The Precious Seal

by Upasika Tan Kuo Shih

     While Master Hsuan Hua was acting as superintendent at Three Conditions Temple in Northeast China, a young boy ran into the Buddha hall one afternoon, knelt before the Buddha images, drew a knife and tried to cut off his hand as an offering to the Buddha.

     Now, was this boy foolish or wise? Of course, he w~ foolish. Would an intelligent person try to cut off his hand? He was foolish, but he was “foolish for the sake of being filial.” His mother was an opium addict, and her addiction had left her immobile, incap­able even of smoking opium. Her lips were split and bleeding and her tongue had turned black. The Chinese and American doctors said she would surely die. But her son said, “No’ She cannot die! I will go to Three Conditions Temple and cut off my hand as a sincere offering to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. I will beg the to cure my mother, and I am sure that they will help me.”

     He came to the temple and, just as he was about to cut off his hand, someone grabbed him from behind, saying “Stop! You can’t commit suicide here!”

     “I am cutting off my hand as an offering to the Buddhas,” he replied, “I want them to save my mother. You can’t stop me!”

     When he heard this, old Abbot Ch’ang Jen sent for Master Hsuan Hua, and asked the Master to help the boy. “But I am a novice!” replied Master Hsuan Hua. “This boy asks you to help him and you ignore him and give this trouble to me.”

     The Abbot Ch’ang Jen said, “Be compassionate.”

     Master Hsuan Hua addressed the boy, “Ride ~tour bicycle home. I will follow shortly.”

     “Do you know the road?” asked the boy.

     “Pay no attention to me,” the Master said, “just go home.”

     When he left , the sun was setting and when he arrived home, he was suprised to see the Master sitting there waiting for him.

     “Old Cultivator, how did you get here before me?” he asked.

     “Perhaps you stopped to play ball or watch a movie.’ said the Master. “In any case, your bicycle isn’t as fast as mine, and so I got here first.”

     When the Master saw the boy’s mother, he was con­vinced that he could not save her life, but decided to try anyway. He wrote out a PRECIOUS SEAL which read:

“This boy is so sincere that he tried to cut of f his hand to save his mother’s life. Now I have prevented him from doing this and no matter what, this woman must not die.”

     The master then sealed it and sent it off, that is, he burned it. The woman had been in a coma for seven days but the next morning she sat up.

     "Son," she said, “I am hungry. Bring me some rice gruel.”

     The boy had not heard his mother call his name for seven days and now he was overjoyed.

     “Mama! You were sick for so many days. Are you well now?”

     She said, “I was in a cave where there was no sun, moon, or stars. I ran through the cave for many days, looking for a home. I called to people but got no response. Then I met a monk in rag robes who guided me back here.”

     “What did the monk look like?” asked her son.

     “He was very tall.”

     The boy pointed at Master Hsuan Hua. “Is he the monk?”

     “Yes!” she cried. “He’s the one who brought me back!’

     The entire family, sons and daughters, young and old, came to bow before the Master, and then the whole village came to take refuge with him saying, “Whatever you tell us to do, we will gladly follow your instruction.


     Now that the Library has been completed in the new Bodhimandala we welcome the donation of books. The Library is very big and many books are needed to fill it.  Books on all subjects, and in any languages will be greatly appreciated. Help support the new Library.