Le Comte, a French missionary, related this story from his own knowledge:
|The circle of Reincarnation|
I was called, one day to baptize a sick person, an old man of seventy, who lived upon a small pension allowed him by the emperor. When I entered his room, he said, I am obliged to you, my father, that you are going to deliver me from a heavy punishment.
That is not all, replied I, baptism not only delivers persons from hell, but initiates them into a state of blessedness.
I do not comprehend, answered the sick man, what it is you say, and perhaps I have not sufficiently explained myself; I must inform you, that for some time I have subsisted on the emperor’s bounty, and the bonzes (Buddhist Monks), who are particularly acquainted with what passes in the next world, have assured me, that out of gratitude I shall be obliged to serve him after death, and that my soul will infallibly pass into a post horse to carry dispatches out of the provinces to Court; accordingly they exhort me to perform my duty well in this new capacity, not to stumble, nor wince, nor bite, nor hurt any body, and at the same time to eat little and be patient, in order by these means to excite the compassion of the deities, who often convert a good beast into a man of quality, and make him a considerable mandarin. I own, father, said he, that the thought of this makes me shudder, I dream of it every night, and some-times fancy myself harnessed and ready to start at the first stroke of the whip; I then awake in a violent sweat, and am hardly able to determine whether I am a man or a horse; but alas! what will be the case when I am a horse in reality? This then, my father, is the resolution I am come to. I am told that those of your religion are not subject to these miseries, that they continue to be men in the next world, as they are in this; I therefore beseech you to admit me among you; for though I am told your religion is severe, I am resolved, notwithstanding to embrace it, since at any rate I had rather be a Christian than become a beast.
I could not help pitying, says Le Comte, this discourse of the sick man, but reflecting that God makes use every of simplicity and ignorance to lead men to the truth, I took occasion to undeceive him of his errors, and to direct him in the way of salvation; I gave him instructions a long time, and at length (says he) he believed, and I had the consolation to see him die, not only with the most rational sentiments, but with all the marks of a good Christian.
|Buddhist Monk Hanshan|
[Buddhist believes reincarnation, that human soul may pass into beasts or into human again after death. You may reborn into a better family with good fortune or poorer family to endure hardship according the merits of this life. A story has been widely retold that Buddhist Monk Hanshan, one day passed by a layman’s wedding, he saw the bride was a reincarnation of his grandmother, those drinking and feasting guest at the table were reincarnations of his former beasts, and the pork and mutton in the cooking pot was his former families and relatives. Buddhists also believe Eighteen levels of hell and Western Heaven, which are similar as those in Christian Religion. I suspect this sick old man must be a bad in the eyes of those bonzes. Even if he was baptized into a Christian, he might not be guaranteed to go to heaven at the last day of judgement. — I am only joking!]