Brief Biography of Great Master Sying An
The Master's name was Shr Syan, "Real Sage." His formal name was Sz Chi, "Wanting to Equal", and his style name was Sying An, "Reflection and Sanctuary".
He was the son of the Shr family from the Chang Shou District. His parents raised him in the Confucian tradition. He left home at an early age and practiced the Vinaya (moral precepts) very strictly. He always enjoyed listening to the Dharma. His knowledge of the teachings was profound, and included both the School of the Nature and the School of Marks. He investigated the topic "who is mindful of the Buddha" when he meditated. He concentrated without cease for over four months and suddenly achieved enlightenment. He said "I have awakened from a dream!"
Ever after, his skillful instructions in the style of the Chan School were both quick and sharp. His eloquence was compelling and invincible.
The Master studied the Tripitaka by day and recited the Buddha's name by night. He burned his finger as a sacrifice before the Buddhas at Ashoka (Mountain) Monastery and made forty-eight great vows. His sincerity elicited a response from the Buddha' ssharira, and they put forth splendorous light.
An essay he wrote called "An Exhortation to Resolve Upon Bodhi" encouraged the four-fold assembly in their cultivation. Many of the people who read this essay were moved to tears.
On the fourteenth day of the fourth lunar month during the twelfth year of the Yung Jeng reign period (A.D. 1734 of the Ching Dynasty), he faced West and quietly passed away.
Myriads of people attended the funeral of Great Master Sying An. Suddenly he opened his eyes and said, "I am going now and will come back soon. Birth and death are the important matter. Everyone should purify his mind and recite the Buddha's name to end birth and death."
He put his palms together and recited the Buddha's name continuously, then passed away once again. A verse of praise goes:
His compassionate mind was so vast that he wrote an essay called "An Exhortation to Resolve Upon Bodhi".
His vow power was so profound that he made forty-eight vows in all.
His practice and understanding of Buddhism were so real and true that his auspicious responses were beyond compare.
Therefore, the lineage of the Pure Land School survives due to his strenuous efforts.
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