*Li Bing-nan's letter accepting the appointment as Honorary Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of Dharma Realm Buddhist University.
The elder layman Bing-Nan was a native of the city of Jinan, Shandong Province. From his youth he was coached in the Confucian tradition, and gained a deep understanding of the Mind-Dharma of the Confucian teachings. As he was growing up, he studied Buddhism. He drew near to and supported the "dragons and elephants" within the door of Dharma, such as the greatly virtuous Masters Yin Guang, Tai Hsu, Hsu Yun, and so forth. The layman investigated, read and recited, received and upheld, wrote out, and lectured on the Sutras, personally putting those teachings into practice. Using literature as a foundation, he set forth the esoteric meaning of Buddhism. Everything he wrote was true and actual; every one of his words meshed with principle. He was an Upasaka of proper belief.
Later he followed Mr. Kong De-Cheng, 78th generational descendant from the Confucian family line, to Taiwan and specialized in the study of the Flower Adornment Sutra. He was instrumental in causing Buddhism to flourish. He taught Buddhism to countless university students, and also established Buddhist Lotus Societies, schools, hospitals, libraries, and other humanitarian projects.
Manifesting a slight illness at the end and lying down in an auspicious posture, he passed away on April 13,1986, at the age of ninety-seven. He deserves to be called a layman of uncompromising virtue of this Dharma- ending age.
Dharma Realm Buddhist University invited leaders from six countries throughout the five continents to be our honorary chancellors. There were five laypeople and five left-home people acting as honorary chancellors. Li Bing-Nan was one of the five laymen. We have written this essay in his memory. He was an elder layman of senior standing who was a native of the city of Jinan in Shandong Province. In his youth he studied many of the classics of the Confucian teaching, through which he gained a deep understanding. The essence of the teaching is learning how to be an upright and superior person, and help society. Since he was grounded in this kind of education, he was a very good person.
Dharma Master Heng Kuan,
I have not written to you for a long time, yet from afar I often reflect in praise upon your full blessings and wisdom and your vigorous practice. Recently I received through Board Member Dong, Zheng-zhi, the Certificate of Appointment naming me as the Honorary Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Dharma Realm Buddhist University. Thinking that you must have nominated me for this honor, I can only accept it reverently, albeit remorsefully. Although I continue in this ninety-year-old body to lecture on Sutras and teach in Taiwan, I feel mentally and physically fatigued, and I fear it will be difficult to follow your mission when we are separated by such a great distance. However, it is difficult for me to decline your most sincere invitation, and so I shall do my best for my own peace of mind and to repay your deep kindness.
Moreover, I hope you will instruct me in everything so I may respectfully comply. I write this letter to express my gratitude and wish you peace in the Way.
Disciple Li Bing-nan bows in respect September 30 (1978)
※Li Bing-nan's letter accepting the appointment as
※Honorary Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of Dharma Realm Buddhist University.
After he grew up, he gave up Confucianism to study Buddhism. He drew near to and supported "dragons and elephants" within the door of Dharma, that is, lofty members of the Sangha who had great virtue, such as Dharma Masters Yin Guang, Tai Hsu, Hsu Yun, and so forth. He protected and stayed close to them. He investigated Sutras, reading and reciting them. He also accepted and upheld the Sutras, accepting them with his mind and putting their principles into practice with his body. Since he had good calligraphy, he wrote out the Sutras, and also lectured on the Sutras for other people. He stressed personally putting the teachings into practice. He did not expect others to practice, but actually embodied those principles himself. Using the literature of the Confucian school as a foundation, he explained the profound meaning of Buddhism.
Literature is a vehicle for explaining the Way, and since the layman had a solid grounding in Confucianism, he was able to understand Buddhism by inference. Everything he wrote was true and actual; it was not false. Every one of his words meshed with Buddhist principle. He was an Upasaka of proper belief. He did not have wrong knowledge and views. As a layman who drew near to and served Buddhism, he held correct views.
Later, when Mainland China's government changed hands, he followed Mr. Kong De-Cheng to Taiwan. Kong De-Cheng, as the 78th generational descendant of the Confucian family line, was responsible for making annual sacrifices in memory of the sage Confucius. Layman Li specialized in the study of the Flower Adornment Sutra and put a great deal of effort into investigating this Sutra. He was instrumental in causing Buddhism to flourish in Taiwan. He taught Buddhism to countless university students, bringing about their accomplishment. He also established Buddhist Lotus Societies, hospitals, schools, libraries, and other humanitarian projects.
On April 13, 1986, manifesting a slight illness at the end, lying down in the auspicious posture with his right hand supporting his right cheek and his left hand resting on his left knee, he passed away. He was 97, three years short of being 100 years old. He deserves to be called a layman of uncompromising virtue in this Dharma-ending Age, someone who was very solid and firm. That's my opinion.
A verse in praise says:
A sturdy candle in a strong gale,
True gold in a raging fire,
Undergoing a hundred smeltings but never dissipated:
Such is the Vajra Dharma Body.
Like a pure breeze and the bright moon,
He was unblemished by even the slightest trace of defilement.
He roamed in the samadhi of playfulness:
It was just this way.
A sturdy candle in a strong gale: Even strong winds couldn't blow out this candle. True gold in a raging fire, / Undergoing a hundred smeltings but never dissipated. No matter how he was burned in the raging flames, this piece of gold never melted, never diminished. Such is the Vajra Dharma Body. The basic substance of the Vajra Dharma Body of the inherent nature never melts. Like a light breeze and bright moon, he was not greedy for fame or profit, wealth or sex. He was unblemished by even the slightest trace of defilement. He was not tainted by the least bit of dust. He roamed in the samadhi of playfulness. Roaming playfully at ease, he did everything as if he was in a samadhi of playing games. It was just this way. That's the way it was—nothing special.
Another verse says:
Personally acting as a model, he transformed the masses.
Honestly reciting the Buddha's name, he ascended to the lotus of the ninth grade.
He elucidated the principle of the Dharma Realm as set forth in the Flower Adornment Sutra.
Opening up the wisdom mine, the Buddha nature was made bright.
With faith, vows, and holding the Buddha's name, he returned to the Pure Land.
Diligently he cultivated the wonderful Dharma and entered the Lotus City.
At ninety-seven he was born in the land of peace and repose.
Bodhisattva retinues increase day by day.
Personally acting as a model, he transformed the masses. This layman set a good example for others. Honestly reciting the Buddha's name, he ascended to the lotus of the ninth grade. If you reliably recite the Buddha's name, you can attain superior grades of rebirth in nine grades of lotuses.
He elucidated the principle of the Dharma Realm, as set forth in the Flower Adornment Sutra. He explained the substance and principle of the Dharma Realm, as it was laid out in the Flower Adornment Sutra.
Opening up the wisdom mine, the Buddha nature was made bright. Once the wisdom mine is excavated, the basic nature of Buddhism is understood.
With faith, vows, and holding the Buddha's name—Amitabha's name—he returned to the Pure Land. Diligently he cultivated the wonderful Dharma and entered the Lotus City. If you recite the Buddha's name, this wonderful Dharma which Shakyamuni Buddha spoke about without being asked, in the future you will enter the Land of Ultimate Bliss.
At ninety-seven he was born in the land of peace and repose—The Land of Ultimate Bliss. Bodhisattva retinues increase day by day.