The Master was a native of utian County in Fujian Province, a son of the Wu family. At age twelve, he entered high school. Later, after seeing his younger brothers and sisters all die in succession, he renounced the home-life and shaved off his hair. He went to pay respects to the Venerable Master Yu at Zhulin (Bamboo Grove). During the question-answer session when a monk was asking a question, the Master heard it and was suddenly liberated. One day he saw the senior-seated monk instructing the monk next to him, and he experienced a sudden awakening in which he transcended his body and mind.
He traveled northward and built a hut at Bailu (White Deer) Lake. One day while sailing on the lake, he smelled fragrance wafting from a field of flowers of ten
qing (about 150 acres). At that point he cast out everything that he usually cherished.
He received the legacy of the Venerable Songru Daomi, and served as abbot at six Way-places. In his old age, he retired to Huxin (Middle of the Lake) Monastery to cultivate quietly. On the seventeenth day of the eighth month in the year
guihai (1683) of the Kangxi reign period, he manifested the stillness. He lived to be sixty-seven, and thirty-seven disciples inherited his Dharma. His body is housed in a stupa in Jiangning, on Duizhong Peak of Xihua Mountain. Over a hundred volumes of his talks, poems, and essays are in circulation.
This Dhyana Master is named Dayi, and his other name is Nan'an. He is a patriarch of the seventy-first generation in the Caodong Sect.
The Master was a native of Futian County in Fujian Province, a son of the Wu family. At age twelve, he entered high school. Later, after seeing his younger brothers and sisters all die in succession in a short period of time,
he renounced the home-life and shaved off his hair. He realized the impermanence of life and swift approach of death. As the saying goes, "Don't wait until old age to cultivate the Way. The lonely graves are filled with young people." If we have no control over birth and death, when sickness comes we cannot hold on to our bodies or our health. No matter what doctor we get, when the time comes, we will still get sick and die. Not only do we ordinary people have to die, even the doctors must die. Doctors can cure other sick people, but when they themselves are fatally ill, they cannot cure themselves. All the professions and branches of knowledge and skill in the world have their applications, but it's not for sure that they are ultimately useful. And so when doctors become fatally ill, they must also die.
This reminds me of the story about how King Yama became sick and wanted to find a doctor to treat him. When King Yama, who manages the affairs of birth and death, became sick himself, he of course wanted to find a good doctor. He told his little ghost, "I have an illness, and I need a doctor to diagnose it for me. But when you find a doctor, first check to see how many vengeful ghosts there are at his door waiting to demand his life. If there are only a few ghosts, then the doctor is pretty good and you can ask him to come." And so off went the ghost messenger to look for a doctor, but at every doctor's door, he found thousands upon tens of thousands of vengeful ghosts waiting to take the doctor's life. Each one was saying, "He gave me the wrong treatment and caused my death." There was only one doctor whose doorway had only two ghosts—a big ghost and a small ghost. "This must be a good doctor," said the ghost messenger, and so they went in. Once inside, King Yama asked the doctor, "You look pretty young. How long have you been practicing medicine? You don't look very experienced to me. How long have you been treating patients?"
"Well, I opened my office just this morning," said the doctor.
"You only started this morning, and you already have two vengeful ghosts that died at your hands!" exclaimed King Yama. "What will become of you in the future? You'd better give up medicine. You can stay with me and learn another trade."
Doctors are that way. Take a look: what profession is not that way? It seems reasonable to say that every profession has its own problems. The good is always accompanied by the bad; success implies failure. With right, there is wrong. With the wholesome, there is the unwholesome. Some people follow the rules, and some don't.
Good and evil are two diverging paths:
You can cultivate the one, or commit the other.
People who understand the way things are dare not make mistakes in cause and effect. Those who do not understand have no fear of cause and effect. The Master renounced his home, which means he left the home-life and went to cultivate. In the beginning,
he went to pay respects to the Venerable Master Yu at Zhulin (Bamboo Grove). During the question-answer session when a monk was asking a question. That's the only time they are allowed to talk. Usually, no talking is allowed in the Chan Hall.
The Master, Dhyana Master Dayi, heard it and was suddenly liberated. He suddenly understood. It was as if there was a knot that could not be untied, and now it was untied. With the knot untied, he was liberated. At that time, he became enlightened.
One day he saw the senior-seated monk, the one who sat in the first seat and who had the highest position under the Abbot,
instructing the monk who sat next to him, giving him advice on how to cultivate.
And upon hearing the senior monk speaking Dharma for someone else,
he himself understood it and experienced a sudden awakening in which he transcended his body and mind. He had an enlightenment.
He traveled northward to visit and study at various monasteries. He went to the area of Jiangsu
and built himself a hut at Bailu (White Deer) Lake. One day while sailing on the lake, he was still investigating his meditation topic. There in the middle of the lake,
he smelled fragrance wafting from a field of flowers of ten
qing (about 150 acres). It was an exquisite and heady fragrance coming from a huge field of flowers.
At that point he cast out everything that he usually cherished. At that point he had an enlightenment, and he put down the things he normally valued and could not relinquish. He let go of them all. At that time, for him there was no body or mind inside, and no world outside. He knew that everything was illusory and unreal, and he saw the emptiness in all the things he had cherished most and had been unable to renounce before.
He received the legacy of the Venerable Songru Daomi, who gave him final instructions and transmitted the Dharma to him,
and served as abbot at six Way-places, six large monasteries.
In his old age, he retired to Huxin (Middle of the Lake) Monastery to cultivate quietly. He went there to rest and care for his health.
On the seventeenth day of the eighth month in the year guihai (1683) of the Kangxi reign period, he manifested the perfection of
stillness. He lived to be sixty-seven, and thirty-seven disciples inherited his Dharma. His body is housed in a stupa in Jiangning. He perfected the stillness in a seated posture, and a stupa was erected for his body in Jiangpu County, Nanjing,
on Duizhong Peak of Xihua Mountain. Over a hundred volumes of his talks, poems, and essays are in circulation. His works in circulation include transcriptions of his talks, poetry, and articles.
To be continued