself appear like a beautiful young woman to attract young men. Then it would suck up the young man’s spirit and soul. The man would get thin and weak, until they died after their spirit and soul was sucked up. The second Immortal was very angry, and he decided to face this fox demon. One night, the fox demon was approaching a house to hurt someone again. The second Immortal shouted loudly: “Monster, don’t hurt people.” The demon turned around and right upon seeing him he started running away. The second Immortal, with a sword in hand, chased after the demon. After a long run, the demon was unable to duck away from the Immortal’s sword, and hid under a huge rock. The Immortal threw his sword into the sky. After a loud thunder, the blade cut into the rock with a bright lightning. The demon was subdued and could no longer harm people. Nowadays, the place that tourists call “Thunder Cutting Stone”- “Lei Pi Shi” – is where the second immortal subdued the fox demon.
The Third Immortal, watched the sky every day. He often warned people early on once he found harmful omens. People were able to avoid numerous disasters. For instance, General Wang Li Chang, a rebel, passed by Bai Lin and recruited publicly. The third Immortal calculated that Wang Li Chang was not able to establish a stable rule of the country. He advised those who wanted to join Li Chang Wang’s army not to do so. A lot of people were able to avoid death penalty after Li Chang Wang was defeated.
Other than travelling around to cure people, the fourth Immortal, also cleared bushes and tended to fields to plant medicine. He brought back medicine herbs from places he visited and planted them on the White Horse Mountain. This resolved the medicinal problems of the neighborhood. There are four hundred precious Chinese medicines on the White Horse Mountain today. It is said that most of them were transplanted by the fourth immortal.
The Fifth Immortal, sometimes played the zither in Hu Qing Tai. He used five sounds and six rhythms to open up people’s wisdom. He also opened schools below the mountain and taught children from poor families to read and write.
The Great Zhen Wu was moved by what the Five Immortals did. He further enlightened them. People that lived in the area were appreciative of their help and kindness, so they built a temple on top of the mountain and named it the Five Immortals Temple -Wu Xian Miao. People from all directions come to worship them. This made the temple prosper. Even after the temple was damaged by war, the mountain has remained, then and always, full of spiritual power.
According to the legend, in the Guang Zhu period in the Qing dynasty, there was a candidate for the imperial examination whose family name was Yu. He prayed in this temple on his way to take the imperial test held in Beijing. He prayed to the Immortals to help him pass the test. Later, on his way to the test, he fell ill. When his sickness worsened and he almost died, he had a dream of the Five Immortals dressed in Daoist robes, followed by two white horses, one big and one small. One of the Five said: “White horses should be paired with golden seats. We sit at the top of the mountain. You should become the governor of Sichuan province, and come back to rebuild the temple.” Hereafter, the Immortals gave him a big and small white horses as well as an elixir of life. Yu woke up and found he was cured. He knew that it was thanks to the Five Immortals. So he knelt down and vowed: “If I can have my name on the golden list of accepted government officials, I shall rebuild the temple.”
Yu rode the big white horse and let the small white horse carry his books and luggage as he continued his way to the capital to take the test. He passed the test and was offered the position of the governor of Sichuan province. He kept his promise and rebuilt the temple. The temple became even more prosperous after being rebuilt. People from provinces of Shanxi, Sichuan, Hubei, all come to worship the temple and the name of The Five Immortals was spread even further away.