In the present atomic age, people are particularly nervous and apprehensive all the time.
The place where we live is forever disturbed by countless terrors, miseries, and troubles. One day there are earthquakes, the next day landslides, and the next, tidal waves. All kinds of calamities follow one upon another endlessly, which is why those of old said, “The triple realm knows no peace; it’s like a burning house.” After he left the home-life, Great Master Lianchi often returned to visit his family. His wife, endowed with much wisdom and many wholesome roots, searched for a method to help him.
What’s meant by the burning house? It refers to the world in which we live. There is no peace in the triple realm: the desire realm, the form realm, and the formless realm. This place is like a house on fire.
The place where we live, the present situation of humankind, is forever disturbed by countless terrors, miseries, and troubles. In the present atomic age, people are particularly nervous and apprehensive all the time. There is one hardship after another. One day there are earthquakes, the next day landslides, and the next, tidal waves. Avalanches or landslides are often accompanied by great floods that can drown many people. All kinds of calamities of water, fire, and wind follow one upon another endlessly. All these disasters--earthquakes, landslides, hurricanes, tornadoes, tidal wives, and so forth, as well as plane, bus, and train crashes--result in many casualties. These disasters happen every day. In this country alone, how many people die on holiday? It’s really tragic. And yet I know the people who die are not afraid of dying. When they are driving on the road, their attitude is, “I’ll try it out. It doesn’t matter if I die.” That’s why there are so many disasters. There’s no end to them.
Which is why those of old said, “The triple realm knows no peace; it’s like a burning house.” There isn’t a single peaceful place in the desire realm, the form realm, or the formless realm. The triple realm is like a house on fire. After he left the home-life, Great Master Lianchi, an eminent monk of the Ming Dynasty, often returned to visit his family. He couldn’t put down his family attachments. He had been married, and wasn’t sure she could really let him go, so he temporarily went back to visit her. His wife, who was exceptional in being endowed with much wisdom and many wholesome roots, searched for a method to help him. She thought, “He’s already left the home-life, and he still comes home all the time. I’ve got to find a way to help him cultivate.”
She came up with the following means. Just inside the door she dug a pit. In it she set live coals. When the Master set foot inside the house, he stepped into the fire and cried out in astonishment, “Why, there’s a pit of fire here! His wife replied, “Since you know it’s a fiery pit, don’t come back anymore.” The Master then had a great awakening. Later he became an outstanding personage in Buddhism.
After he left the home-life, Great Master Lianchi, an eminent monk
of the Ming Dynasty, often returned to visit his family.
Great Master Lianchi’s wife was very intelligent and endowed with good roots. It was with her help that he was able to leave the home-life. She was always telling him, “It’s better to leave the home-life if you want to cultivate. There’s not much point in being at home.” Some men want to leave home, but their wives won’t allow it. Other men don’t want to leave home, but their wives tell them to. Great Master Lianchi was a bit indecisive by nature. He wanted to leave home, but he also didn’t want to leave home. He asked his wife, “Is it okay if I leave home?” His wife said, “Sure, that would be great!” But he still wasn’t completely convinced. Another time he told her, “I’m leaving home for real.” His wife said, “Who said you were lying?” Finally, when he saw how supportive his wife was, he decided to go ahead and leave home.
But after he left home, he probably still couldn’t forget his wife, so he often went home to see how things were. He went home one time, and then another time... After he had gone home quite a few times, his wife thought, “You’re so attached! Now that you’ve left home, what are you coming home for?” She came up with the following means. She had the idea of making a pit of fire. Just inside the door she dug a shallow pit maybe one foot deep. In it she set live coals. In China people used to cook over wood, and after cooking there would be a lot of coals. She put some of these coals in the pit. She probably knew which day Great Master Lianchi was going to come home, so on that day she set up her pit and covered it with something to make it look like level ground. When the Master set foot inside the house, he stepped into the fire and cried out in astonishment, “Why, there’s a pit of fire here!” Maybe he got a couple of burn blisters on his feet, but the text doesn’t mention this. But he must have been burned pretty painfully. So he asked in alarm, “What’s this big pit of fire doing here?”
His wife slowly replied, “Since you know it’s a fiery pit, don’t come back anymore. If you come back, you’ll only get burned. I’m doing this for your own good. Don’t ever come back again.” The Master then had a great awakening, and he stopped going home. Later he became an outstanding personage in Buddhism. He became an eminent monk renowned for his virtue.
Great Master Lianchi had a tiger that would collect donations for him. At first when some of the laypeople saw the tiger approaching, they would run away in terror. Later the Great Master taught his tiger disciple to walk backwards, with his head towards the back and his tail in front. In that way, he would crouch down and go backwards into town. When people saw the tiger’s rear end, and then its head, they were no longer afraid. The tiger was just like a pet dog or cat; it didn’t bite people. The laypeople came to recognize him. They would say, “Oh, there’s our teacher’s tiger disciple.” Then they would bring out rice or money to offer to Great Master Lianchi. The Great Master was able to accomplish such virtue in the Way because of his wife’s help and support.
to be continued