Record [Of A] Dream [For] Mourning Great Master Yìnguāng [1861-1940 C.E.]
When I [was] 18 years [old], attending Shànghǎi Girls’ Secondary School, [I] had [a] schoolmate [named] Miss Zhāng Xiàojuān, [who was] living [at] Xīmén Road’s Rùn’ān Village, with me [having] friendship [that was] most deep. Her Mother Madam Zhāng, [had] great kindness [for] me, [and] as [a] personal daughter saw me. Thus [did] I also with ‘Mother’ call her. After school coming back, [I] always [took] food [and] lodging at [the] Zhāng house, with [this] as [a] constant habit.
[In the] People’s Republic [Of China’s] 25th year’s [i.e. 1936 C.E.] 11th month’s 23rd night, I [was] staying [at the] Zhāng house, with Xiàojuān sharing [a] bed. [In the] middle [of the] night sleeping away, [from] afar, [I] saw Guānyīn [Bodhisattva] Mahāsattva standing on [a] small island. Surrounding [the] island [was] all [of the] ocean, [with the] water [and] sky [having] one colour. [The] Bodhisattva’s body height [was a] zhàng [i.e. 3.33 metres] perhaps, [with a] necklace adorned, [and a] hand holding [a] pure vase, like that [the] world [would] paint.
[Note 1: A dream especially auspicious and vivid is most likely genuinely inspired by the enlightened. Also, if that dreamt about was never much on the mind before, the dream is likely to convey a special and significant message.]
I was then [on] a small leaf-like boat within, [with the] boat sailing, approaching [the] island. [The] Bodhisattva beckoned [with her] hand [and] told me, ‘Great Power Arrived Bodhisattva [is] now at Shànghǎi teaching [and] transforming sentient beings. Why [are] you confused, [to] not go [to] listen [to the] Dharma?’ I [was] without [that] to answer.
[Note 2: Her inability to understand and reply ‘expressed’ her confusion. Yet, it is with knowledge that she will be able to understand the message clearly later, that the dream was inspired.]
[The] Bodhisattva again said, ‘Venerable Yìnguāng is Great Power Arrived [Bodhisattva’s] manifested body. Four years later, [his] conditions [for] transforming [will be] complete!’ [As her] words ended and [she became] concealed, suddenly, swelling waves filled [the] sky, [as the] boat nearly capsized, I loudly called [for] help [to save my] life.
[Note 3: What presented was a revelation with a prediction. After manifestations of enlightened beings have completed their missions with available karmic affinities, they will manifest departure, although they can continue to manifest in other ways known and unknown by us. After delivering the message, the ocean, which can be taken to represent the ocean of birth and death became stormy, perhaps functioning as a physical and spiritual wake-up call, to pay attention to the Dharma before it is too late.]
Xiàojuān pushed me awake [and] said, ‘Xìnfāng, [is] it [that] you [are having a] nightmare?’ I told [her] regarding [the] dream, [and with] each other, [we had] a laugh.
[Note 4: The dream was probably not taken very seriously at first.]
Early next morning, with [the] dream, [I] told Madam Zhāng, also asking [if there] is [a] Bodhisattva named Great Power Arrived [or] not, [and a] Venerable named Yìnguāng.
Madam Zhāng, [who had] strong faith [in] Buddhism, [in] surprise said, ‘Great Power Arrived [Bodhisattva] is [a] Bodhisattva of [the] Western [Pure] Land [Of] Ultimate Bliss. [About] Venerable Yìnguāng’s name, [in the] past, [I] once heard [of] it [from] Xiàojuān’s Father, saying [that he] is Mount Pǔtuó’s high monastic, [who has] attained [the] path.’
[Note 5: The dream began to prove true in two aspects, with the Bodhisattva and Venerable, who was never heard of before, both existing in real life.]
I asked, ‘[Is] Venerable Yìnguāng now at Shànghǎi?’ Madam Zhāng said, ‘[I do] not know.’
I, with this, [was] confused. [The] next day, [when] reading Shēnbào [i.e. Shànghǎi News], [I] saw [that there] was publication [of an] announcement [of the] Bǐngzǐ [year’s] Dharma Assembly [For] Protection [Of The] Country [And] Cessation [Of] Disasters, then knowing [that a] famous Shànghǎi person [had] invited Venerable Yìnguāng [to] come [to] Shànghǎi’s Juéyuán, [to] preside [over the] Dharma assembly.
[Note 6: The dream proved prophetically true (in advance), with confirmation that the Venerable will be in Shànghǎi.]
[So] remarkable [was] this dream, [that the] three [of] us [were] amazed [to] no end. Thus with Madam Zhāng, Mother [and] daughter together, [we] went to Juéyuán, [to] listen [to] Venerable Yìnguāng speak [the] Dharma, [with the] three [of] us together [taking the Threefold] Refuge! I received [the] given Dharma name Huìfēn, [with] Madam Zhāng [named] Huìfàn, [and] Xiàojuān [named] Huìyīng.
