While staying at Sanyuan ("Three Conditions") Monastery, which was located south of Harbin, thirty (Chinese) miles away, at the town of Pingfang Station, I saw in my meditative contemplation that the following morning a young boy would come to leave the home-life. The next morning I told my disciple Guo Neng, "Today, a young boy is coming to leave home. Tell me when he arrives." At noon, Guo Neng came to my room and said in his Shandong accent, "Teacher, that boy you mentioned has finally come!" I went down to the front hall and found a strapping boy of twelve or thirteen whose build and countenance were handsome and full; he had the look of a Bhikshu. The boy took one look at me and couldn't control his emotions. Just like one who sees a long-lost relative, he began crying uncontrollably, shedding tears of joy.
"Why do you want to leave home?" I asked him."Because I have a serious illness," he answered. From the age of five, he could cure others' illnesses, but he couldn't cure his own illness. "Doctors couldn't find the reason for my ailment and had no medicine to heal me. They were at a loss as to what to do. My father was very anxious. He sought a cure everywhere, but nothing seemed to work. One night I had the same dream three times, in which I saw a fat monk who came to me and said, our illness will never be cured unless you go to the Sanyuan Monastery in Harbin and leave the home-life to cultivate the Way under Dharma Master An Tse. If you do that, you will be cured spontaneously, without medicine. If you don't do this, you have no hope of recovery.' The memory of the dream was quite clear, so I obtained my father's permission to come here and seek the compassion of Dharma Master An Tse, to allow me to leave home."
I laughed, and asked him, "Do you know Dharma Master An Tse?"
"No, I don't," he said.
I said, "I'm afraid there is no Dharma Master An Tse here."
"Oh yes, there is!" The lad answered confidently. "As soon as I entered the door I saw that same fat monk who was in my dream. He's sitting right over there." (The boy pointed to Maitreya Bodhisattva.) "He wouldn't cheat anybody. He told me to come here; there's no mistake."
"What proof do you have that this dream-talk is true? Who will believe you?" I challenged him. "You're probably just a poor boy with no clothes, food and shelter, who wants to come and leave the home-life, aren't you?"
"No, I'm not!" he replied firmly. "I'm simply following the instructions of that fat monk, and he directed me to look for Dharma Master An Tse; he's the only one who can cure my disease. That's why I've been on the road for over a month, walking one thousand miles to get here. (At that time the Japanese had just surrendered unconditionally, and the railroads in Manchuria had not yet resumed operation.) Sometimes along the road I walked right past the last inn in a town, and found no village ahead, so I could only camp out in the open fields. I was in a hurry to get here, and I paid no attention to anything else. One night I was sleeping in a meadow when suddenly a pack of wolves surrounded me. I wasn't afraid of them, though, and I said, et out of here, or else I'm going to give you trouble. You're going to get a taste of these eggs (hand grenades)!' And the pack of wolves ran away obediently." That was an episode that occurred in his quest for the Dharma.
Having said his piece, he looked up at me with pleading eyes. I decided to give his sincerity another test. I picked up a piece of steamed bread and, after chewing it up thoroughly, spit it out on the ground. I said, "First pick that up and eat it, then we'll see what's what." He didn't hesitate for an instant or worry about my unsanitary saliva, but promptly scooped up the bread and swallowed it down. Having passed his test, he had demonstrated that his wish to leave the home-life was sincere. I gave him the Novice Precepts, and he became a young Shramanera.
Having received the Precepts, he worked hard in his cultivation. He was quite a courageous student, not at all lax or lazy. Before six months passed, he realized the attainment of the Five Eyes and Six Spiritual Penetrations. His skill was considerable, and his psychic abilities were vast. This is not an exaggeration, but a matter of absolute fact. Everyone in the area knew that this young novice monk had psychic powers. It is sad that afterwards he fell into arrogance and pride. He grew haughty, and his psychic abilities vanished. When he wanted to demonstrate them, he couldn't do so anymore.
Cultivators of the Way must pay close attention to this. Whether we have psychic powers or not, we shouldn't indulge in pride or attachments for any reason whatsoever! Even less should we advertise for ourselves and create our own publicity. Our proper role is to be content with our station, guard our behavior, and truly, honestly, cultivate with vigorous energy. Be valiant and forge ahead; that's the only way to attain actual spiritual skill. Under no circumstances may we toy with the superficial aspects, and when provoked by a certain sound, or struck by a certain vision, feel that we have become extraordinary. To make such a mistake leaves the true Way a million miles away!
A talk given given during a Chan Session from July 16-23, 1981
The Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas, The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas