THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
Chapters: 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5 * 6 * 7 * 8 * 9 * 10 * 11 * 12 * 13 * 14 * 15 * 16 * 17 * 18 * 19 * 20

The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra

Chapter 11: Vision of the Jeweled Stupa
With Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua

Sutra:

At that time all the Buddhas of the ten directions addressed the host of Bodhisattvas saying, “Good men! We should now go to the Saha world, to the place of Shakyamuni Buddha and make offerings to the Stupa of the Thus Come One Many Jewels.”

Outline:

G5. All the Buddhas come together.


Commentary:

At that time, when all the limitless nayutas of worlds in the ten directions Buddhas, all the Buddhas of the ten directions addressed the host of Bodhisattvas saying, “Good men! We should now go to the Saha world, to the place of Shakyamuni Buddha and make offerings to the Stupa of the Thus Come One Many Jewels. The time is ripe!” “Saha” is a Sanskrit word which means “endurable.” Living beings are able to endure the sufferings of the Saha World. Why does it turn into the Saha World? It is because Shakyamuni Buddha was born in the Saha World. Originally there were no five turbidities, but to teach and transform beings, the five turbidities appear. There are a great many varieties of sufferings in this world. There are the three sufferings, the eight sufferings, and all the limitless sufferings. The three sufferings are:

1. The suffering within suffering. This is suffering on top of suffering. For example, someone is poor and has no clothes to wear and lives in an old shack. Then a rainstorm comes up and blows his house away! He may have been suffering before, but now he is suffering even more! He lacks the three most basic necessities of life: clothing, food, and shelter.

2. The suffering of decay. Suppose someone is very well off. He has plenty of clothes and food and lives in a big fine place. But then his house and all his valuable possessions burn up. That is the suffering of decay.

“Well, I am not poor and I am not rich either. So I do not suffer, then, do I?” you ask.

Even if you do not have the suffering of poverty or the suffering of decay, there is still the third kind of suffering:

3. The suffering of process. This is the suffering of the life process as one goes from childhood to middle age, to old age, and then to death. In every thought there is change, and you are not in control of it at all. Your fate controls you. It makes the child grow up and get old, and then die. You obey fate’s commands to the letter. You obey the commands of fate better than the commands of your teacher. Your teacher tells you not to smoke or drink or take drugs, but you go off and do it in secret! Boy! But when King Yama tells you it is time to die, you are very compliant and die! That is the suffering of process. If dying was just a matter of taking your last breath and leaving, it would not be that bad. Most people, however, get sick first, then they die, and that is very uncomfortable. Again, if it was just a matter of being sick for a few days. That would be tolerable. But some people get paralyzed—half of them die first. Half of them refuse to listen to orders. They cannot sit up or turn over or walk. How much pain do you think that is?

There are also eight sufferings:

1. The suffering of birth. Obviously, everyone gets born. But you forget how painful it is! When a child is born it undergoes a lot of suffering, and so it cries. It is said that birth is as painful as ripping the shell off of a live turtle.

2. The suffering of old age. One’s eyes go bad, one loses one’s hearing. Someone says, “Would you like a cookie?” and you say, “No thanks, I do not want any tea.” Or “Would you like some tea?” and you say, “I am full!” It gets real frustrating. Someone says, “How are your children?” and you say, “My husband died long ago.” They see your lips moving, but they get the message wrong. If that was not bad enough, their teeth start hurting and fall out and then nothing tastes good when they eat it.

3. The suffering of sickness. Before you die, you get sick.

4. The suffering of death. Death is as painful as skinning a live cow!

5. The suffering of being separated from what one loves. It is very painful when someone you love leaves you.

6. The suffering of being near those you hate. People you cannot stand are always close by. The less you like them, the closer they try to get! You may move somewhere else hoping to get away from them and sure enough you meet someone even worse than they are!

7. The suffering of not getting what one wants. You may wish for wealth, fame, or profit and not get them. In general, not getting what you want is suffering.

