|Water Margin character|
|Also known as||
|Rank||13th, Solitary Star (天孤星) of the 36 Heavenly Spirits|
|Infantry leader of Liangshan|
|Origin||Garrison major from Weizhou|
|First appearance||Chapter 3|
|Weapon||Monk's spade, Dagger|
Lu Zhishen, nicknamed "Flowery Monk", is a fictional character in the Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He is the lead character in the first major story cycle of the novel, in which he comes to epitomise loyalty, strength, justice but also brashness. He ranks 13th of the 36 Heavenly Spirits of the 108 Liangshan heroes.
Becoming a monk
Lu Zhishen's original name was Lu Da. He was described as to have a round face, big ears, a straight nose, a squarish mouth and a beard which overshadows his face. Lu Da is first introduced as a garrison major in Weizhou (in present-day Gansu) from his first meeting with Shi Jin. While they are having some drinks in an inn, they hear a singer called Jin Cuilian, who is crying over her plight. She has been bullied by a butcher nicknamed "Lord of the West". Lu Da helps Jin Cuilian and her father escape from Weizhou and he confronts the butcher later. He fights with the butcher and kills him with three punches to the head. To avoid arrest, Lu Da flees to the city of Yanmen and by chance runs into Jin Cuilian's father. Jin Cuilian has married to a wealthy squire there, and Lu Da seeks shelter in his manor. The squire later writes a letter to the abbot at Wenshu Monastery on Mount Wutai introducing Lu Da. After Lu Da is accepted and becomes a monk, the abbot gives him the Buddhist name Zhishen, which means "sagacious".
Lu Zhishen does not follow the Buddhist code of abstinence from meat and wine. Once, he causes an uproar in the monastery in a drunken rage by beating up his fellow monks who try to stop him and smashes two statues at the entrance. He earns himself the nickname "Flowery Monk" for the flowery tattoos which adorn his upper body. Lu Zhishen causes trouble again in the monastery after drinking and the abbot decides to send him away as he can no longer tolerate Lu's actions and behavior. Lu Zhishen is sent to the Great Minister's Temple in Dongjing (present-day Kaifeng, Henan).
Lu Zhishen wields a monk's spade and a dagger as his weapons. Initially, he told the blacksmith that he wanted a monk's spade weighing 100 jin. The blacksmith remarks that even Guan Yu's guan dao weighs less at 81 jin, so Lu Zhishen wanted his spade to be 81 jin as well. The blacksmith told him that the spade would not be handy if it is too heavy, so Lu Zhishen eventually agreed to have the spade at 62 jin instead.
Becoming sworn brothers with Lin Chong
On his journey, Lu Zhishen dissuades "Little Tyrant" Zhou Tong from marrying Squire Liu's daughter. He meets Shi Jin again and allies with him to kill the evil bandits Cui Daocheng and Qiu Xiaoyi. Upon reaching his destination, Lu Zhishen is placed in charge of maintaining the garden of the temple. He subdues a group of hooligans who often stole vegetables from the garden and earns their admiration and respect. Lu Zhishen performs a superhuman feat by uprooting a willow tree with his brute strength and becomes famous. He meets Lin Chong, the martial arts instructor of the 800,000 strong Imperial Guards, and they become sworn brothers. When Lin Chong is framed and exiled to Cangzhou, Lu Zhishen secretly follows him and protects him from the guards who have been bribed to kill him along the way.
Becoming an outlaw
Later, Lu Zhishen passes by Cross Slope and became fast friends with Sun Erniang and Zhang Qing. He goes to Mount Twin Dragons to seek refuge under Deng Long but is refused. Lu Zhishen, Yang Zhi and Cao Zheng kill Deng Long and seize control of the stronghold and become outlaws. Lu Zhishen joins Liangshan after the battle of Qingzhou (in present-day Shandong).
Lu Zhishen goes to Huazhou to invite Shi Jin to join Liangshan but is arrested together with him and they are held captive in Prefect He's residence. The Liangshan outlaws trick Prefect He and manage to rescue them. Lu Zhishen becomes one of the leaders of the Liangshan infantry after the Grand Assembly in chapter 71. He follows the Liangshan heroes on their campaigns against the invading Liao army and rebel forces after they are granted amnesty by Emperor Huizong. He captures Fang La, who was on the run after his army had been completely eradicated by the Liangshan forces.
Lu Zhishen is one of the few survivors from Liangshan after the campaigns, and his unwitting capture of Fang La officially ends the punitive expedition against the rebel leader. Despite Song Jiang's pleas, Lu Zhishen refuses to take up an official post or become ordained as an abbot in some big monastery. He and Wu Song decide to remain at Liuhe Pagoda in Hangzhou, where Song Jiang's army is camped. On their first night in the pagoda, Lu Zhishen is awakened by the sudden crashing of tides on the nearby Qiantang River. He then comes to understand the meaning of the first half of his old abbot's prophecy. The entire prophecy went as follows:
|Take Xia when you meet him;||逢夏而擒，|
|Seize La when you encounter him.||遇臘而執。|
|When you hear the tide, complete the circle;||聽潮而圓，|
|When you see the faithful, enter into silence.||見信而寂。|
Lu Zhishen, recalling that he has captured both Fang La and his general Xiahou Cheng, now learns that the tide is called "Old Faithful". The monks further relate to him that in Buddhist jargon, the characters for "completing the circle" (圓) "entering into silence" (寂) mean "to die" when combined. Realising at that moment that his death is imminent, Lu Zhishen bathes and lights fragrant incense. He then composes an ode and calls for Song Jiang. Sitting cross-legged on a tuffet, Lu Zhishen dies before Song Jiang arrives. Song Jiang then picks up Lu Zhishen's ode, which reads:
|In my life I never cultivated goodness,||平生不修善果，|
|Relishing only murder and arson.||只愛殺人放火。|
|Suddenly my golden shackles have been opened;||忽地頓開金枷，|
|Here my jade locks have been pulled asunder.||這裡指斷玉鎖。|
|Alas! Old Faithful of the Qiantang River has come;||咦！錢塘江上潮信來，|
|Now I finally realise that I am myself!||今日方知我是我。|
Described as a monk who never read the scriptures and only knew slaughter, Lu Zhishen ends his life as an enlightened Buddha. He is later eulogised and cremated with all the honours befitting one of his accorded status.
- List of Water Margin minor characters#Lu Zhishen's story for a list of supporting minor characters from Lu Zhishen's story.
- Hsia, C.T. C. T. Hsia on Chinese Literature. Columbia University Press, 2004 (ISBN 0231129904), pp. 448-449, footnote #31
- (Chinese) Li, Mengxia. 108 Heroes from the Water Margin, page 27. EPB Publishers Pte Ltd, 1992. ISBN 9971-0-0252-3.
- Buck, Pearl. All Men are Brothers. Moyer Bell Ltd, 2006. ISBN 9781559213035.
- Zhang, Lin Ching. Biographies of Characters in Water Margin. Writers Publishing House, 2009. ISBN 978-7506344784.
- Shibusawa, Kou. Bandit Kings of Ancient China, pages 55–56, 58, 66–68, 76, and 80. KOEI, 1989.
- (Japanese) Ichisada, Miyazaki. Suikoden: Kyoko no naka no Shijitsu. Chuo Koronsha, 1993. ISBN 978-4122020559.
- Miyamotois, Yoko. Water Margin: Chinese Robin Hood and His Bandits.
- Keffer, David. Outlaws of the Marsh.