Testimonies

How The Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng Was Recognised As Great Power Arrived (Mahāsthāmaprāpta) Bodhisattva’s Manifestation 净土宗十三祖印光大师如何被认定为大势至菩萨的化身 

纪梦悼印光大师》
Record [Of A] Dream [For] Mourning Great Master Yìnguāng
[1861-1940 C.E.]

余十八岁时,肄业上海女子中学,有同学张孝娟女士,住西门路润安里,与余交谊最深,其母张太太,雅爱余,以亲女视我,故我亦以阿母称之,放学归来,辄膳宿于张家,习以为常。

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.

民国廿五年国历十一月廿三夜,余宿张家,与孝娟共榻。中宵睡去,遥见观音大士立小岛上,环岛皆海,水天一色,大士身长丈许,璎珞庄严,手持净瓶,如世所绘。

[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.]

余则在一叶扁舟中,舟驶近岛,大士招手告余曰:’大势至菩萨现在上海教化众生,汝何昏迷,不去闻法?’ 余无以答。

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.]

大士又曰:’印光和尚是大势至化身,四年后化缘毕矣!’ 言讫而隐,忽骇浪滔天,舟几覆,余大呼救命。

[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.]

孝娟推余醒曰:’信芳汝其魇耶?’ 余告以梦,相与一笑。

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.]

翌晨,以梦告张太太,并问有否菩萨名大势至,有和尚名印光者乎。

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.

张太太固信佛,惊曰:’大势至乃西方极乐世界之菩萨。印光和尚之名,昔曾闻诸孝娟之父,云是普陀山得道高僧。’

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.]

余问印光和尚今在上海耶?张太太曰:’不知。’

I asked, ‘[Is] Venerable Yìnguāng now at Shànghǎi?’ Madam Zhāng said, ‘[I do] not know.’

余为之闷闷。次日读《申报》,见登有丙子护国息灾法会通告,乃知上海闻人请印光和尚来沪在觉园主持法会。

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.]

奇哉此梦,三人惊诧不已。乃与张太太母女同赴觉园,听印光大师说法,三人同皈依焉!余蒙赐法名慧芬,张太太慧范,孝娟慧英。

[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.

愧余孽障深重,未能精进,今则携男抱女,终朝碌碌,净业益荒芜矣!

[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.]

昨得苏友书,云印光大师已坐化于灵岩山。嗟夫,大师逝矣!化缘四年,竟符昔梦。余与大师有一段香火因缘,不可无词,垂泪走笔,语不成文,寄上海《觉有情半月刊》发表,藉志余哀。南无大势至菩萨!

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.]
     
二十九年十二月七日
杨信芳记

[The] People’s [Republic Of China’s] 29th year’s [i.e. 1940 C.E.] 12th month’s 7th day
[By] Yáng Xìnfāng recorded


【编者按】杨女士记中有’四年后化缘毕’之语。尝疑曷弗早日发表,而必俟诸大师西归之日,始布于世。

[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.

迨阅女士《致施君书》,乃知其曾遭大师呵斥,不许告人也。[施君即是施戒园居士。]

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.]

是梦之奇,在于未闻佛法之女生,且不知有大势至与印光和尚之名,女士感是梦,善根自不凡。不有是梦,孰知无边光之悲愿哉!

[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.]
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《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’

昨雪筠姊自苏来书,惊悉印光老法师西归,并闻上海《觉有情半月刊》为吾师出纪念专刊。筠姊嘱芳与师之因缘记出登刊,方不负观音大士示梦之悲心也。… 嗟乎!师今去矣。常寂光中,谅不责我多事耶!

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.]

忆二十六年春,赴苏州谒吾师,告以梦景(在觉园时,因人杂沓故未说)。师斥曰:’莫瞎说!莫瞎说!以凡滥圣,招人毁谤。此梦更不许汝对人说,否则非我弟子!’

[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):

「我灭度后,敕诸菩萨及阿罗汉,应身生彼末法之中,作种种形,度诸轮转。或作沙门、白衣居士、人王宰官、童男童女,如是乃至淫女寡妇、奸偷屠贩,与其同事,称赞佛乘,令其身心入三摩地。终不自言:『我真菩萨、真阿罗汉』,泄佛密因,轻言未学。唯除命终,阴有遗付。云何是人,惑乱众生,成大妄语?」

‘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!]

芳遵师诫,未敢以此梦公开告人。即先生前,芳亦未尝提及也。仅于二、三戚友间,略言之耳。

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.

心尚窃意,以为吾师此后住世,如果四载,则为乘愿再来之大势至无疑。今也四载,果端坐而化矣。闻讯之下,不禁泪如泉涌,自恨善根浅薄,觌面错过。

[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.]

信芳顶礼
廿九年十二月八日

[Yáng] Xìnfāng [with] prostration
[The] People’s [Republic Of China’s] 29th year’s [i.e. 1940 C.E.] 12th month’s 8th day

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《关于印光大师示疾的答覆》摘要
Excerpt [From] ‘Reply Regarding Great Master Yìnguāng’s Manifestation [Of] Sickness’

近来有许多人,不能明白圣人利物心切,曲垂方便的道理,对于《觉有情半月刊》所载,杨信芳女士《记梦悼印光大师》文,遂发生了问题。来问我道:’印光大师既是大势至菩萨化身再来,则其生也,便是乘愿力而来;其殁也,便是顺解脱而去。何故圆寂之前,体力亦有不适耶?

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?’

于是我便这样的答道:’要晓得菩萨化身的印光大师,他所以要示疾的缘故,无非是为警策大众,各各知道自己在这个五浊恶劣的世界上,终是难免病死之苦,必也藉念佛而不可思议的力量,始能究竟达到离苦得乐之目的。

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.]

当知凡夫的病死,是惑业所感的。圣人的病死,是悲愿所运的。惑业所感的病死,是有痛苦的。悲愿所运的病死,是大大不同的。

[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.

即如维摩居士的示疾,释迦世尊的涅槃,他们皆是由于悲愿所运的,实际是无痛苦的,不过曲垂方便罢了。印光大师示疾,亦复如是。

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.’

灵光[法师]
[Dharma Master] Língguāng

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《诗偈》(14) 摘要(第五与六偈)
Poems [And] Verses (14) Excerpt (Verses 5 and 6)


莲风迭扇奏肤功,
万论千经一句融;
势至化身弘净土,
故应念佛证圆通。


[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》.]

对机说法避玄谈,
愿把莲宗独力担;
代有异人为教出,
灵峰之后又灵岩。

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.]

李慧澄(第三句用吴梅村语)
[By] Lǐ Huìchéng (Third line using Wú Méicūn’s words)

_____

陈海量居士编
《印光大师永思集》

[By] Layperson Chén Hǎiliàng Edited
(Collection [On] Eternal Reminiscences [Of] Great Master Yìnguāng)

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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