Today we are going to tell a story about a newly died ghost trying to make a living. It is from the book called 幽明录 YouMingLu from the Southern dynasty 南朝 between the year 420 ~ 479.
In the book, it says there was once a newly died ghost that was super skinny. He met a ghost who was his friend that died twenty years earlier. This old ghost looked much fatter that him. The fat ghost who died earlier asked the skinny newly died ghost, “what happened to you? Why do you look like this now?”
The newly died ghost replied, “because I don’t have enough food to eat. I bet you know the tricks to get food. Please teach me.” The fat ghost said, “easy peasy. All you need to do is to scare people at their houses and they would offer you food.”
The newly died ghost came to a family on the east side of a village. The family believed in Buddhism. The ghost saw a millstone in the room and started to grind wheat. The owner of the house saw a ghost grinding wheat, instead of getting startled, he told his children, “the Buddha is so generous and sent a ghost to help our family.” Upon this, he brought more wheat and put on the millstone for the ghost to grind. The newly died ghost worked hours grinding wheat and was so exhausted. He left and complained to the fat ghost, “why are you lying to me?” The fat ghost said，“try another family. Trust me next time will work.”
The newly died ghost came to another family on the east side of a village. The family believed in Taoism. This time the ghost saw another millstone at the gate and started to husk grains. The owner of the house saw a ghost husking grains, instead of getting startled, he told his family, “this ghost was helping the other family grind wheat and today he is helping us. Bring more grains here for him.” The newly died ghost again worked hours until sunset and was so exhausted. He left and complained to the fat ghost, “why are you lying to me? I worked two days in a row without getting any food. ”
The fat ghost said,” sorry bro. It is so unlucky that these two families are either believed in Buddhism or Taoism. They aren’t afraid of ghosts or spirits. Try some other family.”
The newly died ghost came to another family on the third day. There was a bamboo pole at the gate. The ghost came inside and same a group of women eating at the windows. In the yard there was white dog whereupon the ghost held the dog up and walked in the air. The family were so shocked and brought a wizard to help them. The wizard said, “it is a ghost who is asking for food. You need to kill the dog and prepare food, wine to sacrifice in the yard. ” This time, the newly died ghost had a great feast. From then on, he never got hungry thanks to his ghost friend’s advice.
There is a saying in Chinese based on this story is YouQianNengShiGuiTuiMo 有钱 能使鬼推磨, which literally means money can make ghosts grinding wheat or in English there is a similar meaning money makes the mare go.