Origins of a Chinese Ghost Story

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Chinese has a saying and that we’ve always been told that, if you believed in ghosts, there will be. But if you don’t, then there will not be any.

Being a Chinese and living in a Chinese culture, I’ve always wondered why do Chinese, in particular, fear and respect ghosts. In certain ways, we take into the extent of putting joss sticks and setting up altars to worship our ancestors. Are these just culture passed on from generations to generations without any questions ask?

I recently found an interesting article which explains why the elders always tells us that they are what we believe.

Zhuxi was a famous scholar in the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279). He believed there were no ghosts in the world, so he decided to write an essay entitled “No Ghost.” It was said he was a very wise man that even ghosts were said to be afraid of him. If he said no ghosts, ghosts could no longer exist. When ghosts knew he was writing the essay, they gathered together to discuss this and decided to send the smartest ghost to pursuade him to abandon the writing.

So one night, the smartest ghost appeared at Zhuxi’s desk and kowtowed towards Zhuxi repeatedly. Zhuxi was surprised and asked:

    “Where do you come from, ghost? How dare you disturbing me at night.”
    “Yes, I am a ghost, but …”
    “Why don’t you leave and why do you come in my study room?”
    “I am here to pursuade…” replied the ghost.
    “People are in the Yang world and ghosts are in the Yin world. We are in the different worlds so there are no way I can help you.”
    “I have very important things to pursuade you, Sir.”
    “Ok, say it!”

Then the ghost told Zhuxi the reason and beg him to abandon the writing to save them. Zhuxi laughed and said:

    “You ghosts have been worshipped in the human world for so long. Isn’t time for you go away all together.”
    “We also have good and bad ghosts…”
    “Well, I heard you can do anything. Can you move me to the outside?”
    “Certainly, Sir.”

Zhuxi was moved to the outside instantly without even noticing it. Zhuxi was astonished by the ability of ghosts but was unwilling to say it. Then he asked again,

    “You can move my body but can you move my heart?”
    “That is impossible to do, Sir. But we can move things or a person’s body so that it proves we exist. We exist in illusion. If you believe it, there will be, but if you don’t, there will not. Can you say something like that in your essay, Sir?”

Zhuxi felt the words did have some truth to it so he promised the ghost he would do that. The ghost left happily. Therefore, Zhuxi wrote the words, under the title of the “No Ghost” essay, “If you believe it, there will be, but if you don’t, there will not.”

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2 Responses to “Origins of a Chinese Ghost Story”

  1. SpookyMulder Says:

    HaHahha nice one the last paragraph

  2. club11sam Says:

    spooky mulder~the truth is out there~~

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