(Minghui.org) Many aspects of Chinese culture can trace their origins to the divine, and medicine is no exception. In ancient times, there's a certain phrase that describes the practice of a great physician–xuanhu jishi, or “to hang a gourd and save the world.” Here is its origin.

A Special Gourd

This story is documented in numerous history books, such as Hou Hanshu (Book of the Later Han) and Taiping Yulan.

Hu Gong, who lived in the Han Dynasty, practiced medicine in the area of Runan (in today’s Henan Province) and always carried a gourd. He would sell medicine from his gourd in the market, and the price was never negotiable. Nobody knew who he was, just that his medicine always worked.

When selling medicine, Hu Gong would tell the buyer that the patient would spit something out after taking the medicine and would then recover at a certain time later. People followed his words, and things would go exactly as he had predicted.

As people spread the news of this miracle man, more and more people knew about him. Hu Gong’s business ran well and he made lots of money every day. He only kept a small portion of the money and donated the rest to those at the market who suffered from poverty, cold, or hunger.

After sunset, when all his medicine was sold and the gourd was empty, Hu Gong would always hang the gourd under the eaves of someone’s house. Then, he would jump into the gourd and disappear.

Inside the Gourd

Fei Changfang, a lower officer in charge of the market, saw Hu Gong do this and knew he was special and someone who had mastered Taoism.

Thinking of learning from Hu Gong, Fei treated him very well every day, cleaning the floor in front of him and giving him food. Hu Gong accepted his kindness. A long time passed, and Fang was still courteous to Hu Gong.

One day, Hu Gong said to Fei, “When there is no one around, can you come to my place this evening?” After Fei arrived on time, Hu said, “I will jump in the gourd now. Do you want to try? If you want, you can come in too.” As Hu Gong suggested, Fei jumped into the gourd after him.

Once inside, Fei found that the seemingly small gourd held another world inside, with layers after layers of buildings and pavilions that were well decorated. Behind them were beautiful bridges and colorful rainbows, just like a divine land.

Hu Gong said to Fei, “I was actually from a divine land. Because I slacked off in doing my duties, I was demoted to this human world. You have very good inborn quality. That is why you can meet me and see all of this.”

Fei kowtowed to him and replied, “I am a filthy person from this secular world. I am indeed fortunate to receive your pity and teachings.” Hu Gong said, “You are a very good person, but please do not tell anyone else about what you saw.”

(To be continued)