The Ladders to Heaven
In the very ancient time, the sky and the earth were not so far from each other and were connected by ladders. The immortals and deities could go up and down freely and even the ordinary people with magic power could climb up the ladders to complain to the Lord of Heaven.
So what on earth were the ladders to heaven? And where were they?
There were two different kinds of ladders to heaven: the mountains and the trees, both of which were natural things. It was said that a place named Duguang in the southwest was the center of both heaven and the earth. It was an extremely wonderful place: the climate was always that of spring; the soil was fertile enough to grow crops all year round; the delicious fruits, tender as ointment, were much inviting in appearance. In this beautiful place lived all kinds of animals. Birds were often heard singing, and phoenixes were seen dancing. Various flowers exhibited their beauty freely and grass and trees were evergreen. What a paradise on earth! There grew a kind of peculiar tree called Lingshou, the bamboo-like branches of which could be used to make walking sticks for old people. It also brought forth fragrant and beautiful flowers whose scent could even reach heaven. Some said that Duguang was modern Chengdu.
In the middle of the paradise on the earth grew a very tall tree whose trunk was perfectly straight into the sky. Since theparadise was the center of heaven and the earth, and the tree was in the center of the paradise, when the sun shone above, it would leave no shadow. Utter a cry there, and you would find the sound disappeared immediately in the sky without any echoes around.
The shape of this tree was also very strange. The tall and thin trunk had no branches except for some crooked ones on the top of the tree twining together like the canopy of an umbrella. What was more peculiar was that as long as the trunk was shaken, lots of soft barks would fall down slowly. Seeing from a distance, it looked as if the tree was decorated with silk ribbons floating in the wind.
The tree, with the name of Jianmu, was the ladder in the center between heaven and the earth, by which people could go up and down. Nevertheless, those who wanted to climb up this tall and straight tree must be skillful. It was said that Fuxi was the first who succeeded in reaching heaven via this ladder.