The Spiral Shells Who Mend The Ship
Hang Zhou is a scenic place in China. During Qing Dynasty (the lastdynasty of China, 1644-1911) there was a kind-hearted person named Run Qepang. Ever since Run Qepang was young he was very kind and he treasured little animals immensely. He also had an ambition of setting captured animals free. Regularly, he did the hard work of going to the banks of the streams or deep in the mountains to release captured animals. The animals he set free were mostly spiral shells and little fishes. He always advised people to set these two types of animals free. Once there was a little kid who asked him,
"Uncle Ru n, why do you advise people to set free spiral shells and fishes free?" He replied with a smile,
"Oh! It is because spiral shells and fishes are cheap to buy, but when you set them free you will have saved countlesslives."
Therefore as long as Run Qepang saw people selling spiral shells and little fishes in the market, he always bought them and set them free. Not only did he continue his blessed actions, but also he urged people tofollow him.
In the year of Kong Xi (name of first of emperor of Qing Dynasty) Geng Sheng (the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Braches, a way of calculating years in old China, ed.), because Run Qepang was out on business, he was on board a ship by passing Fu Chun. Unfortunately the bottom of the ship wass truck by a submerged rock. The ship was in the middle of the river and the water was rising through the hole struck by the rocks. Soon the ship would be sink. Run Qepang was panicked and, he thought, "Alas! This time perhaps I will die."
At the critical moment, suddenly there was a disturbance from the bottom of the ship. Carefully they looked at it, the water had stopped pouring in. Run Qepang felt that it was unusual. When the ship was onshore, only then did they find out that there were countless spiral shells, layer upon layer, they had used their bodies to fill out the hole. In addition, there were thousands of little fishes helping the shells by the sides of the ship. This extraordinary situation made all eyewitnesses admit that it was the first time in their lives that they had ever seen such a marvellous spectacle.
Extract of The Buddhist Children's Stories, page 35-36, published by TheWhite Cloud Cultural Centre, Taipei Taiwan