Moonlight Traces An Immortal 月影仙跡

Wang Tinggui was from Luxi, in Ancheng. His courtesy name was Minzhan, and he was a student of the imperial university, having passed the highest examinations. He once took leave of Hu Dan’an with a poem on the latter’s demotion to Xinzhou. Gui [?who? Qin Hui (1090-1155)?] heard of this and was angry, demoting him too. When Gui died, he was summoned to court once more, appointed Academician in the Cabinet for Promotion of Literature, but resigned the post and returned to live in seclusion in his home village, travelling around and resting at Mengcao Convent. In late spring, when the roseleaf raspberry was in full bloom, it was almost dawn when the waning moonlight illuminated a figure, seemingly dressed like a lay Buddhist, and who addressed a vegetable-washing servant, saying: “Please give us a poem; Lü Dongbin is coming to see you.” The servant said: “It is still early.” When the servant went in to announce this, Wang straightened his robe and hurried out, but could see only the moonlight outlining the form of a person on the ground. He kowtowed and bowed to them, but then there was nothing to be seen. He later amended the scrolls around the convent gate to read:

Moonlight traces immortal vestiges

Fragrant blooms bring spirit to the writing-brush.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.133 (Tale 233):

月影仙跡

安成盧溪王庭珪,字民瞻,太學生(明刻本無「生」字。)登第。嘗以詩送胡澹庵貶新州。檜見而怒,例遭貶。檜死,召還朝,除敷文閣學士,致仕,歸遯丘園,遊息于夢草庵。莫春荼䕷盛開,天將曙,殘月照人,偶有衣白衣人來,與洗菜僕曰:「請與敷文說,呂洞賓來相見。」僕曰:「尚早。」及僕入語,王攬衣急出,但見月影,一人在地,遂扣而拜之,不復可見。後改庵前門帖云:「月影印仙迹,花香供筆靈。」

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).

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Tie Guai Appears In A Dream 鐵拐託夢

Zhang Jushi was a clerk in the Song capital, and his taboo name was Daochun. His wife, née Ma, left the household (for religion), and founded an Academy Assisting The True Way in Huzhou City. Firmly dedicated to the Way, she lived on Fangzi Alley, off Xiuwen Lane, and opened the Pharmacy to Academy Assisting The True Way, in the gengchen year of the Zhiyuan era (1280), and often provided meals to Buddhist and Daoist monks. One day, having first distributed 100 tickets for vegetarian meals, when the day came these were taken as evidence for those attending the food provision. As the time approached, however, the tickets collected amounted only to ninety-nine, so they were missing one. Jushi paid without asking, and therefore provided ninety-nine percent of the meals, but this left him feeling less than entirely satisfied. The next night, he dreamed that a Daoist came to report to him: “The ticket is with me, Guai.”[1] On awaking and reflecting on this, he realised that there hadn’t been a ticket made out to Master Guai, so went urgently and found a boat to the Daoist temple from the pavilion over the well. Knocking at the temple gate and looking, he indeed daw that (the statue of) Guai bore a meal slip, and inscribed upon it were four sentences:

Going especially to receive a meal

I saw that I was not dealt with.

Returning empty-bellied,

My meal-ticket tied to my staff.

He thus understood that immortals also attend worldly alms feasts.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.131 (Tale 229):

鐵拐託夢

張居士,宋朝都吏也,諱道純。妻馬氏,俱出家,創輔真道院於湖州市。好道甚堅,住修文坊扇子巷,開輔真道院藥局,至元庚辰,常齋僧道。一日,先散俵子一百個,至日憑此赴齋。臨期,收俵子只九十九個,不見一個。居士付之不問,徑支齋九十九分,此心終不滿。次夜,夢一道人來告,曰:「俵子在我拐上。」覺而細思,其日並無策拐者,想是道院鐵拐先生,亟於井亭下覓舟往道院。扣門觀之,果見拐上有俵子,題得四句云:「特來赴齋,見我不采。空腹且歸,俵縛我拐。」因知仙亦赴凡齋矣。

[1] This is Li Tieguai 鐵拐李 (“Iron Crutch Li”), a daoist immortal. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li_Tieguai.

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).

 

The Lord of Profound Heaven Manifests 玄帝現像

Wang Daozhi was known as Lay Scholar Free of Knowledge, and lived to the west of Anfu. In his household were collected eighteen of the very finest statues of arhats, and every month he had monks perform rites and make offerings to them. They had a plum blossom [129] that fruited in its porcelain vase, and people thought this an auspicious sign. One day, his family fell ill, and he dreamed that two scrolls were offered before the arhats, saying: “You should go north in person, and ask the Profound Emperor to provide healing.” The following day, a monk came to the gate and asked: “Why do you not attend the immortal?” He replied: “I have no image.” The monk said: “You should invite an artist.” An image of the emperor then appeared on the table, face like a full moon, black robes and golden armour, feet treading on turtles and serpents, five generals to his right and left, holding knives, grasping banners held erect and surrounded by streamers. Known as the Five Dragons, their might and grandeur was far beyond that which one might usually see. When the image was finished it was traced by hand and then vanished. The illness was then cured, and his household treasured the icon.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.128-29 (Tale 223):

玄帝現像

王道之,號無識居士,住安福之西。其家蓄十八羅漢像最精妙,月月命僧禮而供之。有梅花 [129] 結實於甆瓶,人以為瑞。一日,其家病作,羅漢前兩軸獻夢云: 「待自去北方,請玄帝來救治。」明日,一僧登門曰:「如何不奉真聖?」答曰:「無像。」僧曰:「可邀畫匠(「匠」原作「像」,據明刻本、明抄本改。)來。」就桌上現(此處原衍「像」字,據明刻本、明抄本刪。)出帝像,面如滿月,皁袍金甲,足踏龜蛇,左右五將,持刀執纛樹幡,號五龍,猛烈雄偉,非尋常所有者。描訖,像隨手而沒。後病癒,其家寶藏之。

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).