[With] shame, my evil obstacles [are] deep [and] heavy, yet able [to be] diligent. Now then, carrying [a] son [and] embracing [a] daughter, [for the] entire day rushing about, [with] pure karma increasingly [with the] wild overgrown!
[Note 7: Such is the case for many, whom when younger before, became interested in the Dharma, but with the forming of families (and work) later, becoming overly occupied with worldly responsibilities, some self-chosen and self karmically ‘given’. Thus, regardless of one’s age and situation now, there should be seizing of the moment to study and practise the Dharma as much as possible, before it becomes too late, with even more regrets later.]
Yesterday receiving [my] Sūzhōu friend’s letter, saying [that] Great Master Yìnguāng [had] already sat [and] departed at Mount Língyán [in 1940 C.E.]. Alas, Great Master [had] departed! [After] conditions [of] transforming [for] four years, completely according [to my] past dream. I with [the] Great Master had a fragment [of] incense’s [and] fire’s cause [and] condition, [that] cannot [be] without words [shared]. Shedding tears [and] rapidly writing, [with] words not forming text, sending [this to] Shànghǎi’s ‘Awakening Sentient Beings’ Fortnightly’ [for] publication, relying on [the] magazine [for] my mourning. Homage [to and] refuge [for] life [in] Great Power Arrived Bodhisattva!
[Note 8: With the Great Master’s departure on time as predicted in the dream, this means that not only was the dream truly inspired by Guānyīn Bodhisattva, the Great Master was truly a manifestation of Great Power Arrived Bodhisattva too. In this way, the two companion Bodhisattvas validated each other, so as to inspire all who hear of this, including us now.]
[The] People’s [Republic Of China’s] 29th year’s [i.e. 1940 C.E.] 12th month’s 7th day
[By] Yáng Xìnfāng recorded
[Editor’s Notes]: Miss Yáng’s record within has [the] words of ‘Four years later, [his] conditions [for] transforming [will be] complete!’ Formerly, [there was] doubt [on] why [she did] not [on an] earlier day [send it for] publication, yet certainly [with] waiting [for the] day of the Great Master’s return [to the] Western [Pure Land, to] then announce [it] to [the] world.
Until reading Miss [Yáng’s] ‘Letter Sent [To] Gentleman Shī’, then knowing she once received Great Master’s chiding, [saying she] must not tell others. [Gentleman Shī is layperson Shī Jièyuán.]
[The] amazing [part] of this dream, [is that it] consists of [the] female student yet [to] hear [the] Buddha’s Dharma. Moreover, not knowing [there are the] names of Great Power Arrived [Bodhisattva] and Venerable Yìnguāng. [For] Miss [Yáng to] connect [to] this dream, [her] good roots [are] naturally not ordinary. [If] not having this dream, which [person would] know [the] compassionate vows [of the Bodhisattva Of] Boundless Light?
[Note 9: If we feel a connection to this case, and see it to be inspiring, our good roots are perhaps not so lowly.]
《致施戒园居士书》 /《致施君书》 摘要
Excerpt [From] ‘Letter Sent [To] Layperson Shī Jièyuán‘ / ‘Letter Sent [To] Gentleman Shī’
Yesterday, [when] elder sister Xuěyún from Sūzhōu sent [a] letter, [with] shock, [I] learnt [that] old Dharma Master Yìnguāng [had to the] Western [Pure Land] returned, also hearing Shànghǎi’s ‘Awakening Sentient Beings’ Fortnightly’ [to be] for my teacher, publishing [a] special commemorative publication. [My] sister Xuěyún instructed Xìnfāng [to be] with [my] teacher’s cause [and] condition recorded [and] published, [to] then not betray [the] compassionate heart of Guānyīn [Bodhisattva] Mahāsattva, [for] manifesting [in my] dream… Alas! Teacher [is] now gone. [In] Eternal Still Light within, [may he] forgive [and] not blame me [for being] meddlesome!
[Note 10: Since the Great Master had departed already, there was no harm in sharing what happened, especially since it is helpful for inspiring the masses. It would be living up to the compassionate spirit of all Bodhisattvas, also not letting Great Power Arrived Bodhisattva down. Just as Guānyīn Bodhisattva wanted to inspire her, she wanted to inspire others.]
[I] recollect [that in the People’s Republic Of China’s] 26th year’s [i.e. 1937 C.E.] spring, [I] went to Sūzhōu [to] visit my teacher, telling [him] accordingly, [with my] dreamscape. (When at Juéyuán, [with] circumstances [of] people [being] cluttered thus, [I have] yet [to] speak [to him about it].) Teacher scolded [me], saying, ‘[Do] not blindly speak! [Do] not blindly speak! With [the] ordinary abusing [the] noble, [this] attracts others’ slander. [Of] this dream, furthermore, [I do] not allow you to speak [of it to] others. Otherwise, [you are] not my disciple!’