8. The suffering of the raging blaze of the five skandhas. Form, feeling, perception, impulses and consciousness are like a raging fire. They turn you upside down.

Actually, there are limitless kinds of suffering, but there is no way you could speak of them all. Beings in this Saha World must undergo these sufferings. That is why it is called “endurable.” Basically, it is unbearable, but beings somehow get through it.

The Buddhas are headed to the Saha World to make offerings to the Stupa of the Thus Come One Many Jewels. In the past he made a vow that he would appear in his Stupa wherever The Dharma Flower Sutra was being spoken. Because Shakyamuni Buddha is speaking the Sutra, the Stupa is there.

Why did Shakyamuni Buddha leave the home life to cultivate the Way? It was because he saw all the sufferings in the world. Sufferings are endless. Seeing the sufferings of birth, sickness, old age and death, he decided to find a way to end suffering. That is why he left the home life, cultivated, and realized Buddhahood. When he became a Buddha, he truly put suffering to an end and gained true happiness.

During the Liang Dynasty, Dhyana Master Bao Zhi lived. He understood cause and effect well. One night a monk in a monastery heard the sound of a child crying. He went outside and saw a child in an eagle’s nest. The old Dhyana Master managed to keep him. The two bird parents could not get the child back. The child grew up to look like a person, but he had eagles’ claws instead of hands! As a child, Master Bao Zhi worked hard at his cultivation. It is very easy for children to get enlightened. He got the Five Eyes and Six Spiritual Penetrations and became a well-respected high monk. At the time of the Emperor Wu of Liang, when there were important family’s occasions, people would ask monks to recite the Sutras. Someone asked Dhyana Master Bao Zhi to recite at a wedding. He took one look at the gathering and said:

Strange indeed, strange indeed!
The grandson marries the grandmother!

How could this be? Before she died, the grandmother had held her little grandson’s hand and said, “All my affairs are taken care of and all my children have settled down. But who will take care of my little grandson? I cannot put him down.” With this one thought, she died and went to see King Yama. King Yama said, “Such emotions! Okay, you can go back and be your grandson’s wife! Help him take care of things.” She was reborn as a little girl, grew up, and married him. Take a look at the wheel of rebirth! The grandson marries his grandmother! All because of “leftover love.”

Then Dhyana Master took a look in the kitchen and said:

The daughter eats her mother’s flesh!

The little girl was sampling some pickled pig’s feet, and Dhyana Master Bao Zhi could see that the pig had been her mother in a former life.

The little boy beats on his father’s skin.

There in the band was a drummer beating on the skin of an animal that had, in a former life, been his own father!

Pigs and sheep are sitting on the cough.

When Dhyana Master Bao Zhi looked at the sofa, he saw people that had in former lives been pigs and sheep and were now the relatives who had come to congratulate the happy couple. The present set of relatives was at one time animals that had been eaten and now had returned.

The six relatives are cooking in the pot.

The relatives in former lives had been reborn as animals and were being stewed in the pot.

Everyone comes to congratulate. But I see that it is really suffering!

What do you think? Is it suffering? If you understand that it is suffering, then you should hurry up and cultivate. If you do not think it is suffering, then just turn around a few more times on the wheel of rebirth, and we will talk about it more later.

Sutra:

Just then the Saha world was transformed into one of purity, with lapis lazuli for soil and adorned with jeweled trees. Its eight roads were bordered with golden cords. In it there were no towns, villages, cities, oceans, rivers, streams, mountains, brooks, forests or thickets. Precious incense was burned and mandarava flowers completely covered the ground. Above it jeweled nets were spread and banners hung with jeweled bells. Only those in the assembly remained, as the gods and humans had been moved to another land.

Then all of the Buddhas, each bringing with him one great Bodhisattva as an attendant, reached the Saha World and went to the foot of a jeweled tree. Each jeweled tree was five hundred yojanas in height and adorned with branches, leaves, flowers and fruits. Beneath each jeweled tree was a lion throne five hundred yojanas in height adorned with great jewels. Then each of the Buddhas sat in the lotus posture on his own throne.

In this way, by turns, the lands of the three thousand great thousand worlds were filled, and still there was no end to the division bodies of Shakyamuni Buddha from even one direction.

Outline:

G6. Purifying the worlds.
H1. Purifying the Saha World.

Commentary:

In this section of text, Shakyamuni Buddha purifies the worlds three times. This is the first, purifying the Saha World.

Just then, right after all the division bodies of Shakyamuni Buddha of the ten directions said that they wanted to go to the Saha World to make offerings to the Stupa of the Thus Come One Many Jewels, Shakyamuni Buddha used the power of his spiritual penetrations to transform the Saha World. Why did it turn into the Saha World? The Saha World was transformed into one of purity. Basically, when Shakyamuni Buddha became a Buddha and having become a Buddha, the Buddha dwelt in the Adorned Land of Real Reward. That is where the Buddhas and great Bodhisattvas live. Originally, our Saha World has lapis lazuli for soil. There are no mountains, rivers, and so forth, it is all level and flat; but to teach living beings, Shakyamuni manifests the marks of defilement and purity. Thus, there is the pure land, and the defiled land of the five turbidities.

Now, Many Jewels Thus Come One has manifested and all the transformation bodies of Shakyamuni Buddha are going to gather together in one place. This is like inviting an important guest to a meeting or a party. The first thing we do is to clean house and adorn it very nicely in preparation, so the guest will be happy. Since Shakyamuni Buddha has asked his transformation bodies to gather together, he has first turned the Saha World into a pure world. This is the first of three such transformations that he makes.

With lapis lazuli for soil and adorned with jeweled trees. The jeweled trees are the kings of trees, like the Bodhi tree. Its eight roads were bordered with golden cords. The eight roads represent the Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path represents the Eight Proper Paths. In it there were no towns, villages, cities. These represent gatherings of men and women. In this pure world there were only men, no women. Oceans, rivers, streams, mountains, brooks, forests or thickets. Precious incense was burned. The precious incense refers to people’s merit and virtue. And mandarava flowers completely covered the ground. Mandarava flowers are the flowers that “go along with one’s wish.” As soon as you see these flowers, you are extremely happy. The flowers covered the ground everywhere. Above it were spread jeweled nets and banners hung with jeweled bells. Only those in the assembly remained, as the gods and humans had been moved to another land. Only those in the Dharma Assembly remained. All the gods and people were relocated to another world. See! Living beings can be moved to another world and not even realized it!

Then, all of the Buddhas, each bringing with him one great Bodhisattva as an attendant, reached the Saha World and went to the foot of a jeweled tree. Each jeweled tree was five hundred yojanas in height and adorned with branches, leaves, flowers and fruits. The trees were extremely beautiful. Beneath each jeweled tree, jeweled Bodhi trees was a lion throne five hundred yojanas in height adorned with great jewels. Then each of the Buddhas sat in the lotus posture on his own throne.

In this way, by turns, the lands of the three thousand great thousand worlds were filled and still there was no end.
They went on forever. How many Buddhas would you say there were? To the division bodies of Shakyamuni Buddha from even one direction. There were Buddhas who had no place to sit, even though the entire three thousand great thousand worlds had been filled. And that is only the Buddhas from one direction, from the east, that we are talking about! Standing room only!

Someone is wondering just what it is meant by a Lion Throne. The Lion Throne is the seat the Buddha sits on when he speaks the Dharma. We call it the Lion Throne because the Buddha speaks the Dharma like the roar of the lion. The lion is the king of beasts and when the lion roars, the animals are all afraid. In his Song of Enlightenment the Great Master Yung Chia wrote:

The roar of the lion is the Fearless One speaking.
When the wild beasts hear it, their heads split open.
Elephants run wild and lose their decorum,
But the gods and dragons hear it in silence and rejoice.