A Bird Is Able To Recite Sutras 禽能誦經

Wang Rixiu (d.1173), the retired scholar of Longshu, records that long ago a Buddhist monastery raised a myna bird, now called a Baba’er. When the monks recited sutras every day at dawn, it would ?eat almonds? and then chant along with them. When it died, the monks buried it under its pet name, and before long a white lotus flower sprouted on top of the grave. Somebody composed a poem to record this:

There was a Baba’er bird,

Able to follow monks and chant [269] ‘Amitabha’.

A white lotus opened to shed aromatic fragrance,

Like the Lake of Seven Treasures in the Western Pure Land.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.268-69 (Tale 489):

誦經

龍舒居士王日休載,昔有佛寺,養一鴝鵒,今名八八兒是也。僧每旦念佛,仁兒隨之而念。後死,僧以小名殯之,未久墓上生一朵白蓮花,人以詩紀之曰:「有一飛禽八八兒,能隨僧去念阿 [269] 彌。蓮花出口香芬馥,想在西方七寶池。」

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).

A Parrot Is Awakened To The Dharma 鸚鵡悟佛

When Wei Nankang (i.e., Wei Gao, 745-805CE) was garrisoning Shu, he constantly cared for a parrot, which was extremely intelligent. The person who had tamed it had also told it of Buddhist philosophy, saying: “If you wish to worship the Buddha, you must use thought to attain freedom from thought.” The parrot would then raise its head and spread its wings, as if it were listening, as if it were accepting. When receiving teaching on Buddhist thought, it would remain silent without answering, and then chant: “Amitabha” once, as if to indicate that it had been awakened, achieving insight into causality through thought, and into the truth through no-thought. One day it did not shake and did not fall forward, but knocked its wings, curled its feet, covered itself and died. Duke Wei ordered it be cremated, which left ten relics, for the burial of which the duke erected a pagoda, naming it the Parrot Pagoda.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.267 (Tale 486):

鸚鵡悟佛

韋南康鎮蜀時,常籠養一鸚鵡,甚慧。馴養者曉以佛理,曰:「若欲念佛,當由有念,以至無念。」鵡即仰首奮翼,若聽若承,及教之念佛,則默然不答,或詰其不念,則唱言「阿彌陀佛」一聲,意若有悟,以有念為緣生,以無念為真際也。一日不震不仆,款翼委足,弇然而絕。韋公命焚之,有舍利子十枚,公為立塔瘞之,號曰鸚鵡塔。

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).

 

A Clam Reveals Its Power 蛤蜊顯聖

When Chancellor Shi attained power, the governor of the capital selected a tray of clams as an offering. That night the gentleman saw a gleam of light emerging from one clam among the others in the tray. Picking up and examining it, he realized it was quite unlike the others, and when struck it would not crack open. The gentleman suspected that it was a marvel, so placed it on a table, burned incense and prayed to it. Presently the clam cracked open of its own accord, revealing two people, their faces and eyebrows dignified and handsome, bodies and physiques extremely beautiful, hair in buns, hair tasseled and ornamented, wearing lotus-flower shoes, just like those statues people in this world devote to the servants of the Buddha. The gentleman then had a temple grotto carved from various fragrant woods, and to calm their spirits added ornamentation of gold and jade, until the brightness dazzled the eye. He ordered the gathered monks to take them into the Buddhist monastery and attend to them. It is not known how all of this finished.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.267 (Tale 485):

蛤蜊顯聖

史丞相當國,京尹選大蛤蜊一盤以獻。是夜公見盤中一蛤蜊有光,取而視之,獨異其他,劈而不裂。公疑異之,取而致几上,焚香祝之。俄頃蛤自裂開,中有二人,形眉端秀,體格悉備,螺髻纓絡,足履蓮花,與人世所事佛像一般。公遂以諸香木刻成巖殿,以安其神,加以金玉為飾,光耀奪目,令衆僧送入佛寺安奉,後不知所終。

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).

A Spring Contains A Pig-Dragon 泉有豬龍

By the side of a road in Qingshen County within Meizhou there is a small Buddha Hall, commonly known as the Buddha of the Sow Mother. When Su Dongpo (1037-1101) asked the local people about this, they said: “A century ago a sow prostrated herself there, and transformed into a spring with two carp; she was a pig-dragon. People petitioned the sow to grant them motherhood, and erected a Buddha Hall over it, hence the name.” The spring emerged upwards from rock, its depth not reaching two chi (about 66cm), but even in severe droughts it never stopped running. People could never see the carp, however. One day Dongpo told this to his wife’s brother Wang Yuan, but Yuan thought it absurd and preposterous. Unable to settle Yuan’s doubts, he went together with Yuan to pray at the spring, where the latter said: “Grant, if this is not all nonsense, another glimpse of the fish.” Before long the two carp emerged once again. Yuan was terrified, bowing over and over again and requesting forgiveness for his misdeed, and then departing.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.266 (Tale 483):

泉有豬龍

眉州青神縣道側有小佛堂,俗謂豬母佛。蘇東坡問之土人,曰:「百年前有牝豬伏於此,化為泉,有二鯉魚在泉中,蓋豬龍也。人請牝豬為母,而立佛堂其上,故以名之。」泉出石上,深不及二尺,大旱不竭,而鯉莫有見者。一日東坡以其事告妻兄王愿,愿疑之妄誕,不平其疑,與愿俱至井禱之泉上曰:「予若不妄言,魚當復見。」已而二鯉復出,愿大驚,再拜謝罪而去。

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).