The Inception in the Chinese Ancient Strange Stories
Nowadays Chinese movie lovers are enthusiastic to talk about an American science fiction film – Inception. It tells a story about planting of an idea into the mind of a person. The movie arouses the enthusiasm of movie lovers to explore the dreams.
Speaking of dreams, there are some stories about dreams in Chinese ancient strange stories.
Zhuang Zhou's Dreaming of Butterfly
The best-known story is "Zhuang Zhou's Dreaming of Butterfly". Once, Zhuang Zhou dreamed a dream in which he became a dancing butterfly. Being quite joyful and leisurely, he even forgot who he really was. This story is a famous text representing Master Zhuang's concept of Arranging Things. In Master Zhuang's opinion, if people can transcend the limitation of life and death, human and nature, the happiness would be everywhere. So later "Zhuang Zhou's dreaming of butterfly" is always referring to mysterious illusions, retrospection of the past and the enjoyable experiences in dream.
Wei Zheng Killed the Dragon King of Jinghe River in His Dream
It's a story from Journey to the West. The Dragon King is the God of Rain in Chinese mythology. He didn't obey the order of the Jade Emperor to fall the rain just because he made a bet with a fortune-teller. The Jade Emperor was very angry and chose a human to execute the Dragon King. The human being chosen was Wei Zheng, the Prime minister at that time. The Dragon King then came into the dream of Emperor Taizong of Tang, the emperor at that time, asked the emperor to stop Wei Zheng from killing him. So Emperor Taizong summoned Wei Zheng to play chess with him, thinking Wei Zheng would miss the time to execute the Dragon King. But when they were playing chess, Wei Zheng fell asleep and made a dream. In the dream, Wei Zheng executed the Dragon King.
Saving Ghost Lover in the Dream
It's a story from Strange Tales of Liaozhai. Lian Suo, a young and pretty female ghost, fell in love with an intellectual called Yang Yuwei. But in the hell, a bully took a fancy to Lian Suo and forced Lian Suo to marry him. Lian Suo was incapable of resisting, so she came into Yang Yuwei's dream and asked him to come to the hell to save her. The next day, Yang Yuwei went to sleep early according to the agreement with Lian Suo. In his dream, he came to the hell and fight with the bully, but he was no match for the bully and was beat heavily. At that moment, Wang Sheng, a friend of Yang Yuwei, came to help him. Wang Sheng was very strong. He killed the bully and saved Lian Suo. When all was finished, Yang Yuwei woke up. Having seen the bruise on his body, he realized he fight with the bully in the dream. The next day Yang Yuwei met Wang Sheng, knowing Wang Sheng made the same dream at that night. This is to say, Yang Yuwei and Wang Sheng made a dream separately in reality, but their spirits met in the hell and saved Lian Suo.
Placeseeker in the Hell
In the Northern Song Dynasty, an official named Xue Yue planned to live out his life in retirement.
One day, he made a dream. In his dream, an official said to him, "My superior in the hell sent me to tell you, 'You'll die soon. After you die, you'll come to the hell and be an official there.' But if you resign, you can live a little longer." Of course Xue Yue didn't want to die soon and he originally planned to resign, so he agreed. That official went back to report to his superior.
After a while, that official came again, said, "It's good for you to resign. Please write down your promise." Then Xue Yue wrote a paper to prove that he would resign and wouldn't take the job in the hell. The official took the paper, said, "Well. You have written the paper. You couldn't break your promise," and left again.
After a little time, that official came again and said to Xue Yue, "My superior is glad to see your promise. You can go away now." Then Xue Yue woke up.
In fact, the superior in the hell who didn't show his face inquired about the arrangement of the staffing of the hell in advance. He heard that Xue Yue would take over his position after Xue Yue died, so he sent someone to seduce Xue Yue to live a little longer in the world. In case Xue Yue broke his promise, he even asked Xue Yue to write down the promise. In the opinion of the superior, his idea was successfully implanted into Xue Yue's mind, and he could keep his position for a little longer.