When the lion roars, all the animals are scared to death! Elephants are basically very strong, but when they hear the lion roar they are subdued. The gods and dragons hear it and are delighted.

The lotus posture is the position the Buddha is sitting in, with his legs crossed in full lotus. It is also called the Vajra position. What advantage does it has? It is used for subduing demons. Most especially for those who sleep sitting up, it is best to sit in lotus posture. In this way you can subdue your mind and prevent it from becoming scattered. In China they have the saying:

Gold Mountain legs.

That is because at Gold Mountain Monastery in China, they did not allow people to take their legs out of lotus posture. If you tried, you would get hit. No matter how much they hurt you had to bear it. After a while your legs get very reliable and good for sitting. They also say:

Kao-min incense.

At Kao Min Monastery, the incense would be lit for the duration of a sit and it would never vary by even a minute. Their schedule was the tightest one around.

And chatter at Hai Chao Monastery.

At Hai Chao Monastery, people talked all the time.

Seated in the Lotus Position it is very easy to enter samadhi if you bear the pain, that is. Do not be afraid of the pain like a little child who starts crying and calling for his mama. We should be great heroes. The more it hurts, the more we have to bear up. The best is to look into your hua tou (話頭). The Japanese look into the word “wu (無),” which means “nothing.” Chinese will often investigate the word “shui,” which means “who (誰).” They investigate “Who is reciting the Buddha’s name?” Others may investigate the question, “Before my parents gave birth to me, what was my original face?”

There are no fixed dharmas and there is not certain way you have to investigate. It is not easy. People may investigate their hua tou for years and not find an answer to them. If the Japanese investigate “nothing,” you can investigate “something!” Everything in the world can be reduced to nothing. What cannot? Look for it.

What use is investigating “nothing?” If everything is nothing then what is something? Everything comes to an end. What does not? Look for it! If you can find it, you become enlightened. If you find that thing which really cannot be reduced to nothing, just that, is enlightenment. If you find out what your original face was before your parents gave birth to you, then you will become enlightened. If you find out who is reciting the Buddha’s name, you will become enlightened, too. But you must really find out. You cannot just fake it. That is useless. You cannot just repeat things other people said, either.

The lotus posture, in Buddhism, is called the vajra jeweled sitting. If you can sit in lotus, all the gods will protect you, saying, “This person is sitting in lotus and is not afraid of the pain. He has made it through the pain barrier. He must have a heart of the Way. We should protect him.” If you can sit in lotus, wherever you go, just sit in lotus and close your eyes, and–at least in China—people will make offerings to you. But you should not sit in lotus just to get offerings! You should sit in lotus because cultivators should sit that way. That is all. You should not sit there in lotus with a sign that advertises your superior cultivation. If you are to sit in lotus just to get offerings, you would be better off to forget the whole thing. Go get a job. You will make more money that way. Offerings will just keep you alive. You will not get rich that way, believe me. But if you really want to get enlightened and become a Buddha, then you should definitely learn to sit that way. So I have taken this time to explain to you what sitting in lotus means.

In investigating the hua tou do not investigate “something” or “nothing.”

“Then what should I do?” you ask.

Do not be nervous! In the writing of other religions they begin with either “nothing” or “something.” They figure that everything is either existent or non-existent and nothing goes beyond these two. We should not investigate either one. We should investigate that which is neither “something” nor “nothing.”

What is neither “is”, nor “is not”? What is neither form nor emptiness? What is neither right nor wrong, neither defiled nor pure? What neither comes nor goes? You should apply your effort here: “Nothing” is true emptiness. “Something” is wonderful existence. True emptiness is not empty, and wonderful existence is non-existence. True emptiness is not empty and so it contains wonderful existence. Wonderful existence is non-existence and so it contains true emptiness. True emptiness and wonderful existence are “two and yet not two.” True emptiness and wonderful existence, however, are still within the realm of that which has marks. You must find that which is markless. The Vajra Sutra says, “All that which has marks is empty and false.” That which can be spoken is false. The Sixth Patriarch said, “What has been spoken to you is not secret. If you turn the illumination inward, the secret is within you.” What I am telling you now is not a secret. It is the principle of the Manifest Teaching. You must find the secret within yourselves.

