Bodhi Seal of the Patriarchs
MING DYNASTY VINAYA MASTER
CHIEN YUEH, TU T’I
OF PAO HUA MOUNTAIN
by Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua
by Disciple Bhiksuni Heng Ch’ih
From the Ming Dynasty to the present, Vinaya Master Chien Yueh is the
most renowned among those who have propagated the Vinaya School.
Master was from the Hsu Family of Ch'en Nan (Yun Nan), Pat Lu Prefecture. His
father's name use Kin Tsang and Ms mother's maiden name use Wu. She gave birth
to the Master in response to an unusual dream. His mother had a dream in which a
monk who came to beg from their home indicated that he wanted to dwell in their
house. When she awoke from the dream she gave birth to Vinaya Master Chien Yueh.
he grew up he was by nature prophetic and intelligent. As he matured he
developed the unusual talent of being able to predict future events. He was very
smart, and could work well with figures. Furthermore, he became an accomplished
painter of images of the Mahasattva Kuan Yin, so much so that people fought for
these treasures. A layman would see one of his paintings and offer him $5000.00
for it, whereupon another would up the bid to $10,000.00 followed by another of
$20,000.00 and so forth. It was as if they were bargaining for some rare gem---a
diamond or pure gold.
parents died when he was young. When he was twenty-seven years old he became a
Taoist. Three years later he met an old member of the Sangha who gave him a copy
of the Avatamsaka Sutra. Upon examining it he became enlightened. When he got to
Pau Hua Mountain he bowed to the Abbot Liang Ju, and asked to have his head
shaved and leave the home life.
One day Abbot
Liang had a dream in which someone in a sanghati robe was guiding a multitude of
people, all who saw him wished to be saved by him. The Abbot was delighted to
see that it was the Master Chien Yueh and, in the dream, shaved his head.
Immediately afterwards, in accord with the dream, the Abbot shaved the Master's
the Master went to Chin Ling and received the Mind Seal from Vinaya Master
Samadhi Still Light and expansively propagated the Vinaya School. He wrote TWO
MEANS OF MAINTAINING THE VINAYA: STOPPING AND DOING which has been published in
dream the old Abbot had about the Master wasn't necessarily a dream. It might
have been a vision he had while sitting in Dhyana. But since some people don't
believe when told of visions that occur while one is sitting in meditation, the
Abbot said it was just a dream. If people believed it, it was a dream; if they
didn't believe it, It was just a dream and it didn't matter anyway. So it is
said that often the great virtuous ones lied about things.
verse in his praise says:
Taoism, he honored the Sakyans;
a dream he donned the sanghati.
raised up the tripod of the three studies,
spread the Buddha's teaching.
and pure in the Vinaya,
exemplified the deportment of stopping and doing;
was a vast model for the three realms,
compassionate boat on the sea of suffering.
verse in his praise says:
explaining the Vinaya School,
expounded two means of maintaining;
thousand Buddhas praised him well
true and actual words.
Single Dream, a Profusion of Words,"
those present and past.
three times he slipped away—-
precepts shining bright like jewels
with the Mind Seal.
pure and wonderful conduct
the holy heritage.
planted the proper Dharma Eye
the Dharma Ending Age.
of the ten directions
up to him as Lord.
Vinaya Master Chien Yueh was the way he was, the thousand Buddhas all praised
him, speaking actual truth, speaking it thus, without any falseness. They said
he was the finest kind of person.
Yueh wrote a book called A Single Dream, a Profusion of Words, which
moved many people to cultivate the Way. Its Influence was profound. For instance, Vinaya Master Hung I of this age became enlightened upon
reading it and decided to leave the home life.
Master Chien Yueh was the manager of the monastery on Pao Hua Mountain. He was
reliable and competent in his work, and, among other tasks, was able to see that
the more than 1,000 residents of the monastery were served flavorful food every
day. But because he did his job so well, many of the monks were jealous of him
and wanted to coust him. This went on until eventually he ran away.
monks are very unruly. One should not suppose that every monk is obedient. Chien
Yueh stole away without even telling his Master. When someone ran away in China
he had a lot of choice in places to go because there were many monasteries where
one could get temporary lodging. It's different in America. Even if you wanted
to run away you wouldn't have any place to go. That's the reason I can be
impolite to you. I'm not afraid you will run away. Although America is a big
country, people who have left the home life don't have anywhere to go. If you go
somewhere you need a letter of introduction to get in, and then you can only
stay for three or four days. If you
live there longer they'll probably want at least $30.00 a month and you haven't
any money. However, you Americans have ways. Perhaps you could write to Mama and have her mail the money.
Chien Yueh's Master heard that Chien Yueh had run away, he said in public,
"Oh, he's run off with my money. He's swiped three hundred pounds of
silver," and berated him unmercifully before the entire great assembly.
"He's incorrigible. He's broken the precepts."
after that another monk left the monastery and in his travels he ran into Chien
Yueh. "Boy, the Abbot is really put out with you," was the monk's
greeting. "He says you're rotten through and through. You stole over three
hundred pounds of the temple's silver."
didn't!" gasped Chien Yueh. "I'd better go back and set him
straight." He immediately made his way back to Pao Hua Monastery, got an
appointment with the Abbot, stated his case, and defended his name at length.
Thereupon, the Abbot said softly, "OK...go back to work...and don't
run away again." Suddenly Chien Yueh knew what Good Knowing Advisors were
all about. If his Master hadn't
accused him of stealing the money he wouldn't have come back. But as soon as he
heard it rumored that he had run off with the temple funds, he hadn't "put
it all down" and so he immediately wanted to clear his name. So he went
running back to find that basically it was all a shuck. The poem says,
"three times he slipped away" because that's basically what happened.
He ran away three times while he was at Pao Hua Mountain. His true heart was
The Amitabha Sutra with the Master’s explanation is being readied for
publication in book form. You may subscribe to it from the Vajra Bodhi Sea
Publication Society at a prepublication discount (about one half off).