Performing a "Water and Land" ceremony, which brought auspicious omens
In 1918, when the Master was seventy-nine, the Military Governor T'ang Chi Yao respectfully invited him to come to Kunming to perform Buddhist ceremonies. The Master set out with a disciple named Hsiu Yuan (Perfect Cultivation), but enroute they encountered bandits whom the Master convinced to desist. Arriving in Kunming, he met with T'ang, who stated his three intentions, as follows: 1) to convene a large Buddhist assembly to seek the support of the Buddhas in eradicating disasters and misfortune, and in crossing over the spirits of the dead; 2) to establish a large monastery in order to propagate the Buddhadharma; and 3) to set up a college for the education of the young. The Master told him, "I also have three suggestions: 1) Prohibit the slaughter of animals for meat; 2) proclaim a general amnesty; and 3) send relief for those in distress." It was done, and in 1919, when the Master turned eighty, the Dharma assembly began. The flames of the candles took on the shape of lotus blossoms, and their rainbows of colors dazzled the eye. At the completion of forty-nine days, during the Sages Ceremony of Sending Off, jeweled canopies appeared in the sky, along with banners and flags.