Sutra:

Then, Shakyamuni Buddha, wishing to accommodate his division body Buddhas, transformed in each of the eight directions, two hundred myriads of millions of nayutas of lands, purifying them all. They were without hells, hungry ghosts, animals or asuras. The gods and humans were all moved to other lands. The lands he transformed all had lapis lazuli for soil and were adorned with jeweled trees five hundred yojanas tall, decorated with branches, leaves, flowers and fruits. Beneath each tree was a jeweled lion throne, five yojanas tall decorated with various gems. There were no oceans, rivers or streams and no mucilinda or mahamucilinda mountains, no iron ring or great iron ring mountains, and no Mount Sumerus or any other kings of mountains. All became one Buddha land. The jeweled earth was level and flat, covered entirely with gem-studded canopies and hung with banners. Precious incense was burned and heavenly, precious flowers covered the ground.

Outlline:

H2. Transforming 200 myriads of millions of nayutas of lands in each of the eight directions.

Commentary:

Of the three purifications of the words, this is the second, the purification of worlds in each of the eight directions. Shakyamuni Buddha transformed the three thousand great thousand worlds so that the ground was made of lapis lazuli, and the roads were bordered with golden cords. He invited the Buddhas seated upon the Lion’s Throne, which were transformations of himself in the eastern direction to come to his Bodhimanda. However, there was not nearly enough room for them all. Seeing this, then Shakyamuni Buddha, wishing to accommodate his division body Buddhas, bodies from the other directions as well as the east, transformed in each of the eight directions, two hundred myriads of millions of nayutas of lands, purifying them all. He used the power of his spiritual penetrations to make these lands pure.

They were without hells. There are many types of hells. In general, they are where offenders are punished. Hungry ghosts have stomachs as big as bass drums and have throats the size of needles. Consequently, they are starving all the time but can never get enough food down to satisfy themselves. They pass through several great eons without getting so much as a drop of water to drink. Animals are horses, cows, sheep, chickens, pigs, dogs, etc. The hells, the realm of the hungry ghosts, and the animal realm are called the Three Evil Paths. Beings fall into the Three Evil Paths because of greed, hatred, and stupidity.

Asuras are fighters. In the lands that Shakyamuni Buddha transformed, the Three Evil Paths did not exist. The gods and humans were all moved to other lands. They were all relocated to other worlds. The lands he transformed all had lapis lazuli for soil and were adorned with jeweled trees five hundred yojanas tall, decorated with branches, leaves, flowers and fruits. They were extremely beautiful. Beneath each tree was a jeweled lion throne, five yojanas tall decorated with various gems. There were no oceans, rivers, or streams, and no mucilinda or mahamucilinda mountains. Mucilinda is a Sanskrit word interpreted as, “rock mountain.” Mahamucilinda are large “rock mountains.” Nothing grows on these bare rock mountains.

No iron ring or great iron ring mountains and no Mount Sumerus. The wonderfully tall mountain did not exist. Or any other kings of mountains. Sumeru is considered the King of mountains. The Buddha has transformed these lands so that all the mountains disappear! The land is level and flat. All became one Buddha land, the land in which Shakyamuni Buddha teaches and transforms living beings. The jeweled earth was level and flat. The ground was made of lapis lazuli and was very flat. Covered entirely with gem-studded canopies and hung with banners. Precious incense was burned, the most expensive kind of incense. And heavenly, precious flowers covered the ground. The ground was covered with Mandarava flowers and other heavenly flowers. It is even more beautiful than the carpet that we use.