[Note 11: Especially as a true Bodhisattva, the Great Master was adhering to the Buddha’s instructions, as taught in the ‘Śūraṅgama Sūtra: Section With Pure And Clear Instructions: Passage On False Speech’《楞严经》(清净明诲章：妄语篇):
‘After my Parinirvāṇa, [I] command all Bodhisattvas and Arhats, [to] manifest bodies [to be] born within that Dharma-Ending [Age, to] become all kinds [of] forms, [to] deliver all [from] rebirth. Perhaps becoming Śramaṇas, white-robed laypersons, kings, officials, young males, young females, [as] such, and even licentious women, widows, traitors, thieves, butchers [and] peddlers, with them together working, praising [the] Buddha Vehicle, [to] enable their bodies [and] minds [to] enter Samādhi. [To the] end, not personally saying, “I [am a] true Bodhisattva, [a] true Arhat”, [to] divulge [the] Buddha’s secret cause, [to] lightly speak [so to those] yet [to] learn. Only except [at] life’s end, secretly having [that] left [for] entrusting. Why [would] these persons, confuse sentient beings, [by] accomplishing great false speech?’
To summarise and elaborate, the Buddha taught that truly manifested Arhats, Bodhisattvas (and even Buddhas) will never disclose their actual identities, especially in this Dharma-Ending Age, when there will be increasingly more who falsely claim to be enlightened. As skilful means to help as many as possible, the enlightened should manifest all kinds of forms, except as enlightened beings. They can even manifest as the apparently immoral, who do not truly break precepts, to skilfully blend in with the immoral, so as to guide them towards the path to Buddhahood. They will not say they are enlightened, for if they do, anyone else can disobey the Buddha’s instruction, to do so too, to attract confused followers with false claims, when they should be attracted with the pure Dharma and good personal conduct only.
This also means that anyone who claims to be enlightened, a manifestation or spokesperson of the enlightened is directly a fraud, doing so for gathering fame and profit. Those with such lies are destined for the lowest hell. Historically, as seen in many cases, also following the Buddha’s instruction, upon revelation of enlightened beings’ manifestations’ actual identities, be it by themselves or others, they will have to depart immediately. If otherwise, they would be disobeying the Buddha’s instruction, and might be slandered to be frauds, who are staying in the world to win and indulge in more worldly favours.
Interestingly, the Great Master did not say he is a Bodhisattva or not; only directly warning not to speak of the dream further. To disobey his warning is the same in spirit as to disobey the Buddha’s instruction. If he were to say he is a Bodhisattva, following the Buddha’s instruction, he would have to depart immediately, thus unable to continue his mission to teach and transform others. If he were to say he is not a Bodhisattva, he would be having false speech, which is to break a major precept, which Great Bodhisattvas will never do. Although in reverse, as a noble being properly manifesting as an ordinary being, and saying that ‘with the ordinary abusing the noble’ attracts others’ slander, he did not say he is just an ordinary being or actually a noble being. What he said and did not say were part of his skilful means as a true Bodhisattva. He also did not want anyone to possibly create much negative karma by slandering him, to be an ordinary being abusing the status of a noble being, since he truly is a noble being!]
Xìnfāng obeyed teacher’s warning, yet [to] dare [to], with this dream publicly tell others. Even before [my] husband, Xìnfāng also [have] yet [to] mention [it]. Only to two [to] three relatives [and] friends within, briefly speaking [of] it only.
[My] mind still secretly thought, believing [that if] my teacher after this abided [in this] world, if [for] four years, then [is he] as Great Power Arrived [Bodhisattva] riding [on his] vows [to] again come, without doubt. Now also [is] four years [later, as he] really, uprightly seated then departed. In the moment [of] hearing [this] news, [I could] not help [having] tears like [a] spring welling, self-resenting [to have] good roots shallow [and] thin, [once] face to face [with him, yet] missing [him].
[Note 12: This is the final proof, with the Great Master departing with ease and on time, thus fulfilling the dream’s prediction.]
[Yáng] Xìnfāng [with] prostration
[The] People’s [Republic Of China’s] 29th year’s [i.e. 1940 C.E.] 12th month’s 8th day
Excerpt [From] ‘Reply Regarding Great Master Yìnguāng’s Manifestation [Of] Sickness’
Recently, [there] are many people, [who are] not able [to] understand [how] noble beings [are with] benefitting [of] sentient beings eager, [to] bestow [with] skilful means’ principles. Regarding ‘Awakening Sentient Beings’ Fortnightly’ that recorded Miss Yáng Xìnfāng’s ‘Record [Of A] Dream [For] Mourning Great Master Yìnguāng’s text, thereupon giving rise [to a] question. [They] came [to] ask me, saying, ‘Since Great Master Yìnguāng is Great Power Arrived Bodhisattva’s manifested body [that] again came, then his life, is then riding [on his] vows’ power then coming; his death also, is then accordingly [with] liberation then departing. For what reason, before his departure, [was his] physical strength also having unwellness?’
