- Translated from the True Buddha News issue
- Book Number 144 Searching for Another Horizon
- Translated by Aleric Er
- Edited by May Kwan and Mimosa
- Proofread by Mimosa
Recently, I read a biography of Master Xuan Jian.
He was strict, honest and law abiding, and would neither hesitate
to berate others for any misconduct nor save their faces.
Towards the end of the Sui era, there was political
turmoil. Many monks left the monastery in fear for their lives.
They donned the clothes of the commoners and lived amongst them.
Only Master Xuan Jian stubbornly wore Buddhist robes and continued
to live a monk's life.
Many taunted him and regarded him as a stubborn
old mule. To which he then replied "I'd rather go to the hell
than to renounce Buddhism to save my skin."
When Tang Gao Ju united and ruled China, Master
Xuan Jian returned to his home in Ze Chuan to rebuild the temple.
With perseverance and determination, the temple began to flourish
to its former glory.
While the temple was being reconstructed, Sun Yi,
the village chief, sent jars of wine to construction workers as
a sign of appreciation.
When Master Xuan Jian found out about this, he "personally"
ensured that every single jar was smashed and proclaimed that he
would rather the temple lay in ruins than to allow people indulge
in illegal goods.
His remark angered the village chief and he wanted
to have the master killed. However, that night as the village chief
slept, his guardian spirit appeared in his dream and warned him
not to kill Master Xuan Jian. After he woke up, he apologized remorsefully
for what he had done and released Master Xuan Jian immediately.
After reading this, I recall a year in Seattle when
it snowed heavily. I took off my robes, put on winter gear and went
skiing in front of the Rey Tseng Temple. On another occasion, the
monks in the monastery and I went skiing at Mt. Sinokemi , obviously
in winter gear.
When I was in Tahiti, I donned on a Hawaiian shirt
and shorts when there were no monks or monasteries in sight. I wore
swimwear when I swam in the sea. That was because Tahiti was unbearably
When I was in Shikoku, Japan visiting the Eighty-eight
Temples, I put on casual clothes, as it was a hot summer.
There is one other thing. When it gets dark in Tahiti,
the mosquitoes and insects start to infest the area and it is impossible
to sleep without lighting a mosquito coil or spraying some insecticide.
Thus, I have taken lives by doing so.
I do not pay attention to details and prefer to
go with the flow. However, after reading about Master Xuan Jian,
I have become more conscious of my actions.
Do my actions abide by the laws of Buddhism or do
they run contrary to the laws? I am sure that a lot of people will
object if I claim that my actions abide by the laws of Buddhism.
Then what should one do if the actions violate the
laws of Buddhism?
I wonder if we could design winter robes for monks
Or could there be thinner robes for monks in Tahiti
to suit the summer-like weather that lasts throughout the year.
I am very afraid of hot weather.
Is there a robe for swimming? Should monks swim
to keep fit?
And should we be allowed to take the lives of the
mosquitoes in Tahiti? How about chanting the deliverance mantra
for them? If we cannot kill the mosquitoes there, I will be tortured
for as long as I live.
I will leave these questions to be answered by intellectuals