The Old Woman Washing Intestines
- From TBN, issue 480
- By Living Buddha Lian Sheng, Sheng-Yen Lu
- Translated and Edited by True Buddha Foundation Translation
In my retreat at Leaf
Lake, whenever I have free time, I meditate and enter into the state
of samadhi. Once, during samadhi, I felt myself entering a great
mountain. This mountain was not just an ordinary one. The wind blowing
from it carried a delightful incense fragrance from the forests
filled with scented nan-tan trees. This mountain also had shining
lights, in different shapes and sizes, some as big as car tires,
some the size of lotus flowers, and some as small as peas. These
lights were flying here and there on the mountain. During this spiritual
travel, I crossed what was like a city gate into a solemn place.
My body and soul felt pure and wonderful. It was the best, the most
At the foot of this mountain, I saw pure water flowing along and
around the mountain. This water was also not just ordinary water.
Indeed, it was the holy water from heaven and it surrounded this
Just then, I saw an old woman by the water, washing something with
a washing board. My heart was very curious. This land was a heavenly
realm, where the celestial beings dressed in celestial clothes which
would never get dirty—why would washing be needed?
I walked forward to find out what the old woman was washing. I felt
great shock at what I saw—the old woman was washing human
intestines, which contained clump after clump of rotting material.
There was a big difference between the awful stench from this and
the delightful sandalwood fragrance from the nan-tan trees.
I wanted to vomit from the smell.
The old woman turned around and looked at me, but showed no surprise.
She was counting the things that she was washing and scraping off,
“This is a piece of self-arrogance.”
“This is a piece of jealousy.”
“This is a piece of slander.”
“This is a piece of …”
I covered my nose and asked, “Grand lady, whose intestines
are you washing?”
The old woman looked at me very seriously and made no reply. She
pointed to my side. I looked beside me and was dumbfounded. My eyes
opened wide and my mouth dropped open. One of my disciples whom
I knew quite well had appeared. His stomach was cut wide open and
his intestines were dropping out. The old woman was washing the
intestines of my dear disciple.
I almost fainted.
The old woman said, “If one wishes to attain Buddhahood in
this body, then all the sinful karma committed in the past must
be well cleansed, otherwise, the bad habits will not be removed
completely, one will still have leakage, and the body will thus
stink. What kind of Buddha would one become? Stinky Stench Buddha?
You should take strong warning from this and admonish your disciples.”
“Grand lady, who are you?” I asked.
Just then, the old woman transformed herself and walked toward the
sky, wearing a phoenix crown on her head, a cape adorned with the
colours of a sunset, and holding a heavenly peach in her left hand
and a holy duster in her right hand—she was the one and only
Golden Mother of the Jade Pond, the queen of the immortals.
I paid homage to Golden Mother and my tears poured down like rain.
Golden Mother said, “Once cleansed, then all is well. What
is there to weep about?”
I was shaken by this and I came out from my samadhi meditation.
My eyes were still filled with tears of gratitude, and after that,
I knew that I am no one [compared with Golden Mother].