There once lived a man by the name of Zhou Zhixiang. Zhou loathed seeing caged animals, and whenever he got the chance he would release them. He had a special affection for sparrows and would often put grain along the eaves of his roof to feed them.
When he was only middle-aged he lost his sight, but this didn't prevent him from continuing to feed the sparrows as before. Then one day, Zhou suddenly died.
His distraught family kept a constant vigil by his body because his heart and head still felt warm to the touch. After four days and four nights Zhou regained consciousness and told his anxious family the following tale.
"It was dusk and I found myself walking out of the house towards a field all on my own. There was absolutely nobody around. I remember being scared, so I quickened my pace, and after walking dozens of miles, I reached the outskirts of a city. Once again the place was completely desolate and not a light could be seen from any of the windows.
"Out of the gloom came an old man, leaning heavily on a walking stick. I recognized him as my old, dead father and I knelt down before him and cried.
"Father asked me, 'Who sent you here?'
"I replied, 'I lost my way and happened to end up here.'
"Father then gave the cryptic reply 'Oh well, so be it.'
"He led me farther into the city and we walked until we reached a government building. An old man dressed in the Daoist style, complete with head scarf, walked out to greet us, and as he came closer I realized that it was my grandfather.
"When he recognized me, he looked quite alarmed and he proceeded to reprimand father: 'How can you be so stupid! Bringing your own son to a place like this!' He promptly sent father away.