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The Role of Shen Gongbao

Sept. 5, 2021 |   By Li Tiantong

(Minghui.org) In the ancient Chinese mythology classics, Fengshen Yanyi (Investiture of the Gods), Shen Gongbao was a very special character. Most deities who failed to become divine beings were ruined by Shen, and he was hardly ever idle.

How can he be capable ruining so many deities? First of all, he was very eloquent. Secondly, he did possess some small supernormal skills. Plus, he was a disciple of the prestigious Yuanshi Tianzun (Jade Emperor).

Shen was always at odds with Jiang Ziya out of jealousy, resentment, and hatred. It is important to point out that Jiang, another disciple of Yuanshi Tianzun, was not doing things for his own benefit. Rather, he was chosen by his master to be conferred titles as a representative for deities of the three main religions at the time.

Shen claimed that he did not have personal conflicts with Jiang. Through those years, however, what he did was exactly interfering with and preventing Jiang from accomplishing his mission. By doing so, Shen was defying his own master and all three religions. Aside from his strong ego, along with an extremely selfish and self-centered character, Shen was full of charm on the surface. That was why he was able to ruin so many deities.

But why didn’t his master stop him from messing things up? Actually he was held accountable once. In Chapter 72 of Investiture of the Gods, Shen was captured and brought to his master Yuanshi Tianzun because he almost killed Jiang. But the punishment appeared rather light: Shen was released after making a vow not to do it again. After that, however, Shen did not learn his lesson. In fact, he neglected his master’s compassion as well as his own vow, and continued making more trouble.

But the book Fengshen Yanyi gave a hint that there was a reason Shen was released this way. That is, he was used as a test to sift out those who could not succeed in their cultivation–in other words, who were not qualified to be divine beings. After all, nobody intended for Shen to mess things up. But since he chose to do so, his master took advantage of it, beating him at his own game. In fact, masters of the three religions had already warned their disciples ahead of time: anyone who followed Shen would face consequences.

Those who were misled by Shen each had their own story. Some were deceived by his rhetoric or his hypocrisy, or they were goaded into action. Regardless of the situation, one common thing they shared was that they were not up to the standards of divine beings. If they were not good enough, they would never become divine beings. It was as simple as that during cultivation at that time.

Of course, Shen would meet his own fate sooner or later. After he was defeated at Wanxian Formation, a major battle joined by about 10,000 deities to oppose Jiang and his allies, Shen’s vow became true. He was caught and used to fill the hole in the North Sea.

Shen was an immortal to begin with. Because of his jealousy, resentment, and hatred, however, he not only ruined himself but also a group of others. That is, selfishness, self-centeredness, jealousy, and resentment are indeed dangerous for even immortals, let alone cultivators who are in the process of cultivation.

The story could have had a different ending. Suppose Jiang had completed his mission without meddling from Shen–Shen could have benefited from it because both he and Jiang had the same master. Even if Jiang were really inept, Shen could have helped him to get things done (many deities helped Jiang accomplish his mission). After all, there was no point arguing who was more capable or more fit for the mission. In fact, it was Shen’s jealousy at play. As a result, he had no faith or respect toward his master–a deadly mistake.

Sometimes, one thought is all that it takes to determine whether it is righteous or evil. When cultivators still possess a jealous, competitive mentality and are not careful, they might play a role like Shen. They may cause harm to others as well as themselves. It is particularly the case for those who feel capable, special, and talented.

The most important thing for a true cultivator is discovering his or her own shortcomings and attachments, and correct them to improve himself. If he deviates from that and becomes muddle-headed, he may go down the path of becoming Shen Gongbao. During the special era today, the consequences would be severe.