A “Heart Mirror”
For today's Chinese people who have been taught atheism for many years, such sayings are quite incomprehensible: Where is god? How can a god know what I’m thinking? I can't see gods, and science can't confirm their existence, either, so they don't exist.
But is this really the case?
Ji Xiaolan, an influential scholar of the Qing Dynasty and known as a “prodigy,” had “supernatural abilities” when he was a child because he could see at night. Even as an adult, he could still see through his “celestial eye” from time to time.
Ji was the editor-in-chief of Siku Quanshu, the largest collection of books in Chinese history, for more than ten years. In his later years, he wrote 25 volumes of Yuewei Caotang Note, which is as prestigious as Liao Zhai Zhi Yi, known as Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, which is a collection of short stories from the early Qing Dynasty, mostly about fox-fairies, spirits, ghosts, and goblins.
The following is one such story from Yuewei Caotang Notes:
One night, a scholar was passing by Yuedi Temple. Even though the two red gates of the temple were closed, he saw a figure coming out of the temple and knew instinctively that he had come across a spirit.
He bowed to the spirit, addressing him as “Noble Sage.” The spirit helped him up and said that he was not a “Noble Sage” but a mirror keeper for the “Right Mirror Platform,” and that he had just stopped by to deliver a document.
“What kind of mirror are you taking care of?” the scholar asked. “Is it the ‘Karmic Mirror’ people often talk about?”
“Similar, but it is called a ‘Heart Mirror,’” the spirit replied.
“A Karmic Mirror can reveal good or bad things people have done, but it won't be able to see what happens in people's hearts, such as subtle changes in sentiment, which may hide many secretive intentions,” the spirit explained. “Some people may appear very kind and beautiful on the surface but hold ill intentions in their hearts. Such hidden evils in their hearts are hard for an ordinary Karmic Mirror to capture.
“Since the Song Dynasty, social morality has declined even more, but the decay is concealed by deception in a more seamless and sophisticated manner. Some people have done bad things all their lives, and yet they are able to fool others and get away with it all.
“So gods in Heaven decided to move the ‘Karmic Mirror’ to the left platform to catch villains, while a ‘Heart Mirror’ was added to the right platform to catch the image of hypocrites,” the spirit went on.
“With the two mirrors working together, people’s inner world is laid bare to the fullest: there are people who stick to evil views, who are biased and absurd, whose hearts are pitch-black, twisted like hooks, dirty and filthy, wicked and deceitful, cunning and slimy, slick and sly, disloyal and rebellious, acid-tonged and vicious, cruel and ferocious, who stop at nothing to gain promotions and profits at the expense of others, and, even worse, there are those who want to engage in lustful pursuits.
“However, when you look at them on the surface, they appear dignified and decent, and you would be lucky to find one or two people out of a thousand with a heart as clear as crystal,” said the spirit to the scholar.
“My job is to observe and keep a record of what's going on in people's hearts and report to the God of Mount Tai once every three months. The records will be used as evidence to decide their destiny. The higher a person's status, the higher the requirements, and for those who are stealthy and slimy, the more severe the punishment. Remember that you must be honest and sincere. Sinister and crafty behavior will only incur greater punishment!”
The scholar bowed to the spirit respectfully and said, “I will remember. Thank you!”