當時就有一個姓夏的，也是一個老太婆，就去勸她說：「妳不要哭啦！」她哭什麼呢？這姓夏的老太婆就聽她說：「我那個人哪！我那個人哪！」就這麼哭，一邊哭一邊要找她那個人。那麼這個老太婆勸勸她，她就不哭了，就跟著她，兩個一起到鑲白旗四屯這個屯裏邊來。兩個人走到這屯的外邊，大約這門口有門神，她就不敢進來。那條屯有圍牆，四邊都有 fence （圍牆），有四個門，到門外邊她就不敢進來。姓夏這個女人就自己到這個屯裏來了，她就在這條屯外邊又在這兒哭。
From last issue: The story of the As-You-Wish-Woman
I said, “If she hadn’t taken refuge with me, I wouldn’t care whether the demon took her life or not. But she took refuge with me, so I can’t allow the demon to take her life. I’ve got to do something.”
“You take care of it, then,” said Han Gangji, “but I’m not going.”
“What?” I said, “When you took refuge, you promised me that you would jump into boiling water or walk on fire if I asked you to. Now it’s not even boiling water or fire; why have you decided to back out?”
Han Gangji had nothing to say. He thought it over. “If you appoint some Dharma-protecting gods to take care of me…”
“Don’t shilly-shally!” I said. “If you’re going to go, go. But don’t vacillate!” He said no more and followed me. When we arrived, the girl was lying on the bed with her head on the pillow and her bottom sticking up in the air; it was an embarrassing sight. Her eyes were as wide as those of a cow, and she glared with rage at me.
I asked the girl’s family, “What is the cause of the illness?” They told me that seven or eight days earlier, an old woman, around age fifty, had been sitting beside an isolated grave outside the village. She was wearing a dark blue gown and had braided her hair backwards in two plaits that went up her head in back and hung down across her temples. She was wearing yellow trousers and shoes, and she was crying mournfully beside the grave.
Hearing her cries, the elderly Mrs. Xia went to comfort her, but she continued to cry, “Oh my person, oh my person…” and kept looking for her “person.”
Finally she stopped crying, and the two of them walked to the village gate. There must have been a spirit guarding the gate, because the old woman wouldn’t go in. The village was surrounded by a wall and had a gate on each of the four sides. Mrs. Xia went in, but the old woman stayed outside the gate, crying.
At that moment Xia Zunxiang’s horse cart returned to the village. When it reached the gate the horse saw the woman and shied in fright, for horses can recognize things that people cannot see. As the horse cart went careening through the gate, the old woman followed it in. Probably the spirit who guarded the gate had his back turned, and in the confusion, she went sneaking through. The old woman ran to the house of Mr. Yu Zhongbao and continued to look for her “person.” She looked at Mr. Yu and then ran out of the house, where she was surrounded by thirty or forty curious onlookers who jeered at her, “Stupid old woman! What’s your last name?”“I don’t have a last name.”
“What’s your first name?” they asked.
“I don’t know. I’m a corpse,” she said. The thirty or forty people looked at her as if she were a freak. She continued to walk, carrying the hat in her hand, as if in a stupor until she reached the back wall of Xia Wenshan’s estate. She then threw her hat over the eight-foot wall, and in one jump, leapt right over after it. No one else could have jumped over the wall, but she made it.
“The stupid old woman knows kung fu!” the crowd screeched, and they ran around and went in through the front gate to watch her.
Xia Wenshan’s son Xia Zunquan, who had also taken refuge on the twenty-fourth, ran in the door. “Mama! Mama! The stupid old woman is in our house, but don’t be afraid.”
His mother looked out the window, but saw nothing strange. When she turned around, there was the old woman crawling up on the brick bed. She was halfway on the bed and halfway on the floor.
“What do you want?” shouted the mother, but the old woman made no reply.
Seeing the old woman’s strange behavior, the mother and her daughter began immediately to recite the Great Compassion Mantra. Just as they recited the first line of the mantra, Na mo he la da nuo duo la ye ye, the old woman slipped to the ground and lay inert, exactly like a corpse.
Seeing that, the family was greatly upset. If somebody were to die in their home, it would not be good.
They went for the sheriff. When the sheriff saw the old woman lying on the floor as if she were dying, he picked her up with one hand and set her outside. Then he took her to the village courthouse for questioning. “Where are you from?” he asked, “and why have you come here?”
“Don’t ask me,” she said. “I’m a corpse. I have no name and no home. I just live wherever I am.” Frightened by her strange talk and behavior, the sheriff escorted her at pistol point some fifty paces outside the village. But when he returned to the village gate, she was right behind him. He took her seventy paces, and she followed him back again. Finally, he and three deputies took her 150 paces outside the village and said, “Get out or get shot!” and they fired two shots in the air.
The old woman fell to the ground in terror, thinking the shots were thunder, which had destroyed her before. This time she didn’t follow them back to the village.
When the sheriff and his men returned, they heard that Xia Wenshan’s daughter was sick—not speaking, eating, or sleeping, but just lying on the bed staring in rage with her head on the pillow and her bottom sticking up in the air. She didn’t eat for seven or eight days.
to be continued
The Venerable Master with Disciples at Western Bliss Monastery in Hong Kong