A Trip to A World Beyond

The mythical tale about encountering immortals in Mt. Tiantai was first recorded on Search for Immortals (搜神記) by a scholar official in East Jin in the 4th century. It’s a clear evidence that Chinese have entertained the concept of relativity in time at least 2,000 years go.

The illustrations were produced by Zhao Cangyun (赵苍云), an ancient Chinese scholar artist living in the 13th century when China was under Mongol’s barbaric and alien rule, and people in China dreamed of escaping the cruel reality to a wonderful and fanciful new world elsewhere. Thus the tales like this became part of a popular culture in China.

two medicinal herb collectors entered Mt. Tiantai

As the tale goes, during the East Han dynasty, two medicinal herb collectors entered Mt. Tiantai (Mountain of Celestial Platform).

A peach tree came to their rescue

They ventured so far into the deep of the mountain and got lost in the forest. After three days, all their food was gone but they still couldn’t find their way out. Eventually a peach tree came to their rescue.

Peaches give them a great eyesight

After consumed peaches, they felt so energetic with great eyesight.

Soon they found themselves in the front of a river that they never encountered in the mountain before.

They cross the river

The waterway looked narrow and shallow, so the pair decided to walk through it to the other side.

They face a bigger river

Yet after they landed on the other shore, they found there was a bigger river with strong waves ahead.

Two ladies wave to the men

Just at the time when the pair hesitated to go further, they spotted two women waving at them from the other side of the river.

Two ladies welcome the men

Once they landed the shore on the other side, they were warmly welcomed by the two pretty young ladies and their servant girls.

Two ladies invited the men to their village

The men were invited to the ladies’ village where they enjoyed a delicious meal and a wonderful concert.

Two ladies married the two men

The men fell in love with the ladies and got married before the meal finished.

The land was full of fruit trees and colourful flowers, while birds were singing all the time. They felt they were like living in a paradise.

Two men became homesick

Half a year later, however, the men became homesick and worried about how their families were coping in their absence.

Unable to persuade the men to remain in the village, the ladies escorted their husbands to a cave and told them through the cave they would find a road to home.

Two men returned to their own world

After the pair returned home, they discovered their houses were occupied by total strangers and they knew nobody in the village.

It took a long while for them to realize during the six months when they stayed in the mountain, seven generations of their descendants were born and died.

Two men couldn't find the way back to their ladies

Felt completely lost, the men decided to return to their new families in the mountain. Yet they were never able to locate that river again.

Nobody knows how and where these two men ended.

Chinese medicinal herbs collectors are at work today

Chinese medicinal herbs collectors are at work today in rural Taining, Fujian Province

5 comments

  • Anonymous

    Real immortality will not be of this coarse, earthly body (which is transitory and subject to old age , pain and death ). It will be the subtle body .

    • I believe you are Eric, am I right? 😉

      You are right Eric. There are many ways to upgrade our current life forms. The most common one is to get detached from this coarse body and enter a new shelter made with a more subtle substance that is lighter in weight and brighter in colour (it’s like to leave your rundown hut for a brand new mansion). But you could also directly transform this coarse body into a subtle body (it’s like to turn your tiny hut into a garden residence). The latter is harder to achieve (to be frank, I never really understand why anyone ever wants to do that).

      Of course, most people never contemplate to upgrade their life forms. They just stay in a house until it collapses then try to find another place to call home (body) or just become homeless (ghost).

  • Anonymous

    And they hold the liquid elixirs of immortality, willing to share with visitors. Wonder if anyone has had the fortune to find them. But whoever finds them and drink the elixirs, eventually become disillusioned and disgusted with our mortal world, unwilling to return to this world. Therefore, the secret of immortality, the elixirs, never been in our world.

    • Elixirs are just kind of medicine. Medicine may help fix your ailment but can’t change your fate.

      Where you live and how long you are going to live depend on how you lived and how you wished to live previously, and what kind of life you are living right now and what kind of life you wish to live in future.

  • Anonymous

    I believe the two men still living high in the mountains, waiting to be discovered by courageous hikers

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