His works, including Selections from Ancient Times, Recollecting the Ancients, and other verses are still in circulation. Nowadays people want to publish their works before they die. In ancient times, people would not have their works published until after their death. Why was this? If their works were published during their lifetime and they gained widespread renown, it would seem like they were seeking fame and benefit. Therefore, in ancient times people would store their writings away, and after they passed away their manuscripts would be discovered and published for them. That's how it was.
Nowadays, as soon as people write something, they want to publish it and put it into circulation immediately. Although it's true that someone might read it and bring forth the resolve for
Bodhi, it is not too good for the writers themselves. The motives of the ancients are different from those of people today. The ancients feared that their name might become known; modern people fear that others might not know their name. That's where the difference lies. The ancients wanted to be honest and reliable in all they did. Modern people concentrate on superficials and pay attention to appearance. "I'm afraid people don't know about my cultivation, my wisdom, my erudition, and my virtue." They are always advertising for themselves. For example, there's a certain person who had his photo put in the paper, in a full-page ad on the front page, with all kinds of gimmicks. All of these are sterile blossoms that will not bear fruit. He might have temporary success, but it won't last. The false will always come to an end.
Will the truth not perish? The truth will also come to an end. It's not for sure that the truth will always stay around. But the truth, although it comes to an end, is still more worthwhile than the false. The Dharma spoken by the Buddha goes through the Proper Dharma Age, the Dharma Image Age, and the Dharma-ending Age. Yes, the Dharma will come to an end! How can the truth stay in the world forever? It won't. Even so, it still has a different value. By analogy, although gold and copper are both yellowish in color, they are different.
This Dhyana Master lived a frugal and austere lifestyle, devoting himself to others. He stood up and sat down at the same time as everyone else, and ate and drank together with everyone else. He did not have special food cooked separately for himself. In some places when the abbot has money, position, and power, he will eat banquet-style everyday, like an emperor. This Dhyana Master, however, shared the misery and sweetness with everyone else. He didn't have special food served for himself. If he had food different from others', the food was worse, not better. We should realize that this Dhyana Master wore shabby robes and ate coarse food.
He worked along with others in repairing the buildings, and his style was reminiscent of Great Master Baizhang. In his work, Selections from Ancient Times, he selected and compiled a collection of outstanding qualities, characters, and oral teachings from the ancients. In Recollecting the Ancients, he compiled recollections of the moral virtue, erudition, wisdom, and wholesome conduct of the ancients into a book which is still in circulation in the world.
A verse in praise says:
His appearance was stern and awesome.
His conduct was extremely austere.
Coming and going in birth and death,
He dwelt at Snowy Peak and Stone Drum.
His appearance was stern and awesome. He had a very forbidding and impressive demeanor. People who saw him would respectfully keep their distance. They were as apprehensive as if they had seen a ghost. His presence was very intimidating. His deportment was quite awesome.
His conduct was extremely austere. However, he was very hard on himself. He lived very frugally and austerely.
Coming and going in birth and death. Birth is coming; death is going. He was quite free coming and going, being born and dying. He could do as he pleased.
He dwelt at Snowy Peak and Stone
Drum. He cultivated zealously at those two places.
To be continued