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How A Great Master Chose Pure Land Over Heaven 大师选净弃天记

唐相州寒陵山寺释道昂。未详其氏。魏郡人也。履信标宗风神清彻。独怀异操高尚世表。慧解夙成殆非开悟。结志西方愿生安养。

[In the Tang Dynasty], Dao’ang (道昂) of Hanling Mountain Temple in Xiangzhou (his original clan name is unknown), was a man from Wei Commandery. Firmly committed to the faith and upholding its principles, he was penetratingly pure in spirit. Alone, driven by unusual ambitions, he stood nobly outside the world. He had cultivated wisdom and understanding but feared that they did not lead to awakening, and so he formed the aspiration to be reborn in the Western Pure Land. 

后知命极预告有缘。至八月初当来取别。期月既临一无患。问斋时至未。景次昆吾即昇高座。  

Later, he learned that his life was about to end and reported this in advance to his acquaintances. He was to leave at the beginning of the eighth month. When the time came, he was not at all ill. He asked whether it was time for the meal, and when the sun was at the midpoint in the sky he ascended the high seat.

身含奇相鑪发异香。援引四众受菩萨戒。词理切要听者惭心。于时七众围绕飡承遗味。   

There was something extraordinary about his appearance and the incense burner produced a strange fragrance. Calling members of the congregation toward him, he conferred on them the Bodhisattva Precepts. His words were incisive and cut through to the hearts of the listeners. At that time the congregation surrounded him to receive his last instructions.

昂举目高视。乃见天众缤纷絃管繁会。中有清音远听哀婉。天众高亮告於众曰。兜率陀天乐音下迎。  

[Dao’]ang raised his eyes, looked up high, and saw large numbers of deities everywhere, performing on string and wind instruments. A mournfully beautiful tune was heard clearly from a distance. Gods spoke loudly to the monks gathered there, “Deities of Tuṣita Heaven, playing music, have come down to welcome him.”

昂曰。天道乃是生死根本由来非愿。常祈心净土。如何此诚不遂意耶。言讫便覩天乐上腾须臾远灭。便见西方香华伎乐充塞。如似团云。飞涌而来旋环顶上。举众皆见。  

[Dao’]ang said, “Karmic retribution is the foundation of life and death. This is not what I have sought all this time. I have always prayed for the Pure Land. Why is my wish not heard in spite of the sincerity of this practice?” When he finished speaking he saw the gods playing music rise up higher, and they soon disappeared. Then he saw the western sky filled with incense, flowers, and performers playing music. Like a cloud, this vision flew over and circled above his head. All the monks saw it.

昂曰。大众好住。今西方灵相来迎。事须闻往。言讫但见香鑪坠手。便於高座而终。卒于报应寺。春秋六十有九。即贞观七年八月内也。道俗崩恸观者如山。

[Dao’]ang said, “Monks, do not be alarmed. Now the spiritual beings from the West have come to welcome me. I should now go to them.” When he finished speaking, the incense burner dropped from his hand and his life came to an end on the high seat. He died at Baoying Temple, at the age sixty-nine, in the eighth month of the seventh year of the Zhenguan period (633 C.E.). Both monks and laymen lamented aloud; a crowd as large as a mountain gathered to observe them.

接捧将殡殓。足下有普光堂等文字生焉。还送寒陵山凿窟处之。经春不坏坐固如初。    

When the body was moved for temporary burial [people saw that] on the bottom of his feet characters such as “hall of universal light” had appeared. The body was sent back to Mount Hanling, where a cave was carved in which to place it. After the spring the body had not decayed, still sitting upright firmly, just as when it was placed there.

又登讲之夜。时属阴暗素无灯烛。昂举掌高示。便发异光。朗照堂宇。大众覩瑞怪所从来。昂曰。此光手中常有。何所怪乎。自非道会灵章行符隣圣者。何能现斯嘉应者哉。  

Furthermore, once when Dao’ang was to give a lecture it was as usual dark in the hall, since there was no lamp. He raised his hand high and it emitted a strange light, illuminating the whole building. Seeing this, the audience wondered where the light had come from. [Dao’]ang said, “This light is always inside my hand. What are you wondering about?” If his ways did not match the numinous models and his practice did not fit those who are close to sagehood, such miraculous occurrences could not have taken place.

《法苑珠林》: 第十五卷
西明寺沙门释道世撰

[The] Dharma Garden’s Grove [Of] Pearls: 15th Scroll
[By] Xīmíng Monastery’s Śramaṇa Dàoshì Compiled


A Forest of Pearls from the Dharma Garden, Volume III
(Translated by Koichi Shinohara)

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