[9] [91] Táng Dynasty’s Capital City’s Monastic Shàndǎo 唐京师僧善导

[9] Táng [Dynasty’s] Capital City’s Monastic Shàndǎo


Shàndǎo, [when in] Zhēnguàn[‘s years] within, saw [the] West River’s Chán Master Dàochuò’s [道绰] Pure Land’s nine grades’ place [for realising the] path, [he was] thereupon [with] sincere [and] concentrated diligence [and] devotion, like saving [his] head [from] burning.


Every [time he] entered [the] Buddha Hall, [he would with] joined palms half-kneel, wholeheartedly recite [the] Buddha[‘s name. If] not [with] energy exhausted, not resting. Although [in] winter’s ice[-cold weather practising], likewise waiting [till there is] flowing sweat, with [this] expressing [his] utmost sincerity.


[When] leaving [the monastery], then for all speaking [the] Pure Land Dharma door, without temporarily not for benefitting [others, For] more [than] thirty years, not temporarily [with] sleeping.


[For] Pratyutpanna [Samādhi] practising [the] path, prostrating [to the] Buddha, [and reciting the] Great Vehicle[‘s sūtras, with these] focused [upon] as [his] responsibilities.


Protecting [and] upholding [the] body [of] precepts, [even with the] very small not transgressed, never once raising [his] eyes [to] see women. Cutting [off] intentions [for] fame [and] gain, [he was] far [from] all jesting [and] joking.


Beyond those practices, bathing [his] body [before] making offerings. [With] drinks, food [and] clothing having [the] excess, also with [them] returned [and] given [to others. With] good food giving [to the] chief chef [for] offering [to the] assembly, [with the] coarse [and] inferior personally eating. [Of] milk, cheese, butter [and] cream, all not drinking [and] eating [them].

[Note 1: The Great Master practised Mahāyāna veganism (or Mahā-veganism for short), as defined by these key teachings taught by the Buddha:]


[With] all existing alms given, [he] used [them to] write [the] Amitā[bha] Sūtra, [with] more than a hundred thousand scrolls, drawing more than three hundred [of] Pure Land’s changing forms [on] walls.


Seeing damaged monasteries and pagodas, [for] all repairing [and] building. Lighting lamps [to] continue [their] brightness, [in] every year without end.


[With his] three robes, bottle [and] alms bowl, not telling people [to] hold [and] wash [them, from the] beginning [to the] end, without changing [them].


Not with all together walking, fearing discussion [of] worldly matters, [that] hinders cultivating practice [of pure] karma.


Passing through many persons [to] give [them the] Pure Land Dharma door, [they] cannot [be] completely counted.


Perhaps asking Shàndǎo, ‘[With the] good of mindfulness [of] Buddha, [does this lead to] birth [in] Pure Land or not?’ [He] answered, ‘Like you [with] that mindful [of], thereupon [are] you [with] that aspired [for].’ Thereupon, Dǎo personally recited Āmítuófó[‘s name, with] one recitation, then having one ray [of] bright light from his mouth emitting. [With] ten recitations, up to [one] hundred recitations, [the] bright light [is] likewise thus.



His Verses [For] Encouraging [And] Transforming says,

‘Gradually [with] chicken[-like wrinkled] skin [and] crane[-white] hair, examine [how your] walking [becomes] feeble [and] slow. [Even] if [with] abundant gold [and] jade filling [the] hall, [it is] difficult [to] avoid weakness [and] disability [with] ageing [and] sickness. Even though [having a] thousand kinds [of] “happiness”, impermanence [in the] end certainly arrives. Only having [this] short path [for] cultivating practice, [with] only mindfulness [of] Āmítuófó[‘s name].’


Later [i.e. 681 C.E.], calling [to] people, [he] said, ‘[As] this body [is] loathsome, I will [to the] West[ern Pure Land] return.’ Then climbing [the] front [of the] monastery’s willow tree, throwing [off his] body [to] self-end [his life].

