Professor Guangen Zang's attitude was always: "The Buddhas enter the Buddhalands, and immortals enter the lands of immortals." He believed in Buddhism, but also in Taoism. He believed in a form of planchette (communication with spirits through a medium), and was cheated many times. To what extent did he believe in this? His wife, Yijun Xu, told me that one day when he consulted the medium, the spirit told him that on a certain date at a certain time, he should dress up formally and go to a certain place to wait for someone to take him to "immortalhood." Professor Zang had complete faith in it. On the appointed day, it was probably quite cold and perhaps even snowing, so he dressed in a long robe and coat and went to the appointed place to wait to be taken to the heavens. He waited for a whole day, but didn't get to go to the heavens. See how much faith he placed in the medium, who specialized in duping people? Even being a professor, he was so faithful. Wouldn't you say he was simple-minded? He was a very naive man.
Once when I went to Japan from Taiwan, I stayed in his house for a few days. We got along quite well. He must have been duped countless times because he was so naive. Even immortals wanted to cheat him, because he was too simple-minded. He was a devout Buddhist, and also a devout Taoist. His wife used to tease him, "This professor of mine waited to be taken to the heavens, but never got there." This shows how naive he was. He believed whatever people said.
Professor Zang was a native of Manchuria, and in Manchuria, many people are simple-minded and liable to be swindled. He had deep faith in Taoism. In Taiwan, he heard how great a certain well-known layman was and he and his wife both become followers. What happened then? The layman was actually possessed by a certain spirit. As most people in Taiwan know, he was an exorcist (tiaotong, literally, "jumping youth"). And so Professor Zang and his wife were supposed to "jump." Both of them felt it was improper to stand there and shake like that, without the slightest bit of deportment. And so they retreated in discouragement. Take a look: even a professor would believe in such things.
Originally, I had wanted Professor Zang to be a chancellor for Dharma Realm Buddhist University when it first started, because he was an honest and down-to-earth person with a strong sense of responsibility. But he declined, and recommended Upasaka Hengyue Li instead. And so I hired Upasaka Li. Although Upasaka Li had taught at universities in Taiwan, he didn't have a doctoral degree. Nevertheless, I went ahead and hired him. But he probably felt he could make a lot more money by practicing acupuncture in New York than being here, so he went back there.
Professor Zang and I knew each other for many years. Eventually, he came to believe in Buddhism, but he was quite old by then. It's a pity that in the final analysis, he did not make any real contribution to Buddhism.
Professor Guangen Zang was a native of Manchuria. He was very filial to his parents and thus earned the reputation of being a filial son. Why was he so filial? It was because he was very honest and down-to-earth. He felt he should repay his parents' kindness, so he was earnestly filial towards his mother. He was a learned professor, but people called him "Filial Son Zang."
At the encouragement of his uncle, Qifang Zang, the president of a college, he went to Japan to study and graduated from National Educational University of Tokyo. His uncle, the president of Manchuria University at that time, encouraged Zang to go to Japan to further his studies. Many Chinese young people went to study in Japan then. Professor Zang was one of them, and he graduated there. Later, he obtained a doctoral degree in literature under Japan's old system. Professor Zang was the second Chinese person to earn a doctoral degree in literature from Japan (under the old system).
He was deeply influenced by the German philosopher Johann Fichte 's "A Proclamation to the Citizens". He translated the article into Chinese, hoping to rouse educated young people to defend their nation and expel the Japanese, and to promote a patriotic spirit. He wanted to awaken the educated youth from their slumber, and to inspire them to be patriotic and to defend their country from the invading Japanese. He called upon the intellectual youth to stand up and drive the Japanese out of China.
He was well-versed in both Buddhism and Taoism. He was a professor at the University of Manchuria, Taiwan Normal University, and Kyoto Production College in Japan. He taught in those places. The books he wrote included A History of Chinese Philosophy, Theories of Education, and A New Discussion on Chinese People.
He passed away in the spring of 1979 in the United States. He died at Stanford University. In his will, he instructed that his remains be donated to the Stanford University Medical School to be used in academic research. This essay has been written to commemorate the seventh anniversary of his death.
A verse in praise says:
Many great literary and military figures
were born in Manchuria.
Zealous patriotism wiped out demonic beings.
Professor Bojing's resolve was heroic.
A New Discussion on Chinese People
awakened the dull and confused.
Giving up his literary pursuits,
he joined the army and became an officer.
Harboring hatred for the common enemy,
he swept away the evil portents.
Faithfully believing in the Buddhadharma,
he revered both Sanghans and Taoists.
This wise philosopher will be remembered
for a long, long time.
Many great literary and military figures were born in Manchuria. Many literary geniuses came from Manchuria, as did many military heroes, all of whom were very talented. Zealous patriotism wiped out demonic beings. These zealous patriots cleaned out the perverse beings in the country. Professor Bojing's resolve was heroic. He had a great resolve: he wanted to save China. A New Discussion on Chinese People awakened the dull and confused. His book stirred up the masses in China.
Giving up his literary pursuits, he joined the army and became an officer. Casting down his pen, he joined the army and was a professor in the army. He was made a major general. Harboring hatred for the common enemy, he swept away the evil portents. He fought and tried to destroy the Japanese who had invaded China. Faithfully believing in the Buddhadharma, he revered both Sanghans and Taoists. He showed the same respect to Buddhist monks or Taoist cultivators when he saw them. This wise philosopher will be remembered for a long, long time. Down through the ages, he will be remembered as a rare and intelligent person.
- The end