2. Picking Peaches
Zhang Daoling had 201 disciples, but he tested them in order to impart the Tao to the genuine cultivator among them.
One day he led his disciples to a ridge named Staircase to the Clouds on Guming Mountain. He pointed at a peach tree growing in a crag and said, "I shall impart the Great Tao to the person who can pick peaches from that tree." The peach tree was growing in the middle of a very steep, rough rock between the clouds and the depths of a valley. Most of the disciples looked down at the tree from the ridge and were bathed in a cold sweat. They shied away from the challenge and replied, "It is impossible, Master."
Only Zhao Sheng thought differently. He thought, "Since Master told us to go get the peaches, there must be a way. Besides, my master is here. He would never let me fall into the abyss and die. A cultivator must have faith in his master and the Tao before he can reach the Great Tao." He made a leap of faith towards the peach tree and landed right on the tree. Everyone was shocked by his action.
One by one Zhao picked the peaches on the tree and threw them towards Master Zhang. Zhao picked 202 peaches in total, so Master Zhang and his 201 disciples would each have one. After Zhao finished picking the peaches, Master Zhang reached out to pull him up. All the disciples thought, "How can he possibly reach him from here?" But before their eyes Master Zhang's arms extended their length by three times and pulled Zhao up to the ridge.
After Zhao Sheng ate his peach, Master Zhang told his disciples, "Zhao Sheng was able to land on the tree because his mind was righteous. Now I, as your master, will try to do the same and see if I can make it. It will be great if I can pick a large peach from the tree. If I cannot land on the tree, I am not worthy to be your master and I shall die trying without regret." Everyone but Zhao Sheng tried to persuade Master Zhang not to do such a dangerous thing. Ignoring their pleas, Master Zhang made a leap, but he missed the tree and fell into the valley. Everyone turned pale with shock. For a very long time no one made any sound. Everyone decided that their master must have died and started weeping.
Zhao Sheng, too, was overcome with grief. There is a Chinese saying, "Master for a day; Father for a lifetime." If anything should happen to Master, how could he live on as a disciple? But then he thought, "Master is great, he is at a very high level. At the bottom of each valley there must be solid ground, even the deepest one. It is nothing to a cultivator that has attained the Tao. As a disciple, I must follow Master closely in all circumstances. I must not abandon Master and live alone." He closed his eyes and made another leap of faith into the valley.
Zhao lost the feeling of time. When he finally landed, he was not injured at all. In fact, he landed right in front of Master Zhang, who smiled at him as though he had been expecting him. There was a bed and a chamber there. Master Zhang said, "I knew you would come!" Master Zhang imparted the Great Tao to him for three days before they returned home. All other disciples were amazed and saddened by their loss of opportunity to obtain the Great Tao.
Finally, Master Zhang and Zhao Sheng ascended into the sky in broad daylight and became immortals. All the other disciples watched as they soared into the sky until they disappeared into the clouds.