(Clearwisdom.net) Li Fan served as Prime Minister for Emperor Xianzong during the Tang Dynasty. He was an honest and outspoken Prime Minister, and the Emperor regarded him highly.

Li Fan (also known as Shuhan) was from the Zhaojun area. He studied in Yangzhou City when he was young. He was a diligent student and did not seek fame or financial gain. He was unable to obtain a government position after he turned 30 and lived a poor life. His wife, Ms. Cui, complained about this quite often. Later, he and his wife had to move into his wife's parents' home in Luoyang City. He was not treated very nicely there. Even the maids and servants were not polite to him.

He developed an ulcer on his foot and it took a long time to heal. Li Fan thought about moving back to Yangzhou City. He was unsure about his future and felt depressed.

At the time, there was a well-known fortune teller named Lu Lusheng, who set up a fortune-telling hall in the Zhongqiao area in Luoyang City. One day, Li Fan's brothers-in-law invited Li Fan to go to see Lu Lusheng to ask about their futures. Because of his sore foot, Li Fan couldn't walk very fast and so his brothers-in-law arrived at Lu Lusheng's place first. When they arrived, Lu Lusheng was taking a nap on a cushion, and although he noticed the Cui brothers, he didn't get up. He just signaled to them to sit down. He then said to his servants: "Quickly sweep the floor. A distinguished guest will soon arrive."

Just as Li Fan walked up to the steps to the entrance, Lu Lusheng went out to greet him. He held Li Fan's hand in his hands, smiled, and said, "You are truly an honored person. May I ask what you wish to know?" Li Fan smiled bitterly and said, "I'm poor, sick, and uncertain whether I should move my home hundreds of miles away. Can I be called an honored person?"

Lu Lusheng immediately said, "It doesn't matter how far away you move. You're being protected by two layers of ethereal coverings. Why should you worry about this kind of difficulty?" Li Fan asked him about the "ethereal wrap," but Lu Lusheng would not answer any more questions.

Li Fan eventually moved his family back to Yangzhou City, to a home that was close to the Senzuo Bridge. One of his neighbors with the last name of Gao was a wealthy landlord, and the two became friends. One morning while Li Fan was at home resting his foot, Mr. Gao came to see him. To Li Fan's surprise, Mr. Gao returned again that evening.

Immediately after Mr. Gao saw Li Fan, he said, "I have good news for you. After I got home from your place this morning, I took a nap and had a dream. In the dream, somebody asked me to go outside of the city, where I ran into an old servant who had died over 12 years ago. He walked up to me and said, 'You shouldn't come here. Maybe there is something dangerous ahead. Let me escort you back.' When we walked back to the city gates, I asked him, 'What is it you do outside of the city?'

He told me, 'I work in the underworld. I'm a bodyguard for Li Sanlang.' I asked, 'Who is Li Sanlang?' He told me, 'He lives close to Senzuo Bridge and is your neighbor.' I realized that he was talking about you, so I asked him again, 'Why do you need to protect Li Sanlang?' He answered, 'Li Sanlang is a person protected by an ethereal wrap.' So I returned just to tell you this."

Li Fan thanked Mr. Gao and smiled. But in his mind he still didn't understand what it meant to be protected by a ethereal wrap.

Several years later, a general named Zhang Jianfeng was sent to the Xuzhou area. He hired Li Fan to handle all of the military paperwork, a low ranking position in the army. One day a monk from Xinluo (Korea) came to the station. It was said that this monk could tell fortunes by looking at a person's face. After he saw Zhang Jianfeng, he told Zhang that he wouldn't become a Prime Minister. Zhang was not happy to hear that. He asked the monk to look at this subordinates. The monk looked at all of them and said, "None of them will become the Prime Minister." Zhang was more unhappy and said, "I have so many assistants and staff members, are you sure none of them will become Prime Minister?" He then asked his subordinates, "Is everyone here?" Then they realized that Li Fan was not there. Zhang sent someone to look for Li Fan. When Li Fan arrived, even before he entered the room, the monk walked outside to greet him. He told Zhang Jianfeng, "This person is protected by an ethereal wrap. Your luck and future won't be as good as his." Zhang was happy to hear this and asked what the ethereal wrap was all about. The monk answered, "If a person is destined to be a Prime Minister, the king of the underworld protects this person with an ethereal wrap so he cannot be harmed. Only Officer Li has such an ethereal wrap covering him. None of your other staff have it." The monk was saying the same thing that Lu Lusheng and Mr. Gao had told Li Fan before. In later years, Li Fan indeed did become a Prime Minister.

This story is from the book Taiping Guangji, first published during the Song Dynasty.