Thus, I then like this replied, ‘[It] must [be] known [that of the] Bodhisattva’s manifested body [as] Great Master Yìnguāng, his reason, therefore, [for] wanting [to] manifest sickness, [is] none other [than] for admonishing [the] masses, [for] each [and every] one [to] know [that they] themselves [are] in this world [of] Five Defilements [with] evil [and] inferiority. [In the] end, [it] is difficult [to] avoid [the] suffering of sickness [and] death, [and they] must also rely [on] mindfulness [of] Buddha, then [with its] inconceivable power, then able [to] ultimately reach [the] goal of departure [from] suffering [to] attain bliss.
[Note 13: The Great Master’s manifesting of sickness despite being actually free of it is to remind all others who are not free from sickness, that they too must be like him, practise mindfulness of Buddha, just as he, even as a Great Master does. What more, most ordinary beings will depart with some form of serious sickness. Thus, when well, there should be more sincere practice, to prepare for when sick, when there should be all the more sincere practice.]
[It] should [be] known [that] ordinary beings’ sicknesses [and] deaths, are [with] confusions [and negative] karma that [are] connected. Noble beings’ sicknesses [and] deaths, are [from] compassionate vows as conveyed. Sicknesses [and] deaths that [are] connected [to] confusion [and negative] karma, are with pain [and] suffering. Sicknesses [and] deaths as conveyed [by] compassionate vows, are greatly not [the] same.
Such as layperson Vimalakīrti’s manifesting [of] sickness, [and] Śākyamuni [Buddha] World-Honoured [One’s] Parinirvāṇa, they all are, due to compassionate vows as conveyed, [in] reality [are] without pain [and] suffering, not more than bestowing [with] skilful means only. Great Master Yìnguāng’s manifesting [of] sickness, [is] likewise thus.’
[Dharma Master] Língguāng
Poems [And] Verses (14) Excerpt (Verses 5 and 6)
[With the] Lotus [Tradition’s] wind repeatedly fanning, [while humbly] presenting ‘shallow’ merits, [with] ten thousand treatises [and] thousand sūtras [in] one line [of Āmítuófó] merged. [With Great] Power Arrived [Bodhisattva’s] manifestation body propagating [the] Pure Land [teachings], thus [knowing there] should [be] mindfulness [of] Buddha [to] realise perfect penetration.
[Note 14: To keep fanning the Lotus Tradition’s wind is to diligently propagate the Pure Land tradition. The Great Master is known for self-effacingly calling himself the ‘Constantly Repentant Monk’ (常惭愧僧), despite being called a Great Master by others. In his years of commenting on various Buddhist scriptures and commentaries, he managed to unify all their teachings with the Main Practice (正行) of mindfulness of Buddha. As he is Great Power Arrived Bodhisattva’s manifestation, it cannot be more appropriate that he is also known to be firm in character, and for promoting the ‘Section On Great Power Arrived Bodhisattva’s Perfect Penetration With Mindfulness Of Buddha’《大势至菩萨念佛圆通章》, adding it to form the last text of the ‘Pure Land Tradition’s Five Sūtras’《净土五经》.]
According [to spiritual] capacities speaking [the] Dharma, avoiding profound discussions, [with] vows upholding [the] Lotus Tradition, all by oneself carrying [it. This] generation had [an] extraordinary person for [the Buddha’s] teachings arising, [from] Spirit Peak [with Mount Língfēng’s Pure Land Tradition’s 9th Patriarch Great Master Ǒuyì (净土宗九祖蕅益大师)] after, again [from] Spirit Rock [with Mount Língyán’s Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng (净土宗十三祖印光大师)].
[Note 15: The Great Master is known for being able to reach out to all kinds of persons with teachings of various depths to suit them. Yet, his teachings are always down-to-earth and straightforward, never obscure or mysterious, while skilfully leading all to the Pure Land teachings. He did so much for propagating the Pure Land teachings, that he was as if the key person in his time upholding it high for all to see. As he was similar to the 9th Pure Land Patriarch with his prolific written works and teachings, they were related together, also since both stayed at mountain monasteries with the word ‘Spirit’ (灵) in their names.]
[By] Lǐ Huìchéng (Third line using Wú Méicūn’s words)
[By] Layperson Chén Hǎiliàng Edited
(Collection [On] Eternal Reminiscences [Of] Great Master Yìnguāng)
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an