Each one of the transformation bodies of Shakyamuni Buddha sat in full lotus under the lion throne waiting to see the Thus Come One Many Jewels.

Last night I explained a little bit about sitting in full lotus and the merit and virtue it brings. If those who cultivate the Way can sit in full lotus, they can give rise to the power of precepts, the power of samadhi, and the power of wisdom. If you can sit in full lotus, all the Vajra Dharma protectors will protect you, all the demons will stay away from you, and all the hungry ghosts will bow to you!

In China when someone dies, monks are invited to the funeral to recite Sutras. Such monks are considered “commercial”, as this is how they make their living. One time, a monk finished his recitations and was heading home at about midnight. He passed through a small village, by a house, and a dog started barking wildly. In the house, the wife said, “Take a look and see if it is a prowler.” Her husband looked out the window and said, “Oh, it is just that commercial ghost!”

As the monk continued on his way, it started to rain. He hid under a bridge to avoid the rain, sitting down in full lotus to meditate. Just then two ghosts came along. They were really ugly, too! Most people are scared when they see ghosts, but the monk was meditating and besides, ghosts were his business, so he was not afraid. The two ghosts bowed to him, saying, “It is a golden pagoda. We should bow to it!” Pagodas generally contain the relics of the Buddha and when ghosts see them they always bow. Pretty soon, though, the monk’s legs started to hurt and he rearranged them into half lotus. This caused the ghosts to exclaim, “The gold pagoda has turned into silver!” Still, silver pagodas have the Buddha’s relics in them, and so they continued to bow. After about half an hour, the monk’s legs started hurting again and so he just stretched them out. The ghosts said, “It is not gold or silver! It is mud! Let us knock it over!” Hearing this, he immediately pulled up into full lotus again. “Oh no! This is really inconceivable. It is a gold pagoda again. Let us bow, quick!”

The monk thought, “In full lotus, I am a gold pagoda. In half lotus, I am a silver pagoda. Just sitting, I am a lump of mud.” He then brought forth the Bodhi mind and resolved never to recite Sutras for money again. From then on he just meditated in full lotus every day. Sure enough, he got enlightened. “I got enlightened because those ghosts helped me out. If I had not met them I would not be enlightened now.” And he gave himself the name, “Ghost-pressured Dhyana Master.”

In La Lin, in the village of Bei Yin He, lived Guan Zhong Xi and his nephew Guan Chan Hai. Guan Zhong Xi had been a non-Buddhist teacher, and transmitted a dharma called “The Way of Gathering Conditions.” He told his disciples that he had hundreds of treasures for sale at only $1,000 each. The treasures existed in name only, and Guan Zhong Xi said, “The time is not right and so I cannot give them to you now. When the time comes, the world will change and you will have your treasures.” He had over four thousand disciples.

When he reached fifty years of age, he realized that in spite of his wealth, he had nothing “precious” with which to protect his own life. Knowing that he was close to death and afraid to die without first understanding how to cultivate the Way, he went with his nephew to search for a Good Knowing Advisor, one with the Five Eyes and the Six Spiritual Penetrations, who could teach him the fundamentals of dhyana meditation. For three years they wandered together, visiting famous Dharma Masters in well-known monasteries and great scholars in the academies. They sought out hermits in lonely mountain caves, but found no one who could teach them dhyana. Sad and disappointed, they returned.

One day, I went down the mountain to buy some oil, incense, and candles. On the way to town, I stopped to rest at Guan Zhong Xi’s house. When the nephew saw me, he was astonished. Pulling his uncle aside he asked, “Who is that monk? Last night I dreamed that he came here and sat on the brick bed. I knelt before him and begged him to teach us the Way. In the dream he said, ‘You have a pig’s skin on your body that must come off before you can cultivate,’ and he peeled a layer of skin off my body and threw it on the ground. It was a pig’s skin. ‘You are not a vegetarian,’ the master said, ‘and you eat pork. In the future you will have a pig’s skin on your back.’ I was scared stiff and said to him, ‘Oh no! Pigs are filthy and useless!’ I had the dream last night and now the monk is actually here. Is it a lucky sign or not?”

