A Splitting Headache and More
- From TBN, issue 408 and 474
- By Living Buddha Lian Sheng, Sheng-Yen Lu
- Translated by TBN
During my retreat, I wrote
two short articles titled, The Water at Leaf Lake has Turned Cold
and Praying to My Three Personal Deities.
Mainly I explained:
I was ill.
Life was painful.
I wished to be delivered by my Personal Deities.
Fifty-eight years old was good enough; I did not wish for a long
I consulted a doctor, but after a complete examination, he could
not determine the underlying cause of my illness and therefore could
not give me any medication to treat it.
I very honestly tell you:
I could not sleep.
I had no appetite at all.
I had a splitting headache.
I experienced body temperature extremes as if I were in the Eight
Cold and Eight Hot Hells.
It was like a volcano had erupted in me, the lava spilling out everywhere.
It was like a great flood had burst forth inside of me and I was
drowning in it. It was like a fierce fire was burning my body, burning
it to ashes. It was like a raging hurricane, splintering my heart
(The Four Elements [of my body] were going through a great separation.)
My skull felt like it was splitting into eight petals, and though
I could describe the pain in countless ways, there are simply no
words to describe it. It was as if an eight-petalled lotus were
blooming, and with every degree of opening, the pain would intensify
a degree more. Every ten degrees of opening, my pain would intensify
ten degrees. This pain was like Hell.
I felt like I was at the verge of death, and upon praying to my
Three Personal Deities, I saw my Personal Deity, the Tathagata,
abiding in the light, radiating his light upon me several times.
With each light emitted, my pain would diminish a little, but after
ten minutes, the pain would return. The Tathagata would emit light
again, it would be good for another ten minutes, but again the excruciating
pain would return.
I very honestly tell you, bearing the difficult burden of my illness,
I travelled to Korea to circumambulate the stupas, to circumambulate
the Buddhas, to circumambulate the temples. I wept tears of pain
again and again, gritting my teeth, forcing myself to endure the
While I was in Korea, my sleep was not like sleep—it seemed
as if I was in samadhi. Eating was not like eating—it was
like I was chewing rice straws.
But I forced myself to endure the pain!!
I can claim myself: I experienced a round of life and death, I experienced
the punishments of hell, I experienced the greatest karmic illness
of life—and I experienced all of this while drifting as a
stranger in a foreign land.
I entered the temple in Korea to prostrate to the Buddhas, but I
had to remove my shoes first and as I bent forward and lowered my
head, I felt like I was going to die, right then and there. Such
was my pain, yet I insisted on prostrating to the Buddhas.
I forced myself to endure the pain!
My heart of Tao remained stable and still. In Korea, I eventually
witnessed the appearance of the Medicine Buddha and his retinue
of Bhaisajyaraja Bodhisattva, Bhaisajyasamudgata Bodhisattva, Surya-prabha
Bodhisattva, Candra-prabha Bodhisattva, the twelve medicine warriors,
diamond protectors, and the eight major Bodhisattvas.
I wrote a poem:
Like the endless shimmering waves in a great ocean, the celestial
music flows endlessly in the air,
Reed pipes and bamboo flutes sounding softly as the gentle heavenly
All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas arrive to show their presence.
The cultivator at this moment is touched and his tears simply flow.