In ancient times, an official named Wang lived in what is today's Hebei Province. He misused the law to line his own pockets instead of upholding justice. Each time he amassed ill-gotten gains, circumstances arose to wipe them out.
One night, a servant boy who practiced Taoism was in the local temple, and he overheard a discussion between two officials in the netherworld. “He had a sizable income this year,” one said. “How will we take away his earnings?”
“Cuiyun is more than enough. No big deal,” replied the other.
The servant boy often saw or heard ghosts in the temple, and he was not afraid. However, he wondered whose income was to be taken away, and who was Cuiyun?
A prostitute named Cuiyun soon arrived in their local area. Wang could not control his lust and spent much of his savings indulging himself with the prostitute. He also developed skin lesions, which cost him what money had left.
When he died, there was not enough left to pay for a coffin.
During the reign of Yongzheng (1722 – 1735 AD) in the Qing Dynasty, a gentleman named Su Dounan ran into a friend at a pub by the Baigou River. The friend kept drinking and whining, “Heavenly principles no longer exist,” he said. “No one gets rewarded for good deeds, nor does anyone suffer retribution for evil-doing.”
A man on a horse suddenly rode up and walked into the pub . He went straight to Su's friend and said, “Are you complaining that retribution doesn’t happen? Think about it: One who indulges in lust ends up with sexually transmitted diseases. A gambler loses his shirt, and doesn't a robber end up being caught? And doesn’t a murderer have to pay for his crime with his own life? These are examples of karmic retribution.
“When it comes to lust, some have more desires, while others have less,” he added. “Also, some gamblers cheat. Among gangs of robbers, there are bosses and accomplices. And when it comes to murder, there are premeditated acts and accidental killings.
“Retribution is meted out to varying degrees, depending on the offense. Even when one incurs retribution, some people have merits to offset their faults, and sometimes cause and effect is not apparent.
“Some people won't meet with retribution until the good fortune they earned in other situations runs out. All this is quite mysterious, intricate, and precise.
“You're complaining about the uncertainty of heavenly principles based on your own narrow perspective, which puts you in a precarious position. Now let us talk about you.
"You were predestined to rise to a higher rank in the imperial government. Yet, because you schemed to gain favor with whoever was in power, you never reached that position. You sabotaged your own predestined status because you did not meet the requirements of that level in the eyes of the divine.”
The mysterious person walked closer to Su's friend and talked into his ear for quite a while. Then the stranger asked so that all could hear, “These things that you did, you've forgotten them all?”
Beads of sweat trickled down the friend’s face. He murmured, “How do you know all about me?”
The mysterious person smiled, “Whatever one does is known to all divine beings.”
With that, he walked out, mounted his horse, and disappeared as swiftly as he had appeared.
A man named Cui lost his lawsuit against a rich and powerful family. He lost even though he had sufficient evidence showing that he had been wronged. He was discouraged.
That night, his deceased father appeared in a dream and told him, “One can cheat man, but not the divine. The more unfairly one is treated during one's lifetime, the more he is repaid on the other side. Those who gloat over the misfortunes of their victims later tremble when they are tried by divine law. There is a mirror that reflects all their past crimes. I'm the one who serves tea in the underworld. The judge has already recorded the wrongs done to you in this case.”
Cui's anger dissipated, and he never spoke another word about the injustices he suffered.