His uncle was excited. “Really?” he said, “did you really have that dream? Of course it is a lucky sign. The monk is the Venerable Master Du Lun, Filial Son Bai. I have wished to bow to him for a long time and now he has come here. It is true, then, that he has the Way and he has brought it to our house.”

After talking they went into the room where I was sitting, closed the door, and bowed.

“Have you both gone insane?” I said. “What do you want from me? I am just the same as you. I did not understand the Way.”

“We know you cultivate filial piety,” said the uncle, “and that you have come to show us the Way. Last night my nephew dreamed you peeled a pig skin off his body.”

“You are confused,” I said. “He is not a pig. How could I peel a pig’s skin off him? I cannot teach you to cultivate, but if you want to find a teacher, I can help you look.”

“We have looked everywhere,” they said, “but we have not found one. Wherever we go it is always the same. They all have a lot of name and fame, but no genuine skill.”

During the next two years, I sent them everywhere to meet all kinds of cultivators and good knowing advisors. They continually insisted on taking me as their teacher, but I was still a young novice and did not want any disciples. Finally, they knelt before me and refused to get up. “It is useless to talk about whether or not I have the Way,” I said. “First learn to sit in full lotus and then I will teach you.”

They practiced sitting every day. The nephew had no trouble, but the uncle’s bones were old and, in northeast China the mountain people have big kneecaps which stick up about fifteen inches in the air when they try to sit cross-legged. But the uncle kept trying. He pushed his knees down over and over, and in seventy days he finally managed to sit in full lotus. When I returned I noticed that the uncle’s legs were swollen. They were so sore, in fact, that he could not even step over a cart rut. “You should not sit in full lotus,” I told him. “Are you still practicing?”

“I am,” said the uncle.

“You should not continue,” I told him.

“What do you mean?” said the uncle. “I am about to die and if I do not practice now, what will I do then? No matter what, I am going to practice meditation. If I die, that is another matter, but as long as I am still alive, I am going to practice.”

“Do what you like,” I said, and left. When I returned a hundred days later, I noticed that the uncle’s legs were no longer swollen. “You are not still sitting, are you?” I asked.

Guan Zhong Xi smiled. “I can sit in full lotus now,” he said, “and no matter how long I sit, it does not hurt, and my legs do not swell.”

“Now I will teach you how to work,” and I instructed them saying, “Why don’t living beings attain the Way? It is because of the false mind, which disturbs the true nature and binds them to their passions. Defiled by greed, frustration, and discursive thought, they get caught in the flow of birth and death; they sink into the sea of suffering and lose the Way. But although the sea of suffering is boundless, a turn of the head is the other shore. Always be alert and watchful in meditation, like a chicken watching its eggs, or a dragon guarding its pearl. By and by you will get good news.”

The uncle was incredibly happy and sat in meditation every day. When his death approached, he gathered his family together and said, “On such and such a day, at such and such a time, I am going to leave; I am going to die. The only thing I still desire is to see my teacher once again. But I do not know where he is now, and so I cannot see him.” Then on the appointed day, he sat upright in full lotus, and, without any illness, he died. That evening, many of the villagers had the same dream; they dreamed that they saw the uncle accompanied by two youths in dark robes, being taken to the West.

Later, the nephew insisted on formally taking me as his teacher. He followed me down the road until we entered a clearing. Then suddenly he knelt, clutched my sleeve, and begged to become a disciple. I brushed him off and left, while the boy pleaded saying he would not get up unless he was allowed to become a disciple. After I had walked on a while, I turned around and saw the boy still kneeling. I returned and accepted him as a disciple. The boy was truly filial and always respected his teacher, and although his family was not rich, every New Year he gives me a gift.

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