(Minghui.org) Dream of the Red Chamber, also known as The Story of the Stone, is a classic Chinese novel. It mentioned a two-sided magic mirror from a Taoist who said it could cure Jia Rui’s illness.

Jia was one of the characters in the novel. He fell ill after lusting over a cousin’s beautiful wife and being rejected. The Taoist told him to look at the back side of the mirror, but never the front side. Jia saw a skeleton when looking at the back side, so he ignored the warning and flipped the mirror over to see his cousin-in-law waving to him. He jumped into the mirror and had a date night with her. 

Hours later, Jia’s family found him dead in bed. His date night with the beauty turned out to be just an illusion in the mirror. 

The moral of this story is that many things in this world have two sides: illusion and reality. What appears to be wonderful things may turn out to be anything but. Lust, for example, may bring short-term pleasure on the surface, but it may ruin a person’s health or even life in the long run. Many other things that people pursue in the secular world are also illusions, such as wealth, fame, and sentimentality, as they are all transient and cannot be taken to the grave upon one’s death. 

Many people have longed to be immortals in China’s long history, yet they have failed to see the realities of the illusions they sought after in the secular world. As a result, they have been unable to reach spiritual enlightenment. 

The same Taoist who had the magic mirror also wrote a poem describing people’s failure to see the realities of their worldly pursuits:

All men long to be immortals,yet to riches and rank each aspires;The great ones of old, where are they now?their graves are of a mass of briars.All men long to be immortals,yet silver and glove they prize;And grub for money all their lives,till death seals up their eyes.All men long to be immortals,yet done on the wives they’ve wed;Who swear to love their husband evermorebut remarry as soon as he’s dead.All men long to be immortalsyet with getting sons won’t have done.Although fond parents are legion,who ever saw a really filial son?

According to traditional Chinese culture, only virtue and karma, not worldly things, follow a person from one reincarnation cycle to another. In order to become an immortal, one has to focus on improving their charter and becoming a good person.

Illusion vs. Reality

Although written over 200 years ago, Dream of the Red Chamber and the mirror nonetheless offer a valuable insight into the nature of the modern-day Red Terror. 

Since its founding in 1921, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been blanketing China with its Red Terror. The situation worsened after it took power in 1949. In order to maintain its iron grip, the CCP launched one political campaign after another, resulting in tens of millions of unnatural deaths and nearly wiping out thousands of years of civilization.

As time continues, the CCP has geared up its machine of lies, such as the systematic cover-up and misinformation of the coronavirus outbreak. While many people are deceived by the CCP’s lies, a closer look helps us see the other side of the magic mirror, i.e., identify the reality behind the illusions depicted by the CCP’s propaganda. Below are a few examples. 

Illusion: the CCP often boasts about its “booming” economy, such as being the second largest economic entity in the world with ever increasing GDP. Reality: China’s GDP per capita is only a fraction of that in major Western countries. Its Premier Li Keqiang statedin May 2020 that about 600 million people in China have a monthly income of 1,000 yuan (or $150) or less. 

Illusion: the CCP also shows off China’s science and technology as well as the manufacturing capability. Reality: A significant portion of this “development” came from intellectual property theft, while the manufacturing happened at the cost of severe pollution and natural resources depletion. 

Illusion: Elementary and middle school education is free in China and higher education is becoming more popular. Reality: Both elementary and secondary education is free in major Western countries, while Chinese students need to pay high school tuition. Furthermore, families with no hukou (household registration record) have to pay a much higher fee to send their children to school. Lastly, the modern Chinese education mainly focuses on pro-CCP propaganda, instead of integrity and character development. This led to a decline of moral values especially in the past two or three decades. 

Even the anti-corruption campaigns are not as simple as they appear. Illusion: hundreds of high-ranking CCP officials were taken down and millions of lower-level officials were affected. Reality: these actions were taken largely due to infighting among the CCP officials. In fact, two years after the CCP took power, Mao Zedong launched the Three-anti Campaign and then the Five-anti Campaign to purge people he deemed threats. As the CCP keeps persecuting faith groups, such as Falun Gong practitioners, it has bred more and more corrupt officials. 

In fact, many CCP officials themselves know the Party is rotten to the core, but they count on the military to sustain its ruling. Will this work? Illusion: With over two million active military personnel, China has the largest military in the world. Reality: The CCP was able to control its military because of its brainwashing. Once people recognize how vicious the Party really is, the military could prove useless – just like the former Soviet Union that collapsed overnight despite its military of nearly four million.

Note: the translation of the poem was from “A Comparative Study of Poetry Translation in The Story of the Stone From the Perspective of Reception Aesthetics,” Journal of Literature and Art Studies, January 2017, Vol. 7, No. 1, 35-45.