Although the monk known as Reverend Liaozhen passed away 231 years ago, his physical remains are intact, and show no signs of decomposition. He practiced cultivation in Yuanpu Temple, in the city of Anqing, Anhui Province.
It is believed that he was born into a family surnamed Duan, in a village in Congyang County, in 1681; the twentieth year of the reign of Emperor Kangxi, of the Qing Dynasty. He became a skilled bamboo craftsman, and earned a living in the Yixiu region, in Anqing's village of Wuheng.
At the age of 49, Reverend Liaozhen, as he came to be called, became a monk of the Yuanpu Temple, and he practiced cultivation very diligently. In his latter years, he instructed his disciples to place his body in a casket after he had passed away. Two to three years later, they were to open the casket to check for decomposition. If decomposition had set in, they were instructed to dispose of the body; but if the body was not decomposed and was still intact, they were to honor and enshrine it in the pagoda next to the temple.
Reverend Liaozhen attained Enlightenment when he was 96. His disciples followed his exact instructions, discovering to their amazement that the monk's body was naturally preserved and intact. It was subsequently covered in gold plate as is the usual practise to show reverence.
In the 230 years since Reverend Liaozhen's passing, there have been countless wars and natural catastrophes, yet his body has remained unscathed. When the Chinese Communist Party came into power in the 1950s, a local cadre opened the casket. He attempted to stab the body in the back with a long spear, but others prevented him from doing so.
In 2002, the building of another temple for the sole purpose of honoring and worshiping Reverend Liaozhen was completed, and the casket was opened once more. To all the onlookers it appeared as though the Reverend was in a deep sleep. Everyone was in awe of the body's tranquil demeanor.