Written by Albert Chen, November 30, 2002.
In ancient China there are stories of reincarnation and rebirth. Many are fables and lessons for children to learn, others are stories of adventure and romance. Kung-fu stories and these fairy tales are very interrelated. My mother is particularly fond of these stories. What follows are interpretations of stories that my mother told me. Some are modern renditions, others are Chinese fairy tales, still others are new fiction.
In these stories of reincarnation and mythology, there are rules and a cast of characters. There is a Jade Emperor ruling heaven with a Jade Goddess at his side. There is a ruler of the after-world Yen Lo Wang, a ruler not a Hades or hell, but a judge of actions in the world.
These gods are not so removed as in the religions of the world nor are they perfect by any means. To think of them like those from Greek mythology is not too far from accurate.
There is a bridge that the deceased cross to get to a platform where they can watch their life’s actions. They see what they left behind, friends, family, enemies.
They are taken to Yen Lo Wang and are judged for their actions while on Earth. If they were bad people they are reincarnated as animals. If they were average, they are reincarnated as human beings. If they were extraordinary they are made into Sen – saints or gods if you will.
If they are reincarnated as human, they can be put into lives of good fortune if they were good, or into situations of poor fortune if they were not. The idea is to work your way and be good to get to better situations.
You can achieve levels beyond human in a single lifetime. In fact, animals can achieve humanity in a single lifetime. The story of Mighty Monkey is one such story (Dragonball Z is based on this premise). When they do, they concentrate their power into a pearl. You can see the pearl in scrolls of dragons and see them in dragon dances. This pearl can be stolen or given away. Sen become mortal or can even die.
If you are reincarnated, you must meet Mung Po, an old woman who makes Mung Po Tang, a soup that once drunken, makes you forget everything from your previous life. When babies are born and know a thousand words of vocabulary or are musically talented, it is said that they did not drink enough of the Mung Po Tang. Babies who are particularly oblivious are said to have drunk too much.
The premise is wonderful I hope you enjoy.