黄梁一梦

 huáng liáng yī mèng

This saying is from the novel 枕中记 (Zhen Zhong Ji or The Pillow) written
by Shen Ji Ji (
沈既济) who lived during the Tang Dynasty (唐朝 618AD to
907AD).

There lived a scholar by the name of Lu Sheng (卢生) who was poor and unemployed.
Lu Sheng was a scholar of
尝志于学[1] and 富于游艺[2]. His ambitions were
建功树名[3], 出将入相[4] and 列鼎而食[5]. However, being unemployed and
poor Lu Sheng was disappointed in life and was much dispirited. He often
sighed under the burden of his problems.

Once, he stayed at an inn in the city of Handan (邯郸 present day Han Dan
city in Hebei province
河北省). An old monk occupying the next room repeatedly
heard Lu Sheng verbally despairing about his life. The monk went over and
talked to Lu Sheng who related his life of despair and hopelessness. He
gave Lu Sheng a ceramic pillow to rest his head when he went to bed that
night.

It was still daylight and in the inn’s kitchen the innkeeper was cooking
yellow millet. Curious about what it could do, Lu Sheng laid in bed with
his head on the ceramic pillow. Before long he fell asleep.

Lu Sheng then had the sweetest dream. He arrived in an unrecognized country
and married a beautiful girl by the surname of Cui (). He passed the Imperial
Examinations and became a Jin Shi (
进士 a successful candidate in the highest
Imperial Examinations). He was appointed an official and led a comfortable
life. He was later blessed with five sons who were extraordinarily gifted.
Eventually he was appointed the Prime Minister. He lived till the ripe old
age of eighty and was really
富贵寿考[6] He was survived by many descendants.

Lu Sheng woke up to see the monk standing next to his bed and became aware
that the innkeeper was still cooking the yellow millet as dusk approached.
He realized that he just had a dream. Dreaming that he was a Jin Shi and
was appointed an official of high ranking and became a prosperous man for
fifty years with many offspring. Now he was back to being a dejected scholar.

The moral is that rich and poverty after all is just like a short dream.

[1] 尝志于学(Chang2 zhi4 yu2 xue2)
"He had been studying hard because he was ambitious"

[2富于游艺(Fu4 yu2 you2 yi4)
"He excelled in the studies of the six arts which are rites, music, archery,
horseback riding, calligraphy and mathematics."

[3] 建功树名(Jian4 gong shu4 ming2)
"To make a contribution to the society and leave a good name behind"

[4] 出将入相(Chu jiang4 ru4 xiang)
"To be in company with the generals and officials".

[5] 列鼎而食(Lie4 ding3 er2 shi2)
"Having a good life"

[6] 富贵寿考(Fu4 gui4 shou4 kao3)
"Prosperity and longevity"

CHUNG Yoon-Ngan (鄭永元)

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About kchew

an occasional culturalist
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