◎ 清 • 道证（梅松）
Qīng [Dynasty’s] Dàozhèng ([And] Méisōng)
[Venerable] Dàozhèng, [a] Hángzhōu person, lived [in] Jùndōng’s Dàchūn Chányuàn [i.e. Great Toon Chán Monastery].
[His] nature [was] honest, [and with] focused cultivation [of the] Pure Land [teachings]. Every day, [for] three periods, [with a] stick [of] incense’s [burning time] as measurement, [he would] long kneel before [the] Buddha, [to] sincerely uphold [his] name.
[Note 1: As those who are very honest have great respect for truth and truthfulness, they are thus easier aligned to the truths of the Buddha’s teachings, likewise easier to be truly sincere and diligent when learning and practising them.]
[During his] eightieth year, one day, [to the] assembly [he] said, ‘[On the] coming [lunar] year’s second month’s twelfth day, I [will to the] West return.’
[Note 2: This is announcement of his ‘advanced knowing of the time of arrival’ (预知时至) in Pure Land, one of the most convincing auspicious signs (瑞相) (if truly departing on time). The timing is known by having fixed an appointment with Āmítuófó (阿弥陀佛) himself, who will stay true to his word, by coming to receive and guide to his Pure Land then, as mutually agreed. While those able to have such proclamations come true prove they are indeed well-practised in mindfulness of Buddha, they also prove the efficacy of Pure Land practice to others less learned and practised, thus giving them greater confidence on what can be achieved. If the Venerable was manifested from Pure Land to set an example of how practice can be done, he can be said to return to Pure Land. If he was not from Pure Land, he can be said to return ‘home’ to his Buddha-nature (佛性) via reaching Pure Land.]
Reaching [that] day, [he was] without sickness. Perhaps making fun [of him, someone] said, ‘[As] today is [the] second month’s twelfth day, why [has the] master not [to the] West returned [yet]?’
[Venerable Dào]zhèng [was] startled [and] said, ‘[Is] today really [the] Flowers’ Birthday [Festival] [i.e. 花朝节]?’
[Note 3: The Venerable could have chosen the day of the festival for easy remembrance, though he lost track of the date on that day. He also could have chosen the day with some playfulness, to mark the day he will be born from a lotus flower in Pure Land, thus celebrating a spiritual flower’s birthday, instead of many worldly flowers’ birthday.]
Immediately bathing [and] burning incense, [he] gathered [the] assembly and departed.
[Note 4: Although the appointment was almost forgotten, the Venerable was still able to depart with ease for Pure Land as scheduled, after taking time to prepare and fulfil what he should. This further highlights his great ease.]
[There] was [a] monastic [named] Méisōng, with [Venerable Dào]zhèng together cultivating [the] Pure Land [teachings], living [in] Miàoyánsì [i.e. Wonderful Adornment Monastery].
That night, in [a] dream, [there] was [a] person [who] told [him, ‘As] Master Dàozhèng [has] sat [and] departed, why [did] you not first send [him off]?’
[Note 5: This informer could be a manifested Bodhisattva or Buddha, who informed him of the auspicious departure, while also helping to set the course for the next auspicious departure to come.]
[Venerable] Méisōng awoke and hurried [to] see him. Patting his back, [he] said, ‘[In] ordinary days [as] close friends [with] each other, [when] approaching departure, why [was there] no news [from you]? Even though I likewise, [will] not [for] long [stay] in [this] world.’
[Note 6: Usually, there should not be touching of the bodies of the recently departed. This is in case the consciousness is still attached to the body, which will then feel magnified pain through it when touched, due to increased sensitivity. However, he knew that Venerable Dàozhèng has already swiftly departed for Pure Land, thus readily expressing friendly affection. This was also followed by his own announcement of ‘advanced knowing of the time of arrival’ in Pure Land, though with the exact day not mentioned, perhaps allowing for some flexibility due to matters to settle.]
[Having] returned [for] three days, [he then] likewise sat [and] departed. [This] matter [occurred] in [Emperor] Qiánlóng’s thirtieth year [i.e. 1765 C.E.]. ([From] ‘Collection [On Being] Perfumed [By] Fragrance’)
[Note 7: The two Venerables were able to depart with great ease, in advance escaping from the ill effects of ageing, sickness and death.]
Commentary: [When on the] arrival date yet forgetting [to] return [to the] West, [and when] approaching departure yet without news, [these are] because [Venerable Dàozhèng was already] without thoughts about birth [and] death, [thus ready for liberation! On Venerable] Méisōng, [who] followed [Venerable Dàozhèng’s] steps [from] behind, [if] not [also with his] pure karma matured, [how] then [was he] able [to do] so?
[Note 8: It is possible to be very mindful of Buddha, yet not so mindful of worldly dates and events! Yet, those who truly have ‘advanced knowing of the time of arrival’ in Pure Land will be able to depart in time. Even if they forget, there will be reminders from others, including by Bodhisattvas and the Buddha. However, there are some cases of delays due to matters yet to be settled, though still with announcements of these delays in advance. (See too, the first ‘Related Case‘ below, which is similar to this case.)]
(Record [Of] Pure Land’s Noble Sages):
续编卷一 • 往生比丘第一
Continued Compilation’s Scroll One: First [Section On] Reborn Bhikṣus
Compiled [By] Hú Tǐng
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an
Record Of Venerable Winter Melon’s Rebirth
A Classic Case Of Rebirth With Ease
More Chinese-English Cases
Record [Of] Pure Land’s Noble Sages