The Story of Tang Shao Repaying a Debt from a Prior Life
(Minghui.org) Tang Shao was a learned and accomplished scholar from Chang'an, the capital city of the Tang Dynasty. He also held a high-ranking position in the imperial court. He was the grandson of Tang Lin, Minister of Personnel.
There was a man called Li Miao, who lived opposite Tang Shao's residence. The two became friends, and Tang Shao often invited Li Miao for meals and drinks with his family. Tang Shao’s wife felt puzzled and asked, “You are a high-ranking official. Why do you always try to please someone who is lower than you?”
“I'll let you know later,” Tang Shao replied with a smile.
One day in the second year of the Xiantian era (713 A.D.), Tang Shao said to his wife in a solemn tone, “My dear, I can now tell you why I have always been friendly towards Li Miao. I’ve had a supernatural ability since childhood, which I’ve never told anyone before. I know what happened in my previous life.”
“I was a woman in that life and married the son of the Wang family in Baling when I was 16. My mother-in-law was extremely harsh, and I was very scared of her,” Tang Shao told his wife.
“When I was 17, the day before the winter solstice, I felt very tired after cooking for the family. But, my mother-in-law asked me to sew a skirt for her, saying that she would wear it the next day while entertaining guests. I had to stay up late to make it under an oil lamp.
“Suddenly a dog ran in and knocked over the lamp, spilling oil on the skirt I was sewing. I was furious and yelled at the dog. It got scared and hid under the bed. I lit a candle and tried to clean the oil stain from the skirt, but it wouldn’t come off. I felt scared and angry, so I picked up a pair of scissors and stabbed the dog. I stabbed the dog’s neck first, and one side of the scissors broke off. I stabbed it with the remaining part of the scissors, and the dog died.
“I died very young, at the age of 19, possibly due to chronic depression. Then, I was reincarnated to be the present me, and the dog I killed was reborn as Li Miao in this life. I often invite him to eat and drink with us as a way to relieve me of the guilt in taking his life,” Tang Shao explained to his wife.
“I'm going to die tomorrow, and the one who will kill me is no one other than Li Miao. I have kept all this to myself until now. You reap what you sow. This is a heavenly principle that no one can change. So, please do not feel sad about what will happen to me.”
The next day, Emperor Xuanzong of Tang held a grand military parade at the foot of Lishan Mountain. Two hundred thousand soldiers gathered with flags, and the line stretched to dozens of miles. The emperor was in such high spirits that he personally beat the drum to energize the atmosphere.
Suddenly, Minister of Defense Guo Yuanzhen stepped forward to report on some military affairs, and the soldiers' exercise was interrupted as a result. The emperor was furious and ordered to have Guo beheaded under a big flag.
Chancellor Zhang and other court officials all knelt down to plead for Guo, saying that he was a great national hero and should be pardoned from death. The emperor then ordered to have Guo exiled to Xinzhou (present-day Xinxing County in Guangzhou Province).
The emperor was still angry, however, so he ordered to have Tang Shao beheaded for his failure to maintain military order. Before anyone had a chance to plead for him, Li Miao, a general at the time, stepped forward to carry out the order. Strangely, when his blade went down the first time, it broke. He had to get another one to kill Tang Shao, just like how Tang Shao had stabbed the dog to death with two scissors in his prior life.
Emperor Xuanzong later regretted killing Tang Shao and blamed Li Miao for executing him too quickly. The emperor dismissed Li Miao from his post and ordered that he never be reinstated.
– Excerpted from “Taiping Guangji” (太平廣記) (Extensive Gleanings from the Era of Great Harmony)