[Note 2: This incident was misattributed in the past, thus handed down then, with the above supposedly done by a layperson instead, who assumed that the Pure Land can be quicker reached with suicide. However, it can be reached while alive. Technically, it was not an act of suicide, only if the person departed for Pure Land before dying. While there should not be unhealthy attachment to the body, there should still be reasonable care of the body, which is still needed, as it is the vehicle for the mind, with which we learn and practise the Dharma too. To kill oneself, thus taking a human life, breaks the First Precept too, which can karmically lead to a hellish rebirth by default instead.]

[Note 3: 据元代东林寺住持优昙普度大师所著《莲宗宝鉴》: 善导大师登所居寺前柳树西向愿曰:「愿佛威神,骤以接我,观音势至亦来助我。令我此心不失正念,不起惊怖,不于弥陀法中少生退墮。愿毕,于其树上端身立化。」大师且往生之后,身体柔软,容光如常,异香音乐,久而方歇。

According to Yuán Dynasty’s Dōnglín Monastery’s Abbot Great Master Yōután Pǔdù’s work, the Lotus Tradition’s Treasury Of Reflections, Great Master Shàndǎo climbed the front of the monastery’s willow tree where he lived, and towards the West spoke his Aspiration, ‘May the Buddha, with his majestic supernormal power, swiftly come to receive me. May Contemplator Of Sounds and Power Arrived Bodhisattvas also come to support me. Enable my this mind to not lose right mindfulness, not give rise to fear, and not within Amitābha Buddha’s Dharma, lose birth (in his Pure Land), to regress and fall. With my Aspiration completed, may I, on this tree above, with my upright body, stand and depart.’ Moreover, after the Great Master’s rebirth, his body was gentle and soft, and his face was radiant as usual, with extraordinary fragrance and music present for a long time, then stopping.]


[Emperor Táng] Gāozōng [唐高宗], seeing his reciting [of the] Buddha[‘s name with his] mouth emitting bright light, also when renouncing [his] body, [with] sincerity utmost like this, bestowed [the] monastery [he dwelled in, with] ‘Bright Light’ [written], as [a horizontal] inscribed board, [naming it to be ‘Bright Light Monastery’ (光明寺), also naming him to be ‘Most Venerable (One With) Bright Light’ (光明和尚)].


This [Sòng (宋)] Dynasty’s Repentance Master Cíyún Zūnshì (遵式), [in his] brief biography said, ‘[Great Master Shàndǎo is] Amitā[bha] Buddha’s manifestation body. [Having] arrived [at] Cháng’ān, [and] hearing Chǎn River’s [浐河] [flowing] waters’ sounds, [he] then said, “[Here, I] can teach mindfulness [of] Buddha.”


Three years later, filling Cháng’ān City within [was] recitation [of the] Buddha[‘s name].


Later having Great Master Fǎzhào, then [as] Shàndǎo’s later body too.’

[Note 4: This was so as the two Great Masters had similar thought (思想) and practice (行持). The first became named as the Pure Land Tradition’s Second Patriarch (净土宗二祖), and the latter as the Pure Land Tradition’s Fourth Patriarch (净土宗四祖). The Pure Land Tradition’s Fifth Patriarch Shǎokāng (净土宗五祖少康大师) was also known as the Later Shàndǎo (后善导) as an image of Āmítuófó emerged from his mouth with each recitation of his name.]

第五卷: 感应事迹三十篇

Sòng [Dynasty’s] Wáng Rìxiū
Lóngshū’s Pure Land Text:
Fifth Scroll: Thirty Essays [On] Deeds [Of] Connection [And] Response

Namo Amituofo : Translation by Shen Shi’an

Related Teachings:

Previous Essay:

[8] Suí Dynasty’s Kāijué Monastery’s Monastic Dàoyù

Next Essay:

[10] Táng Dynasty’s Táizhōu’s Monastic Huáiyù

Thirty Essays:

Lóngshū’s Pure Land Text:
[5] Fifth Scroll: Thirty Essays On Deeds Of Connection And Response

Related Biographies:

Biography Of The Chinese Pure Land Tradition Great Master Dàochuò

Biography Of The Second Patriarch Of The Chinese Pure Land Tradition Great Master Shàndǎo

Biography Of The Fourth Patriarch Of The Chinese Pure Land Tradition Great Master Fǎzhào

Biography Of The Fifth Patriarch Of The Chinese Pure Land Tradition Great Master Shǎokāng

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