From last issue: The Dharma Realms of Hungry Ghosts and Hell-beings
All of these ten realms—a single thought—
Are not apart from your present thought.
If you can awaken to that thought,
You’ll arrive immediately at the other shore.
Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Hearers, and Those Enlightened to Conditions are the Four Sagely Dharma Realms; gods, human beings, asuras, hell-beings, hungry ghosts, and animals are the Six Common Dharma Realms. Together, they make up the Ten Dharma Realms. Where do the Ten Dharma Realms come from? From the single thought which is right now in your mind. All of these ten realms—a single thought— / Are not apart from your present thought.
If you can awaken to that thought, if you can understand it, you’ll arrive immediately at the other shore. The other shore is enlightenment. When you become enlightened, you are no longer confused. When ignorance is smashed and the Dharma-body appears, you arrive at the other shore. This is
I’ve suddenly thought of the story of the “As-You-Wish Woman.” She was a ghost that had been shattered by thunder in the Zhou Dynasty. She then practiced a kind of magic that protected her from thunder, and when she mastered it, she went around causing trouble. Later she met me, took refuge with the Triple Jewel, and reformed herself. I could write an entire book on this. You don’t have to be afraid of her; even if she were to come here, she wouldn’t harm anyone.
Twenty-seven years ago [in 1945], on the twelfth day of February, I passed through the Zhou family station in Manchuria. In the town there was a Virtue Society whose members met daily for lectures on morality. Since some of the members were my disciples, I would usually stay in the town for a few days when I passed through.
This time I met a Chinese astrologer who cast people’s horoscopes by looking at the eight characters (two for the year, two for the month, two for the day, and two for the hour) of their birth. His horoscopes were very efficacious. He cast my horoscope and said, “You should be an official. Why have you left home? Had you wanted to, you could have been a great official.”
“I haven’t any idea how to be an official,” I said. “But I do know how to be a Buddhist monk, and so I have left home.”
“What a pity,” said the astrologer, and he looked at my hands. “At the very least,” he said, “you could have been a top-ranking imperial scholar.”
“No,” I said. “I couldn’t even have come in last.”
He looked my hands again and said, “Oh, this year something very lucky will happen to change your life!”
“What could that be?” I asked.
“After the tenth of the next month you will be different from now,” he replied.
“Different in what way?”
“Right now, all the people within 1000 li [350 miles] believe in you, but after the tenth of next month, everyone within 10,000 li [3500 miles] will believe in you.”
“How can that be?” I asked.
“When the time comes, you will know,” he said.
Two days later, on the fourteenth or fifteenth of February, I went to the village of Xiangbaichi, fourth district, and stayed with my disciple Xia Zunxiang, who was over sixty years old and had a family of over thirty people. He was one of the richest landowners in the area and had never believed in Buddhism or anything else. But when he saw me, he believed in me and wanted to take refuge with me. He and his whole family took refuge, and every time I went to the village I’d stay at his house. His family of over thirty was extremely happy to see me this time. I stayed with them for ten days, and about seventy-two people came to take refuge.
On the twenty-fifth, I set out in Mr. Xia’s cart for Shuangcheng County. Since it was over seventy li [25 miles] away, we left at three o’clock in the morning.Although it was early spring, the weather was bitterly cold. The driver and the attendant were dressed in fur coats, trousers, and hats. Being very poor, I wore only my usual rag robe made of three layers of thin cotton cloth, trousers made of two layers of cloth, open Arhat sandals with no socks, and a hat shaped like folded palms that didn’t cover my ears. That was the kind of hat that Master Ji Gong wore.
We rode from three in the morning until dawn, reaching the city at seven in the morning. The driver and the attendant thought I would freeze to death, since I was so insufficiently dressed. They had stopped repeatedly to exercise and keep warm, but I had remained in the cart from the beginning of the trip. When we arrived at the eastern gate of Shuangcheng County and I got out of the cart, the driver exclaimed, “Oh, he didn’t freeze!”
I went to Shuangcheng County and stayed with friends, Dharma protecting laymen, for more than ten days, and on the ninth of March, I returned to Xia Zunxiang’s home in Xiangbaichi. When I arrived, he told me that one of my recent disciples, the daughter of Xia Wenshan, had fallen dangerously ill. She hadn’t eaten or drunk water for six or seven days. She did not speak, and she looked fiercely angry, as if she wanted to beat people.
Then her mother came. “Master,” she said, “my daughter became very ill a few days after taking refuge. She won’t talk, eat, or drink, but just glares and sticks her head on the bed. I don’t know what illness she has.”
I said to her, “I can’t cure her, so it’s useless to ask me. However, my disciple Han Gangji has opened his five eyes and knows people’s past, present, and future affairs. You should ask him.”
Han Gangji had also taken refuge on the twenty-fourth of February, when I went to Shuangcheng County. At first I had refused to take him as a disciple, because before I had left home, the two of us had been good friends and had worked together in the Virtue Society. After I left home and Han Gangji opened his five eyes, he saw that, life after life, I had always been his teacher. And so he wanted to take refuge with me.
to be continued